I am not an expert on child rearing, but I am an expert in career planning, so it seems to me that I should be pretty good at helping my kids find careers. Here are things I’m doing:

1. Exposing them to the idea that career is important.
I do a lot of career coaching, and I do most of it in the car, while I’m driving the kids long distances. The coaching makes the drive better for me, and an unplanned offshoot is that the kids are learning about how to focus on issues surrounding a career. The best quote from the back seat: “Mom! Tell him to take the Myers Briggs test!” Read more

My son is obsessed with fashion. He wakes up in the morning, tries on ten outfits, and when I laugh, he says, “Mom! Don’t laugh! You know fashion is really important to me!”

Just the fact that he talks about it like this blows me away. The rest of us barely even change our clothes. He quickly learned that buying clothes in the store is way more fun than online so now when we drive to the Chicago suburbs for cello, we also go for clothes shopping. Read more

One of the most effective ways to show parents that they don’t need to be teachers in order to homeschool is to show parents how completely ridiculous forced curricula is. I internalized this idea when my youngest son was learning to read. I didn’t teach him. But I watched carefully to see how he learned.

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Doctors have finally started talking about the long-standing practice to medicate low-income kids with Adderall so they can compete in the school environment. To those of you who follow the Adderall debates, this confession should come as no surprise. People in both the medical community and the academic community have been predicting school would come to this. In a test-based classroom world, Adderall is a major boost to anyone’s performance and it shouldn’t be only rich kids who have access to it. Read more

When I was growing up, my brother and I suffered from lots of different forms of abuse, but probably the biggest one was neglect. When I was in second grade and he was in kindergarten, we started waking ourselves up to go to school and we put ourselves to bed at night. There were days we didn’t see our parents. I still have burn marks on my leg from our babysitter, which is why we told our parents we just wanted to be alone. And they said okay. Read more

I just finished reading the book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. It’s the story of a Hmong girl with epilepsy. In Hmong culture, epilepsy is a gift to the soul. So the parents wouldn’t give her medicine. The book is about the cultural struggle between the parents and the American medical community. The thing that got me was that it won lots of national literary awards, but also, it’s required reading at many medical schools. I thought I’d learn a lot. And I did. Read more

It’s fall on the farm, which means the stack of wood is high enough to get us through the whole winter. My husband brings back chopped wood from our forest, and before he stacks it neatly into the pile, the kids build a fort. Or a kitten cage. Or a jumping pile for them and the dogs. Read more

I live in rural Southwest Wisconsin. In our community we are the only family that celebrates Hanukkah. We are the only family that doesn’t eat pork. People are generally respectful when they hear we are Jewish. And if they have ever met a Jew before, in their whole life, they are always sure to tell us. Read more

One of the most empowering things you can do for your kids is teach them how to run a business. Entrepreneurship used to be high-risk and expensive, but in today’s business environment, starting a company costs no money. And having the skills to do that creates a permanent safety net in an uncertain economy.

Teach your kids entrepreneurship
I’ve launched three successful companies. Not only did I start each company with no money, but also I have no business education, I learned math only up to eighth grade, and I have Asperger’s, which means, among other things, that my social skills are not any higher than a middle schooler’s.

I tell you this because I’m sure that kids can learn to run companies at a young age, and the more practice they get, the more confidence they’ll have when they are adults. They’ll be able use entrepreneurship to gain flexibility in their work and control over their life.

My kids have already launched small businesses, and it’s changed the way they think. For example: we built a rope swing last weekend and my son said, “Do you think we could sell these to other families?”

How the seminar will work
The seminar will be one week long: October 15 – October 19. I’ll do a live video each day about how to launch a business. At the end of each session I’ll take questions, and the last day will be all questions—you can ask me anything, live, and I’ll answer. If you miss any of the sessions, you can listen to the recording on your own schedule.

The cost of this seminar is $195. You can pay the fee via PayPal to penelope@penelopetrunk.com.  I’ll send you a confirmation and an introduction to the seminar which will include some fun initial reading and instructions for accessing the videos.

Most of the seminar participants will be adults who want to start their own business: people who want to be home with their kids and earn some money on the side doing something that interests them. But the seminar will also be appropriate for teenagers, and I’d be really happy to have them on the live video call as well as parents who are there to learn to help their younger kids. Read more

A lot of people think they want to homeschool but they don’t think they can afford it. So they ask me: How much does it cost to homeschool?

I think it’s more instructive to ask the question the other way around: How much does it cost to send your kids to school? Because the answer is that it costs a lot. In fact, the Atlantic just ran an essay by a guy who is homeschooling because it’s more cost effective than sending his kid to a good school. Read more