Nov 2, 2014 - home school websites    No Comments

Travelling Homeschoolers

I’m currently on a trip which included a few days at a travel bloggers conference.  One of the fun parts for me was a few of these people had kids with them, right at the conference. The kids were pretty much taking care of themselves using their iPads. Some were reading, some were doing more interactive stuff. I couldn’t tell if they were games or learning or chatting.  But it did remind me of some other conferences that I’ve been to….Oh, let me think. What could they remind me of?

Oh, I got it, homeschooling conferences!

I wondered about whether it was a coincidence, something about similar circumstance, or maybe, it was more than that… Eventually, I caught up with the parents and sure enough, they were homeschoolers.  I was pleased to find that they all knew about Time4Learning and some of them had used it. One was using it!   One had left it for a more structured program since they were planning to put their kid in regular school for high school (I think she said her son was going to live with her brother next year) and she wanted to make sure that he was caught up in all the subjects.  Generally, he is ahead but she admits that his education has been a little haphazard and to ease the transition back into a regular school, she was planning to do one year of remote learning at some structured teacher led virtual school.

There was also some real interest in Time4Writing. Even though the parents are skilled (actually professional writers!) they seem to have developed a somewhat unhealthy discussion with their children about their writing and to avoid the friction, they had been looking for some writing help.  Enter…Time4Writing.


Nov 2, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Writing and Blogging

Writing, like reading, is a key skill. Writing in particular forces students to express them precisely which leads to critical thinking and other higher order thinking skills. It also pushes them to express themselves and to have digested the basic materials and explain them.

But, the opposite is also true. There is little that is as demotivating as struggling over writing an essay that nobody except your mom is ever going to read. That can’t be a highly motivating great education.  What’s the solution?

What about blogging? Invite your student to create a blog on an issue or topic that they want to. This could be ongoing or it could be for a fixed amount of time.  As parents, you can also blog on your own and encourage your students to read your blog. I’ve been thinking a lot about blogs recently since I’ve been helping a new writer to create her blog,, it’s about family international travel. Her latest post is about Most Scenic Breakfast Spots.

I’m pushing towards interest-driven homeschooling here in that you let the student pick the topic of the blog.  And based on the situation, you might let them use it as the start of a business or ongoing hobby although, of course, it is the internet and you’ll want to think carefully before you give them too much exposure out there.

Sep 27, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Beautiful Questions Indeed,

Bill in his Tempered Radical blog writes with insight and passion.  This week he is writing about students asking questions and he is asking some very good questions.

I deeply agree with his point that a great education has students asking beautiful questions.  I could quibble when he says that it’s only this generation where students in school feel socially inhibited and so don’t show genuine academic curiosity.  From a homeschooling point of view, schools are intimidating to many.

But more importantly, I’m going to ask him the bigger question about being a “tempered” radical.  Now this is a question in good faith by another person (ie me), who the truth be known, moderates his own convictions and radicalism enormously.  My question is not an accusation that he should be a  ”committed” radical or anything else.  I’m asking a genuine question about how he as a tempered radical  feels about some, especially the homeschoolers, who have chosen to pursue their radical visions.

Bill is earnestly and publicly discussing the question of how education can become educational so that students are free to formulate questions and seek answers to them. He contrasts this with the  current school system which discourages any question-posing by students and says instead, it is designed to train students to respond to answer high stake test questions (he has some wonderful wording about this, you should definitely read his blog.  I do. I’ve subscribed for awhile).

Presumably, Bill knows about “unschooling” aka “interest driven learning” and he knows that some percentage of US students are being educated this way (It’s said that 3-4% of the  K12 population is now homeschooling but we’ll all admit that these numbers are hard to verify. And of course, the unschooling segment of the homeschool population is small. I’d guess low single digits as a percentage. Still, it’s probably tens of thousands of US students).


What do you think of the radical homeschooling approach of unschooling? Obviously, homeschooling is not for everybody but is there a way to institutionalize such an approach?  How much can a teacher do within the school systems to provide meaningful education to students who are programmed a certain way?  What do you think about the homeschoolers and all their crazy experiments?