If you have teenagers you know the the reason all homeschool advice is from parents with young kids to other parents with young kids is because that’s the time it’s easiest to delude yourself that you know what you’re doing. That’s why I have so many extra pictures of my kids as teenagers to sprinkle all over my blog posts; I barely wrote about my kids during those years. Read more

The scariest article I read in all my research about homeschooling is about how far parents in Silicon Valley are going to keep their kids off of phones. A Dark Consensus about Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley. The article was from 2018. It was clear to me then that the parents in Silicon Valley knew more than everyone else knew about phones. It was also clear to me that it costs a lot of money to keep kids off phones. Because phones are a sanity tool for parents.

So yeah, the phones are a drug. Of course, that’s why the parents need them so much for raising kids. I gave up one drug, which was school, and replaced it with another, phones. I could tell then that I was going to do nothing about this because I saved the article without any note to myself.

Usually, when there is an important article there is also a note. A tirade. A directive from me to the rest of the world that obviously, this is the truth so just be a grown up and face it.

My kids spent too much of their transition time/break time/waiting time on their phones. I didn’t let them have space to learn how to have space. Look at nothing. Time to think. I have done the same to myself. I rarely am without a screen.

Now, with a little distance I know that the failures I have as a homeschool parent are a reflection of the failures I have as a human. I didn’t need to worry so much about being a homeschooler.

I could have focused more on being the best version of me. The best version of me definitely is not with my head in a screen all the time. But as a homeschooler I know I’m always learning; I think there’s still time for me to learn to be better. That’s true for my kids as well.

I talk with a lot of you so I know there are an inordinate number of people who homeschool their kids because their kids are training  for the Olympics, or are prodigies in chess or music…. the type of kids who are extremely specialized and do their thing all day and schedule tutors after their special thing. Of course there are a lot of those people. I was one of them.

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A lot of times when kids first leave school, they spend a few months playing video games. That’s all. Just video games. And the parents freak out. Read more

The reason I have so much trouble writing about my homeschooling journey is that not everything worked. But I know if I don’t start talking about it, I’m not going to help people do it better than I did.

The biggest issue was not my kids. It was me. I made a lot of decisions I thought were for the kids but they were really for me. Because I have autism and life is really, really difficult for me. I understand autism a lot better now than I did when I started homeschooling twelve years ago. Knowing about my own autism has shed the most light on how I should have done things differently for my autistic kids. Read more

The people who are most unhappy with public schools in the US are people without children. Parents, it turns out, report that their schools are great. Translation: school is such a sacred form of free childcare that parents systematically mix up causation and correlation in order to keep believing that school is okay. Read more

The truth is that I have partial attention all day and it’s exhausting. Working while homeschooling means constant interruptions all day long. Almost everyone who I have ever coached has had to pause for a minute while I did something for a kid. Read more

It’s impossible to control the hopes and dreams we have for our kids. They start forming even before the sperm hits the egg. It’s an unconscious human thing that we do.

I didn’t want a kid who loves school, so it sucked that his favorite part of school is tests. I am always hunting links to send to him – headlines that argue my point for me so I can continue my charade of a parent who doesn’t push my own agenda.

Here’s one: Government policies push schools to prioritize creating better test-takers over better people.

At first blush the link seems like a keeper — maybe to send as a treat for a birthday or Hanukkah. But once I thought twice I realized I hate this line of thinking as well. I hate everyone writing about school because why are they even doing research? We don’t even have an agreed upon goal for school yet the public funds research about the efficacy of school.

So here’s this SUNY Buffalo announcement that shockingly schools measure test scores and not goodness. How could a school ever measure a person’s goodness? And if we have the goal for school of increasing a student’s goodness, then how do we know if there is improvement from the baseline?

Is there some sort of agreement on what makes a good person? We’d need that before we could know what defines making someone a better person. Better than good, I guess. This would be a great time to rescue the word gooder before it’s in the language arts trash bin for eternity.

School could work on making us gooder. Are we going to tell kids they are not born good? Because that’s some hard-core Christianity there. Jews believe we are born good. So we are going to have to stick with gooder if we are keeping church and state separate.

A lot of the article focuses on how much time it takes students to prepare for tests in a test-focused environment.

What I noticed, though, is that it’s actually the tests to prepare for the tests that matter that waste all the time. My son only studied for AP tests. Because as a homeschooler other scores didn’t matter. And I’m sure that’s true in the case of the kids suffering in this SUNY Buffalo study: Most tests don’t matter. The AP tests matter because for lack of anything better colleges count them. Colleges never find out about the classes you took leading up to the AP tests. They just assume you took them.

You could spend all that time being a good person. And, if you were not in school you could spend that time deciding what your own definition of a good person is.  The point is that we are all in agreement — SUNY Buffalo, college admissions and homeschoolers — that  kids should spend the least time possible studying for the tests that colleges requires. Which means you should take the fewest amount of tests you need to get into college. You’d be shocked how few that really is.

At some point I realized the kids I liked most are the hard-core gamers. I encouraged my kids to carve out time each day to take gaming seriously. One of the things I’m most proud of in our homeschooling is that my kids play League of Legends. This game is similar to chess if you played it while trying to not get shot by your opponent’s teammates. In a world where hard-core gamers are faster learners and have stronger brains, League caters to the cream of the crop. Read more

The first time we talked about allowances in our family it was my sneaky way to do math. My grade-school aged kids couldn’t tell the difference between a quarter and a nickel, because why would they have any need for that outside of a school assignment? Read more