My Son is Ready for Early Retirement

Like father, like son?

Like father, like son?

I suppose I can’t blame him, because this IS pretty nice. It’s Monday morning, and I just dropped him off at school, rode the mountain bike and trailer back home through the deep and fluffy remnants of the latest snowstorm, and settled in with this laptop and my sunny, empty house to compose my thoughts for you. Greg Reitan is playing some wicked Jazz piano in the background via Pandora, and my belly is nicely satisfied with fine coffee and a bowl of almonds. The rest of the world is out commuting on an icy highway or dialing into the conference call while seated in the cubicle. This is the life for me.

But is it the life for an eight-year-old?

Although he has made it to the second half of second grade with great success, my boy has softly been singing an underlying chorus of “I don’t want to go to schooool!” since long before Kindergarten. The song fades away on the good days, because there are occasional bits of learning and he has several great friends among his classmates. But then he gets a taste of freedom again, like the two-week Christmas holiday that just ended an hour ago, and it reminds him of how much more he enjoys not being in school. Our holiday together was a beautiful blur of late nights, family board games, friends, movie nights, adventures at the creek, sunshine, drawing pictures, and making songs with Ableton Live and elaborate automated buildings in Minecraft. When he realized it was truly over last night, he cried so much that he had trouble getting to sleep.

I can’t blame him, because this feeling about school and organized activites in general tends to run in my side of the family. I remember finishing the nine-year sentence in my own small town K-8 elementary school wondering if I had learned anything during the entire session. High school became more interesting because of some inspiring teachers in Science, Math, and English (and because of the girls). And Engineering school, while painful, was motivating because I knew there was freedom and an excellent paycheck waiting right at the end of the tunnel. But since finishing that whole affair, I have never looked back other than to marvel at how different than me the folks who pursue graduate degrees and PhDs must be. A brilliant nephew of mine finds himself in a similar boat: my sister described his school years as “A quiet rebellion of boredom”, although he has awakened now that he is among other whiz kids in the Computer Science program of his country’s top university.

Some of us just really enjoy our freedom, and we use that freedom for constant learning of the things we really want to learn, and creating the things we really want to create. This is surely why I quit even the relatively free environment of the corporate office: to get all my time back for truly self-guided pursuits. And I suspect this personality type is common among the Mustachians as well: you don’t have any trouble keeping yourself busy, the only issue is freeing yourself from the busywork that others keep assigning to you.

But how do we handle it when a kid discovers this obvious source of joy less than 3000 days into his life? Under the current regime, the poor lad is scheduled for about fourteen additional years of school, at which point he’ll to need work and save for another decade to earn his financial independence. I could allow him to cheat the system by setting aside a trust fund that made work (and school) optional at any point, but I do not want to deny him the soul-building satisfaction of good old-fashioned hard work, and the incomparable advantage of having to work for what you get.

But at the same time, there is surely some benefit I can pass on from this clearly advantaged position. Compared to my own parents at a similar stage in 1982, Mrs. MM and I have much more secure finances, one child instead of four, unlimited free time to spend with him, and the resources of the Internet from which to pull knowledge. There are thousands of other parents of bright but slightly bored kids reading this who might have some ideas. With so many advantages, it would be a cop-out for me to just leave my son to follow exactly the same path I walked 32 years before him, without at least questioning The Rules.

We would not be the first people to do so. I was recently inspired by this TED talk by Ken Robinson, which eloquently explains that despite its best efforts, the school system does tend to crush creativity. Adding to that idea, there’s this ambitious 13-year-old lad that did his own TEDx Talk about a self-guided “Unschooling” or “Hackschooling” education.

By now you’ve probably learned that a formal university education is only one of many paths to a good life. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were dropouts. Free and inexpensive learning spots like the Khan Academy and Treehouse abound. My own posts on jobs without a degree are some of the most widely read on this site. Heck, there is a 23-year-old college dropout staying in my guest suite right now, who founded his own successful company several years ago which now allows him to lead a life with greater freedom than I had at that age. He’s here to have an adventure and to learn new skills, in a completely non-academic environment. But all this still leaves the question of how to motivate your very young kid without denying him the benefits of school.

So we don’t have the answers yet. My boy is excited that he has gained admission to a special program within the school that allows kids in this situation to leave class twice per week and gather with a special teacher to cover more interesting material. We could try an Unschooling experiment next year, spending a portion of it living in another country (I’m partial to New Zealand myself, and then perhaps Ecuador the next year). The regular school is well-run and has the best intentions, but learning formalized material in a big group is very slow and is bound to leave a certain portion of the kids spending 90% of each day waiting for what is next. Or missing recess because some other kids were talking when the teacher had declared that talking was not allowed. And the charter and private schools I’ve encountered around here all seem to emphasize even more academic rigor and discipline, rather than more freedom to roam and learn.

Unfortunately, I think that purely hanging around at home would be unsuccessful. We could learn much more quickly, but there are only three of us here – not enough people to provide a truly rounded social education. Plus there is the selfish issue: both my wife and I benefit greatly from having a few hours on weekdays to do our own things. After all, this blog is not going to write itself.

What do you think? Have you encountered this problem with your own children?

Ideally, we could gather and form communal unschooling environments with five or six cool kids, and the problem would be solved. I could teach them writing and carpentry, you could teach them filmmaking and math, and some of our other friends would handle the sports, physics, chemistry, and whatever else they want to learn. We’d take plenty of field trips as well.

The more conservative standardized-test-loving government officials and administrators of the world might frown upon us, but we’d probably end up with a batch of very creative, happy, and motivated young adults, which is really the primary job that we sign up for when we produce these fine little creatures.

  • rjack January 6, 2014, 12:24 pm

    I retired early at 52 (now 54) and I’m slightly ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I’m a little “lost” in how to spend my time. I’m not complaining mind you – a bad day of retirement is still better than most good days at a job. But I struggle to find the right balance of structure versus free-time and identifying the right projects to focus on. I just started a self-paced Udacity course on physics that is pretty interesting and that’s cool. I also have been fiddling with Ruby and Rails (I’m an old software engineer), but I can’t seem to get to excited about it. I yearn to build something useful, but I’m not sure what that something is. Maybe I’m still learning how to be truly free, I don’t know.

    • Amicable Skeptic January 6, 2014, 1:59 pm

      RJack, maybe you’d be happier if you focused more of your efforts outwards towards helping others? You could be a tutor in a nearby school, or a volunteer at the SPCA or something else in line with your interests. I think one of the things MMM glosses over about early retirement is the need for purpose that you will probably still have after retiring. He obviously gets a lot of his satisfaction from writing this blog and helping change the world through it, we can’t all do the same thing right (I mean how many FI blogs does this world need). Instead I have high hopes that all of us of MMM acolytes will find other interesting and meaningful ways to spend our retirements. I listed some of the more traditional type volunteering activities, but when you have as much time and creativity on your hands as an early retiree you should be able to come up with even more amazing ways to help people (though maybe try the usual avenues at first to help form your ideas).

      • rjack January 7, 2014, 8:11 am

        Amicable – I think you are right.

        I have created my own blog, Asset Allocation Central, to try and help others with investing. I’m also a board member for the Friends of our local library. I’ve also been toying with the idea of build a website with rails that helps individuals pick cell phone plans based on usage patterns, type of phone, etc. But, to be honest, I’m not really super excited about any of it.

        • JN2 January 7, 2014, 12:52 pm

          Hi rjack! I love Ruby on Rails! I was burnt out on software development (at age 50) but RoR made me return to the fold :) When I was in my 20’s I read a book which said “if it’s not fun and profitable, then why do it?”. I hope you find something fun and rewarding to do with your life. Even if it’s not Ruby on Rails :)

    • Walter January 15, 2014, 8:43 pm

      rjack, pay your luck forward. Go out and help people. It might be with startups or volunteering at school with kids, or local charities, and so on. There is so much out there to do! Success in “retirement” is centered around engagement with society in way that makes the world better. The returns from making the world a slightly better are just enormous.

  • Ken January 6, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Interesting article. I am a stay home dad of 4, and homeschool our oldest 2(8 and 6). The freedom of homeschooling is tremendous. Not being tied to the straight rows and set hours of a public school is a joy as a parent who grew up tolerating those things. It stays busy but we learn lots. I’m having a second childhood.There is plenty of “me time” if necessary as well. We have a small group in our area that meets on Fridays to teach “lifeskills”(mechanics,building, sewing, canning, cooking, music,and whatnot).
    After a MMM apprenticeship of 10 or so years I can see a Junior Money Mustache as a well socialized young man prepared with the skills to build his own house and make his own exciting life whether he chooses college or not.

  • siki January 6, 2014, 12:31 pm

    As a dedicated homeschooling parent of a boy just about a year older than yours, I’ve always thought your family’s outlook reflected homeschooling values, and am glad to see you consider it among your son’s educational options. Two things to keep in mind: I have a friend in the Ft. Collins area, and public school “part-time” is an option for homeschoolers there. This intrigued me, as the public schools in NY are not at all open to homeschooler participation. Not sure if that is statewide CO schools policy or simply on a district-by-distric basis, but something to consider. Her homeschooled son attended band class at PS. Also, I bet the Boulder area has a homeschooling co-op of some sort. Many towns and cities do. (Though, depending on where you live, they may lean heavily in the Christian direction — more liberal towns tend to be home to the secular variety.) We belong to one here that has around 40-50 member families, enough to provide quite a bit (too much, it feels like sometimes!) opportunity for activities and socialization. It sounds like more of your readers than you perhaps knew are homeschoolers (doesn’t surprise me!), so if you do go down that route, you and Mrs. MMM have a font of wisdom at your fingertips, just ask! (Homeschoolers in general loooove to talk about homeschooling… as this comment thread reveals!)

  • Sue January 6, 2014, 12:36 pm

    I see this with my first grader. He had a wonderful, creative, academic, fun pre-school experience and now first grade has sucked the joy out of him and it breaks my heart. It’s a blue ribbon district but all the academic pressure leaves no room for creativity or fun. Learning can be fun! I love your idea about a community homeschool but I’m not sold on the solo homeschool. I’m not the best teacher on every subject and so much about life is getting along with other people that are different from you and public school provides plenty of that. Keep the unconventional ideas coming love them!

  • Cut Class! January 6, 2014, 12:37 pm

    When it’s time to move to New Zealand, come to Golden Bay, where you’ll find plenty of other like-minded folk, some of whom are trying to set up exactly the type of school you suggest…. http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/features/weekend/7722357/Choices-for-the-children

  • Samuel January 6, 2014, 12:38 pm

    “Ideally, we could gather and form communal unschooling environments with five or six cool kids, and the problem would be solved. I could teach them writing and carpentry, you could teach them filmmaking and math, and some of our other friends would handle the sports, physics, chemistry, and whatever else they want to learn. We’d take plenty of field trips as well.”

    Look around a bit. I’d be surprised if something like that didn’t already exist in your area. I know our town has half a dozen homeschooling coops, catering to a wide range of educational styles, and it is easy to find people with advanced degrees offering classes to homeschoolers. You would probably be appreciated if you jumped in and started offering classes in carpentry, etc.

    • Anna Barnett January 6, 2014, 5:19 pm

      This was my reaction as well – there has got to be a homeschooling/unschooling coop in your area, probably many.

      I was a part-time unschooler in Oregon, involved in a big coop that ran exactly like what you described. I had art classes from my dad, gardening classes from another parent, french classes where families split the cost of a tutor, etc. We had a writing group and published our own newsletter. I was working at the local science museum by age 12 and juggled multiple internships in my teens. I did band, theatre, science and AP classes at the public high school.

      Keeping one foot in public school doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I left around 5th grade mainly because I wasn’t fitting in, was out of the public school social environment entirely during middle school, and was painfully insecure when I came back in 9th grade (though I’m over it now).

  • Nancy January 6, 2014, 12:42 pm

    It depends what you and Mrs. MM want for your son and what your son wants. The freedom you experience due to the financial decisions and choices you and Mrs. MM made can extend to education as well. Have you quit learning? I homeschooled 6 of my 8 children for 21+ years. They interacted with homeschool co-ops, sports teams, 4-H, scouts, choir groups, etc. and they participated in civic groups and donating time to help others. It is up to the parent and the child(ren) to make the most of the experience. Here in my area the option of part time public school was not available. The community colleges in our area now offer some classes specifically for homeschooled children. Also there are many options for the class experience in all areas. My “kids” are all working even in this difficult economy and some of them have opted to have their own businesses doing what they love. Homeschooling is what your family makes of it just as the freedom you experience from not having to work in the cubicles of this world. Learning something new should never end no matter what your age.

  • Meghan January 6, 2014, 12:43 pm

    I think that the most important skill I learned in all my years of school was out to break or skirt the rules successfully. It was boring so I did the least amount of work possible to still learn and walk out with a 4.0. That carries over to an adulthood where I am less structured and come up with efficiency improvements because I’m still too lazy and bored to do things the normal way. This is probably good training.

  • Spencer January 6, 2014, 12:45 pm

    We got a group of kids together in our area, hired a teacher and split the fees among the families who participated. My two oldest attended. Someone volunteered their house to meet. It was only a couple of days a week but it worked well, critical thinking skills were taught and it allowed for much more flexibility. It only lasted a year bc the family who took the organizing lead and volunteered their house moved away. Sigh.
    It would be tough to share teaching among the parents in our group bc most of us work full time and/or stay home taking care of mulitple kids. We had homeschooled our kids in the past solo but it was difficult because we have other little kids and my wife was getting burnt out, so we put them (those who are old enough) in public school.
    I bet you could organize your own little school, especially if you could find some other like minded, early-retired local mustachians to participate.

  • Janson January 6, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Neither of my parents finished 10th grade – school was incompatible with their brains, basically. Both got formal training later to learn skills they needed, and both did pretty well with it (and are retired). Both had an unconventional approach to my schooling: they let me choose every step of the way from the beginning – learning to choose is an important skill! I chose my kindergarten, and when it wasn’t working after just six months, they let me switch (from a private school they founded with a few other parents) to a public school. They let me pick my elementary school and later paid for a private high school even though it was a huge budget item. Neither expected or especially desired that I graduate from high school – that was my “job” to decide. I got to choose my school and/or my work (I got paid well by the time I was a teenager as an assistant to a land surveyor). My parents encouraged me, but didn’t look at my report card. I wasn’t trouble free, but my mother usually had my back (unless I was rude or mean, which I wasn’t). I was out of school a lot. Living for months at a time with family in different countries in Europe, but with homework from school that my many great teachers would look over when I got back. (I went to a “bad” public school with more than 75% of the students below the poverty line through 8th grade). Empowered with choice, I liked school in the proper dosage. I always had an unlimited stack of sick notes which I used at my discretion. In my senior year I attended no full week of school (for which the school threatened to withhold my diploma). Nonetheless, I was in the top 1/10 of 1% in SATs in my region, and happened to also be captain of the football team. I got a full ride (because my parents didn’t have or care much about money) at the Ivy League school I wanted to go to. I left after the first year to work in Alaska, of course, but came back for another 1.5 years with a high GPA and enough extra classes to catch up before finishing, job in hand. I retired the first time when I was 24 after basically winning the stock market lottery, but after a few years, retiring didn’t seem to make a difference in what I wanted to do. I’m adamant that even very young kids are smart enough, when given accurate information, and a safe place to make their decisions, to be trusted to make decisions. This only works if you start young, and if you have the fortitude to let your kids ride their decisions a long way, so they have responsibility for themselves and their outcomes.

    • Ann January 8, 2014, 8:30 pm

      Wow. Now if you miss more than 10 days in a year, the truancy officers are after you, and after 16 days you have to repeat the grade, no matter your performance.

  • jkenny January 6, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Back to school after Christmas break is an uphill battle for, I suspect, lots of us. Getting the kids up early after two weeks of sleeping in, where are their backpacks, I forgot to make my younger son’s lunch, we were out of milk, etc. etc. Honestly it’s an adjustment for the whole family but they’re kids: they’ll adjust to the back-to-school-after Christmas thing by the end of the week.

    I see from the comments this type of article is a like a call to action for parents who aren’t fans of institutional schooling. Thought I’d provide some balance to the comments by admitting without shame that my kids are in public school. They are doing fine. Some of their teachers have been amazing, some of them average. My boys have found a way to cope with both and they love a chance to see their friends every day. My husband and I try to supplement any shortcoming we see in their institutional education and encourage them to follow their curiosities ourselves and/or thru extracurricular activities. We don’t expect the school to be all things to our child. Given that I would suck at homeschooling and we’re not FI public schooling is not such an evil choice for us.

    But what’s right for our kids may not be right for your child. The thing is, nobody knows your kid and if a change is necessary or advisable like you and wife do. Nobody. Not the homeschoolers, not the unschoolers, not me (the parent who has here sons in public school and thinks they’re doing just fine). So….I think you should pay attention and follow your own instincts. They’re probably pretty good by now.

  • Lisa January 6, 2014, 12:52 pm

    My son was having some social and behavioral difficulties in the public school environment in the 5th grade and I learned about a homeschool option called a virtual academy. The one we enrolled him in was called the Arizona Virtual Academy. There is something similar in Colorado called the Colorado Virtual Academy. It was completely paid for by the state just like a charter school. They sent us several large boxes of school supplies, including materials for art and science, textbooks, workbooks, computer, etc. Some instruction was online with an instructor and some was self-paced independent work with textbooks, workbooks and online content. Students can set at their own pace and schedule. I would help him with some of the lessons and he would do some things independently. There were also options to get in touch with other families in the area to set up groups for sports, activities, science experiments, etc if desired. This worked really well for us for a few years. My son eventually missed the social part of the traditional school environment and went back to attend public high school. He is doing well there now. It was a nice change of pace for him for a few years though and gave us a lot of flexibility and freedom, but it was still structured enough that I didn’t feel he was missing out on anything academically. This might be something that would work well for you.

  • Lucas January 6, 2014, 12:59 pm

    I was homeschooled and am very thank full for the love of learning and growth that was fostered in my through my home education. My wife went to private school growing up and worked in the school system here prior to us having kids. So we have seen a lot of sides of this debate. There isn’t a “perfect” answer so anyone claiming one way is always right is clearly wrong. But there are some major considerations when thinking about what is best for your kids. You have touched on a lot of key issues. I would say the main issue with public schools is the need for lots of institutional control that is required to keep that many kids accounted for and “safe”, while trying to get them to learn at the same time and not leaving anyone behind. This is very inefficient and drives kids to boredom. The student/teacher ratio doesn’t help for sure. There are obviously lots of great people with great intentions trying to teach our kids, but they are often tied down by the structure.

    There are some interesting unconventional schools that i have read about (where kids make rules or decide what to learn etc. . ) all based on the concept of developing a love for learning and fostering creativity vs structured control of the kids.

    Some examples are here:




    Personally though, homeschooling provided us the opportunity to cover the basic much quicker then public school kids, spend more time on subjects we had trouble with, and dive into whatever interested us (like starting nuclear physics in 4th grade ;-) ). We had great co-op groups with other homeschool families who had different specialties, played sports, were involved in our neighborhood and community groups/church, and got cool field trips all the time!

    Reaching FI is definitely one of my key goals at this point in order to be able to be more involved with our three kids learning and education. But even before that point we have more flexibility on when and how we do schooling that lets me be involved. I do hear you on the desire for some personal time to your own projects, and i am not sure i have any great answers for that one, other than teaching your kids to be independent and be able to teach/learn/entertain themselves is definitely helpful!

  • bobwerner January 6, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Glad we’re thinking about this. (I have a 6 year old boy). One thing to consider is you have set the course so “work,” will be optional for little MM.

    Your diligence with investing should put your net worth around 3 million around the time he is 21. That should generate many times what you and he would want.

    So you might consider the focus or outcome of education for both him and you as being to learn stewardship of the family fortune. Mulitigenerational wealth building is a fasinating topic.

    School education may slow him down on any serious interests he has. It takes less than 2 hours per day of homeschooling to keep up with traditional schools. Remember,Ben Franklin was a successful newspaper owner and writer by 14.

    So consider all the options and his interests. He may be the perfect MM apprentice who could help you and learn on all your projects. I could even seem him with his own blog in the near future. He might end up being the first kid under 10 with a financial blog!

    • George January 17, 2014, 2:09 pm

      Just what the world needs – more blogging! Just think of the value all these self-appointed-genius kids are going to create by not spending a couple mil of their parents money, living off of its interest, and spending a couple hours a day “studying”. What sort of depressing, unimaginative, and uninspired world are you trying to pawn off on your children?

      “Do as little work as possible”. “Pursue only your own interests”. “If its hard don’t do it – your leisure is much more important”.

      I love this blog but these comments are fairly depressing.

  • Cindy January 6, 2014, 1:02 pm

    The public schools in my city are known for being terrible. The city has made a huge push the last couple of years for parents to switch their kids to “online schooling”. The child follows the normal curriculum, at their own pace, and can concentrate further on subjects they are interested in. There are also a lot of other homeschooling options in our area. A lot of them include either classes that can be taken in a traditional school setting a couple of days per week, or extra curricular activities, so the kids can socialize with their peers. It’s definitely something to look into! There seem to be a lot of choices out there for forging a different path.

  • Jim January 6, 2014, 1:08 pm

    We struggled with the same questions for our 3 children (now 17, 15 and 12). They are all A students who are quite bored with the tedium of school. But, what we have found (after leaving them in public school) is that our kids greatly benefited from the social aspects that being around a group of similarly-aged people. They know they aren’t the best basketball players, or the most beautiful, perfect teenager. They learned how to deal with others their age. How to not get their way. How to learn the hard way that you aren’t always correct.

    MMM, you are a kind, caring parent. MMM Jr needs to get into skirmishes with his buddies, get knocked down by someone who doesn’t care about him. And know that he is the only one there to pick himself up. In our experience, these are things that parents cannot teach their children. They must live it, and it is best if they live it when they are young and the consequences are not too great.

    Our kids are special to us, but not necessarily the world.

  • totoro January 6, 2014, 1:12 pm

    I think you should take this experiment on. Mainstream schools will always be there if you want to go back.

    I had a lot of fun when my kids were younger doing small group extra-curricular projects. For example, we hired an animator/cartoonist to work with a group of five kids to make comics and animated stories together. If you don’t have the skill set yourself you can find another parent or band together to pay someone great to come in, which is very inexpensive when split five ways. Also, in Canada you can choose to attend school for certain subjects only, and homeschool the rest. Not sure in the US.

    If I had been FI when my kids were younger I would definitely have looked at creating my own small “school” like you are considering with other like-minded parents. Once the kids get older many will not want to leave their friends. I offered this option to my son this year and he turned me down because of the social ties.

    As far as finding other parents/kids to join in, there are homeschooling networks where I live and maybe the blog approach will work too. Good luck!

  • Katie January 6, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Some school types you might explore are Sudbury schools, Waldorf schools & Montessorri schools. They aren’t available everywhere, and day to day experiences vary by school. But, I’ve known students & teachers at each type (I’m an educator) and these can be great alternatives for some kiddos & families.

    • Bean January 10, 2014, 12:05 pm

      Sudbury schooling is what immediately came to my mind as a possible fit. They are all a little different, but are basically open format, democratically run schools that allow students the freedom to follow their own interests (more at: http://www.sudval.com/01_abou_01.html).

      I did a little searching and there is one about 40 min from Longmont in Wheat Ridge called Alpine Valley (www.alpinevalleyschool.com). It might be worth a trip down there to check out what they are about.

      I am an environmental educator with a strong interest in alternative schools and spent a semester as an “intern” at a Sudbury school near Seattle. As someone who is positive that the creativity and self-motivation got “taught” out of me in public school it was an amazing place to see!

      • Bhagavati January 16, 2014, 12:21 pm

        I work at Alpine Valley School – a Sudbury School. Our philosophy is based on freedom, but within a community that you are in part responsible for. Over the past few years I have observed some amazing learning and discoveries that happened without any outside coercion, just people (who happen to be younger than 18) living their life like retirees!

        We’re having a public talk TONIGHT (Jan 16th) with Dr. Peter Gray, a psychologist who recently published a book “Free to Learn”. He’ll be focusing on “how children learn through self-directed play and exploration”. Anybody in the area is more than welcome to come!

  • John January 6, 2014, 1:21 pm

    Very interesting stuff. I went to private schools for k-high school and always felt like they were challenging but a bit too large a class size. You raise valid points in terms of having other kids for little MM to socialize with though. I think there’s also a fine line to walk though between giving young ones what they want (free time away from school) and showing them how school rewards exemplary work done by individuals who strive to be the best. I suppose showing them how individual accomplishment is achievable outside an academic setting is also possible, it just seems like it would be a challenge. As far as higher education, if I had to do it all over again I probably would have skipped the four year degree and chose a trade school to get real world experience. I’ve found the real wold experience to be far greater an asset than a piece of paper.

  • reanna January 6, 2014, 1:21 pm

    MMM, you’re already big in the unschooling community (I work at a summer camp called Not Back to School Camp, and many of the other staff also read your blog, and talk about it to the campers), so it was only a matter of time till you got interested in unschooling.

    • George January 17, 2014, 1:56 pm

      How are the unschooled going to develop the next “computer revolution” when they lack the basic math & science skills to bring any of their “creativity” to life?

      Our kids in the US are already lazy and undisciplined enough as it is! Their lack of discipline, and not putting their nose to the grindstone, is why we’re testing horribly relative to the international community…. now you’re suggesting we double down on dumb/lazy and let them “unschool” themselves into MORE “creativity” and self interest?

      Unschooling is like telling people to go major in a subject, or pick a career, based on their passion. We’re seeing the failure of this type of thinking in post-secondary education… hell… why not bring it to primary education too! lol

      • homehandymum January 23, 2014, 2:40 pm

        Learning things on your own schedule, and in your own way does not doom you to a life of illiteracy and math ineptitude.

        The kids who have the desire and passion for coding and problem solving can do maths. And if they come across math they don’t understand, then they go and find out – and it’s all ‘real world problems’, so it makes sense to them,

        In the same way, sitting in a classroom, gaining academic brownie points, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to do these things in the so-called ‘real world’.

        Personally, I excelled at school. It trained me very well to study hard and get good grades. Learn what other people want you to know, and show them that you know it. It took me 10 years after graduating from post-graduate university to shake out of my head the notion that Authority figures know best, there is one right way to do things (the right way), that making a mistake means ‘failing’, and that being ‘successful’ is defined as always climbing higher and higher up your academic ladder. (If I’d learned that a bit earlier, I could have saved myself 5 years tuition – or at least made sure it was in an area that could return a financial bonus)

        So in my experience, the school phenomenon doesn’t always teach what you think it is teaching, and stepping outside of that is a low-risk adventure. You can always step back inside the fold at any time.

  • Dan January 6, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Being born and educated in a former communist country, I can bring a slightly different perspective… the general level and discipline there were much higher. For example we’d learn in 9th and 10th grade what people here learn in college (I have a PhD in math from a US University). What school under commies sorely lacked was developing “soft skills” and yes, stimulating creativity. Going a bit outside the topic, a lot of young people here have the opportunity to work part-time (and temporarily) in jobs that provide interactions with other people – attendants at amusement parks, lifeguards etc. That develops skills which I sorely lacked when arriving here. For this very reason, I feel traditional schooling in US still provides a lot of value in terms of acquiring social skills – teamwork, competition, interaction with other kids. True, in spite of programs for gifted kids, a lot of learning happens at “average” level, so smarter kids will not be challenged enough. But I am beginning to question the value of traditional higher education as a lot of employers are starting to look at actual skills rather than a formal degree (which makes sense).

  • nicoleandmaggie January 6, 2014, 1:26 pm

    This is why my son has skipped two grades and we pay money for private school. I don’t want his K-8 experience to be as miserable and boring as mine was. So far it hasn’t been. He loves going to school every morning and he tells us about the things he’s learned. (And yes, I liked college so much that I went to grad school and got a PhD and now teach college.)

    The schools in our area are supposed to be good, but they’re geared for the average kid, not the outliers. The private school that makes him so happy every school day is well worth every penny and every minute that we spend on it.

  • marven January 6, 2014, 1:26 pm

    Excellent! As a [substitute] teacher, I see firsthand the indoctrination as well as crushing of dreams at a rather broad scale. I’ve been known to encourage kids to drop out of high school and pursue worthwhile passions or just generally to question the system that exists. I even point some of them here. Unfortunately, it’s only a small minority. I suppose that it’s better than nothing, though.

  • Diedra B January 6, 2014, 1:38 pm

    School is an awesome invention. People who want to learn the same thing at the same time can pay one person to teach it to them, and can benefit from the questions and comments from others in the group. Unfortunately school is not always well made, and not everyone is interested in the same thing.

    I’m interested to see what happens next and glad to see Mrs. MMM’s comments as well.

    • Ricky January 6, 2014, 5:52 pm

      It’s a good idea in theory, just not always executed the most efficiently in practice, like most things in life.

  • Marcia January 6, 2014, 1:52 pm

    Oh Yes! My second grade boy feels the same. He LOVES time at home. Our holiday was much like yours.

    My neighbors just got back from 3 weeks in New Zealand. They LOVED it. But it was very expensive. I’m sure you could handle it.

    I have thought about un-schooling. I’m definitely more of a “like routine and schedules” person though, which is why I like engineering and working a job and why I loved regular school. I do feel that homeschooling is just more efficient – I know my son is bored because he’s ahead of the other students. I share the concern about getting time to do other stuff…I know being home with two boys over the holiday didn’t leave time for much else. We’ve now positioned ourselves that I could quit at any time. My work hours have dwindled so much over the holiday that I’m thinking of requesting to go part time again. I tried a 6 month experiment of full time. It’s not working for me.

    However, I have friends who homeschool multiple kids and have their own home businesses, so it has to be possible. But will it be just as enjoyable?

    • Rook January 8, 2014, 5:50 pm

      Did you hear from your neighbours what was expensive about NZ? Food, accomodation etc? I’m an NZer and compared to other countries I’ve visited wouldn’t say we have it THAT bad…

  • Mr. SbS January 6, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Even though we don’t have kids yet, my wife and I were just discussing this matter recently. Both of us never really minded our public school education, but we most certainly were bored half the time and, looking back, could have learned SO much more in those super-important years where your brain still develops and it’s 10x easier to suck up knowledge than later in life.

    A while ago we were brainstorming about what we could do to do a “better” job and come up with a way to make school more exciting than the usual route. Some sort of “part-time” school sounded best to us (but before reading it here in the comments section I had no idea something like that even actually existed!), where you can teach your kid the most important stuff yourself (we certainly feel that we’re up to the task), while still having “some” structure and social skills building with a classroom.

    I have to be honest here and say that I have always been weary about (complete) homeschooling; I wouldn’t want my kid to become an “unsocial weirdo” (call it ignorance on my part). But reading these comments is making me rethink. I had no idea so many mustachians were into homeschooling (and I’m sure they turned out fine) and that there are things like co-ops between parents etc. Intriguing…

  • afrompa January 6, 2014, 2:03 pm

    We considered regular public schools that our kids attended to be the beginning, but not the whole, of their education. The rest came from what we taught them about how to thrive in someone else’s system, how to think critically about what was in front of them daily, how to utilize boredom, etc. etc. When our daughter was two weeks into middle school, she revolted over the stupid social shit, and insisted that she would go no more. I was not in favor, but after her repeatedly making her arguments (including citing Ivan Illich — heh heh), we finally relented, the deal being that she could “unschool” for middle school, but would have to return to public school for high school, as the social learning was too broad and valuable to bypass. She was highly motivated, spent the two years deeply reading literature and science, and developed and followed her interests to the max. She was very well served by this experience, and is now a well employed PhD botanist. Our son, on the other hand, was a content student until he was bitten by the “I’ve had enough” bug at the end of 10th grade. He was also highly motivated, and completed his education taking college courses to satisfy his HS requirements. He also went on to compete college. Kids have ways of letting us know what they most need, and I think most of them have different needs. I think we serve them best by listening empathetically, not imposing our own experience on them, and being flexible within a context of high expectations. You’ll know where to go with him. Good luck!

  • Brotherbyan January 6, 2014, 2:04 pm

    I say leave the lad in school but keep encouraging him to challenge the system while you live a life that does that same.

    Yoda lived in a swamp. Not even sure what that means but I’m leaving it.

    Trust fund kids are just a weak as wage slaves. Home school kids often have a better academic education but miss out on the social benefits. I am not just talking about being personable – but recoginzing and harnessing the social forces (economic, cultural, etc) to their benefit.

    That is what MMM means to me. Being in the world and OWNING it in the mental, financial, health and spiritual sense.

    Hack the logos.

  • Paula Howley January 6, 2014, 2:24 pm

    “Ideally, we could gather and form communal unschooling environments with five or six cool kids, and the problem would be solved. I could teach them writing and carpentry, you could teach them filmmaking and math, and some of our other friends would handle the sports, physics, chemistry, and whatever else they want to learn. We’d take plenty of field trips as well.”

    this is almost what we have been doing for 2.5 years now although slightly different because we live in a rural area. We homeschool and twice a week meet with other like-minded parents and kids to do things together. We even each get a thousand bucks per child a year for school supplies from the BC government.

    I’ll give you an example of just a few of the things we’ve done over the past year. We had a 4 week puppet-making and puppetry course just before Xmas and the young kids gave a show. the older kids made scooter racks and compost bins for the local school that we partner with. In the spring, the kids learned about tv media- they also began putting together their own news shows and newspapers.
    currently they are mapping the area in which we live which means a lot of outdoor time. they love that stuff. they have learned about and participated in cooking, public speaking, and all kinds of fun science experiments. My daughter is digging astronomy right now too.
    One of my favs was the 6 week shakespeare workshop- we had one of the actors from Bard on the Beach come and play with the kids once a week- they had a blast- of course culminating in seeing a show together.
    yes, it’s more difficult because the free babysitting from school is nice. I don’t however, entertain her 24/7. she is an only as well and same age as your boy- 7.5. she knows how to entertain herself, being very independant.
    She is super confident and not afraid to pursue what she wants.
    We’re planning on building a tiny house together as a project when she’s older. She will be paying for it. Realy looking forward to that.
    I would never put my kid in school. What a waste of precious time. She’s the only one I get and I love being with her.

  • Kim January 6, 2014, 2:34 pm

    We are just beginning our public school journey with our kids, I seriously thought about homeschooling, but I knew I didn’t have it in me. We like being able to walk/bike to school, so our decision about what school to go to was set. However we skip alot of school, full days, or half days. As well I try to get involved with the school as much as possible…”be the change you want”. I don’t think our issue is going to be gifted kids who get bored (that was me), but if the social dynamic becomes savage (middle school) we will definitely do something more drastic (like, gasp, commute by vehicle to another school). So far the teachers at our small local school are brilliant and awe-inspiring, everything from yoga to time at the adjacent seniors home to cooking in kindergarten.

  • Ashley Chiang January 6, 2014, 2:51 pm

    ” we use that freedom for constant learning of the things we really want to learn, and creating the things we really want to create.” = unschooling / life learning / whatever you want to call it! I have been reading your blog for over a year and it always boggled me that you didn’t AT LEAST homeschool or unschool (like us!). It seems so in line with your philosophies/ values. And, I’m sure someone else has said it, but unschooling isn’t against classes and the like, at least for us, but my eldest son may take classes in like with his current interests or just spend hours watching videos/reading books/ asking questions about it.

    I will say I have always thought you didn’t homeschool because you both “work” from home and enjoy it being quiet. Unschooling isn’t easy and probably requires more time as a parent than any other “method” It can also cost more money ( especially if you’re transitioning from a “free” public school (we transitioned from private)… I think it would suit you all very well though … At least what I know of you all from your blog :)

  • Tom January 6, 2014, 2:54 pm

    This is something i think about constantly. My daughter is 5 – she’s been able to read since 3.5 years old. I just talked to her about cell division last night and we always have these scientific discussions, art discussions etc…. She has no desire to go to school. She went to preschool for a half a year, actually came out knowing less than she did when she started. She couldn’t figure out why she had to do random things the teacher said all day long.

    Anyway – It’s going to be interesting figuring out the best way to do her education. School didn’t offer me anything except social interaction – i could have “graduate” had i been given the requirements and had GED not been taboo – probably when i was 13 or 12. So i really don’t know why i’d send my kids to 12 years of an “exercise”. But i also need to be a bit freer with my time before i would have the courage to do anything else. I’m an entreprenuer – so i just can’t imagine my kids going through 12-20 years of hoops when there’s so many jobs that they could thrive at wihtout any kind of formal education.

    Loved the post – keep it coming.

  • Børge January 6, 2014, 3:03 pm

    Personally, I’m a bit worried about our son’s opportunities regarding schooling. I will not under any circumstances send him to a public school. They are authoritarian, they don’t respect children as human beings and they suppress the natural desire to learn. Public school destroyed my sisters’ curiosity and almost mine too.
    I’m looking at private schools, but a lot of them are run by more or less the same type of factory schooling principles from the age of early industrialization.

    Luckily he’s still a baby and there is time to consider the options.

    • phred January 7, 2014, 9:40 am

      authoritarian, lack of respect for your humaness, suppress natural desires?

      Better he learn this now, in small bites from public school, than to be totally shocked when on his first full-time job. Real work frequently does away with respect when in crisis mode. You don’t want your son to be one of the chronically unemployed because all employers were “mean” to him

  • Kristin H. January 6, 2014, 3:04 pm

    Hey, if you do end up living in New Zealand or Ecuador, you should consider enrolling him in the school system there. My parents moved me to New Zealand and the Virgin Islands when I was in school and it was really fun having the other kids teach me their customs. Also, different countries emphasize different areas of learning and teaching. New Zealand for instance, really targeted literacy and writing.

  • Leslie January 6, 2014, 3:18 pm

    We knew a family that decided to sail around the world in their boat. They took their kids out of high school and also asked the school to give them pointers on home/boat schooling. They had a full curriculum developed for them so the kids could graduate high school at the normal age of 18 and continue onto college.

  • Justin January 6, 2014, 3:44 pm

    Mr. Money Mustache, I feel like I could have written this same blog post.

    I have the same struggles with my little ones. The oldest are in second and third grade. They are sometimes challenged at school, but not always. The test scores indicate they are somewhere in the 90-99th percentile depending on the day of the week. Those scores qualified them for the academically gifted breakout classes a couple times per week.

    Since I’m early retired, I have certainly thought about pulling them out of traditional school and homeschooling or unschooling them. And like you, I’ve considered giving overseas living a shot. Mexico might be first on my list.

    But like you mention, there are advantages of socialization and being in the classroom. One advantage my kids experience is that of mentoring other students that struggle with the material. Some might say my kids are being held back by slower peers. But I figure it’s good training for a future workplace and life more generally. Not everyone will be on the same plateau as you all the time.

    So mark me down for the “undecided” category of “what my kids will do for learning” next year.

    I also had a revelation not long after my kids started elementary school. I overheard a parent complain to a teacher that she wasn’t giving enough homework. The teacher kindly suggested the parent could always assign their own homework to their own kid (it’s called being a parent). That’s when it hit me. My kids’ teachers aren’t ultimately responsible for their education – I am! I can give them supplemental assignments and enrichment activities all day, and they often enjoy doing these extra assignments.

  • Kokuanani January 6, 2014, 3:54 pm

    MMM, search in your area for a “progressive” school, one that’s based on the tenants of John Dewey.

    Both of my kids went to a Progressive School in the DC suburbs [as a way of avoiding the over-achieving kids and anxious parents in both the public AND private schools there].

    There was no homework until 3rd grade, and “activities” [planting garden; photography; LOTS of cooperative learning]. The emphasis was on learning to learn, and being excited about learning. You can Google “progressive” to find organizations of schools with similar philosophies and outlook.

    Yes, you have to pay tuition, but it’s worth it for the experience. your child will have.

    • Ashley Chiang January 6, 2014, 5:33 pm

      Hi! We currently unschool but have been looking at other options and live in silver spring, MD. Mind telling me which school your kids attended?

      • Kokuanani January 6, 2014, 5:49 pm

        Green Acres School, Rockville MD. The tuition has increased astronomically since my kids were there, but they do have scholarships, and they strive for “economic diversity.”

        Look around under “progressive schools.” I’m sure there are others, perhaps closer to where you live.

        When we looked at public schools in suburban MD, all the administrations bragged that they gave homework in KINDERGARTEN, and that they would push your kid as hard as the private schools. This is the rotten underbelly of the “I’m a failure if my kid doesn’t get into Princeton” mentality that prevails there, and we sacrificed to protect them from that. Even for a year or two, it was worth it.

    • SanJoseMom January 7, 2014, 11:49 pm

      My nine year old attends a progressive school in Silicon Valley, it’s awesome. Vast majority of the kids love going to school everyday. Strong (and required) parent participation allow students to learn from a diverse group of parents.
      Here’s link to Progressive Education Network (https://progressiveeducationnetwork.com/test/) which listed some progressive schools in the US, including public, private and charter. Not comprehensive, but you can send a note to the board members to see if there is a progressive school in your area.

    • victoria January 9, 2014, 5:08 pm

      My kiddo is at a progressive school too and I can honestly say that we have never had a day where she didn’t want to go or where she wasn’t excited about her day when I picked her up.

  • The Green Minimalist January 6, 2014, 4:01 pm

    As always, enjoyed your post.
    I have been thinking about the idea of un schooling for the longest time. After all, I believe traditional school wastes many years of a child’s life. I personally do not even remember 1% of what I have been forced to learn and what I regret now the most, is not learning some life lessons. It has been very hard to convince my husband and kids to even think about it.
    I should have them read your post.

  • phred January 6, 2014, 4:05 pm

    There is a great need for friends at age 8; don’t know why. Rather than pulling him out of school, perhaps you could take him to a Saturday enrichment program at one of the nearby museums.

  • Mark January 6, 2014, 4:07 pm

    Children will react diversely to an unstructured environment. My grade school placed me in a then-new (early 70’s) gifted program that left us kids alone for a couple of years to supposedly learn at our own pace. I was delighted to spend nearly all of third grade playing chess and hanging out. Then report cards came out. I thought I was one of the shining stars! How could this happen? It turned out that some learning is hard, and that I had not yet learned of the joys of voluntary discomfort at age 9.

    High school will come in less than two years for us. Even with two advanced degrees in the house, just helping with advanced algebra is a challenge. Creating or even selecting a curriculum seems like too much responsibility. Fortunately, in California, we are seeing more and more alternatives to public school that combine on-line learning with two or three shortened days in a classroom and access to extracurricular programs. One of these may be the Goldilocks program for us- midway between over-structured highly regulated public school and us taking complete responsibility for inventing and implementing an education. Good luck!

  • Dan January 6, 2014, 4:17 pm

    What you describe as your “ideal” is basically what homeschooling is now in most communities with co-ops. Some hire teachers for a few specialized subjects (e.g., art), others are all volunteers/parents, and all tend to be a la carte. Not sure if you’ve got one in your town, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It really is worth checking out.

  • Joe January 6, 2014, 4:24 pm

    I’m a public school math teacher, and I would strongly encourage you to unschool, if you believe you could do it well. The most restrictive aspect of institutional education is the making of learning into a chore. It is a chore that some students do well in, even to a point of pride. It’s a chore that some young adults even find preferable to paid work. But it is not a very empowering model.

    As adults who get crap done, we’ve moved past learning as a chore. We engage in learning when we want to understand something better; we become gurus and authorities in what we think is cool. I came into this type of learning in my mid-twenties, but I’ve seen people who started much earlier and it is powerful.

  • Jules January 6, 2014, 4:28 pm

    This is a topic close to my heart. After bouncing my 3 kids through five schooling ‘types’ (including two stints at home schooling and one at a Montessori school) in an effort to provide them with the best for their development as healthy, happy, involved earth-citizens, I have come to these conclusions re what schooling is best:
    1. Depends on the child’s personality and as they mature, their wishes
    2. If they aren’t innately academic, they are far better off academically being home schooled
    3. Some are NOT better off socially at school and can feel very isolated and alone within the school environment (once again depends on their personality & beliefs etc)
    4. School provides a much broader exposure to learning, social interaction and the realities of life (some of them very scary & detrimental realities while others are very beneficial to their well being).

    My conclusion after all 3 of mine (now 21, 20 & 18) are done: a home schooling co-operative (as you mentioned MM) would be my ideal, including adequate opportunities in sports, hobby, other activities and neighbourhood/Club friends as well. Have it run under a tight schedule ensuring they learn self-discipline, standards, etc; and that they do understand that for their young years learning IS their work (for only 5-6 hours a week day though) and the rest is play/free time to be a kid and explore, dawdle, daydream, etc. (None of this mind & attitude deadening homework business :)

    My kids are all now semi self-employed (developing their own businesses in industries they love), and also work part-time in jobs they enjoy, travel overseas every year (paid for by their earnings and/or seasonal job) & have thriving social lives.

    Re their idea about schooling: my son would do the whole school thing again (though he would definitely be a lot more ‘educated’ if I had of taught him instead of him scraping through because he worked hard to keep under the radar his whole school life!); one daughter wouldn’t do conventional school again and suffered a lot re self-esteem; and another said ‘whatever’ cause all was good.

    As a parent no matter how much we agonise over it, we just aren’t going to ‘get it all right’, and that doesn’t matter at all – so long as we are a caring, involved parent – a genius will be a genius no matter what, a gregarious social person will be social no matter what, a homebody will be that no matter what — so provide a happy, loving, stress free environment which will ALLOW our kids to blossom into well rounded, happy, self-disciplined people – that’s my philosophy at this end of the journey.

  • Kristy January 6, 2014, 4:41 pm

    We struggled a lot too trying to figure out the best option for our oldest son when it came time to put him in kindergarten. Ultimately we decided on public school for a number of reasons (many of which others have stated) – at least at the elementary level. At the high school level I’d be more open to a homeschool/unschool approach. Though I agree you definitely don’t need a traditional school and post-secondary education to be successful, I do think it is important to set your children up to be able to do whatever they choose and some professions (say..engineering or medicine) do require curriculum courses that you can only obtain by “going through the system”. In high school there is a little more flexibility – learn at home through curriculum, online courses with the school board, etc. which depends less on the parent as a teacher (I finished off the last 2 years of high school this way while working full time and then went to university). In the mean time, if you’re paying for the school through your taxes – might as well take advantage of it and advocate for ways the school can best serve the needs of your child and his learning style. The 2-day per week program sounds like a good start and if you need to do things like pull him out of school for additional life learning experiences (vacation, etc.) then do so!

  • Amelia January 6, 2014, 4:53 pm

    Here’s another voice from the homeschooler camp:
    My parents pulled me out halfway through first grade because I was so unhappy in school. They didn’t know yet, but I had ADHD and a learning disability, so I was always getting in trouble for getting distracted and I was slow to learn to spell and read. Back then they didn’t have so many services for students like me and they were hard to get because of a lack of resources. For the first several years my mom taught me and then around 6th grade-age we started a co-op. My mom taught science, another math, another history, etc. Each class met for 2 hours a week, so I spent just 8 hours a week in class, although we did have a healthy amount of reading and work to do on our own. We had a really good group of students and parents.
    For socialization I did lots of different things over the years: homeschool bowling league, homeschool acting troupes, community sports, field trip groups, swim team, and girl scouts. The only thing I could say might have been missing from my socialization was that I mostly met children from similar backgrounds to mine.
    One thing I really suggest you look in to before homeschooling is what the local community is like. We lived in an area with a lot of homeschool organizations and resources. In another area, my experience could have been very different.
    Academically, I think homeschooling saved me. I was able to zoom along in math, and take the time I needed to get tutoring in spelling and writing. When I was 15, I started taking classes part time at the community college because none of my friends’ parents could teach me calculus. I stayed there to finish off my AA (and save money on tuition), and then transferred to a 4-year school. I never got any kind of highschool diploma or GED. I wouldn’t even have bothered jumping through the hoops to get an AA except that I was eligable for more scholarships if I got one. Now I’m in graduate school getting my PhD in math at a highly ranked state university, becuase math is what I love to do.The moral of my story: you can have the freedom of homeschooling without costing your son any academic options in the future.

  • Blake January 6, 2014, 4:54 pm

    I love the idea of travel schooling or homeschooling to supplement a standard education. A friend and I had been discussing this topic a few years ago on a camping / climing trip in remote outback australia we should remaining remarked at the time how great the canyon we had vistited would be for the ‘geology’ home school lesson.

    The problem I see with a lot of the comments above and why a lot of people choose homeschooling is that there’s a lot of complainypants going on.

    Undoubtably there are poor teachers and bored students, bad influences, bullys and useless curriculum but these things are hardships we can learn from just as much as the ‘positive’ school experiences.

    I would be a lot more stressed and unhappy in my life I wasn’t armoured from bullying from a few years of hardship. I always thought it funny that when parents shifted kids schools because of bullies, invariably the student would make themselves a target in the new school (even though my school had minimal bullying). Im not trying to blame the victim, but bullying exists everywhere in society so best learn to deal with it early.

    My physics teacher suffered from bad examples and wrong answers – so the challenge was to make up our own or fix his problems.

    My maths teacher spent a lot of time with the struggling students so we helped them too when we’d finished our activities. (learning by teaching is very powerful)

    Too much positive attention when struggling in hs meant that it took me 2-3 years at uni to take responsibility for helping myself and asking questions.

    So I think that a mix of both is probably the way to go.

  • Hyacinth January 6, 2014, 5:20 pm

    This is exactly why we’ve homeschooled from the beginning. We do a mix of things, some classes “in-house”, some outsourced, depending on the kid and what’s available. Our 15 yo takes 2 classes at the local high school in the afternoons (after a morning of history study with me & his sister) and he participates in public school sports. He takes English online (I believe it’s a better quality class than what he would get from me or the school system). Our daughter, 13, takes English online, math & history at home, science (high school credit) from a local science teacher who has a weekly class for homeschoolers.

    Most cities have a homeschool teaching co-op organized and run by parents. We live in a rural area and the only co-op available is for younger kids. But even in my location there are more than enough classes & opportunities available. Community theatre, art classes, field trips, speech & debate club, literature club, co-op, weekly homeschool day at the sports plex, quizzing, 4H club, community/public school sports leagues, just to name a few. It’s a common complaint of homeschool parents that we are “too busy!”

  • Micro January 6, 2014, 5:32 pm

    I remember enjoying going off to school each and every day but I think that dealth with living on a farm. School meant I was free from all the chores that could be done while I was at home. However, I can understand now how enjoyable being at home over work/school is. There is just so many different things you can do with your time. It is something that I always wonder how people can not want to retire. They make the comments about they wouldn’t know what to do with their time, but I think that’s just a lack of creativity. There is so much you can do or work on if you didn’t have the restriction of grinding 8 hours of your day away in a cubicle. The only reason you sit and watch TV when you get home is because you want to let your mind destress and need something passive to help accomplish it.

  • Evan January 6, 2014, 5:32 pm

    I want to put in a plug for Sudbury/democratic schools in case you are not aware of them. They are truly something different, as opposed to even things like Montessori which are not really all that far from the norm, especially for older children. If you want freedom for your child, look no further. No required classes, and the rules are created and enforced via a direct democracy. The closest one to you that I am aware of is called Alpine Valley School, and is about 40 miles away. Don’t know anything about that particular school, but you could visit…

  • Fred20 January 6, 2014, 5:35 pm

    School is sort of a joke. I was always talkative and put in the back of the class AWAY from the other students so I wouldn’t “disrupt” the class just because I could pick up concepts and then would have to sit around until the other kids could understand why 2+2= 4…that is SUPER boring

    The only part I looked forward to was the social aspect “recess” and gym. And once I got into high school I was ready to drop out.

    did Honors through HS, spent college having fun

    Now I wish I had learn to climb/ski/snowboard/surf…not that I would be a sponsored athlete, but it couldn’t have hurt my chances!

    -College grad w/ MBA (employed! :( )


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For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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