I was waiting for my son’s dress rehearsal, sitting next to a mom who was talking to the babysitter on the phone. On a Saturday. She said, “Tell Alex he can only have one hour on his DS and after that he should watch a movie or something. I don’t want him doing the DS for too long.” Read more

A few months back Katherine Williams asked me to send a photo of myself holding a sign that gives advice to parents about homeschooling. What advice would I have wanted to hear as a new homeschooler? She said she was going to make a video, and look, here it is. Read more

My son is obsessed with fashion. He wakes up in the morning, tries on ten outfits, and when I laugh, he says, “Mom! Don’t laugh! You know fashion is really important to me!”

Just the fact that he talks about it like this blows me away. The rest of us barely even change our clothes. He quickly learned that buying clothes in the store is way more fun than online so now when we drive to the Chicago suburbs for cello, we also go for clothes shopping. 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

It turns out that August is Kindergarten Readiness month. To protest the absurdity of this, I am including in this post a photo of my son turning cartwheels in Las Vegas, which is what he did last year instead of going to school.

Here are some totally annoying links on the topic: Read more

Our farm is magical right now. All the animals are having babies. My husband is giving the animals more and more freedom. This year he took the pigs out of farrowing crates and let them farrow in a big, open building full of sunlight and hay. He was worried that the moms would lie on the babies and crush them. This is what hog industry wisdom says will happen. But in fact, the pigs were excellent moms, better than he has ever seen them be before. And the piglets grew up faster, and disease-free when they were left alone to be a variation of free-range pigs. Read more

Before I was a homeschooler, before I even had kids, my friend, Lisa Nielsen was running literacy programs in the New York City public schools. The first time I can remember thinking that schools were really messed up was when she told me that teaching reading in school is controversial among reading specialists.

Today Nielsen’s blog, The Innovative Educator is a great resource for understanding why kids don’t need to go to school to learn to read.

I did not teach my youngest son to read. He has been picking it up himself, often from video game instructions. Here are the arguments against teaching reading that give me the confidence to let him learn to read on his own: Read more

I started writing this blog to figure out if I should homeschool or not. It took me only about a month of blogging to realize that there is overwhelming agreement in the education reform movement that a customized education is best for kids. The issue with homeschooling is not whether it’s best for kids. The issue is whether or not parents can handle doing it.

I homeschool because it seemed to me that it was like breastfeeding: Of course it’s the best thing to do for the kids, it’s just difficult. So I told myself that even though I had no idea what I was doing, it’s clear to me that even starting with no idea what I’m doing is better than putting the kids in school. Read more

During my last business trip I bought my son a phone. I try to say yes to what they want to buy. I try to trust that they’ll use it for something interesting. Sometimes it ends up being a waste of money, but usually not.

So the big surprise about the phone is not that he used it for pictures—I think Generation Z just assumes that every gadget they have takes photos. The surprise to me was that he started texting the photos to people.

And then he responded to the responses, and soon he was spending fifteen minutes a day figuring out how to spell. Read more

Here’s my son, in a hotel room, practicing. I forgot the chair he usually sits on to play, and the only thing short enough for sitting was the toilet.

It turns out that there are interesting acoustics in a bathroom, so it was fun to play in there. But you can be certain that it took a lot of convincing to get him to do it.

And I’m sick of arguing.

I don’t force my kids to do very much. We don’t have schoolwork with lesson plans and workbooks. I don’t make them read stuff they don’t want to. They play video games as much as they want to.

Except for practicing their instruments. I make them practice. Read more