You are not trying hard enough. You only try hard at what you like.

This is a refrain you hear in school all the time. Probably because it’s true, that kids intuitively try hard at what they like. In early grades, this means boys are trying hard at recess. In later grades it means very few kids are trying their hardest at math. It also means that we intuitively know what it looks like when a kid is be focused on trying their hardest. Read more

Now that I have a kid who is really talented, I can see what not really talented looks like.

For example, his skateboard teacher tells me he’s great. But I think to myself, well, is he one of the best in the country for his age right now? Probably no. I see the 12-year-old who just landed a 1080. My son is not on track for that, I don’t think. And also, I took him to skate in Los Angeles, and I have to say that no one stopped us to tell us how blown away they were with his skating. (Wondering if you have a kid who is talented in sports? You can study the process of identifying sports talent here.)
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If you are going to focus on teaching kids soft skills for successful living, then of course you are going to teach them about money. The idea of an allowance is becoming controversial. Maybe it’s not such a great idea.  But if you are going to teach money, then why not teach how to buy happiness? After all, what better lesson is there? So here are four lessons about buying happiness that kids can learn as kids.

1. Anticipation makes a purchase more exciting.
It was clear to me that we’d be buying a bike this summer. The kids learned to ride bikes on our trip to California, and my youngest son is hooked. Read more

The debate over the value of college is heating up. The value of degrees from non-top-tier colleges is negligible.  The future job market does not require a four-year college degree. And now Time magazine is advocating vocational school for most kids.

I have thought for a while that homeschool should be like vocational school. For example, when my son goes to horseback riding lessons, he doesn’t just ride. He learns to do the work of the people who run the horse barn. Sometimes I worry that my mind has been clouded from fifteen years of giving career advice and now I’m too vocationally focused. But now I’m thinking that vocational school is the education that kids need to be successful adults. Here are three reasons why: Read more

The post I published yesterday was the first post in six years of blogging that generated only one comment.

I was lucky enough to start blogging when there were very few bloggers and almost none blogging with my main topic, careers. So I always had 5-10 comments, and now I almost never get less than 50 comments on a post.

This homeschool blog is harder for me. I thought it was an act of love. Or curiosity. But really, this blog, like my other one, is a way for me to explore ideas. It’s pretty much the thing that I’m best at. And really, thank goodness, because I’ve been fired from every other type of job. Read more

This is a guest post from James Maher. (That’s his self-portrait, at the top of this post.) He’s a fine art and freelance photographer based in New York City. You can see his photography of New York City on his web site. 

I was on Adderall from my Sophomore year in high school until I was 27. I had significant ADD and lived in a family where everyone had ADD and so it was tough to ever get any peace and quiet or any structure. We had a television in our kitchen, living room and all of the bedrooms and they were always on. Read more

What is up with people emailing me ideas for what I can do with my kids? I already have way too many ideas. For example, we were at the Guggenheim last month, honestly, my sons probably would have rather run around in Central Park. (They tried running in the Guggenheim, and believe me, it was a disaster.)

The hardest part of homeschooling is not figuring out what there is to do with kids. The world is full of things to do for kids who are not going to school. The hardest part is figuring out what not to do. School rules out so much—anything that cannot be taught to 30 kids at once time in a small room. That rules out almost everything. Read more

Today the vast majority of knowledge workers are using LinkedIn to manage their career, so, as a career counselor, it’s my job to keep track of what’s going on over there.

Recently, LinkedIn published a list of the ten most common words people use on their profiles. These words show what people value in themselves and other people.

1. Creative

2. Organizational

3. Effective

4. Extensive experience

5. Track record

6. Motivated

7. Innovative

8. Problem solving

9. Communication skills

10. Dynamic

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My younger son has been bugging me about skateboarding for a year. I’m not a big fan. I think it’s a roadmap to a concussion and also, what are we going to do about cello if he can’t play for six weeks because of a broken wrist?

But he was relentless, so I decided that if he’s so curious about something, I should say yes. He loved it, and also he loved the other kids at the skate park. Finally we found a group of kids for him. It’s too bad that they can’t skate until after school, but he practices a lot while they are in school.

My older son saw how well things were working out for my younger son, so he wanted to do it, too. I was surprised. He has lousy balance and also a big part of skateboarding is knowing where the other kids are and what they are likely to do next so you don’t run into each other. This is very very hard for a kid with Asperger’s. But I told myself that things that are hard for him are good for him. Read more

I notice that lots of people use college admission as evidence that homeschooling works. Here’s an example of a mom who says college is proof of her homeschooling success.

This is shocking to me. While homeschooling is controversial, ditching college is much less controversial.

There are lists of wildly successful people who did not graduate college. The New York Times is publishing essays about how starting one’s own business is more important for lifelong success than going to college. And because of the insane costs associated with higher education, the topic of how useless college is has entered the political debate as well. Read more