Top universities want you to homeschool

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

I took this picture when I was in New York City, in the middle of the week, at a totally cool place called Make Meaning. They have cakes that are ready-made, and they have totally cool things for decorating the cakes, including a spin-art setup, where the cake is on the spinner instead of the piece of paper, and you paint the cake as it spins.

I took the photo because I knew it was a special moment. It was a moment that I knew I could only have because we were homeschooling. And I thought I’d need pictures like this to remind me when I have doubts about homeschooling.

I thought the photo would remind me of the educational benefits of being outside the classroom. But the photo is much more than that.

Peter Gray, at Psychology Today, polled homeschool families, and he published a summary of what parents say the benefits are to their homeschooling.

I am struck by the four benefits that parents mentioned most frequently: Read more

We went to visit my brother in New York City when his baby was born. My kids loved holding her. Finally.

There’s been a lot of lead-up to this. For example, the last time we visited, as we were going up to the apartment, in the elevator, my six-year-old said, “If Aunt Kristen is pregnant, does that mean she and Uncle Adam had sex?”

I said, “Yes.”

My son said, “Do you think I could ask Uncle Adam if he liked it?”

The people in the elevator nearly died laughing.

I said, “People like having sex with someone they love. But it would not be good manners to ask Uncle Adam about a specific time. That’s private.” Read more

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The New York Times has decided to take up the cause of studying English in college.

This discussion sounds similar to the discussion of whether we should legalize gay marriage. Generation Y is so overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing gay marriage that the debate is a waste of time. It’s opposed by conservative, out-of-date Baby Boomers who want to freeze society in debate sessions like they try to hold onto their delusions of agelessness with plastic surgery.

The discussion of teaching English is absolutely ridiculous. Here’s why: Read more

It’s too bad that I’ve starting reading a lot of parenting books because I get free business books in the mail every day, but I’m sick of them. I’ve been getting free business books in the mail every day for the last five years, and I shudder to think how many I’d get each day if I hadn’t spent the last five years changing addresses more often than a felon on the run.

It’s also too bad that I’ve started reading parenting books because my local library doesn’t have any. Well, who knows if they have any, because the books are shelved randomly by someone with no apparent knowledge of the Dewey decimal system. For example, Shakespeare’s Henry V is shelved in the biography section.

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I have come to enjoy when people ask me, “How is the homeschooling going?”

I used to say, “Fine.”

Now I don’t. Now I say, “We are not schooling. I decided that school is unnecessary and we are doing self-directed learning.”

People say, “What is that?”

Read more

I read a lot about how kids should have unstructured time to learn in non-sedentary ways. I totally agree. It’s just that I think it’s a conversation initiated by parents of overscheduled kids.

For homeschoolers, the idea that kids should have down time just being kids is pretty easy. After all, there are 14 waking hours of the kids’ days and for school kids 10 of those are spend dealing with school stuff. Homeschoolers don’t have that. They can do unstructured play all day long.

But I’m not sure that’s the best idea because then kids are not exposed to things they wouldn’t seek out on their own, in their small, home-based world. Read more