One of the most effective ways to show parents that they don’t need to be teachers in order to homeschool is to show parents how completely ridiculous forced curricula is. I internalized this idea when my youngest son was learning to read. I didn’t teach him. But I watched carefully to see how he learned.

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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

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

The top private k-12 schools in the U.S. charge just under $40,000 per year in tuition. They are important to watch because they are not constrained by budget or standards in public schools or even typical private schools. Instead, they are geared toward getting students into top colleges. Read more

Most of the time my ten-year-old son is reading and re-reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But lately he’s reading The Hunger Games. We were wondering if it’s appropriate for kids his age to read, deaths and all.

I found this site called Library Thing. It tells you the reading level of books. Including Mocking Jay, the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, which is fifth-grade reading. Read more

My son grabs my hand to hold.

I say, “I can’t. I’m holding the cello. Let’s just go. We’re in a rush. Come on. Just grab the music.”

He says, “But I thought you said holding my cute little hand is your favorite thing in the world to do.” Read more

I’m done with math. I’m simply not teaching it.

I am teaching what my kids ask to learn. Right now we are mastering jumping on the bed.

Here is why I don’t think I need to teach math.

1. Learning fundamental math is like reading – kids will take the lead.
My son asked to learn addition, subtraction and multiplication before age seven. So obviously he knows how to ask for what he wants in regard to learning math. He learned it pretty quickly. He is not great at multiplying two digits by two digits, but honestly, neither am I.

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In the curriculum world, I notice there is an obsession with good writing. The problem with the curriculum is that it tells you WHAT to write, which is exactly the problem with school, telling you what to learn. The best way to learn is to do what interests you.

By the same token, the best way to write is to write what you feel like writing about. Part of learning to write is learning to identify what you want to write about. No one writes as well about a proscribed topic as they do about a topic that percolated to the top of their head. Read more

When people ask me why my kids aren’t learning math, I ask them why their kids aren’t learning an instrument. Or why they aren’t learning a language. Because math, music, and language all develop the brain in similar ways. They are all good for a similar type of learning. But the question that assumes that math is the one right way to develop that part of the brain betrays the assumption that traditional school knows best.

Traditional school has kids do a little of everything. So parents have in their heads that this is the right way. This would be okay, of course, if we didn’t live in a world that rewards specialists. For ten years I have been writing about how important specializing is for your career. Specialization is essential, really, to staying employable throughout your adult life. But I have recently been blown away by how clear the research is that kids should specialize as well. Read more

It turns out that test scores for US students are going down for science. And Steven Strauss, a leadership fellow at Harvard, says the US is approaching Third-World status because student math scores are so low. But you know what? Math scores are not the harbinger of developing society. Women entering the workforce and earning their own money is what leads a developing country out of Third-World status.

And you know what? Science scores are not what make women employable. Grit, determination, and self-confidence make women employable. Not because you can wish your way to the workforce, but because those traits make you able to get the help and mentoring you need to make your own money. Read more