I made two investments in homeschooling this week.

First, I bought Rosetta Stone Hebrew. I am worried that Hebrew is too hard for me to teach the kids. I’ve had two years of college Hebrew. I’ve also had five years of get-ready-for-bar-mitzvah-Hebrew that really add up to about one month of college Hebrew. I think this means I know enough to know that I’m going to have to ship the kids off to a kibbutz for a summer if I really want them to learn Hebrew. But I have to start somewhere. And, anyway, how do kids who live 100 miles from the closest Jew learn enough Hebrew to get bar mitzvahed? Read more

After failing special ed math, I went on to launch three startups, securing funding for all three from investors.

At this point, it’s pretty clear to me that very young kids can run their own company. Certainly they can by age fourteen, but probably even younger. Did you ever read Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Money? The book is a great example of how different people think about work and money. But it also shows the two bear cubs launching five businesses in one week. Read more

It’s the start of the school year, which is when parents invariably ask me where we take music lessons. And if they should let their kid start. And what’s it like. My answer is usually, “Yes, definitely your kid should play an instrument. If you are willing to drive yourself nuts with the practicing.”

Before I tell you how great playing an instrument is, let me tell you that I have broken two violin bows by throwing them across the room. And when my son told his violin teacher, she said, “Oh, it’s not that uncommon. Moms with kids who play instruments do that sometimes.”

I have had to drink half a bottle of wine to face cello practice. I have eaten a whole cake while I was dying of boredom listening to the same song 500 times. Read more

For those of you who have not read the story of the courtship between me and my husband, it was sordid. I had just come from ten years in NYC preceeded by ten years in LA. He was still living on the far-from-everything farm he grew up on in Wisconsin. The culture clash was huge, and we pretty much broke up once a month until the kids and I moved into his house.

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We are by our patch of daylilies, next to the barn. And the boys are playing with sticks, while my husband and I watch. It is a perfect moment. One of those moments when I feel like maybe, just maybe, I can stop worrying if I’m a good enough parent.

My son says, “Look! The stick is a laser and I’m killing villains!”

“Look! The stick is a ship in outer space and I’m flying!”

“Look! The stick is a pole and I’m dancing!”

WHAT?????

I say that. I say, “What?” And he says it again. And he moves his hips in a perfectly pole-dancing way.

“Where did you learn that?”

“On YouTube.”

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I am receiving lots of emails about summer vacation and homeschooling. For example, the New Yorker cartoon (above) reflects how far behind school is in terms of teaching communication.

But the emails that are really nagging at me right now are the people telling me that I should write about how kids who go to school are homeschooled in the summer.

I think this is complete BS, and it stems from parents who know they should be homeschooling because it’s consistent with their values but for some reason (probably money and/or addiction to state-funded babysitting) they do not homeschool. Read more

It’s not that top universities are telling people directly to homeschool their kids. Instead, top schools are using a selection process that is hugely advantageous to those who do homeschool. Here’s why:

1. Good grades are a commodity, so they don’t help in the admissions process. 
Girls are doing so much better than boys in both standard high school courses and in standardized tests that their good grades and good scores don’t get girls into good colleges. It’s not enough anymore. White girls especially need a hook.

A hook is, ironically, something you are passionate about and engaged in that is outside of school. Top schools like Harvard and Stanford have always required a hook. Because when you’re in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn’t matter—interesting is what matters. Read more

Often, parents ask me how long my son has been skateboarding. This is parentspeak for, “I hope your kid is a lot older than he looks because I don’t want to think my own kid is slow.”

I think the core parent worry is that their child is falling behind and the parent’s job is to keep that kid out in front. We all pretend to not think that, because it’s not a healthy way to parent—as if we are in a race—but I think most of us battle against thinking that way sometimes.

I think using curriculum is caving to the wrong side of that struggle. Here’s why: Read more

Someone sent me a press release about “educational rap music.”

I knew right away the music would suck. People who write good music do not need to say that it’s educational. I mean, is Bach not educational? Is he just for idiots? What makes some music educational and some not?

Stuff that needs to be labeled educational in order to sell is stuff that is boring and stupid. It’s stuff that kids won’t ask for and instead needs to be force-fed by adults who do not trust kids to know good music when they hear it. Read more

A big part of my income comes from public speaking, and it’s speaking season. So I took my six-year-old on the road. With his cello and his skateboard. Last week we were in Illinois, Florida, and California. People often say they can’t homeschool because they have to work. Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like as a homeschooling family if you take one kid to work. On a plane. And leave the other at home with an adult who has a full-time job but works from home.

I woke up, went to the hotel gym while my son slept. Then I gave a speech at the Natural Products Expo while my son ate from an absurdly lavish breakfast buffet and watched Disney channel videos from iTunes. Afterward I took him to the floor of the trade show so he could see what it’s like. He ate tons of free samples.  Read more