Throw out the prevailing social paradigm

As every family whose kids don’t attend a traditional school knows, the most common question people ask (aside from possibly “but what about Algebra”) is “what about socialization”.

I’ve talked about this before; we all know that it is a myth that homeschoolers lack the ability to interact with people outside their own home, and that in fact most homeschooled kids are far more at ease with people of all ages than are their schooled counterparts because they do not spend their days segregated from the world, associating only with kids their own age.

Despite this, families new to unschooling … Read more

Conversations about college

My daughter is 15 and thinking about college.

It was inevitable that this conversation would come up, as her schooled friends and many homeschooled friends as well are on the “college is necessary for a successful life” track.  Luckily my kids don’t buy in to that argument; they have too many examples in their everyday lives to the contrary.

I don’t sit around the house bashing college – I really don’t – but I am open about my dislike of the idea of going to college just because that’s what others are doing or because you don’t know what else … Read more

NBTSC – four sessions later

Two years ago I drove my then 13 year old daughter to Not Back to School Camp in Vermont for the first time.    As we neared the entrance to Tamarack Farm & Wilderness where the camp takes place, she got very quiet.  This was the first time she stayed away from us for more than a night or two, and the first time she’d ever been away overnight at all without easy access to phone, text or email.   It felt like I was dropping her off at the end of the world.    She was nervous and I was a hopefully … Read more

Unschooling as gateway to the world; not protection from it

Some people think we chose unschooling as  a way to “protect” our kids from unwelcome people, ideas, food (yes, food) & religious beliefs.

Nothing could be further from the truth.   We chose unschooling because we wanted our kids to experience the world in a visceral, no holds barred way – commensurate with their respective ages, of course – and to grow in confidence when it came to navigating said world.

Living in New York City helps.

Parents in the city would be hard-pressed to shield their kids from every extreme in language, behavior and belief.  As Maya said once a … Read more

No expiration date on our ability to learn

One of the most insidious aspects of our compulsory schooling system, in my opinion, is the idea that certain things must be learned between the ages of 5 and 18 or…what?  Be lost to us forever?

If I was prone to swearing on my blog, this would be where I tell you what I think of that idea in my best Brooklyn-ese.  (No, I’m not a native, but I’ve picked up a few things in my nearly 25 years in the city.)

It’s almost summer, which means it’s almost time for the yearly hand-wringing over all the valuable information children … Read more

Practice makes….progress

It’s been pretty well documented by me (and pointed out by others now and then) that I am far from perfect.

Sometimes I lose my temper with my kids.

Sometimes I am not as diplomatic as I should be when someone disagrees with me.

Sometimes I say things that outright offend people, whether intentionally or not.

Sometimes my paperwork is late, my house a mess and what I really want to do is hide in my room and re-watch the entire season of “Outlander” on StarzPlay.

You get the idea.

The woman from whom my kids used to take art … Read more

THIS, about socialization

Consider yourself warned; this is going to get semantic.

Last week, on three consecutive days when in conversation about homeschooling I was asked “But what about socialization?” in those exact words.

There must be something in the air.

Then a few days ago, Sandra Dodd, in her blog Just Add Light & Stir, wrote a post called “Socializing”, in which she said, “When I was in elementary school, the lowest marks I got were C’s (average) in conduct, or deportment. I talked too much. Way more than once I was shushed in class with the admonition, “You’re not here … Read more

Paperwork is small stuff (so don’t sweat it)

The kids’ quarterly reports are going to be late.


They were due yesterday and I’m dropping them in the mail this afternoon.   So it’s not like they are SUPER late, but usually I get mine in on time.

This quarter, however, we were kind of busy doing cool things like traveling in Southern California or attending NBTSC in Joshua Tree or walking the Brooklyn Bridge or visiting a friend in Toronto or showing that same friend the sights of NYC.   There were musicals to be rehearsed and performed, friends to visit on Long Island and now and then an … Read more

All are welcome

When we started unschooling, our focus was limited to our kids.  We had to figure out how this was going to manifest for us, and we didn’t think very  much about other people.  (At least, I didn’t.)

Then, as our kids got older and we realized what an incredible gift we’d discovered, I started to share it with others.   I am, in the words of Seth Godin, a “sneezer”.   If I like something, I want to tell everyone about it and convince them that they will love it as much as I do.   Unschooling is no exception.

Imagine my surprise, … Read more

The rest of it

It just got very quiet in my house.

Both my kids left a few minutes ago, one for the weekend and one overnight.

I can only remember a handful (handful?  maybe less) of times this has happened since they made their appearances on this earth.

Part of me thinks, “How is this possible?  Weren’t they just crawling around and begging for piggy back rides 5 minutes ago?”

But a larger part recognizes their growing independence and freedom to exert it as one of the enormous benefits of unschooling.  (And maybe also of unschooling in NYC?)   And I know it is … Read more