Professional Development: Homeschool Inspo


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I’m engaging in some home educator professional development today, and I came across this list of quotations tagged homeschool on goodreads. (As an aside, if you haven’t heard of Good Reads, it’s fabulous! You list and rate books you have read, and it suggests new ones. You can also save books you want to read later on. It’s fabulous!)

I am sharing some of the quotations that spoke to me as a home educator, in the hopes that they may speak to you as well! A word of caution, the last one has a profane word, but I am sharing it anyway because I think it makes a particularly poignant example.

“As children become increasingly less connected to adults, they rely more and more on each other; the whole natural order of things change. In the natural order of all mammalian cultures, animals or humans, the young stay under the wings of adults until they themselves reach adulthood. Immature creatures were never meant to bring one another to maturity. They were never meant to look to one another for primary nurturing, modelling, cue giving or mentoring. They are not equipped to give one another a sense of direction or values. As a result of today`s shift to this peer orientation, we are seeing the increasing immaturity, alienation, violence and precocious sexualization of North American Youth. The disruption of family life, rapid economic and social changes to human culture and relationships, and the erosion of stable communities are at the core of this shift.”
Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

“Children are not only extremely good at learning; they are much better at it than we are.”
John Holt

“When freedom prevails, the ingenuity and inventiveness of people creates incredible wealth. This is the source of the natural improvement of the human condition.”
Brian S. Wesbury

“Any child who can spend an hour or two a day, or more if he wants, with adults that he likes, who are interested in the world and like to talk about it, will on most days learn far more from their talk than he would learn in a week of school.”
John Holt

“Schooling that children are forced to endure—in which the subject matter is imposed by others and the “learning” is motivated by extrinsic rewards and punishments rather than by the children’s true interests—turns learning from a joyful activity into a chore, to be avoided whenever possible. Coercive schooling, which tragically is the norm in our society, suppresses curiosity and overrides children’s natural ways of learning. It also promotes anxiety, depression and feelings of helplessness that all too often reach pathological levels.”
Peter Gray

“I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions.”
John Taylor Gatto

“Trust in families and in neighborhoods and individuals to make sense of the important question, ‘What is education for?’ If some of them answer differently from what you might prefer, that’s really not your business, and it shouldn’t be your problem. Our type of schooling has deliberately concealed the fact that such a question must be framed and not taken for granted if anything beyond a mockery of democracy is to be nurtured. It is illegitimate to have an expert answer that question for you.”
John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education

“We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.”
Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God

“Children, even when very young, have the capacity for inventive thought and decisive action. They have worthwhile ideas. They make perceptive connections. They’re individuals from the start: a unique bundle of interests, talents, and preferences. They have something to contribute. They want to be a part of things.

It’s up to us to give them the opportunity to express their creativity, explore widely, and connect with their own meaningful work.”
Lori McWilliam Pickert

“To learn how to do, we need something real to focus on — not a task assigned by someone else, but something we want to create, something we want to understand. Not an empty exercise but a meaningful, self-chosen undertaking.”
Lori McWilliam Pickert

“Allowing children to learn about what interests them is good, but helping them do it in a meaningful, rigorous way is better. Freedom and choice are good, but a life steeped in thinking, learning, and doing is better. It’s not enough to say, “Go, do whatever you like.” To help children become skilled thinkers and learners, to help them become people who make and do, we need a life centered around those experiences. We need to show them how to accomplish the things they want to do. We need to prepare them to make the life they want.”
Lori McWilliam Pickert

This one is a abundantly clear to those of us who are familiar with how curriculum and testing work, with Common Core and its development providing a recent example:

“Many of our elected officials have virtually handed the keys to our schools over to corporate interests. Presidential commissions on education are commonly chaired by the executives of large companies.”
Alfie Kohn, The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards”

“Notice the difference: A child’s disability is the focus in traditional classroom settings, but his abilities are the focus in the homeschool environment.”
Sandra K. Cook, Overcome Your Fear of Homeschooling with Insider Information

Lastly, this one made me laugh, and think:

“My best memory of school was probably leaving school. Because I hated that fucking place.”
Troye Sivan

Many people are surprised to hear that I encountered difficulties during my school years, because I was able to succeed in a competitive college, and then graduate from law school with honors and pass the bar exam. In fact, my ability to succeed in spite of school is what led me to learn more about homeschooling in the first place.

Happy Wednesday!


guest post, written by my 8.5 year old daughter.

ages 8 to 19

I want to have a Harry Potter club at my house. In the club we can bake whatever we want. We can get a big family pool and then play in it with fake wands. and dress up as

characters  from  Harry potter and do a play for are parents  and watch  Harry potter movies  and make Harry potter merchandise  and do activities and jump on the Couch             well  we watch movies. and  build  a fort with the Couch  pieces and play games and kids        can bring  there  Harry potter books  to read  out loud  if  they  want to and if you want to      sketch characters from Harry potter bring sketch pads and  colored pencils then.and               if you  want to go play upstairs ask my mom.and  we can play with the soccer ball .

A Homeschool Mom, A Friend Unlike Any Other

FullSizeRender (5)I have been wanting for some time to write some blog posts about some positive aspects of homeschooling that are less well known or anticipated when you are first starting out and feeling overwhelmed. I was intending to write one such post on the joy and beauty that comes with really knowing your children. However, this morning I had the opportunity to give a talk at the HSC Conference about how to homeschool legally in California, and I ran into all sorts of homeschool mom friends, and so I felt inspired to write this post instead. I have some pretty amazing mom friends that are not homeschool moms, and I love them too, however this post is dedicated to the special friends I have encountered over the past 4 years, directly as a result of homeschooling.

I have previously written here and here, and probably elsewhere about the amazing friendship that exists with other homeschool moms. Yet, it is something that is so unlike any other friendship in life, that it is hard to quantify or describe.

A homeschool mom is a friend unlike any other, because she is truly your friend. Sometimes she is your friend even if your kids do not typically play together, because perhaps they are different ages or simply have different interests. Sometimes she is your friend and your kids absolutely love each other and cannot get enough of one another.

In either event, she is truly your friend, and is there to hug you and love you and greet you mama bearin person, and ask how YOU are doing, and how you have been, and what you have been up to you. Or she is there to receive your text messages about anything from complaining that the grocery store doesn’t have the right flour to getting just as excited about you for all the fieldtrips you hope to take in the coming year, most likely together.

A homeschool mom friend who you haven’t seen at a park day in months, and yet when she sees you at conference, or on a special fieldtrip, it is as though no time has passed at all, and she tells you how much you are missed from whatever particular group or activity you know each other from.

A homeschool mom friend knows your kids as well. She will email you class listings or activities or even articles about things she thinks your or your kids might be interested in. Or, if you’re really lucky, she might even pick up a little something from one of her family’s adventures or even a trip to the thrift store because she thought you might get a kick out of it.

A homeschool mom friend helps try to ease a tantrum that your 2 or 5 or 8 year old might be having, or help them get through an anxious time during a new experience or on a group fieldtrip. A homeschool mom frieds offers to and does chaperone your older or younger children on a fieldtrip or at a park day so that you can attend to the others. She offers to help you in or out of your car when she sees that you are carrying lots of things or your kids are wanting to run in the opposite direction. A homeschool mom always has a bandaid, and a topical cream, and a homeopathic medicine, and kind words to meet a child who has a bee sting or a skinned knee.

A homeschool mom friend will help you find a sitter so you can go out on your wedding anniversary with your husband.

A homeschool mom friend appreciates that you have strong opinions and convictions, because she does too, even if you don’t share the same ones.

A homeschool mom friend will watch your kids so that you can speak at the state Capitol or hold a press conference, and she’ll help plan it too.

A homeschool mom friend will offer to help proofread your blog posts, articles  or drafts of legislation.

A homeschool mom friend won’t get mad when you text her 500 times in the middle of the day– just don’t try to actually call her on the phone. LOL.

A homeschool mom friend is generous and gracious with her snacks, and says she doesn’t mind when your toddler eats all of her organic heirloom cherry tomatoes. She knows your kids like her snacks better than whatever you have packed, so she brings extra to the next park day.

A homeschool mom friend will ask if you want her to pick you up a coffee or tea too.

A homeschool mom’s child always offers to let your child ride their bike or scooter or whatever when she sees that your child is really wanting to. And her child rarely has difficulty sharing because he or she has a well developed sense of empathy, and understands the joy that this thing could bring your child. For this reason her child will likely always offer to share his snack or lunch with your child as well. And if her child is feeling uncomfortable or hesitant, you will reassure her that it is her child’s prerogative to not share, and you will explain to your child how this is perfectly ok too.

A homeschool mom always intervenes when she sees that her child is treating another unkindly or in an unacceptable way, and she expects you to do the same (which you do). Your child feels comfortable approaching a homeschool mom when he or she is having a difficult time getting along with her child, and the issue is always addressed.

A homeschool mom friend asks whether you would like her childrens’ hand me down toys or clothes, because she knows what sizes and developmental stages your kids are going through.

A homeschool mom helps you decide where to look for activities, family vacations or pediatricians, or even OBs, and gives you an honest account of what her experiences have been there.

A homeschool mom pushes your child on the swing, eventhough she is also pushing her own, or she pushes them both on the tire swing. A homeschool mom always shares her chalk, or bubbles, or sand toys with your child if they ask or show interest.

A homeschool mom will post an article or fieldtrip idea or museum groupon on your facebook wall, if not by email or text. A homeschool mom will write on your facebook wall or message you to ask you to hang out or join them at a cool event, or just to tell you that they miss you, or how awesome you are, even if you just saw them that day, or even if you haven’t seen them for a year.

A homeschool mom always remembers something you told them, even if it was while your kids were asking you or needing you both for something and she couldn’t pay attention to you.

A homeschool mom always has something meaningful to say about homeschooling and about her children.

A homeschool mom will bring you a casserole after you had a baby, even if you aren’t the closest of friends. A homeschool mom friend will bring a birthday present or new baby gift, even months after the event has passed. A homeschool mom friend won’t judge you for not being able to bring anything to her because she understands your chaos, and she loves you still.

A homeschool mom will share her experiences and advice, and keep it real when you share struggles you are going through. A homeschool mom will know someone else who has been through a similar experience and offer to put you in touch.

A homeschool mom remembers when her child was going through a particular developmental phase, or was being particularly limited in food choices or similar phases that have been challenging. She will let you know what she tried and what worked for her, or didn’t. A homeschool mom will recommend different groups on facebook that discuss the issues you are working through.

A homeschool mom will always leverage her contacts to set up a once in a lifetime opportunity for your children.

There is really nothing quite like a homeschool mom, and I am so grateful to have the absolute honor and privilege of calling so many of them my friends.

PSA: This is a Homeschooling Blog

This is a blog about homeschooling.

Anyone who feels that I don’t have love for teachers obviously doesn’t know me at all. I constantly write in regards to my enormous respect and love for teachers ELSEWHERE.

I could write more extensively on this topic, but I’m not going to, because this isn’t a blog dedicated to the typical educational system, it’s dedicated to an alternative model which has PARENTS at the center.

Additionally, this is a conversational blog, not an academic research paper. Let’s try not to get worked up without understanding the basic operating premises of this blog, which includea at its core positivity rather than negativity.

If you would like clarification regarding any of my views, or would like to ask me a question on what my research is based upon, you can email me at and I will do my best to respond when I have the time. It may be a while considering I split my time between homeschooling 4 small children, and the legal team of the Homeschool Association of California, and as a pro bono attorney member of the Animal Defense Legal Fund, in addition to all the other things that go along with living a full life.

For further questions regarding the legality of homeschooling in California, please email



Class Dismissed & Lesson of the Day

FullSizeRender (4)I know, I know, I am late to the Class Dismissed game. But, fortunately, you can now rent the film for $5.99 and watch it as many times as you’d like in a 3 day period.

But let’s back up. What the heck is Class Dismissed? It’s a documentary about one family’s struggles within the public school system, and their choice to homeschool.

Here’s what I love about it: the film is, in my opinion, designed for people who know little to nothing about homeschooling. Resources that fall within that category are rarer than they should be, I think. While I always recommend the book So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling:  Second Edition: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It (Focus on the Family) that book is fairly limited in terms of what can be conveyed in print (rather than visual).

This movie SHOWS what homeschooling is like, thereby presenting the rare opportunity to look before you leap.

I mean, it depicts a classical conversations family and an teenage unschooling chemist, what more could we want from a homeschooling film! It also showed one of the amazing venues we have here, run by a homeschooling mom, and I recognized a friend’s child! That was neat🙂 photo (7)There’s also a discussion of this great program in Oregon, which ironically a friend and I had been discussing last week. A homeschool family that recently moved there is a part of it. I predict a huge increase in the number of these kinds of programs as the homeschool movement grows, for many reasons.

I also loved the references to the John Holt books. Oh! And they had an interview from John Taylor Gatto! (Ok and Sandra Dodd too!) I think that Holt & Gatto, read in conjunction with Peter Gray, can really provide parents with the intellectual foundation to choose homeschooling, if they so desire. These are the books that talk about how humans, children, actually learn.

When you first make the decision to homeschooling, unless you have had the unusual opportunity to be involved in a well established community, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. There is no real roadmap, because every family, and every kid! is different. This, I think is the key “lesson,” and hence the second half of the title of this post. It is so important to be able to let go and move on. You cannot find something new and spectacular if you are holding on to something that’s just not a good fit. This is a hard lesson to learn, but oh so important.

One of the aspects of this feeling of being overwhelmed, was captured quite well in the film, IMO, and that is the feeling of needing to meet some measure of what the outside world is expecting. This often looks like school at home, and attempting to impose an impossibly long and boring schedule on your children.

No, homeschoolers do not sit at the table for 8 hours each day. And you don’t have to either. In fact, you don’t have to do anything the way that schools do it. I mean, why would you want to replicate something that isn’t working for your family?

Another aspect of this sense of external influence, is the feeling of the need to stick with something when it’s not working. Part of growing into your homeschool is learning when things are learning, and when they aren’t. I have talked with another experienced homeschool attorney on this point, about how perhaps one of the reasons homeschoolers are able to perform so well is because decisions regarding their education can be made in real time. Curriculums can be changed, classes or lessons can be taken, the world truly is your oyster.

I loved that in the film they introduced a quasi-mentor relationship. I see that as really being key in childrens’ lives as they get older and develop more in depth interests. While I hope to be able to share my passion for the law with my, and perhaps other homeschool kids, I’m not so naive as to think that my childrens’ interests will be limited to that within my skill set. And that’s ok! In fact, there is even a glass blowing and black smithing studio nearby us, offering apprenticeships to worthy students. That’s what I’m talking about! Follow your passions so that you can find your own path in this life!

IMG_0003The only aspect of homeschooling that I felt wasn’t captured as spectacularly well as the others, was the magic of the homeschool park day. There was a glimmer of it in the interviews where the children described all children interacting with one another. We have been outside the “system” so long that I had forgot this was something special! Read Peter Gray on the magic of mixed age play and learning! And oh, the awe inspiring thing that is children allowed to pursue and develop their own interests. I have never met a homeschooled child that wasn’t bursting with their own unique joyous personality. Children living life at its fullest!

I do have one caveat for those who are new to the idea of homeschooling, though. Not all charter schools operate in the same manner as the one depicted in the film. They have different requirements for things like work samples, and freedom to choose curriculum. However, they are still an agent of public education, and accordingly they must follow certain requirements. I bring this up because I think it is important for families considering homeschooling to investigate all of their potential options. Of which, in California, there are 4 or so. For more info read this. For those outside of California, see this.

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1. The Road Not Taken


TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Gratitude Writing Contest

My nearly 8 year old has decided that she would like to participate in HSLDA’s yearly homeschooler writing contest.


Gratitude is a powerful emotion that too often goes unexpressed and is frequently rendered ineffective by silence.  All of us are blessed by a myriad of people, yet the very routineness of their sacrifice leads us to take them for granted and to forget that they need encouragement too.

This year, our essay theme focuses on writing an essay in the form of a letter that directly thanks a person who has positively impacted your life.  The person may be a civic servant such as a sheriff, state representative, or firefighter.  Or perhaps a co-op teacher, grandparent, parent or church leader will come to your mind.

To get started, jot down your thoughts on what you’re grateful for and a person tied to those thoughts.  Then, consider the type of essay your letter should be (descriptive, narrative or cause and effect) and get started with expressing your gratefulness!

We encourage you to let your essay be more than a contest entry; consider sending your letter to the person who blessed you.  You never know the impact your gratitude may have! 

  • Category 1 (ages 7–10): Using the principles of a descriptive essay, write a letter expressing gratitude to someone who has influenced your life. A strong essay will vividly describe the details of what this person’s role is and what they have done for you.

You can find full info at the link.

Interestingly, our experience has been in line with thought in the Well Trained Mind, that creative writing can be difficult for young children, since they don’t have as much information to go off of. Therefore, many writing prompts that have encouraged my oldest to come up with a story have been uninspiring to put it lightly.

Instead, she has been focusing on writing to her 15 penpals across the country, and that has given her more confidence in her ability to write. This is actually mentioned in the book I linked above as one of the ways to have children write regularly, by the way. I sort of forgot that because we had incidentally been linked up with penpals through a homeschool penpal group on facebook.

Anyhow, the writing contest seems like a really fun thing for kids to do, and I think it’s so neat that they can choose things like this to participate in.

One of our local homeschool groups is hosting a math and science fair next month, so preparing for that will be next🙂

Aspiring to Gluten Free


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So, for various reasons, we are attempting to eliminate gluten from our diet. It’s actually not as difficult as I had imagined. In fact, the biggest mental block for me was finding a replacement for sourdough. So, I told that to one of my friends who was encouraging me to give GF a try. Lo and behold, there is a GF sourdough, srsly. And, as it happens, we have tried it, and it’s really good. Like other GF breads, it sort of crumbles apart if you handle it too much, but the taste is pretty damn good considering it’s GF.

So, in addition to consulting with my current GF friends, and doing some searching on google and Pinterest, I also picked up a couple of books to help me wrap my head around going GF. Incidentally, we are also trying to eliminate dairy, but since dairy includes cheese and yogurt, it is much much harder for our family. So right now, I am just trying to minimize it until we have the gluten down, then we can reevaluate. I’ve also heard good things about raw milk from many friends who currently consume it.

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle

Gluten-Free Bible


Like I said before, considering where we live, and the abundance of health food stores, and the fact that even our Trader Joe’s and Safeway carry gluten free options, so far it has not been as difficult as I had anticipated. I’m sure that eating out will be more difficult– however, there are many restaurants around us that offer gluten free options.

Snacks are still a huge priority on my list, because cooking an elaborate meal isn’t possible 5 times a day, and it’s nice to have a variety of different foods to eat.

So far, we have liked Lara bars, (Larabar Gluten Free Fruit & Nut Food Mini Bars, Variety Pack of Cherry Pie, Apple Pie, Cashew Cookie, 12 – 0.78 Ounce Bars <— dang that is a good deal, I might have to order it right now…)

I have also noticed that when you have less snacks on hand, everyone eats less. Which is kind of interesting. The kids, for example, don’t stop eating, they just switch what they are eating. For example, my 4 year old apparently loves bananas all of a sudden. My 6 year old is all about apples and avocados. My 7 year old, who happens to like leady green vegetables, has been carrying around a bag of arugula at various times of the day. Yes, even at breakfast time. I know, what the heck? But srsly. Instead of eating those cereal bars that are packed with sugar and all kinds of whatever other processed crap, my kids are greedily mowing through fruits and veggies. It’s gotten to the point where I have signed up for a local CSA, and I’m really excited about it. I think the kids are too!

Here’s some stuff I have made so far:

GF rainbow sprinkle birthday pancakes!

GF rainbow sprinkle birthday pancakes!

Ok, so my phone is completely messed up and won’t let me import any other photos, oy. So here is a typed list of what I have made recently, ALL GF:

  • Sourdough croutons (from the bread srsly loaf), which were made into stuffing with kale, 2 kinds of chicken sausage, and aged parmesan
  • Vanilla scones
  • Sugar free applesauce cinnamon muffins– 1/2 with walnuts, half without
  • Pizza with turkey pepperoni, beef salami, chicken sausage, and grassfed ground beef, topped with 4 kinds of cheese, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh basil
  • Roasted zucchini chips
  • Homemade granola
  • veggie tacos with handmade corn/GF flour mix tortillas
  • chicken and kale soup
  • chocolate & vanilla birthday cake– this was from a box, yes you can even get GF cakemix in a box, and it was pretty good! (I think it was this one, Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix, 15-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)
  • LOTS of smoothies. With fruit only, with kale much of the time, and soon with carrots. In fact, my 6 year old wanted to get this as one of her birthday presents 101 Best Smoothies & Juices I’m really looking forward to the Pumpkin one, how fall! I’m dying for a juicer to make all the ones with ginger, they sound wonderful!

I have also seen gluten free trail mix at Costco.

So, anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately, in addition to figuring out the right vitamins and supplements to take. It could be because I am nearing 30 (next week), but moreso I think because I am taking the time to evaluate making healthy choices a larger part of our daily routine. Right now is the best time to build upon our kids’ knowledge of how fun it can be to go to the farmer’s market to pick out foods, where they come from, and how they make us feel. It’s pretty exciting stuff, IMO!

Homeschooling Kindergarten

When I originally set out to write this post, I had intended to address parents who wanted to try out homeschooling, starting with not sending their kids to Kindergarten. However, that post basically transformed into more of an intro to homeschool post. So I wanted to come back and talk solely about what’s probably the most nervewracking step for first time homeschoolers, and that is Kindergarten.

For some reason, eventhough we may have memories of a funner more paint fueled K, today K is seen as the end all be all beginning of childrens’ academic careers. If they can’t fit in and excel in K, will they ever excel in life?! The horrors!

But here’s the thing, what kids do at this age actually is really important, and it has not a damn thing to do with academics! I think many of us remember the tongue in cheek poster about “Everything I Need to Learn About Life I Learned in Kindergarten.” Remember? Do you remember reading or math being on there? If your child doesn’t learn how to read by age 5, as is essentially required by Common Core, do you really think they are going to be a failure as an adult?

Here’s the thing, the homeschool community actually knows that children don’t read on average by age 5. I would say the average age is more like 8. Interestingly, that’s the age when children developmentally change and develop a love of learning new things. My oldest child happened to start reading by 5 1/2, but that was more a matter of her biology than anything to do with me. And as I think parents of new readers can attest, once they figure out how to learn, and their sense of wonder is fostered, they just take off from there! However, if you are stuck in the paradigm that society forces down our throats that children MUST ready by the end of K, you will likely be feeling very down on yourself, and likely your child, all because of a fabricated non-evidence based standard.

See, for example, the following quotations from the Peter Gray article posted above:

  • I teach kindergarten for 11 more days. What we are doing to the 4-6-year-old kids in this country is absolutely unethical and inappropriate. Any professional educator who truly understands how children develop—academically, cognitively, socially, emotionally—will stand up against the travesty that reformers refer to as “rigor”. Kids do NOT need to be reading by the end of kindergarten. (If they can, GREAT!) They do NOT need to be solving paper-and-pencil equations. They do NOT need to be doing “academic” workstations. They DO need to be playing, painting, building, creating, interacting with books, listening to stories, singing songs, taking field trips, playing pretend, exploring, etc. … I am leaving kindergarten, but I will be fighting for early childhood so that I can eventually go back to kindergarten. But I refuse to be part of something so dangerous to our young children.

  • The system as a whole is broken; it is why I left the profession. Truth is, most school districts, at least the one’s I have worked in in America, do not use scientific evidence or best practices to teach kids. They instead use the next fad that comes along, “Common Core” being the latest debacle, from government bureaucracy because it comes with money or grants from the state or federal govt. and then test these kids to death until they hate school, hate learning, and wish nothing more than to get out because the ones that already are disadvantaged never measure up and continuously keep seeing their failures rather than their strengths.

Just reading that is depressing! I wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a current day classroom where instead of reading books about enjoyment, we have to worry whether the 4 and 5 year olds know what an author and illustrator are. Lunacy!

However, because Kindergarten is so hyped up, it usually freaks parents out to think that they might some how ruin it for their kids. And I would say this impetus is usually the strongest with your oldest child, because you really don’t want to screw them up because then what will happen to the rest of your kids and AHHH OMG! I can’t do this!


You can do this!

Here’s how you homeschool Kindergarten:

  • Go to the park!
They liked this park just a little bit.

They liked this park just a little bit.

  • Go to the Science Museum! (Many libraries offer free passes! Or you can have family purchase memberships as a holiday gift.)

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  • Go to the zoo!
  • Make playdough! (There’s only like 5 million recipes on Pinterest, and that’s probably close to accurate).
snow playdough

This is a peppermint scented “snow” playdough we made. We’ve also done a really cool black galaxy one, and orange blossom scented orange, lavender scented purple, the 3 primary colors to mix together, etc.

  • Read books! It’s funny because every child is so different. For example, my almost 6 year old hated audio books for the longest time! She would literally yell, “Turn this off I HATE it!” any time I put one on. Any one, she was not selective. Then, one day, we were listening to Story of the World, and they were talking about how the Chinese accidentally discovered gun powder, and I looked in the rear view mirror to see her eyes wide open, and then she repeated “it exploded!” Both she and my 4 year old like to physically hold the stack of books they want me to read until I have read them all. We go to the library on average twice a week. Librarians at several different branches know my kids. My 7 year old can now put books on hold on the computer, and I get emailed when they are ready!


  • Play games!
My kids LOVE this game, and many others. In fact, we scored some pretty cool technically vintage games at the thrift store! There is no treasure like a child's thrift store find!

My kids LOVE this game, and many others. In fact, we scored some pretty cool technically vintage games at the thrift store! There is no treasure like a child’s thrift store find!


  • Go on a hike! Collect cool stuff, talk about what you are seeing, breathe in the fresh air! Charlotte Mason has some really compelling stuff about having children “in nature” on a daily basis. It’s how we got started on that path, though of course it has taken some twists and turns since then.
  • Make recycled crayons! If you’re a homeschooler, you probably have approximately 1 billion crayons in your house


  • Visit relatives! One of the best aspects of homeschooling is the flexibility. Take your kids to see their great grandparents. Have them paint something together, or help dig a hole in the backyard. There are magical experiences to be had!
  • Bake!


Look at how well our Hannukah Ginger Bread House turned out!


  • Go to the ocean!

My oldest with a family friend when we visited some nearby tidepools!


  • Go on a factory tour! We have toured the jelly belly factory, and have big plans for nearby chocolate and sourdough factories! Some factories have minimum age requirements. There’s also a sticker factory we haven’t yet had a chance to tour!
  • Go to a farm! When my oldest was K age, we went to see a backyard honey bee/chicken farm.


  • Volunteer! Our local homeschool 4H had a creek cleanup, 5 year olds can help clean up garbage! Or help paint a fence. Or help you collect outgrown clothes and toys to donate.
  • Get a penpal! This was one of the coolest things we did this year. My 5 year old is not a prolific writer, so I helped her. She will get there, but for now she was elated to think of her penpals in Massachusetts, Idaho, Florida, New York, Michigan, and all the other places I can’t remember! In fact, this fall we are doing an exchange of nature items across country! I can’t wait!
  • Snap circuits, or Lego, or whatever– build something. It’s fun


  • Tour a college! Any college. Yours, or not. They have cool bookstores, and a cafeteria! Plus lots of space to run around. It’s cool.
  • Visit a historical landmark— like your state capitol if it’s close, or if it’s not, plan a trip! I’m hoping to tour all the Missions in California when my kids are older!


  • Go to the forest! It’s simply magical. Especially to be amongst the Redwoods.

photo (14)

  • Go to the teacher’s store! Let your child pick out whatever they want, within your budget. On such trips in the past, my kids picked out a pocket microscope, a rock excavating kit, scratch & sniff stickers, a model solar system, a $100 bill eraser, etc. When learning is fun for them, they will always want to learn and do more.
  • Grow something!


Check this out, we got some milkweed plants to try and help save the Monarch butterflies, and what we got instead were hundreds of lady bug eggs, larvae, then ladybugs! All for just planting them into the raised planter beds!


  • Build a structure out of sticks! Or whatever! My kids LOVE doing this. In fact, every time we go to a certain fort, they sprint to the pile of branches to get to work.
  • Strew, Strew, Strew! This is one of my absolute favorite things ever. Basically, trying new experiences or leaving out cool things to show your kids what’s out there. It’s just so fun! It’s even more interesting to see what catches your child’s interest. I love seeing how my childrens’ likes and dislikes differ, eventhough they all come from the same mom and dad🙂
  • Do living math! One of the most intuitive arguments for certain schools of thought in the homeschool community, is that it is harder for children to conceptualize things in the abstract, especially when it comes to math. Have you child weigh the apples before you buy them. Help them figure out how much they will cost based on that weight. Give them a bunch of snacks and help them figure out how much everyone will get. This is how they will not only “get it” but what is actually relevant in their everyday lives right now. More advanced concepts will come with time, and if you follow their lead, with increased interest in mastering new skills.
we got some cool origami books from the library

we got some cool origami books from the library

We did a poll on facebook of peoples' favorite colors, then we made a graph. We did one for adults and one for kids!

We did a poll on facebook of peoples’ favorite colors, then we made a graph. We did one for adults and one for kids!

The point is, Kindergarten should be fun! I strongly ascribe to the educational philosophy that the most important thing you can teach your child is to love learning. It’s not about whether they memorize certain facts for a limited period of time. Rather, it’s about finding those things that make their heart sing and light their fires of passion to blaze their own trails.

I fervently believe that every child has their own inner genius, and it’s up to parents to help cultivate it, or not. So let your child build their 70th fairy house, or take apart their 20th car! Let them check out 10 books about horses, or only about super heros! They are new to everything, and you are their tour guide! How fun! You can do this, you know you can!

I was going back through and looking at pictures for things to add, and it just brings a huge smile to my face to think about everything we’ve been able to do thanks to homeschooling, and I know you can get there too, if you want!

Typo disclaimer: sorry if I have any!

Back to Home: Don’t Send Your Babies to School This Year

We just finished our third full year of homeschooling. And I wanted to tell those of you who are silently dreading the return of Back to School something:

You don’t need the government to educate and raise your kids. You just don’t.

Every year at around this time, I see many posts about mamas hearts hurting at the thought of sending their babies off to Kindergarten. Weren’t they just born? How could time have gone so quickly? I’m just not ready for this.

At this point, I want to scream through my keyboard in all caps: THEN DO NOT SEND THEM! HOMESCHOOL INSTEAD!!!!!!!!!

But instead of giving people advice that aren’t asking for it, I am posting here for those who want to hear why they should keep their kids home, where the heart is, instead of sending them off to school. You are your child’s greatest role model. Shouldn’t you be the one to show them the way when it comes to difficult issues? Shouldn’t you, as their parent, instill in them the importance of matters like citizenship, leadership, moral integrity, etc? Didn’t you “teach” them to sit up, crawl, walk, talk, etc.? Homeschooling isn’t much different from that.

The following are the most common concerns parents might have for being hesitant to commit to homeschool:

  • My child will miss riding the bus, buying back to school supplies, etc.

Check this out: you can still buy those same school supplies! In fact, my nearly 6 year old managed to break her backpack strap from all our trips to the library, so she will definitely be needing a new one this fall! We also love taking advantage of the school supply sales, since we go through glue sticks and coloring supplies like no one’s business!

As for the bus, you can ride any mode of transportation you want with your child. You could even organize a trip with a homeschool group! Ours rode the train to a local library together a couple of years ago.

  • I’m not qualified to teach my child.

On what basis are you not qualified? Not qualified to do what? It may come as a surprise to hear that a teaching credential is actually not content based, but typically focuses on classroom management and occasionally how to organize lessons. Do you have a computer? Know how to look up information or locate sources? Boom. You can be a home educator. (Please note: this is an intentional over simplification, I have done my research k to credential one programs and their various requirements, if you would like to know more about them in detail, I suggest you do your research as well.)

As for actual curriculum, if you decide to go that route, if you are not a current homeschooler, or maybe even if you are, this site will blow your mind Rainbow Resource Center, Inc. If you request their catalog, though it may take a while to come, it’s bigger than the phone book. Not.even.joking. You will be shocked at just how much curriculum and school stuffs are available. Seriously.

Also, you can hire private tutors, or send your kids to classes for particular subjects. You don’t have to personally teach them every single thing just because you homeschool! Co-ops exist for this very reason. Parents have different skills, so they come together, and each parent teaches a different subject. It’s a wonderful thing.

Homeschooling is not what it was 20 years ago. It is so different. There is SO much support available. In fact, it is THE fastest growing segment of education in the U.S. Which brings me to the next point:

  • Friends: I want my child to be around other children

Awesome! You will be happy to hear that there are homeschooled children and their parents everywhere! While the particulars may vary according to where you live, because homeschool is gaining traction, you should have no difficulty finding a group somewhere near you. Our local area has a 4H group only for homeschoolers! (more on that later)

Here’s the best part: the kids can actually play together! What and how they want! No freezing when the bell rings. Climbing up the slide is ok if mom says so! I got in trouble in Kindergarten for talking with my friends too much. I bet you have experiences of not being able to socialize in the classroom too. It makes sense. You can’t socialize and have a quiet and contained classroom. So actually, socialization isn’t something the schools are necessarily advocating. It’s almost a coincidental parallel. Especially considering silent lunches that are becoming increasingly common. That is assuming you can even bring lunch at all, maybe with a doctor’s note. Yes, you read that right, some schools will not allow lunch sent from home. Because the government knows better than parents what to feed all children– whether you like it or not.

However, back to friends, my personal favorite part about homeschool children is that they are not taught to differentiate or discriminate against other children based on age. So any one of my kids can be seen trying to play with a 13 month old baby, or a 12 year old homeschooler that’s helping make sure the younger kids don’t get into trouble. It’s really amazing. You should see it for yourself!

Oh and the moms! The homeschool moms! The ones who know what you’re going through because they are going it too! The ones who are not jockeying for a leadership position on the PTA, or who are fawning over your childrens’ teacher looking for an advantage. The homeschool moms who are there to collectively help your children navigate any difficulties they may encounter, prevent any bullying before it starts, encourage their children to be respectful of other peoples wishes– in other words, moms who are just there to be moms! There is no friend quite like a homeschool mom. And, it has been my experience that unlike school moms who drop you like it’s hot when you leave a particular school, homeschool moms will gasp! still be your friend even if you enroll your kids in school! They may even offer to watch your kids for you during a school break! See the chapter in Gatto’s book about false community on this one.

Also, regarding “socialization,” or what we refer to as the “S word” in homeschool circles, in a typical school setting, you have no control over your child’s peers, other than the fact that they live in the same geographic location and are similarly aged. Hyper sexualization of children is taking place not only in the toys that are marketed to them, but in the curriculum becoming non-optional in California. That is not something that I want my young children exposed to. And I hear it pours over into Girl Scouts these days. No thank you. See an example of some concerns here.

  • I can’t imagine homeschooling my kids until college!

So don’t! Take it one year at a time! Start off by not sending them to Kindergarten, then re-evaluate at the end of the year!

  • What about college?

When I first published this post, I completely forgot about this concern, because for me personally it is not a concern at all. I know all sorts of homeschoolers whose children went on to Ivy league colleges and the like. Or homeschoolers whose children have been recognized as the top 20 photographers under 20 in the country. Or the homeschool child that won The Voice this year. In fact, colleges are starting to catch on to this homeschooling thing, and have special admissions procedures just for our homeschooled kids! Colleges like: Stanford, Yale, Brown, etc. Can you believe, there’s like an entire page, just for us!

Typically, those students who want to walk that path are required to take the SATs, like everyone else, and can demonstrate/are required to demonstrate competency by taking SAT II subject tests, for which there are subtests in languages: Hebrew, Latin (a homeschooler favorite), Mandarin (which my 7 year old decided on her own to study last year, eh?), Japanese Korean, etc. There are also History, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and maybe another category I forgot about, since my oldest child is 7. So, even the Ivys Ivies (?) are not out of reach.

Another popular option is to have homeschool teens, and sometimes even younger, to the local community college when they are ready. Community Colleges are very special to me personally, as I started out at one. You can find world class professors there that really do want to change the world, and don’t need a lot of money or prestige in order to do a kick ass job. JMO.

Also, one thing you may come to realize about life, is that college isn’t the only option! What if your kid decides that he or she is super into welding, and then end up deciding to pursue that full time from an early age? What if they want to do something like what is done at maker faire? If that truly makes them happy? I’ll post a picture of something on that later. Here it is, someone’s child grew up and made this! Likely a team of peoples’ children, from the Maker Faire:


  • Class parties

Yeah, we got those too. Sometimes at community centers or at the park. Often potlucks. Here’s a pic of the Valentine’s Day exchange from one of our homeschool groups


  • Fun kid activities

Let me tell you something. There are so many activities to sign your child up for, I can’t even. Not only is every single opportunity for after school classes through the rec center or private businesses still available for your child, but there are tonssssssss of opportunities that are offered solely for homeschooled children. For example, near us, there are language classes, art classes, ceramics classes, classes at the various science museums, LEGO classes, tennis classes, etc.  There is a company called Quantum Camp that offers Math and Science, this cool place called Curiosity Hacked, or places like The Crucible: offering classes in welding, blacksmithing, jewelry making, glass blowing, etc.

We are also fortunate to have nearby an amazing 4H solely for homeschooled children. There are 10 year olds running the meetings. There are 14 year olds running Ancient History clubs. It’s freaking amazing. We haven’t even joined yet, but many of our friends have. I’m looking forward to it, in case you couldn’t tell🙂

  • We both need to work

Many many homeschool families have two working parents, especially here in the Bay Area. Find out what income you really need, and find a way to make it work. You would be surprised to learn how many families can and do make it work. I was really surprised to read this when I first found it a couple years ago. A doctor homeschooling her kids! It appears that article has been updated with extensive information on the working angle, check it for more info!

  • Prom

Ok, well maybe you weren’t thinking about Prom, but as a high school and college student leadership participant that helped organize dances, fundraise, and the like, I have thought about these things. As it turns out, there are homeschool proms. And they look just like any other high school prom, except that the parents organize and host it, and I have a feeling there is a lot less delinquency taking place afterwards.

Other cool things that have happened with my homeschool kids: spontaneous jump roping at the park with other girls, going on field trips to museums with other families, sitting quietly and listening to lectures at various locations, interacting with librarian 1:1 to find library books, or using the computer to put books on hold.

My kids have been a part of two trips to a senior home to bring valentines, and then conduct a reverse egg hunt. They have participated in an experiment on ocean acidification as part of a demonstration at a science museum. They have heard about rescued wild birds at a wildlife museum. They have been to a historic Native American village. They have attended various political advocacy events related to school laws. They have been to a homeless family housing center. They have not only seen their mama participating in, but have also been a part of service. My biggest goal in raising my children has always been and will always be to raise good people. People who care about others, and care about the world beyond themselves. I have always jokingly said that it doesn’t matter whether you are the smartest person alive if you are an asshole. You can always take remedial classes in English, but not in character. However, for the record, my 7 year old is reading at a 5th grade level, and is capable of doing Math at least 1 grade level ahead. And all my big kids chant Latin and do Math with food “for fun.” So I’d say we’ve got the academics covered as well.

As far as an every day situation goes, Pinterest is a major source of inspiration, as are teacher friends, especially those on Instagram! Here are just some things I’m hoping to do soon with my kids!

chinese characters

before we started our summer break, my 5 year old was super into Ancient China, so we did some calligraphy, which she loved! My oldest is doing Mandarin with Rosetta Stone, per her request!

Kids have been begging for smores, this just has to be done this summer!

Kids have been begging for smores, this just has to be done this summer!

My 4 year old is obsessed with collecting leaves right now.

My 4 year old is obsessed with collecting leaves right now.

I really want to do this when we start our new school year! I love seeing the kids reflections of themselves, and such a treasure to keep for when they're older!

I really want to do this when we start our new school year! I love seeing the kids reflections of themselves, and such a treasure to keep for when they’re older!

The coolest thing about homeschooling, aside from everything else I’ve written above, is that it really is living in the world. Your children get to live life, every day. They get to learn how to buy things with money, and the concept of tax. That makes explaining historical events like the Boston Tea Party much easier for them to understand. They can see baby birds hatching in the wild! They can go to the Farmer’s market or orchard and see what things are in season and when. They can interact with all sorts of different people, and learn lessons that simply cannot be taught through textbooks or within the confines of a classroom. It’s beautiful and amazing, and I hope you’ll decide to go for it!

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some cool books to read:

I’m not the best at technology stuff, but the following is a broad list of books that I would recommend for starting out. I tried to post the image/link but I’m not sure if it worked out. I think you can take it from here🙂

So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, Lisa Whelchel


The Well Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer

Name Your Link

Learning All The Time, John Holt


A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century


A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning


Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling


Typo disclaimer: sorry if I have any!