Questioning Theories of Moss

(Originally published in "The Mother" magazine, March/April 2007)

-by Sarabeth Matilsky

I tried to be modest and discreet. After all, I didn't want the other parents to feel bad. They were always complaining about something or other, mumbling about “lack of sleep” and “discipline,” and they always seemed confused. And here I was, pregnant with my first child, and I already had it all figured out.

What is Education For?

(Originally published in "Life Learning Magazine," and now in "Life Learning: Lessons from the Educational Frontier," edited by Wendy Priesnitz .)

By Sarabeth Matilsky

If you're a homeschooler, you know the drill. "Do you know how to read?" strangers and friends inquire curiously. "How do you learn math? Do you have any friends?” There are the uncles who ask, “So, are you planning to work at McDonalds all your life?!” and the particularly mystified questioners who start with the basics: “How do you learn, anyway?”

Unschooling Is My Job

by Ruthe Friedner Matilsky

It isn’t easy being me.

For the last several weeks I have been telling people that I must be doing something wrong because “It was supposed to get easier.” Two of my five kids are out of the house, everyone’s way out of diapers, we sleep through the night and _they all know how to read_. So why am I so frazzled?

Sisters On Wheels

(published in “New Moon” magazine in March 2002)

by Sarabeth Matilsky

I’ll admit it: I used to be a couch potato. Up until 1996, when I was sixteen, my main interests were dance, piano, reading, and acting in plays. I was definitely not an exercise fanatic. Then, that summer of ‘96, I decided I wanted to go on an adventure. The following March, I set off alone from the coast of Virginia to ride 4,500+ miles to Oregon on my bike. Even a couch potato can change her ways!

A Crash Course in Earth Science

(Originally published in Growing Without Schooling magazine ~2001??)

by Sarabeth Matilsky

When I accepted a job working at an exhibit called “Prehistoric Worlds: Backyard Discoveries” at the Boston Museum of Science, I didn’t quite get the facts straight. My brain focused on the part of the job description that promised a chance to interact with museum guests--especially kids--in a non-coercive learning environment. The part I didn’t get was that, as an interpreter for an exhibit about fossils, I would have to be able to teach museum guests about dinosaurs and mammoths and mastodons. I knew nothing about fossils. I’d never gone through a dinosaur phase when I was little, so I’d never learned much about important periods of the earth’s history ending in “zoic.” On my first day on the job, I was hard-pressed to explain the difference between a mastodon and a mammoth, forget about the different between their BONES.

At Payson Park

By Sarabeth Matilsky

Payson Park is in Belmont, outside the hubbub of Boston, smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood of well-to-do folks. It’s got a ball field (small) and old-style playground equipment—not modular plastic pieces, garishly bright, but metal monkey bars and swings that haven’t been miniaturized yet to prevent lawsuits. It is a warm April afternoon, and as moms and young children trickle into the park, a little girl comes over to where Lucas (age 5) and I are playing. I am constructing a small house out of pinecones and sticks while Lucas collects dead branches from up in a pine tree.

The Great American Wedding Machine

By Sarabeth Matilsky

Nineteen thousand dollars is a lot of money. It could finance a trip around the world, or nearly equal a down-payment on a house. Nineteen thousand dollars could buy a car outright, no monthly payments necessary, or it could pay several years' worth of rent. It could feed an average American family for 6 years, and it's nearly eighty-five percent of an average American's yearly income. Nineteen thousand dollars equals the amount of money the average Chinese person earns in 52 years. According to a 1997 Bride's Magazine survey, nineteen thousand dollars—$19,104, to be exact—could also pay for an average American wedding.

Adventures of Veronica, a homeschooled teenager

(Mostly Compiled From Actual Events)
By Emily Houk, Selina Hunt, and Sarabeth Matilsky

Cast of characters:
-Veronica, a homeschooled teenager
-A Concerned Mail Carrier
-Veronica’s Concerned Grandmother
-Two of Veronica’s Concerned Peers
-Two Concerned Strangers
-Two Concerned Friends-of-the-Family


Mail Carrier: So, here’s your mail.

Veronica: Thanks.

M: You know, I’ve noticed that you haven’t been getting any college applications…

V: Oh! Uh—well, I’m not planning on going to college.

Real Live Grown One

(Originally published, I _think_, in "Growing Without Schooling" magazine.)

by Sarabeth Matilsky

For as long as I can remember, I’ve often felt like everyone and her second cousin is waiting to see how I’d turn out. I was the oldest in the homeschooling group, the oldest of five children, and one of the oldest in the homeschooling movement in general. “How will you go to college without school?” strangers ask me over and over, sounding like a broken record. “How will you get A Job?” asks my grandmother despairingly. “What if they’re socially inept?” disapproving friends insinuate to my mother. Sometimes it’s seemed like literally 99% of the people I meet have doubted aloud that I will survive my upbringing.

A Young Woman Adventurer

(Originally published in "Adventures and Challenges: Real Life Stories by Girls and Young Women," edited by Frances A. Karnes and Suzanne M. Bean)

By Sarabeth Matilsky

I was in the Seattle Airport anticipating my red-eye flight home to the East Coast with very little joy. I was returning to NJ from a camp for homeschooled teenagers, and it had been an incredible week. What a bummer to end all that with a trip on something as sterile as an airplane.

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