With a little help from my (edu)friends

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends…

-Ringo Starr as Billy Shears in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

I am the son of a woman who taught in the public schools in the South Bronx, NYC.

I became a professor of education in large part to be an advocate for public schools.

And then my wife and I had kids and sent them to an independent school.

And, tomorrow, my daughter will show up for her first day of first grade in that independent school.

But, not my son. He is eleven. He won’t be going to school of any kind.

That is, tomorrow, this son of a public school teacher and devout supporter of public schools will be the parent of one private school student and a homeschooled child.

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me?...

It sure feels all out of tune, at least for the moment. Some day, I’ll write up the backstory (or the origin story as my son, the superhero fan, might like to call it). For now, though, I want to tell you a little about my son and then ask for a little help from my (edu)friends.

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key

This is all a bit personal, so I ask that you lend my your ears and I’ll try to sing his song in key…

A psychologist who once evaluated my son wrote in a report that he is “likely on the autism spectrum disorder.” That’s as close to an actual diagnosis as we’ve gotten, and, frankly, we don’t need anything more official. Some might say he has Asperger Syndrome. Some might say he’s a high-functioning autistic (HFA). I just say that he’s not neurotypical.

If you were to meet my son, you wouldn’t immediately notice anything “atypical,” especially if you’re an adult; he loves talking to adults. He doesn’t have much use for other kids, though.  And, that’s pretty characteristic of kids on the spectrum. He has some other pretty classic non-neurotypical features as well. For example, he has some pretty serious sensory integration challenges. Big crowds and loud cacophonous spaces are a problem for him. He’s never worn jeans; he always wears sweatpants or shorts. I could go on…

Schools are designed for neurotypical kids, especially public schools, I would argue. But, my son never went to public school. From preschool through 4th grade, he attended a small, progressive independent school with a “child-centered” orientation1. And, I love this school dearly. I’m on the board of directors. My daughter is thriving there. My son never did. He just never wanted to be in school, anywhere.

In an article about the school from 6 years ago, the Executive Director said of the school that “…the approach isn’t right for every child — an extremely introverted kid, or a fiercely independent learner, or one that learns better in a more structured school environment, for example.”

Fiercely independent learner. That’s exactly my son.

So, after much, much, MUCH deliberation, consultations, visits to other schools (some supposedly specifically for children with special needs), and tears (lots of tears), we decided to offer my son what he has always wanted: to be a fiercely independent learner in his own way and on his own time.

A couple of months ago, my wife sent in the requisite letter and last month we received the official letter from the county we live in that my son was officially a homeschooler.

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends…

And so this is where we’ll need a little help from our friends.

We’ll need help in the form of emotional support. This is no small undertaking.

And, we’ll also need a little help with ideas: activities, books, videos, resources, etc.

To shape that kind of help, here’s a bit more about my son:

  • He reads. Voraciously. Like as in most of the day. He reads books (novels, comic books, non-fiction books, etc.) and websites (mostly wikis like the Marvel Cinematic Universe wikia).
  • He’s “twice exceptional,” meaning he also qualifies as gifted. That matters because, well, in my mind it means he’ll be just fine.
  • He’s an autodidact. The stuff he learns on his own and teaches me on a daily basis blows my mind.
  • One “feature” of being non-neurotypical is that he has a very low frustration tolerance. So, if he struggles with any task, he’s unlikely to work through the struggles. This makes it very difficult to read or hear those who advocate for maker education principles and who say “every kid is a maker.” My son is not a maker.
  • He loves all things Marvel, Harry Potter and Ninja Turtles. Ideally, we’d use these as frames for as many learning experiences as possible. So, a video on the physics of Ant-Man’s transformation in Civil War is like a dream educational resource for us. More of those, please.
  • He is passionate about becoming an environmentalist. He’s going to save the environment; don’t doubt him. So, any resources around environmental education will be greatly valued.
  • He has become interested in news and politics. He loves a good political conversation.

If there are five different approaches to homeschooling2, we’re much more inclined towards the unschooling approach. So, we’re not necessarily looking for whole curricula. We’ll cobble together different activities and resources and, mostly, let him lead the way. My dreams include encouraging him to blog throughout his homeschooling journey. If his guest post on my blog is any indication, he’ll do well there. I would also like to explore coding/programming with him. We’ll learn that together. I might introduce him to other resources including Khan Academy (gasp!) and MOOCs (double gasp!). Seriously, I think my eleven year-old son would love MOOCs, especially ones about superheroes.

The work of homeschooling my son will disproportionately fall on my wife. She has made an unbelievable commitment to this new phase of parenting. I’m certain it won’t all go beautifully. She will butt heads with my son; she, too, is fiercely independent. It could all be a big, glorious mess. We’ll see.

I look forward to my time with my son in our next phase of learning and parenting. And, I look forward to whatever support and resources you can offer. That’s what the comments section below is for. 🙂

Thanks, friends…

  1. yes, I know that “progressive” and “child-centered” is probably redundant []
  2. I don’t think that’s quite right; it’s more of a spectrum, IMHO []

30 thoughts on “With a little help from my (edu)friends”

  1. Bonnie Boaz says:

    Because he’s passionate about the environment, maybe finding something service related too, something he can DO for the environment. Just an idea.

    This is an honest, wonderful post. I was never brave enough to homeschool, although I considered it when my daughter was struggling socially in high school. You have to find what’s going to help your kid flourish, and if a school can’t do that, then thankfully there are other options.

    Keep us updated!

  2. Long time reader, first time commenter, here. You’re absolutely not alone. I say this as someone with no kids, no home-schooling experience, and a ton of dear friends who have been home-schooled, and who have home-schooled their kids, to wonderful results.

    You asked for pedagogical approaches that won’t trigger his low frustration trigger. That rules out the classic “problem-based learning” approach. Fine. There are many ways to advance learning. These days, a lot of very good knowledge-making is happening not on the fringes, but on the inside: proving (or disproving) what people just assume. Have you thought about allowing him to dive as deeply as he’d like into a field, and then asking him what’s missing, or what’s not really proven yet? It’s an approach to “expanding” the field that doesn’t require visionary thinking, as much as it requires encyclopedic knowledge. And sometimes this interstitial investigation-work can crack open entirely new avenues of inquiry.

    The other advantage to this approach is that it asks a traditional question (“What is the pattern?”) backwards. It instead focuses on “Where is the pattern thin, or missing?” Pattern recognition (and recognizing where the pattern is absent) is something that some people on the spectrum seem to be especially neutologically-suited for.

    As Bonnie says, please do keep us posted.

  3. Alan Levine says:

    I’ve got no practical advice in the area, but count on the emotional support. Thanks for sharing down the personal side. This, and what you have previously written about your son say much about your love and concern for him. This seems a logical step, and no matter the outcome, it should be a piece of his memory of what his parents tried in his interest.

    Even if it is MOOCs.

    If I can help with anything on the code learning side, ring my bell.

  4. Jon,

    Thanks for sharing and wishing your family all the best. I know you’ll find support in your network and I admire your courage and commitment.

    One little recommendation I have is reaching out to librarians–not just because I am one 😉 But we support autodidacts all the time, and many public libraries have all sorts of materials and links for parents who are homeschooling. So that might be a good source of help. (as well as some of our library colleagues on Twitter who love to recommend resources at the drop of a hat.)

    Incidentally, my nephew really enjoys Bone, which maybe your son has read, and just read The Trials of Apollo, Book 1: The Hidden Oracle, which he loved.

    Good journeys..

  5. Jenn Binis says:

    Sending you all the best! It might not work given his frustration triggers as there’s a learning curve, but has he ever thought about being a volunteer editor for a Marvel or related wiki? I know some sites partition out responsibilities for editing meaning he could be responsible for basic grammar or mechanical fixes, giving him some applicable practice around basic mechanics using familiar content. My mom volunteers for a couple of wikis and she’s spoken of the community nature and feedback loop in terms of changes so he won’t have to worry about messing up someone’s work.

  6. Jon Becker says:

    @Bonnie – we’ve definitely discussed getting out into the world and doing service type work. If you know of any particularly good, local environmental groups, I’m all eyes and ears…

    @Richard – “Have you thought about allowing him to dive as deeply as he’d like into a field, and then asking him what’s missing, or what’s not really proven yet?” To the first part, yes, very much. I’d say that’s an inquiry-based approach that we favor and that I think suits him. He naturally tends towards deep investigation. Some call it narrow; I hate that. The “what’s missing” or “what’s not really proven yet” parts are useful prompts. I hadn’t considered that and will now. I was thinking about the news that SETI is investigating a possible extraterrestrial signal and how he might want to explore that. Your prompts are perfect for that. Thanks for chiming in!

    @Alan – thanks, as always, for the support. Your #1 on my list for questions about coding/programming.

    @Carolyn – big fan of librarians 🙂 I have a hard time keeping track of what my son has read (might be time to get him a Goodreads account), but he has read much of what Rick Riordan has written. So, the new one can’t be far off his to-read list. Thanks!

  7. Jon,
    Thanks so much for sharing. I too am a fan of 24/7 sweat pants, Harry Potter/superheroes, and places that are loud noise free. In addition, I left the public school system and after a brief blip in private school, began homeschooling when I was just a couple years older than your son.

    Though I have no resources to share (as that was now 20 years ago and my curriculum was more what would now be called unschooling) I will say that for me the best part of those years was how I learned to learn in every situation and through every experience because there was no in-school/out-of-school binary. My parents gave me the freedom to follow whatever I was curious about and I took full advantage of that! Let your son (as much as possible) chart his course and guarantee he will both learn and teach you many many things. : )

    That said, I also know from personal experience that it will be hard and you’ll all probably feel like weirdos and most all question if this actually, actually was the right choice or you’re doing more damage than good.

    It’s not an educational path for everyone but I know from personal experience that it works and twenty years from now hopefully your son too will reflect back and be thankful that you all, like my parents, tried something a bit different.

  8. Sherman Dorn says:

    An 11-year-old to homeschool? The good part is that the middle-school curriculum is often disjointed, so a few years of following disparate interests is pretty close to what an engaged middle-school experience often looks like anyway.

    I love the idea of a GoodReads account — that’s an easy way to make some occasional times for reflection/planning: “What have you been reading in the last month? Are there any new things you want to explore/old things you want to return to?” I’d seed a few categories, including poetry and different types of nonfiction — including travelog, public youth persuasive writing (it exists out there, if not categorized as such) — and have a regular conversation with the same questions and let him answer those questions.

    I don’t know if that could also be used for suggestions that just wait for him. Anthologies and collections might be a good choice to introduce him to new genres — short pieces. Art Buchwald and Molly Ivins for political humor. Martin Gardner for recreational math. Stephen Jay Gould for natural history and all sorts of things. Maya Angelou and Alberto Álvaro Rios for poetry.

    In particular, I’d look for books that mix different types of writing. There’s a brand new book about my region of the country that mixes short prose and poetry about desert flora, fauna, http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid2591.htm — and if Arizona didn’t exist, you’d probably slot it as a YA book about an imaginary place. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home really *is* about an imaginary culture and is that mix of different types of writing. These books are sometimes hard to find.

    When I suggested a drum on Twitter, I forgot to mention *listening* to music. You could treat it like reading — he can listen to anything he wants as long as he tracks it and checks on making sure he gets a broad exposure. You could also ask him to read the lyrics on anything he listens to (secret poetry!).

    And I’ll stop here.

  9. You didn’t mention whether he likes to be in the outdoors. I ask because we would welcome a visit to the farm where we are trying to practice sustainable methods and keep a small footprint, that whole living in harmony with the earth thing. I’m doing beekeeping on a small scale, a fascinating link to the natural world. VABF is the one of the best orgs in the state around issues of organic and biologically friendly practices.

    For general environmental education and work, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay is based in Richmond and has lots of programs, one specifically about the greening work being done in Richmond.

    For a long time, we did water testing for the Alliance. I couldn’t see on their website if they still have that program. It was a little like crowd sourcing water data and gives volunteers a connection with a particular spot in the world so when they think and talk about environmentalism it has a personal meaning.

    You are doing the right thing for all the right reasons. Add to it that your willingness to be open about your family and document your journey with such candor, and you are providing help to others who may be facing similar issues and decisions.

  10. Dan Silverman says:

    Making book recommendations to an avid reader is always a tough thing to do–voracious readers know what they like. But John McPhee and Annie Dillard are two authors who write about the environment in a way that appeals to persons who are skeptical about some environmental arguments. (Or at least one such person.) If a podcast might be of interest, this is a very nuanced conversation: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2012/02/david_owen_on_t.html

    These works were all written for adults, but I doubt they’ll go over his head.

    And I’ll do some meditating on alternative PE.

  11. Hi – I love all these ideas with the librarians, service work and Marvel wiki. Fantastic. I hope you know you are totally supported by your community and if you want to send him for a day or two of helping out, I can always figure out something to keep him busy in Cville! I am a fan of MOOCs (gasp) and I made my 12 and 13 year old boys take the Learning How To Learn one by Barb Oakley on Coursera. I recommend it as a good starting point and would be an excellent MOOC to wrap with some reflective writing and maybe an exercise where he could map out ways he learns best, ways he can avoid procrastination, types of tasks he loves to do, types of tasks that are harder, that type of self-awareness related to learning. Another UVa resource is “Escaping the Endless Adolescence” which might provide some good ideas for you and your wife. It’s more geared to getting kids to grow up but there are ideas in there around providing opportunities where you child can add value and finding activities where they are around adults and contributing so they see they can contribute, they learn more the in and out of adult live, and they gain some skills. On another note, when my kids were little I hosted a Super Hero Boot Camp for kids after school where they went through obstacle courses and leapt over tall buildings, etc. That might be a fun type of activity for your son to organize as a project – working with a school, figuring out activities, making snacks, time management, and then people skills but in a space where there is a common passion.

  12. Jennifer Lenkowsky says:

    A friend from my youth group home schooled her daughter due to her husband being a professional athlete therefore making their living situation sometimes erratic. While her daughter did not have any special needs that I know of, she did take on the unique devotion of home schooling…I’d be thrilled to put the two of you (or her and Jacqui) in touch if you think it could be beneficial. Private message me on Facebook if that’s the case and I’ll make the introduction. If any two parents can do it, you guys are definitely intellectually and lovingly equipped to make it happen. Good luck…I’m sure the outcome will be amazing!

  13. Cindy Adams says:

    Never read your blog before but have known lots of home schooled kids and their parent/teachers and used to run sessions in the local community college’s Anatomy & Physiology Lab that were requested and funded by the local home-school association….you might want to ask around and see if there is one already organized in your area. They often cast a wide net.

    The first thing I thought of as you described his interests was that he would make an excellent citizen scientist. Check out this article from Scientific American @ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/8-apps-that-turn-citizens-into-scientists/ that includes some apps that might interest him and google the term for lots of other citizen science project ideas and resources.

    Your son is a very lucky man to have two parents so dedicated to the principle that “Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” – Jess Lair

  14. Trish Mcisaac says:

    Not homeschooling but lots of info to support you on unschooling is Sudbury Valley. Org. A school here in Mass been operating as an unschooling school since 1968. You are welcome to reach out to me. I have a kid there and am a public school teacher so I can relate.

  15. Bud Hunt says:

    Jon –

    I got nothing much to add other than keep helping him dig deep into the stuff he’s curious about, and push a bit around the edges to see if you can help him develop new curiosities. And what Gary said about a band/instrument. Let him pick – but don’t let him choose otherwise. Powerful stuff.

    Also – dude. Y’all got this.

  16. Rene says:

    Many have walked ths path before you; my husband & I, for example. My (now adult) son has Aspergers, though was mis-diagnosed and treated for ADD for years. He is not hyper active, so in some ways that diagnosis made sense…but it was inaccurate.

    We made the decision (lots of tears and fear) to homeschool him in 8th grade. It was truly the best year out of all his school years (his words). But, out of fear that I wasn’t capable of giving him the high school education he needed, we enrolled him in a private high school, with very low class size and wonderful teachers who understood his learning needs, starting in the 9th grade. (Our older son remained in our public school.) there. Academically, our younger son did just fine; great, actually. But…

    Socially, this school was not set up to provide the cognitive social skill “training” he needed. Frankly, most schools are not. Beyond sensory needs, one of the greatest struggles those on the spectrum have is with social interaction. Most neurotypicals pick up on social cues and norms. We ALL struggle with this to an extent, but those on the spectrum must be taught these skills explicitly. When they are young, these don’t seem too significant. The older they are, the more important it becomes. Middle school and high school can be difficult for many children, socially. Yet, without a culture that intentionally embeds social and emotional cognition, those on the spectrum are often targets of bullying/teasing. Those on the “higher end” KNOW people get frustrated with them, but they don’t know why. They get frustrated with others, too.

    I have no doubt you will find your way through the academic side of “schooling” but I can’t stress enough how important it is to intentionally include social cognition! I recommend the resources by Social Thinking. It isn’t a curriculum, per say, as there isn’t a “trajectory” — this is a life long process. Start small. If you can make it to any of their conferences, GO! These are not designed only for therapists or teachers.

    And, I applaud you! The best schools are designed for a fairly large bell curve of abilities; but for those on that far right or left tail, you have to design a different environment. Your home is a great place for that! For this group, the “least restrictive environment” is often not a typical classroom in even specialized schools. Only you can make that determination!

    Here is the website for Social Thinking.

    http://www.socialthinking.com

  17. Jen says:

    My college roommate sent me this post via Twitter, saying she thought of me when she read it. See, we’ve been homeschooling our quirky, out of the box, uber-complex 2e son for roughly four years now. When we pulled him from 5th grade we were all a basket case. Now, as he starts his sophomore year of high school (which I still can’t believe), he’s a confident homeschooler…but still quirky, out of the box and uber-complex. But home is where he learns best and fastest, and it’s perfect for him. His younger brother? Off to middle school every day. We do what works best for all of us here. 🙂

    Now, as for resources, if no one has mentioned Gifted Homeschoolers Forum I will cry (just skimmed comments above). GHF has an incredible resource section, but it also has an online school for 2e kids, and THEY REALLY GET THESE KIDS. Accommodations are made for each child as necessary. You can find the fall classes here: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/ghf-online/class-schedule-fall-2016/. Resources here: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/resources/favorite-things/
    (Full disclosure, I’m a GHF Ambassador and one of their published authors…but I still would recommend the organization regardless).
    Please reach out if you need more info and such. I’m always happy to help. Good luck!

  18. Eric says:

    Been re-reading Rousseau’s Emile. He writes: “The surest way to raise him (Emile) above prejudice and to base his judgments on the true relations of things, is to put him in the place of a solitary man, and to judge all things as they would be judged by such a man in relation to their own utility.” He might also recommend that your boy read Robinson Crusoe.
    How might your son feel about gardening? Lotta reading and practical self-directed learning associated with that.

  19. Eric says:

    And see Captain Fantastic. You might be he, John.

  20. Sue King says:

    I admire your conviction & courage. Your children are fortunate to have parents who are advocates and know/value their children’s uniqueness. I know I don’t know you, but have followed you for a long time. I do not know that I can be of much help. Love the musical instrument/band suggestion. I would also suggest camping and outdoor excursions – rowing, sailing, kayaking – just some informal exploring to see what questions/learning that might generate.

  21. Pat Becker says:

    We may not be able to help you with ideas on what he needs to learn but we fully support you emotionally and are very proud of the way you and Jacqui have delved into this major challenge. Drew is very lucky to have such committed parents but then again, you are lucky to have Drew.

  22. Jessica Raider says:

    Will be following with great interest. Two of my three are on the high end of the spectrum too (1st and 4th grade, public school). I may follow in your footsteps. So proud and glad to know you guys.

  23. Jon Becker says:

    Just sticking my head into the comments section to offer a hearty thank you to all who have commented, offered support, shared ideas and resources, etc.

    This year will be quite a journey and it’s nice to know we have people looking out for us along the way.

  24. Jon, I homeschooled my children from the time my oldest was 7 years old and right through until I was diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t continue. My youngest did not step inside a school until he was 11 years old. Then he went to school like “typical” children and did just fine, with one difference. By the time he was in high school he was quite irritated by the nonsense stuff he had learn and wanted to learn what he wanted to learn. It’s a shame that educational institutions are so rigid. (We certainly could not afford private so it was public or homeschool.)

    BTW, I’m a teacher who did just fine in school (pretty much a straight A student) with one exception – I was bored a lot of the time. Why couldn’t I learn more than what they wanted me to? I didn’t want my own children to be stuck in that pattern, hence the homeschooled lifestyle for all four of my children.

    As for activities, curriculum, etc., there is so much out there is is mind-boggling. You won’t have a problem finding stuff. I highly recommend that you read some books first though. One in particular will likely be of tremendous help for you: Better Late Than Early by by Raymond S. Moore, Dennis R. Moore and Dorothy N. Moore.

    And for your piece of mind (and it sounds like what your son would most likely thrive better in anyway), “homeschool” does not mean “school at home.”

    Your son and you and the rest of your family too, will be just fine. Enjoy! What you get in the end is a relationship that is so close it’s obvious, simply because you spend time with each other. And time is how relationships are developed.

  25. A little late to this party, but just want you to know that on some level, I’m envious of your decision and wish in many ways that we’d done the same. Not that my kids didn’t like school, or that they didn’t do well, or that they suffered in the process. But because so much of their schooling just feels like a waste of time, of just going through the motions, of just following some stupid tradition of “learning” that, looking back on it, wasn’t much real learning at all. At the end of it all, that 3.5 GPA is an indicator of how well my kids played the game, not how much they truly learned.

    As to advice, you might try to find something similar to a group I’ve been working with a bit called the Princeton Learning Cooperative up here in NJ. Basically, it’s a place where unschooled kids can get together with other kids and adults and pursue things they are interested in. I know the kid part may not be that interesting to your son, but they do a lot to connect kids to adults who can mentor them and support them. Not sure if anything like that exists where you are. http://princetonlearningcooperative.org/

    Best wishes, Jon. I wouldn’t worry too much about the outcomes. Just love him and give him the space he needs to grow into whoever he’s going to become.

  26. Peggie Bobk says:

    It seems you are doing what education should be about in a perfect world – esicating each child according to the best way to educate that particular child. At one point, i had 1 child in public school, 1 child in private school and 1 child homeschooled (ld/gifted). So it seems you might be overwhelmed with people offering resources, but once you know how your child learns (and it seems you do) just open up your child’s brain and let the knowledge and experiences pour in. It will amaze you the depth of learning. Congrats on being flexible on this very personal issue. And remember it might not always be the answer (for either child) but it is the answer today. Enjoy the journey.

  27. Karen says:

    I’m thrilled for your son and your family that you have made this decision. My daughter, who has always been homeschooled in a loose and quasi-unschooling fashion, is also a fiercely independent learner who has resisted direct instruction and a gifted kid on the autism spectrum. When I was trying to explain something about a math issue she was interested in, when she was five, she looked at me accusingly and said, “You just broke all my joy.”

    So I followed her lead. We did a mix of reading, listening to audiobooks, going to classes for homeschoolers at art museums and the Wild Animal Park, attending concerts and live theater. She had a long-lasting passionate interest in theater, so much of her learning revolved around that. For years we went to local theater productions and she put on plays with her dolls and stuffed animals. Later she took acting classes (great for social learning and nonverbal body language). We began attending lectures and Q&A sessions; she started ushering at two local theaters; she was invited to tour the offices of a London company that films live theater there and distributes it to schools around the world. Through theater she broadened her knowledge of history, science and technology, art, and social relationship skills.

    She is now a double major in theater and physics, studying at a local university with a Presidential scholarship. She’s an honors student with a 3.9 average. But the things that most delights me are that she is advocating for herself, confident of her strengths, understanding of her weaknesses, and most importantly making some friends in the tolerant and “different” environment of the theater. She’s assistant director for one project and actor in another this semester, along with continuing her ushering. She had a summer job doing theater mime at the county fair.

    She can’t drive– this is somewhat common among autistic people who have motor coordination issues — and this is one of my biggest worries for her as a young woman who will have to rely on public transportation. She is slow to warm to new situations, which puts her at a disadvantage in situations such as interviews, and will potentially be an issue in things like advocating for a raise. But the best thing about unschooling was the way it allowed us to integrate not only disparate subject areas, but to bring social skills, emotional development, and self-expression into all of it — rather than having it separated into classes or social skills curricula.

    Best of luck — it’s not always easy, but it’s truly the adventure of a lifetime.

  28. Cheryl says:

    As a mom whose been unschooling for nearly two decades, married to a former public school special education teacher, with a child that is not neurotypical and sounds very much like your son, I just had to comment

    The main thing I would go back and tell my younger self at the beginning of this journey is this:
    “Relax. Breathe. You got this, and more importantly, your kids do. They know what they need, trust them. Help them find resources, and then get out of the way and watch them blow your mind. “

  29. Jason Green says:

    Jon,

    I was very interested in the comments as a parent of two middle school students who just joined you. Both of my kids are involved in homeschool speech and debate. We’re using that as a jumping off point for much of their curriculum. They read and write about current events to prepare for extemp, and research agricultural policy (and some of the relevant ecology) since that’s this year’s policy debate topic. We’re still sorting out math, and they go to the local maker space a couple of afternoons a week for video game design and graphic design classes. Our oldest is taking organ lessons.

    Did you see Stephen Wolfram’s big essay on teaching computational thinking? It’s one I’m wrestling with, once I set aside all the Wolfram products sales pitch embedded in it.

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