Homeschooling 101

When Covid came I knew right away a lot of parents would start homeschooling. What I didn’t realize is that everyone would have homeschool. I wanted to scream on rooftops that everyone was doing homeschooling wrong. But Covid.

Now that a little dust has settled, I realize that I just want to help people do homeschooling better.

You don’t need to go back to school where everyone talks about “missing” two years and “catching up”. You don’t need to catch up. You need to make sure your kids enjoy their childhood. Homeschooling is about taking their childhood enjoyment into your own hands, to model what that looks like, and then passing off the reins to the kids as they get older. The parts of homeschooling I’m most proud of are the decidedly non-academic moments like snow angels, sand castles, and the day my son was a fashion intern.

Here are answers to specific questions new homeschoolers ask a lot. I want to show you that being a homeschooler isn’t about finding the right answers. It’s about asking better and better questions about what makes a good family, a good childhood, and a good life. Those questions become very limited when the school controls the education options for you.

What exactly is homeschooling?

A lot of times it looks like doing nothing. 

When should I start homeschooling?

Third grade is the last time it’s an easy decision on your kid.

What does it feel like to homeschool?

The same as all parenting: too hard and too crazy

What made you first consider homeschooling?

After suing two schools and winning my son was still doing nothing productive in school. 

How did you decide to homeschool your kids?

I started doing research and I was shocked at how ineffective school is. 

What is un-schooling?

Ignoring old-fashioned ideas about curriculum and instead following the child’s interest. 

How can I afford to homeschool?

Cutting back to a single income is more cost-effective than two parents working. 

2 replies
  1. Julia
    Julia says:

    I am having an opposite issue of sorts. Been homeschooling for five years, the kids are now 13 and want to go to school. I remember one of your sons tried that at around that age. How did it go? They think they have “no friends” (they do have a normal amount of friends, but they think in school people have dozens) and are getting behind in academics (they’re not, certainly in nothing that matters).

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Julie, my kids had the same feelings your kids are having now. Here are steps I took.

      1. Asked my kids what they want to catch up on. How do they know they are behind. What does behind mean. I realized that my kids wanted to feel academically accomplished and I wasn’t giving them that feeling.

      2. I offered them the choice of going to school and doing everything the other kids do or getting tutors and learning faster than the other kids. My kids chose the latter. It became very expensive. I had to face the fact that it’s not acceptable to decide for my kids that academics doesn’t matter. If they decide it matters to them then it matters. I can show them that school is a waste of time, but that doesn’t mean learning subjects they care about is a waste of time. And online courses are definitely a waste of time because tutoring is faster. So if I am telling them we don’t waste time on schooling then I need to come up with money for tutors.

      3. My kids wanted to go to school because they were bored at home. So I needed to find more things that were interesting to them. It works to do projects with little kids, but not teens. They need to do their own projects. If you don’t give them tools to discover their interests then home is pretty boring, and school is probably more interesting. So I started helping my kids get involved in activities that could engage their time and energy in a more meaningful way than school would. It was difficult. We had to try lots of stufff and I had to go quickly so the kids didn’t give up.

      4. I ended up enrolling each of the kids in school at one point or another. The youngest never made it to the first day because he didn’t want to have to practice cello before school every day. He saw all his free time was going to be spent at school. It made practicing too hard. The older son went to school for science in high school. He loved it. If I had not had a nervous breakdown and dragged the boys to Boston he probably would have taken many classes in high school and enjoyed it.

      The bottom line is I think by the time homeschoolers reach high school, if they don’t have independent interests and a good sense of what they are doing with their time, it might be better for them to be in school. Homeschooling doesn’t work if you can’t create a program for yourself based on your own interests. And I don’t think it was that awful that my kids asked to go to school. It didn’t kill them.


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