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

If you homeschool and use workbooks, it’s like you’re recreating the homework scenario. In fact, 96% of parents say they help with homework, so doing fun, innovative learning in the morning and workbooks in the afternoon is similar to sending kids to school and doing homework after school. So the research about homework should be really important to you. Read more

My son, who skateboarded every day last winter, appears to have quit skateboarding. I try to play it cool — he can do whatever he wants, is what I tell him, but I’m not thrilled with the decision: He’s good at skateboarding and it seems like a good balance to his cello and piano lessons. But he’s done.

What I remind myself is that quitting is an important trait of people who understand their personal value. Read more

I take my kids to a psychiatrist because I don’t trust myself. I had a terrible childhood and it makes me question my own judgment. He was surprised when I told him that I am not really teaching my kids any specific subject matter, but once I explained my rationale, I could see his brain moving quickly to adjust. Then he said, “The kids need projects with goals. Do they have that? A sense of accomplishment is very important to development.” Read more


This is an interview I did with Smatoos, a site that reviews educational technology for kids. 

SMATOOS: Could you give our readers a bit of background on why you decided to start homeschooling?

Penelope Trunk (PT): It was in the back of my mind even before I had kids, but my first kid was autistic and I realized I wasn’t the stay-at-home type so I put it on the back burner. But the more I wrote about careers the more it became increasingly clear that the only career problem people have is that they don’t know how to teach themselves and they don’t learn how to figure out what they like. That’s really the crux of every single career problem. Read more