Often, good stories start with good questions. When we were planning our back-to-school content, early in the spring, someone asked, “Hey, what if you don’t actually go back to school at all? What are August and September like for homeschooling families?” We riffed on that for a while: Do you get new clothes? New backpacks and erasers? Does your bedtime change? Do you even notice when Labor Day rolls around?
So we talked to four homeschooling families and found four different approaches to the fall routine (see page 20). The Berns family sits back down at their desks (at home) come September, but Erik Riese lets his teenage son’s interests drive his schedule, rather than the calendar. (And to answer our most burning question: Yes, those back-to-school sales come in handy for everyone, but homeschoolers can wait for the clearance.)
Another good question: What the heck is project-based learning? And can high school kids actually learn anything if you hand them the reins? We found the answers to those questions at Minnesota New Country School in Henderson. In a single gym-size room (see the great photo on page 14), teenagers follow their interests and create their own projects in an environment that’s an awful lot like adult life (which you might even call “project-based”).
Speaking of good questions, we love hearing from the readers of our weekly e-newsletter, Minnesota Parent This Week (see page 4). Often I’m blown away by the variety of responses to our queries. But when we asked people how best to prepare kids for the coming return to school routines, we kept reading the same three great pieces of advice: Ease them into earlier bed and wake-up times, keep in touch with school friends over the summer, and keep reading every day. You guys really do know best.