Thank you so much for a great year. Before you get to the list of the best posts, I want to say thank you.

This photo summarizes homeschooling for me so far: the feeling of being smothered by my kids, and at the same time being surprised by how happy I am with it. The community on this blog has been invaluable in helping me to handle both feelings at the same time.

Thank you for providing me with a wide range of approaches to talking about education. I think more broadly and more deeply because of the links and comments and criticism you all have provided to me throughout the year. Thank you for making this community one of the most exciting parts of my life right now.

Here are the posts that were most popular over the last year. Thank you for the fun discussions! And happy new year.

Jan. 3 Five homeschool parent types (51 comments)

Apr. 2 Why I homeschool (277 likes)

May 14 Homeschool kids should not go to college (59 comments)

May 18 Kids who go to school don’t homeschool in the summer (94 comments)

May 31 The argument against raising well-rounded kids (252 likes)

Sept. 19 Elite schools are shifting to a homeschool model (217 likes)

Oct. The only time I’ve ever felt shunned as a Jew was in my local homeschool group (49 comments)

Nov. 8 Help your kids forge a new path to adulthood (40 comments)

Nov. 13 Three ways to rectify the miseducation of girls (72 comments)

Dec. 18 It’s a myth that school is good for socialization (232 likes)

13 replies
  1. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I pulled my 8 yo out of his “college prep” school and worksheet hell and am so relieved to be homeschooling him now after that nightmare. I have loved your posts and was especially intrigued by “Elite schools are shifting to a homeschool model.” Something you could blog on, if you have not already, is how Montessori is relevant today, how it might be a good school option (if one must do school), how one can do it at home, etc. If I have to put my son in school it will have to be Montessori because it allows for a LONG attention span and freedom of choice. For now I take inspiration from her ideas and will try to implement at home.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Hi. Melissa. We looked into Montessori when my son was going into preschool. The problem with Montessori is that it caters to what girls like. Boys like to run around and swing on stuff and fight each other. Girls like to focus on small things and talk to each other quietly while they engaged in civilized behavior (which Montessori calls “work”).

      So if kids learn through play, and kids should self-direct, and boys want to run around and scream and beat each other up for play, then Montessori is probably too structured for most little boys. Which was, in the end, what the Montessori teachers told me, off the record, during NYC school tours.

      Penelope

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        Many thanks for this perspective. Agree totally with regards to preschool. I didn’t send my younger boy there for that reason – he just wanted to run and wrestle and play at 3-5 years. (My older son liked it and did well. He spent all day on their math materials for months on end at age 4-5).

        I would consider it for my 8yo son who is now able to sit and work…at some point boys are ready for academic work so I am thinking Montessori is my best option, outside of homeschool, for age 9-12 years. At least it’s hands on and 3D, they don’t have kids doing worksheets all day (which my boy detests) and the kids can pick their activity. It would also be an elegant way for me to correct a birthdate issue (I want him to “repeat” as his birthday is days from the cutoff and it has not served him to be in a class with precocious kids a year older). I wonder how boys generally do with their elementary program.

  2. Esther
    Esther says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve loved reading your homeschool blog posts. I have two topics I’d like to hear your thoughts on.

    1. Large-group extracurriculars. One of the most important experiences I had in high school was marching band. We had a terrific band that was like a family, and we competed at a national level. Is there a homeschool equivalent to large-group extracurriculars? If not, can a homeschool kid get the same kind of experience some other way?

    2. How do I unschool myself? Seriously. I feel like — and I’m sure you’ve written about this — school doesn’t let us learn how to be adults. It’s a game where whoever follows the rules the best wins. We get to adulthood and can’t make decisions for ourselves. We don’t even know what we want to do because we were so caught up in winning the game that we’re out of touch with our own talents and affinities.

    Reading your homeschool blog, I’ve realized that I feel incompetent in life, and that it’s probably because I played the game so well. I feel like I need permission for weird things that no one else in the world cares about. I make life decisions without much of a spine to defend them. I feel like I have to defend them!

    Thanks for all of your writing. Happy New Year to you and your family!!

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      Extracurriculars- Take advantage of what is available in the community for all kids and/or form your own groups.

      There are children’s theatre groups and dance schools that perform locally and choirs.

      We had Junior Youth Orchestra, Youth Orchestra and even University Orchestra (as a “community member”) and our small local homeschool group formed a children’s orchestra for a while.

      Also community ed sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Esther, the question you ask about how do you unschool yourself as an adult – that is so deep and huge and I should address it in a post. Thank you for asking it.

      But as I think about the answer, I think that well, this whole blog is me unschooling myself. I’m a terrible rule follower and I still need to be unschooled. It’s absolutely engrained in us. So I try really hard to deconstruct the idea of school here – that’s my own unschooling.

      I am good at self-directed learning, but people always looked down on me for doing it, so I have the attitude that it’s a workaround for low-performers. A lot of my unschooling is teaching myself that self-directed learning is good. And I do it by reading and then reporting on what I learn on this blog. So maybe we can unschool ourselves together!

      Penelope

      • emily
        emily says:

        I have some practice unschooling myself and here’s what I did: I made every day have a theme and I decided on that theme before the week started. So Monday was music day, Tuesday was art day, Wednesday was reading day, Thursday was writing day and Friday was music day again. Saturday was adventure day and Sunday was chill day. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do other things on that day (like work and chores). I did. It just means that I decided what I woke up for in the morning, not anyone else.
        It was the happiest I’ve ever been.

  3. Bird
    Bird says:

    Had a great time browsing through these posts with my homeschooled 8 year old, who was really interested (except in the stuff about not going to college, which just seemed obvious to her.)

    We had a great time going through the Avenues school tour – very shiny. But I was struck; if good architecture is shelter around activity, that school has issues. Where’s the shop? The 3D printers? The place to messily construct stuff? Did they know what kinds of self-directed learning activity they needed to shelter? It felt like a Futurama-chic version of a traditional school. SF Brightworks is more on the mark. Way cooler and a lot less pretty.

    Thanks for the very fun meta-morning with my kid!

  4. Rob Cannon
    Rob Cannon says:

    As an admissions officer for a top college, and a father of 4 homeschooled children, I agree with this! The interesting thing is that top universities love homeschoolers, but most homeschoolers don’t give a hoot about the top universities. The irony of it all!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks, Melissa took it. We posed for fifteen minutes, doing every little thing she asked for, and the kids were like, “Mom we hate your blog. We are sick of your stupid pictures.”

      And then Melissa said she was done, and the kids jumped on me to celebrate, and that’s when she got the good pictures.

      Somehow, I feel like this photo process is a metaphor for homeschooling — the important part is after you loosen the structure.

      Penelope

  5. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    As a parent that is debating the homeschool option, I appreciate the topics addressed in your blog throughout the year. Having your posts as a resource for some of the questions or thoughts we have been debating as a family has really helped us move forward with our decision. It will be official next year, as our oldest will be ready for some educational venue. We’ll be following your new work closely as well. Thank you.

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