I am going to summarize the findings presented in an incredible TED talk by Ali Carr-Chellman professor of education at Penn State. Like much of the education research coming out today, her conclusion makes it completely clear that parents should homeschool boys. But that’s too controversial for her to say. So I’m saying it.

Here’s the research she presents:

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When I started homeschooling, I used workbooks. I got my kids through a whole grade level in about two months. But I found myself forcing my kids to learn stuff they were not interested in learning. The constant arguing killed me, and the lack of excitement over learning seemed like the opposite of what we were aiming to do. Read more

Kids who play video games do better as adults

So much of the discussion of school comes down to video games. Especially for boys. And here’s why: in most cases, if you tell boys they can spend their time doing whatever they want, and they can learn whatever is interesting to them, they will learn a lot about video games.

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What is the point of parenting if you don’t get to force your own agenda? We start doing this early, by picking a mate. I picked smart, good looking, and Jewish. I didn’t pick good social skills. Believe me, I would have, if I had understood their importance at the time. But one result of not having social skills is you don’t know why anyone else needs them, either. Read more

It’s fall on the farm, which means the stack of wood is high enough to get us through the whole winter. My husband brings back chopped wood from our forest, and before he stacks it neatly into the pile, the kids build a fort. Or a kitten cage. Or a jumping pile for them and the dogs. Read more

I write a ton about all the things that surprise me when my kids have unlimited screen time. I’ve been surprised that they learned to type, that they learned to spell, and they learned to make movies.

Today I’m surprised that they learned about politics.

We were driving in the car to the butcher and my husband said to me, “I saw you are promoting the Republicans on your blog. Are you voting for Romney?”

“What?” Read more

I think my son is a writer. Not the one who is the cellist. Writing is too solitary for him and the audience is too far removed. He’s a performer. But the other son, he is a writer with a knack for non-fiction. He writes a journal every night, and he’s as obsessive as I was about mine. Read more

I get a lot of emails from people who want me to link to their stuff. You’d be surprised how much of it I click on. Just to see. I am always scared I’ll miss something good. I often get emails from this place that specializes in making graphic representations of stuff. The company is great at knowing what people want to read about. They recently sent me one about video game addiction, which I care about because in our house we have unlimited video games. Read more

What it’s like to have no limits on video games

Here’s the update on my grand video game experiment: Unlimited video games has been great. If there is nothing my kids are supposed to be doing—feeding goats, practicing violin, taking a skateboard lesson—then they can play video games. I have not put limits on how much they play or what they play. I have even been very liberal about making purchases that they kids needed to play what they want. Here are some examples of what happened: Read more

This is a picture of my perfect homeschool moment: We are in New York City, waiting for The Lion King to begin. My sons have never been to a Broadway show. They are mesmerized by the grandeur of the theater, and I am giddy with anticipation of seeing their faces light up when the show starts. This is the most exciting kind of “educational moment.”

But the truth is, most of our homeschooling involves no grandeur, no lesson plans, and tons of video games. This is not to say we don’t do cool stuff. We do pottery and skateboarding and swimming, and well, you’ve heard the list before. It’s a dream-come-true childhood, really, all the fun stuff they do. But there’s a lot of time in between Broadway shows and private horseback lessons, and almost all that down-time is filled with video games. Read more