When my kids went to the local school, before I started homeschooling, I made a big deal about Rosh Hashanah.

We didn’t go to synagogue. Too boring. And also, we live in rural Wisconsin so it’s a 90-minute drive to the closest synagogue. Instead, I made a big deal out of Rosh Hashanah by taking my kids out of school for the day. I announced, “It’s Rosh Hashanah! Jewish parents don’t work on Rosh Hashanah and kids don’t go to school!”  Read more

If you had $10,000,000 would you still homeschool?

Someone emailed this question to me.

It’s an interesting question. Because before I started homeschooling, I would have taken that money and hired a consultant at $10K per kid to get them both into one of those top NYC private schools. Then I would have bought a summer home in the Hamptons. It would have to be a cheap house, actually, if I only had $10 million. But whatever. I’d buy the house and spend summers there and send my kids to private NYC schools during the school year. Read more

This past week we had a film crew at the house getting footage for a reality TV show about our family. I’m excited. At first I was scared that the TV show would be bad for the kids. And the night before the crew got here, I went food shopping, (because I thought I definitley don’t want to drag a film crew through my tiny town supermarket—the people who live near me already think I’m nuts) and the cover article on one of the tabloids was that the Bachelorette is sacrificing her kid’s sanity for her own fame. Read more

A few weeks ago my son and I took a driving trip to Ohio for a cello institute. I want to tell you to read this post thinking about classical music filling our ears for a week. But I felt like it was a week TV. In the car driving there, in between lessons at the camp, and after playing cello all day we’d come home and order room service and watch TV. So I have seen a lot of commercials. And I realized that I can tell a lot about where education is going from watching TV.

Butterfly Garden
This is a product that has been sold in schools for forty years. You buy the butterfly larvae or whatever they are, and then you put them in your netting thing and watch them become butterflies. It’s a great commercial and it made me want to buy it for my kids. But I realized, as I was watching the mom help the kids have educational moments with their insects that what the commercial was really selling was homeschool. You can take the best of school and bring it into your home. I see the trend here is that parents feel more and more responsible for their kids educations. Read more

This is a guest post from Danielle Ali Shah. She is an Australian living in Rawalpindi, Pakistan with her husband, and three children whom she homeschools. You can read her blog here. This post is about Danielle’s daughter, Diyana, pictured above.

I often think of my kids as pretty non-self motivated learners, since they tend to glue themselves to their computers to play games for hours on end whenever they are allowed. It is one of my biggest fears with the idea of unschooling… that they will NEVER leave their computers if they were given the choice.

But lately I have realised that learning doesn’t always come in the form you expect it. Read more

My kids do almost all their TV watching on our computer, in the car, or in a hotel room TV when we travel. Which means that I hear everything they watch, and I have to say I love the shows they choose. My six-year-old’s favorite shows are iCarly and Jessie. He watches each episode ten times, which means I hear each episode ten times.

And you know what? I rarely get sick of the episodes. I’m fascinated by how much he learns about how the world works from these shows. Read more

The first few months of homeschooling were terrifying to me. I have a very social son who had no one to play with.  And I had no idea how to fix that. You guys gave me tons of suggestions. And everything you told me turned out to be true. But the best advice I got was that it’ll happen in time. He’ll make friends, just give him time.

I did not believe it. I’m not a wait-and-see kind of person. But so much of homeschooling is wait-and-see. So much is being patient while the kid learns at his own speed. So much is waiting to see what the kids want to learn. I’m a planner. I’m about hard-driving, achievement-oriented blue-ribbon lifestyles. I work very hard to not force this onto my kids. (Even though I hope hope hope that one of them chooses this for himself.) Read more

How to teach writing: ignore grammar

I rarely tout my teaching abilities as a reason that I am homeschooling, which is probably why I have a homeschool blog full of beach resort photos instead of teaching tips.

However I do think I’m qualified to teach writing. I’ve taught writing at Brown, Boston University, and the University of Paris. And having been a teacher of college students I feel qualified to tell you that being a writing teacher is the process of giving constant feedback about what is interesting and what is not interesting.

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Most of the time that I’m writing on this blog, I’m relaying to you the daily process I go through of reaffirming in my mind that there is no way I could send my kids to school. Because believe me, if I could somehow justify it in my head, I’d do it in a second.

Last week we hung out in Florida with people who have a lot of money. I did a lot of watching, and (when the weather warmed up enough to take off our winter coats,) I found myself on a deck chair next to a talkative mom, and I chatted.

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I have spent most of my life surrounded by men. I was a high school debater, which is mostly men. I was a professional beach volleyball player, which you’d think would be mostly women, but when there’s a group of athletic women in bikinis it turns out that the world feels like it’s mostly men.

Then I went into the tech industry. All men. I got my first job writing because Time Warner paid me to write about what it’s like being a woman in the field of tech startups.

Then I had kids and kept working. That’s when the world really divides. Women who work after they have kids are pretty much isolated from other women. Anecdotally it doesn’t make sense: of course there are other women at the office. But statistically this makes sense: Pew Research reports that 80% of women who have kids say they would not want to work full-time outside the home if they had the choice. (Interesting offshoot of this trend: Applications for moms wanting jobs as part-time phone sex operators have increased 400%.)

I downloaded a bunch of episodes of Mad Men to watch because I miss men. I miss their power-mongering energy. It is so different from women. Men don’t talk about feelings or kids. They talk about sports and business. I don’t know anything about football or basketball, so men talk to me about business.

I can’t tell if I miss the men or the talk about business. But I feel confused. Because when I was working all the time, and leaving my kids at home with round-the-clock nannies, I got so angry at men for being oblivious to what their wife and kids were doing at home. And now I think I miss having my small part of that oblivion.