When I was dating my husband and he was trying to get rid of me (over and over again) he would frequently invoke the idea that if my kids and I moved to his farm, we’d be snowed in a lot. “You might get snowed in ten or fifteen days a winter.”

The idea seemed glorious, and only served to make me more persistent every time he tried to break up. 

Once I got to the farm, I made a point of working fewer hours on snowy days. Even though I work from home and there’s no one to tell me it’s a snow day, I love curling up on the sofa with my boys and my books and the dog who can never get warm enough. On the farm you can hear the quiet of the snow and the heavy breathing of the boys who are really, to be honest, just sitting there with me to make me happy because they want to play video games.

I know I’m not the only person with a fetish for snow days because the Restoration Hardware catalogue — the visual index to what’s trending now —is full of kids in playrooms engaging in intricate, peaceful activities that could only happen on a snow day with no school, no activities scheduled, no errands to run. You can imagine, in photo after photo, that any minute the Restoration Hardware catalogue will be full of parents bringing in grilled cheeses cut into hearts and airplanes for the kids to eat in their over-decorated playrooms.

Of course, the snow day motif in the catalogue looks like every day for homeschoolers.

But what I need to tell you now is that St. Cloud Cathedral school in Minnesota cancelled snow days. Last Monday, throughout the northern US,  snow came earlier than anyone except global warming fanatics could have expected. Many schools had snow days, but not St Cloud Cathedral. That school just put everything online.

There are great quotes from administrators talking about how incredibly easy it was for teachers to put lessons online. This is a private school. There is no government telling them they have to do things in a common core, federally funded way. And there was no doubt that the kids would be able to complete their lessons at home, without the aid of teachers. There was great fanfare about how the world has changed and the old rules about school no longer apply.

The only thing left for the school administrators to say is that they are closing school for good and that everyone should do online school from home. But school administrators would never say that because then they’d be out of a job.




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30 replies
  1. Rachel C.
    Rachel C. says:

    Restoration hardware’s playrooms look like the most, sad Orwellian set-up I’ve ever seen. The little grey tent camp scene, yikes. Makes me want to re-read The Giver.

    I love snow days too though. They are definitely an excuse to slow the pace, even if you are already home all day.

    • mh
      mh says:


      Children don’t want to be off in the playroom. Children want to be with YOU.

      No matter how nice the playroom, it has the same problem that any schoolroom has: this is the place parents dump their children so they can feel good about ignoring them.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        We do both, we are together talking about all the interesting things we are working on during the day, but we also prefer being in our separate spaces as well, playroom, office, family room. Still near eachother, but working separately for a majority, then chaos with kids all talking at once, then lovey dovey time. It’s the best. But, no fancy furniture here and my theme is “real kids live here”.

  2. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I live in a part of the US where people freak out at a little patch of snow on the San Gabriel Mountains.

    La Hipster”look it snowed!”
    Me: “Where?”
    LA Hipster: “Look at that little white patch up there.”

    I lived in Minneapolis for 5-6 years on and off so I think it’s hilarious when I hear the talk of snow out here in SoCal.

    Great post, the last sentence sums it up! School is a jobs program!!

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        Lake Tahoe once, never again. I prefer to not self-abuse. :)

        But the point…you must drive a while to get to the snow here vs being snowed inside your house there and watching the snow fall while looking out your windows, seeing it pile ever so higher out on the ground. Watching your car disappear into a field of white. Needing snow boots for your dog so he doesn’t freeze his paws off when he has to do his business. I miss it….

  3. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    My husband and I were brainstorming ways to make it through the transition of a new baby. Currently we’ve punished ourselves with this stupid idea that we can’t go to bed until both kids have gone to sleep. We’ve decided to try something new: when Murphy is not ready for bed he’s welcome to staying in the living room playing or watching tv with all the lights on. We’re going to bed and all the lights are out. We’ll unschool anyway and there won’t be a need to wake up at x hour so there’s no real need to go to bed at a specific hour if the parents bed time is not contingent on quiet sleepy kids.

    Knowing the child who dislikes being alone so much i predict he’ll come to bed within 5 minutes. He’s never been much of a sleeper (less than 7 hours per night often) and we’ve made our lives miserably sleep deprived by sticking to some standard that isn’t helpful and we don’t need.

    I’m excited because I anticipate a better marriage due to better sleep. No more feeling like I want to be roommates rather than married.

    It’s been a while since we decided to unschool but it takes so long to unlearn decades of the same indoctrination. We still find ourselves doing things in a way that isn’t effective or joyful for no real reason.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Fun, try also leaving a few things about like books he can’t destroy, duplo lego sets, brain puzzles and just make sure he is house safe. Set him up for success! :) You guys need to go easy on yourselves, you just had a baby and you have a toddler. You need at least a few months to feel normal again. Give yourselves permission to relax and make your own path.

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        Thaank you. The most surprising thing was that it hadn’t occurred to me to do that.
        It goes to show how powerful indoctrination is.

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          HI Karelys,

          You mention he hasn’t really slept more than 7 hours daily. This is concerning. Have you seen a doctor for it? Sleep problems can affect development.

    • Jennifa
      Jennifa says:

      In seems that teaching them how to sleep – at some point – is beneficial. My neice and nephew hate to spend the night at my house because I make them go to the guest bedroom by midnight or so. They are 11 and 15 and told me they have never ever slept in their rooms without a TV on. Consequently at my house they go insane at bedtime. At first I let them stay downstairs, but they would eat all my snacks, and the living room would be a mess. Not to mention screaming and screeching when I was trying to sleep.

      Lol. maybe I am just an old-lady now, but I cannot stand kids that won’t go to bed!!!

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        I don’t see how you can force anyone to sleep without using sleeping pills. Isn’t teaching a child how to develop a bedtime routine on his own better than forcing kids to just lay in bed? At least give them a reading lamp or something.

        Secondly, my kids are younger than your neice/nephew and even though we are radical unschoolers I still expect them to behave appropriately around family. This comes about through talking about expectations and modeling behaviors. Unschooling is not permissive parenting… they are not the same thing at all.

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          It occurred to me that my oldest spawn has a pretty set and strong rhythm of his own. He doesn’t sleep much and that’s just how he is. I can force him but when he’s this young nothing will happen. Maybe when he’s older.

          I just have no interest in controlling my kids. I am too tired for that. Normally when I am at my wits end I want to be controlling. But when I am rested or at least I’ve eaten I feel more of a desire to guide and help.

          God knows I was never the kid that would fall asleep before midnight and I always heard my parents having sex and I HATED IT! I wouldn’t say it was traumatic but it was traumatic ;).

  4. Alyssa
    Alyssa says:

    I’m not sure if they’re doing this elsewhere, but in California families can enroll in online school and I’ve been hearing commercials about it all over the radio.

    These are no-cost, state-sanctioned, online schools under the Charter Schools program in CA. It still requires children to learn specific things that they may or may not be excited about, but there is some flexibility in how and when they work through it.

    A step in the right direction, perhaps?

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Maybe, I did try the charter homeschool option for 6 months and hated it. It was not a good fit for us as my kids are several “grade” levels ahead and they would not grade skip. Then I realized that we don’t need textbooks for my kids to learn. I’m not downplaying it for others, I just know it’s not a good option for my family. And they have been around in CA for at least a decade.

    • Kierstin
      Kierstin says:

      We do online k12 and I’ve learned a little secret about it. Here in Ohio, you don’t have to actually DO any of the work they give you….They give you a ton of curriculum, supplies, a computer, and take care of the paperwork, but then they only make sure you do the State Required minimum, which is actually a pretty low bar. So basically we have ample access to material , discounted field trips, and a “homeschool community,” but we work entirely on our own. We’re moving towards unschooling but I’ve been too afraid of dealing with our local school board, so this has been a nice compromise. I just did a post on my blog about how to unschool (as much as you can) when you have a curriculum. Not every state allows you to completely unschool, so online schools are actually a pretty nice alternative, I think.

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    There are many ways change happens. This is one of the ways. A solution (lessons online) to overcome an obstacle (severe weather) that everyone embraces as a necessity that inadvertently results in being adopted more regularly in other circumstances. What was once extraordinary and unusual becomes incorporated into other situations as people get used to it and discover the benefits it affords. The thing that didn’t used to happen because ‘that’s not the way it’s done around here’ starts happening because it turns out it’s a better way of doing things.

  6. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    When the APEC conference was in town last week, Beijing closed all the schools. This was to keep cars off the roads – and families at home – to lower pollution levels when world leaders came to town. The school where I work put all its lessons online. Students were expected to do homework during the state-mandated ‘holiday’. Of course few of them did!

  7. Jeff T.
    Jeff T. says:

    The downside is that the kids won’t get those snow days for free play if they still have to log online to do school lessons.

  8. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    For public schools that would do this, what about the poor kids who don’t have internet access at home? This is still a problem in many areas. They may have a prepaid smartphone, but would trying to access lessons on it be as effective and/or would it use up their data plan? Often an under served school won’t have easily accessible wifi either, so getting lessons up on online would pose a problem as well.


    Will this be yet another way that those kids end up behind?

    • Kierstin
      Kierstin says:

      The actual online schools reimburse you for your internet connection…the last I heard about our local public school system, the kids who didn’t have an internet connection to work on assignments had the onerous put on them to come into school or go to the library. Yeah, pretty unfair.

  9. OliviaK
    OliviaK says:

    Online classes are available all of the time and completely free to anyone who wants to homeschool their children here in Nevada. You are still tethered to a “school”, though. I like PT’s off- the grid approach.

  10. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’
    Upton Sinclair

    I have found this to be so true in the field of education. Love the way to hack K12 Kierstin – that is a great alternative for so many.

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