Living the Homeschool Adventure in an RV: Tonya's Interview


Tonya and her family are from Ohio but for the past 4 years she and her family have been traveling around together in an RV. She writes about their travels on her Live The Adventure blog.

Here is a photo she sent in that shows, from Left to right Joshua, 14, Nickolaus, 16 and Chelsea 13, taking a break from an important creek exploration endeavor:


Let's see what other activities they've done during their explorations traveling in their RV...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

My husband and I have homeschooled our three children for the past 11 years. With the exception of preschool for the older two, they’ve never been in a typical school setting and only attended preschool that one brief year because I had a panic attack and decided that NO Way could I ever homeschool my children.

At the time I simply did not realize that homeschooling would have been just more of the same things I was already doing with my children, reading tons of picture books, counting Cheerios, creating beautiful tiny masterpieces using finger paints, riding bikes and exploring nature at the park. So away to “school” they went, one of the biggest mistakes I’d yet to make.

They spent the year sick, with every imaginable ailment they could catch from the snotty nosed 4 and 5 year olds. I spent the year immersed in homeschooling how to books, websites and catalogs and just bided my time looking forward to the adventure ahead.

Since my children are so close in age, they all started school at the same time. So though only one was of compulsory age, the other two begged me to homeschool them as well. So I did and it’s been all fun and games since then….well…not exactly….


2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

I’m grateful that homeschooling has allowed me flexibility, especially in the curriculum and methods I’ve used over the years. Like many who have been raised with a public school background, what I detested became a blueprint for our homeschool. I bought textbooks, workbooks and a school desk and thought the more structured we were the better. Well, it wasn’t long before we were all in tears and my boys wanted to go back to preschool where school was fun.

I realized that I needed to put some fun in our school. I remembered what I had read in my research and decided we’d try a unit study, then we’d follow the philosophy of Charlotte Mason. Eventually we decided to unschool. If you ask me now, I’d say we take an eclectic Charlotte Mason/Unschooling approach to school.

I’m a huge fan of reading and believe that if my kids can read, they can learn anything they need or want to know. But reading did not come easy to my boys. I struggled in vain to teach them for years before we finally found a reading specialist that suggested they see a special eye doctor. It turned out that they both needed extensive vision therapy, though one has 20/20 vision. Their eyes just don’t focus the same way mine do. I don’t know how many times the specialists I saw told me to be thankful that my boys were schooled at home. They would have easily slipped through the cracks in a public school setting- plus, we’d have to deal with other issues that could go along with that, such acting out and other behavioral problems.

Finally, homeschooling has allowed my family the benefit of traveling full-time with my husband’s job for the past four years. Had we chosen not to homeschool, this never would have been an option for our family. My family would have been split apart as my husband traveled and the kids and I were left at home. Now we don’t have to wait to see him on weekends for a short visit, we are with him wherever he goes. This lifestyle has really enhanced our homeschooling experience because not only are we able to travel with my husband, we are able to see things that before we’d only read about in books.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

I just love to be with my kids- I think they’re fun! My daughter jokes that she brings ‘fun-tertainment’ to the family; and she’s right, she certainly does. Living in the close quarters of our motor home, we certainly all need to have a sense of humor.

When I asked my children for their opinions on what's been fun, they reminded me of many of the trips we’ve taken. When we were learning about early America and the Revolutionary War we were able to visit Jamestown, Yorktown, Colonial Williamsburg and many other historic sites in Virginia.

We found a lost kitty at the lost colony of Roanoke, camped at the site of a Civil War battle and read the journal of a soldier who fought there while studying bullets and other artifacts that had been found on the grounds, and spent a terrifying night amidst the Wild Ponies at Assateague Island National Seashore after reading Misty of Chincoteague.

When my children think back to their homeschooling experience, they’ll remember many of the trips that we’ve taken that have become a way of life for our family.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

I’ll never forget how fun our unit study of Ancient Egypt was about five years ago before we began traveling. While we were home, I was the Queen of Projects so we completed just about everything I could think of during the course of our unit.

One of our favorite activities was to mummify an orange and apple. After carefully, ceremoniously wrapping the mummies in muslin dipped in a water/glue solution, we placed the mummies on the front porch to dry and headed out to run some errands. Imagine our surprise to find an entire flock of black crows pecking at our mummies upon our return home! The kids were horrified and then made jokes about their mummies not making it to the afterlife.

School Sucks Podcast: The End of Public Education

I've been listening to this podcast lately. The host, Brett Veinotte, speaks the truth about education and I want to do what I can to spread the word about his podcast. I highly recommend it.

However, we all have limited time on our hands and there is so much information out there, so how can you really know whether this podcast is something you might be interested in spending your time on?

Well if you have 30 minutes, I suggest you listen to Episode 9.1. Although it is the third in a series on the "destructive, hidden curriculum in public education," I think it easily stands alone.

If you are curious and intrigued by what he says in this episode, then use that as an indication that you may find value in listening to more of what he has to say about education and learning.

I for one am looking forward to more.

Homeschooling Video

This video is very informative and shares a variety of ideas and opinions on homeschooling. I found it on JJ Ross' blog (see her interview here).

One person in the video is Pam Sooroshian, who kindly did an interview for this blog too.

We Laugh A Lot: Cynthia's Interview



Cynthia and her family crack themselves up as they live and learn together in Washington State...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We have homeschooled for four years. But, in a way, we did so even before that, because it was a part of our lifestyle and our personal habits to spend a lot of time in "enrichment" activities with our daughter. We read to her for long hours, had season tickets to the opera, and spent a lot of time exploring the world with her through hikes, science experiments, and community events. When we decided to take her out of school, we reasoned that it would not involve a great deal more time than we were already spending.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

We love the freedom of homeschooling. Obviously, there is the ability to take vacations when it suits *our* schedule rather than the school district's. We have been able to involve our child in adult activities that took place during "school hours," which were of interest to her in spite of her age: a knitting retreat, a day at the courthouse, a lunchtime concert in the park, etc.

Furthermore, when learning isn't forced into the hours of the school day, it tends to happen more often. We don't call it "school," but we are frequently involved in some kind of project into the evening and weekend hours. If our daughter is still engrossed in the project on Monday morning, we can let her continue and return to the scheduled curriculum another day.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

We laugh a lot. We have a special way of jumping onto the couch together when we sit down to read that never fails to crack us up.

My daughter likes to pretend the cats are in the lessons too sometimes and we can't get them to cooperate. (Typical cat.)

One day on a weekend, I came home to find that my daughter and husband had decorated the entire downstairs with altars for the Greek gods (we were reading the Percy Jackson books at the time). I had to "take a tour," including a visit to the Oracle at Delphi, played by one of her old dolls wrapped up like a mummy in toilet paper. It was hilarious.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

I guess the funniest event was a talent show - conceived, organized and executed by the kids in our homeschool co-op. No parents had a hand in it.

I love those kinds of events, the kid-driven ones. Some of the children could barely speak they were laughing so hard.

But there were also the serious moments, when respect for a child's recital of her poem kept everyone absolutely silent - something I don't think you'd find in any school program.

The Freedom To Learn By Doing: Heather & Shamus' Interview



Heather and her husband Shamus homeschool their children in Western Pennsylvania where the whole family lives and learns together. Both parents have talents that enable them to work from home, so the family makes the most of the freedom their lifestyle allows.

Want to learn more about them? Here's Heather's family blog, An Untraditional Home . She's also an artist and you can go to this link to learn more about that. Shamus' blog is called Twenty Sided Tale where you can go and learn about all he dabbles in as part of his untraditional life.

Heather planned on working on the questions with Shamus in person, but sometimes an untraditional life gets pretty busy so she gave up on that and just emailed it to him. Heather reports that "His answer ARE my answers though he did write it from his perspective and that is just fine with me. :)"

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We've home schooled ever since our kids were old enough to not go to school. Twelve years ago my wife was pregnant with our first child. She was a public school special education teacher at the time. Sitting in the teacher's lounge, listening to her own former teachers talking disdainfully about her now-students changed her perspective on how public school actually works. Specifically: It doesn't.

Whatever their faults or virtues, those teachers were never going to love our kids as much as we do or care about the quality of their education than we do. So why don't we just do it ourselves?


2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

There really is nothing more useful than being free to teach the kids what they're actually interested in, instead of trying to make kids interested in what you're supposed to be teaching them this week.

Kids are into bugs? Let's study bugs!

Curious about the stars? Let's grab a telescope and do some astronomizing!

Curious about plants? Let's get some seeds and grow some. Or watch them die because my wife has a black thumb. That's a learning experience, too.

Meanwhile a public school kid is sitting at a desk in late May, looking out the window and wondering about how flowers grow while the teacher hands out worksheets with the stuff the kid was into last year..

They have the freedom to learn by doing.

They go camping instead of reading about it.

They visit museums instead of seeing pictures of the stuff inside of museums.

They collect flowers and herbs instead of sitting in a lecture on flowers and herbs.

They learn to cook instead of standing in the lunch line.

3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

It's great being able to vacation while everyone else is still stuck in school. We don't have to school when they school, rest when they rest. Our kids can get the park and Chuck E. Cheese to themselves if they like.

We can take spontaneous trips. We often go off and visit friends out of state. Not only has this been educationally beneficial, but it is also just plain fun to do things as a family and not constantly have to figure out who needs to be where when.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

This summer we went to the lake. The kids flew kites (learned about
airfoils) saw interesting topography (learned about glaciers, man-made lakes, and how a dam is constructed) watched the sailboats (learned about economics and why our family can't afford boats) and generally got a head full of knowledge without even realizing it.

The Force Will Be With Her Always: Obi-Mom Kenobi's Interview


I guess it was inevitable with all the traveling I've done lately that I would end up in a whole other galaxy. One far, far away.

I forgot my map, lost my way and ended up on the dark side. Fortunately I met Obi-Mom Kenobi and she helped me find my way back. Good thing too, because she was my only hope.

As you can see by the photo above, the force is strong with this one. When she's not in the far away galaxy, she and her family make their home in West Michigan, which she refers to as part of the Great Frozen Midwest.

Obi-Mom has a blog called, wait for it...Help Me Obi-Mom Kenobi, You're My Only Hope, where you can learn all about her family's life told in the way only a true Jedi Master can.

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We've homeschooled for 6 years, after pulling our son - Padawan Learner (PL) - out of school in the middle of 2nd grade. Those 5 1/2 months in 2nd grade were so traumatic for him (and us) that we ended up bagging the entire rest of that year and started 2nd grade over again in the fall. That was one of the best decisions we've ever made homeschooling. Padawan Learner grew into himself a lot that spring and summer.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

We all love to travel, travel, travel. Well, at least that's my favorite part of the flexibility from homeschooling. There's just so many ways that we've all benefited from the freedom of homeschooling; it's hard to pick just a few...

Padawan Learner decided (back when we first took him out of school) that he wanted to learn Dutch like me. Now you may be shocked to hear this, but Dutch is not a language that's offered in most American elementary schools - private or not. Shocking, I know.

Because he started lessons at the age of 7, his accent is just beautiful. I sound like an American speaking decent Dutch. He sounds like a true Nederlandse jongen - with that gorgeous blond hair to match it.


PL at his Earth home


An unexpected benefit of doing this was incorporating many of the spelling rules from Dutch into his English spelling efforts. Dutch has very hard and fast spelling rules, and many of them transition well into learning the spelling guidelines for English.

On the flip side, he has very little tolerance for all the spelling rule exceptions in English though because he's seen that a language can operate very well without them.

Dad Windu (DW) likes that he gets to see us more often than when PL was in school. We join him at his office for lunch sometimes and tag along on projects when he's out doing a site visit.

Sometimes he has to stop in at home on his way to a job, and we get to visit with him for a few minutes while he gets ready.


Dad Windu says "Drive a car one must learn before piloting spaceships, yes."


There's no worrying about getting permission from PL's school to travel with Dad Windu when he has an extended trip out of town or a conference out of state.

I like being able to juggle curriculum, methods and/or timing as needed. If something isn't working for PL, I can put it aside for a while to see if it's a developmental thing or chuck it altogether if it just isn't a good fit.

We've run the gamut of homeschooling methods over the years from a very heavily regimented classical approach, to unit studies, to footloose and fancy free unschooling.

No single method was right.

So we settled on planned lessons in the morning (Algebra I, expository writing, and either history or science - on alternating days) and interest-led things in the afternoon, e.g., piano practice, trampoline class, housekeeping, cooking, visiting museums or nature areas, etc.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

We have the most fun getting out into the world when everyone else seems to be locked up inside! We especially enjoy sledding with friends, slinking around art museums, hiking and camping in National and State Parks, roaming Lake Michigan, and having the trampoline center all to ourselves.

We once ran off to Madison, WI on a lark when our house was in the middle of a horrendous, double bathroom, repair fiasco. We just couldn't take it any more!

Instead we went creeping through an awesome cave system, snuck into a writer's conference (inadvertently), found one of the most wonderful chocolatiers in the world, and hung out around the WI State Capitol Building - watching a very confusing smorgasbord of protest groups roll in and out across the Capital lawn.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

Once, while PL and I were climbing to the top of the bell tower on the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, we saw a look-out ledge about half way up the 356 steps to the top.

Being curious, Padawan Learner gave the door latch a pull and it opened right up. We had a grand old time checking out the panorama. I was a little shocked to see such low railings and thought, "This would never pass inspection back home!"

Only after we had climbed to the top (decent-sized railings here, I was glad to see) and returned to the main floor did we learn that the viewing ledge we first stopped on was NOT intended for public use.

I was stricken with belated panic.

The ticket seller was stricken with horror.

Only Padawan Learner thought it was funny. "We're homeschoolers," he announced to all in his best Jethro Bodine voice.

The Possibilities For Fun Are Endless: Kristi Blumeyer's Interview


Kristi lives in Indiana with her husband Trent, and son, Tyler. Kristi writes about their life on her blog, Soaring Mountains Academy where you can see how she uses the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling in a way that works for their individual family.

Tyler is pictured above getting ready to launch his rocket at the recent summer fair, where he earned Reserve Champion!

My son built a few rockets during his time at home and I remember one model had a place where we could insert something to go on the flight. So somewhere near our home there is a beetle who stays busy entertaining his little beetle grandchildren with many stories about his adventures on the day we chose him to be an astronaut. Or would that be astrobeetle?

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We've been homeschooling since birth, but the answer most want to hear is that we're in our 6th year of "official" homeschooling. We only have one child and he's 9.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

We love our freedom & flexibility!

They allow us to year-round school, which helps because too much off-time means we have lots to go through to get back in the routine of school and lots of review to remember where we were.

They allow us to to take time off for fun things like field trips, fair week, traveling, etc.

They allow us to learn about something when we are interested in it and to adjust all our learning around whatever we want.

Most recently it has allowed my son & I to start volunteering at an animal refuge. This was something he really wanted to do and our flexibility allows for these types of things to happen during the day.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

I have tried over the years to make sure that there is fun every day so that neither one of us burns out on this adventure called "homeschooling" we're pursuing.

It could be things we do when we leave the house (which happens often) such as going to a zoo, nature center, museum, park - the list just goes on and on.

When we stay home, fun things include science experiments, reading books, playing, watching our pets, etc. The possibilities for fun are endless.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

There are always funny experiences at our house, but right now my son is going through a phase where he is developing his sense of humor. To watch this process unfold has been wonderful.

He's always coming and telling us some joke he made up or some funny face he's invented. You just never know what he's going to come up with next.

How Can We Not Have Fun?: Sussette Webster's Interview



I think this photo pretty much sums up the heading of this post, don't you?

Sussette lives with her husband Patrick, and their children in Florida and she blogs about their lives at The Webster Family.

One thing I learned about her family is that they they love to pack up and head on down the highway when opportunities arise.

I'm glad because, even when homeschooling, native Floridians can't really understand the concept of snow until they actually get up north and experience a good fight with a snowball or two.

Neither Sussette nor I recommend the same advice when learning about sharks though.

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

I always smile when trying to answer accurately the date we began homeschooling. Frequently when asked I will just say “we have always homeschooled.”

Homeschooling to me is education directly overseen by the child’s parent. Educate, as defined by Merriam-Webster means “to train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession.”

With that definition all parents are educators. We naturally teach our children to walk, to talk, to brush their teeth, to dress themselves, how to sing the ABCs, count their fingers, pick out shapes and colors, and especially how to love and be loved.

A child’s 5th birthday or first day of kindergarten does not suddenly turn on the ability to learn. Children were designed to begin learning from within the womb. From there they learn things like how to suck their thumb or to recognize sounds found in their mother’s everyday life.

Education naturally begins with the parents as the primary educators. Some, like our family, choose to continue educating their children as the children move from letters and numbers to reading and arithmetic, either instructed by the parents or directly overseen by them.

In answer to your question, our oldest child will be 13 years old this December, so we have been homeschooling for 13 years.

I would like to add that, although I have not been without burnout days, I have been able to joyfully persevere in homeschooling my children through the grace of God. The Catholic Church tells us that “The father and mother receive, in the Sacrament of Matrimony, the grace and the responsibility of providing Christian education for their children, to whom they bear witness and transmit, at one and the same time, human and religious values.”(John Paul II. Rome, Italy, December 26, 1982). The Church goes on to state “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.” (CCC 2221)


2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

The most obvious freedom we enjoy is time. We have the time to really investigate life. We can spend extra time working out a math problem, or studying the way a praying mantis captures and devours its prey.

We can spontaneously go experience science, art, music, history, or any other subject as the opportunity arises without concern for what day of the week it is.

Last year a good friend of ours, an entomologist, was invited by the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science to conduct a short lecture on an assortment of insects. With family in that area willing to open their home to us for a few nights, we just loaded the car with books, CDs, manipulatives, paper, pens, etc and off we went. It was awesome!!!

Could we have done that if we were confined to a specific building and schedule? No, it was only possible because we had the freedom to travel and homeschool as we went.

Last February a good friend of ours made her first profession as a cloistered nun in Summit, New Jersey. Witnessing such an event was an incredible opportunity in and of itself, but 7-year-old boys would not exactly refer to it as fun; however, seeing and playing in snow for the first time was by all accounts very fun.

We were able to really enjoy a winter experience foreign to us Florida kids. We made snowballs, snow angels, and snowmen; we had snowball fights and went sledding. We watched through the window of the van as the plant life changed as we drove north. We were able to glimpse places they had only read about, like Washington DC and New York. We were able to laugh, play, learn, and enjoy all these new and wonderful experiences without the dread of hurrying back to “do school.”


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Homeschooling lends itself naturally to fun. History is a particularly fun subject. While studying Egypt we played the part of an embalmer and an archaeologist. We made a mummy. Yes, a real mummy, no, not human :-P.

We purchased a freshly and humanely killed rat from the local reptile store (snake food) and proceeded to dissect it (science) and fill the cavity with salt (science). We also salted the organs to be placed in child-made clay pots (art) with the lids in the shape of Egyptian gods. Once drying was complete we needed to remove the salt, properly wrap and add the scented oils. We then went to bury our mummy for future excavation.

Also, while studying Egypt we excavated a small area of our yard. The children each unearthed a clay pot that they had previously embellished with their names in hieroglyphics. I had gently smashed them with a hammer and buried the pieces.

Science is another great excuse for fun. Living away from a large city has really helped give us many opportunities to immerse ourselves in science beyond dissections.

As an example, two years ago we were able to witness a spectacular light show, a meteor shower. We had been at a church party when we noticed the huge number of “shooting stars.” When we got home they were still “falling” so we decided to get sleeping bags and lay out under the stars to watch them “fall.” It was so much fun racing to see who would see the next one first.

There were so many and we were having such a great time we did not want the magic to end so my daughter ran in, got pillows, and another sleeping bag and we slept out under the stars all night. Wow, what a wonderful way to fall asleep not to mention how cool it was to wake up with dawn gently tickling our senses.

Lessons that would seem mundane can surprise us with entertainment. For instance learning measurements lead to much laughter and fun. When my daughter was learning about comparing the size of different objects, she went around the house and yard measuring everything that would stand still long enough, grass, trees, people, cats, dogs, goats, chickens, eggs, etc. She used a camera and her brother to document the experience. The pictures were very cute and it was obvious that the siblings were enjoying every minute.

Each day presents new opportunities to laugh, enjoy each other, and give thanks for the gift of creation. Often we marvel at the intricacy in the pattern of a butterfly’s wing, or at the innumerable variety of insects found in our yard, as we tube along the Ichetucknee River, or even in the parking lot of the local grocery store. We are humbled at the thought that our Lord must have had us in mind when He was designing them.

It is great fun trying and experimenting with the many flavors and textures of the foods we have been given to sustain our lives (yeast is such a great science critter). With so many examples of God’s love in our environment and kitchen, with the beauty He has surrounded us with, how can we not have fun and enjoy it?


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

Funny in a word is spelled S P E L L I N G!!! We have had many funny moments reading some inventive spelling. The topics and descriptive words my children have chosen when writing or dictating has often left my sides hurting from stifling a hearty laugh.

Homeschooling in the United Kingdom: Mike F-W's Interview



This is the flag of Wales, which is part of the United Kingdom and where Mike F-W and his family live.

But more specifically, they actually live in Snowdonia National Park which looks like a beautiful, relaxing place. No wonder he signs off his email messages with the slogan, "Your man in a hammock."

Mike runs a website for homeschooling families in the UK, where he keeps them up-to-date on the legalities and also provides support.

Let's see what he has to say about homeschooling his family in the U.K.

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

I have been home educating my 4 children for 17 years now with my partner. The eldest now has an MA and is an editor, the next a BSc and is a pediatric nurse. The third is studying for a BA, in photography and the fourth is still at home doing Open University courses.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

The children have been able to tailor their education to their interests. It meant they could work as intensely as they wished or at times relax and consider what they were interested in next and how to pursue that interest. They picked up skills as they needed them and sought the answers to problems and issues as they occurred.

It also meant not having to deal with goals set externally by those with little idea or even interest in what might drive a young mind's pursuit of learning.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Spending days upon days in warm weather reading books in the open air at a local arboretum when they were little is something I remember well. Never having to worry about any of those institutional school type problems, it was nearly completely stress free.

4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

On one occasion an elderly female ex-head teacher (at the arboretum mentioned above) asked our eldest, aged 9 or so, why he was not in school today. He answered quick as a flash "I burned it down," accompanied by a manic grin. It certainly avoided the follow up questions. It's now our standard reply to such questions when asked in public.

Every Day is a Holiday: Sarah Haliwell's Interview


I've gone traveling again. Sarah Haliwell and her daughter Rose, who is pictured above, live in New Zealand where Rose enjoys the freedom of homeschooling so much she considers every day a holiday.

Sarah blogs about her family's life of holidays at Stars in Her Fingernails .

It sounds like education and learning are going very smoothly in this family with hardly any friction at all.

Can't say the same about pram wheels on rocky ground though...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

As I decided to homeschool when my daughter was about six months old, I guess you could say I've been homeschooling her all her life - ten years. We started lessons formally when she was three, but have drifted in and out of unschooling ever since.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

I am an inherently inconsistent person. I go crazy when placed in a strict routine. So homeschooling suits my flawed psyche!

We love being able to just walk out the door in search of wildflowers on a beautiful day, or welcome friends in at any time, or respond to our natural inherent rhythms even as they change seasonally.

We also really value the flexibility that allows us to knuckle down with books and whiteboard sometimes, if the mood takes us, and luxuriate in free "life learning" other times.

We have got so far out of the school mentality that we never pay attention to term holidays or grades or anything like that. The other day someone asked my daughter what grade she was in, and neither of us could answer the question. I actually had to count it up on my fingers, because the woman wouldn't accept my daughter's response of, "I'm sort of multi-graded."

The same woman was also distressed to learn that Rose would keep on doing lessons through the holidays ... but probably more distressed when Rose said she only did lessons maybe two or three days a week so it all evened out in the end!


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

I'll always remember the day our homeschooling group went on a nature walk to sketch trees, but the children found a river in the forest, and set about experimenting with different ways of damming the river. All the organised lesson plans were thrown out as the children played at science and the mothers sat sunbathing on the river bank.

At home, we have fun telling jokes about Peter the Great and King Canute, and staying up late to finish the last chapter of Tom Sawyer, and rolling down mountainsides while most children are doing maths in sweltering classrooms.

But to be honest, it is almost always fun. As Rose would tell people when they asked her if she was not in school because of some holiday (or at least she answered this way before she realised how much it disturbed them) - "I'm homeschooled. Every day is a holiday!"


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

When my daughter was about four, my mother took her to the zoo with some friends and their children. At one point, my daughter asked what a strange noise was.

One of the mothers said in a very slow sing-song voice, "that's just from my pram wheels going bumpity bump over the rocky ground."

My little girl looked up at her coolly and said, "Oh, you mean friction."

The woman gaped.

My mother leaned forward and said quietly, "It's alright. She's homeschooled."

Unfathomable Gifts of Love: Susan Gaissert's Interview


Today's interview is with Susan Gaissert, who has a blog she calls The Expanding Life. This photo is of her daughter on a Minnesota prairie but the family lives in the Northeaster U.S.

Susan shares her experience of how the freedom of homeschooling can really enrich a family's life, in particular when needing to care for an elderly family member.

And speaking of family members, read on to see what Susan and her daughter learned about their little toad family...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

My daughter spent one month in kindergarten. Since then she's been home, and she is now just about sixteen years old. So, we're at about the ten-year mark for homeschooling. Actually, in our hearts, we've always been unschoolers, and as time went on, that spirit grew stronger and stronger. Our house is filled with books, notebooks,pens, and pencils, and we just happily read and write the days away.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

Our freedom brought us unfathomable gifts of love. I was the only child living in the same state as my aging, ailing mother and because my daughter was home, I had the flexibility to take my mother to doctor's appointments, to do her errands, and to just plain visit with her, without ever having to worry about getting back home in time to pick up my daughter from school.

My daughter spent thousands of hours with my mother, and they became best friends. For the last four years of her life, my mother lived with us, and my daughter -- because she was home -- was able to be an integral part of the experience of living with and caring for and adapting to the needs of an elderly person. The cohabitation enriched us all, especially my daughter, I think.

Another benefit of flexibility and freedom has, of course, been the opportunity to travel. Our biggest trip was to Minnesota and South Dakota, where we saw the Betsy-Tacy book sites and the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites there.

Not being tied to a school schedule comes in handy so often. We regularly attend book discussions in New York, and when we get home, we are often hungry, so we go to the neighborhood Applebee's and eat at 11:30 p.m. We have a good time, and we probably would not do things like that if we had to get up at 6:00 a.m. for school.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

The Minnesota/South Dakota trip was a lot of fun, and so is our yearly trip to Cape May, NJ but then schooling families can take trips and have fun, too.

I guess our "fun times" come from the large amounts of time we spend together.

My daughter, my husband, and I share innumerable "in-jokes" that can make us laugh anytime, anywhere. The topics of the jokes come from all the shared experiences we have had -- all the time spent in one another's company, instead of being separated by a school schedule and homework.

We also love to watch old sitcoms together ("I Love Lucy," "Dick Van Dyke," "The Odd Couple," and "Father Knows Best") so that provides lots of fun.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

On a trip to Kitty Hawk, NC, we found two adorable toads and brought them home with us. We named them Lucy and Ricky and looked forward to having a toad family.

After waiting a very long time for Lucy and Ricky to mate, we did some research and learned that Lucy needed to be renamed Fred. We had to adjust to having bachelor toads instead of a traditional toad family.

We still laugh at how we just assumed that one of the toads we arbitrarily picked up would be male and the other one female. Now, with our toad knowledge, we won't make that mistake again!

Proudly Raising Little Geeklings: Christy's Interview

Christy, mom of the two children pictured above, blogs about her family at Growing Urban Wildflowers.

Because Christy loves crafts and her husband, Jeff, is a mechanical engineer, she claims her children are doomed. Doomed to be geeks.

Well, I certainly hope she's right, because in my experience geeks are the most interesting people on the planet...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

Like most families where the kids have never been to school, we've been "homeschooling since birth." However, we made the conscious decision to homeschool when our oldest daughter, K, turned 5 and we had to choose whether to sign her up for kindergarten or not. We went with "or not!" K will be 8 this winter, and her little sister G will be 4.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

Oh, wow, there are so many benefits to homeschooling I don't know where to start.

Early on, when I was researching homeschooling, I read somewhere not to be worried if one of your reasons for homeschooling is to let your kids sleep in... and that was one of my big benefits, with my kids never up before 8! Truly, having well-rested kids is half any battle, and the benefits just stack up from there.

Like many homeschoolers, we do most of our traveling in the "off-season" - trips around here mostly happen in the fall; we just got back from 14 days tent camping in Colorado and South Dakota. Last spring we were able to take a week long trip to a Caribbean island - talk about learning culture differences and making friends from all over!

On a more kid-personal level, there isn't a benefit much greater than being able to tailor your children's education exactly to them. K was a completely self-taught reader at age 5, and was reading Boxcar Children books by the time her school-mates would have been on to "Hop on Pop."

We were able to feed her love of reading easily with unschooling for the first few years (where she spends hours and hours a day reading until I kick her outside regularly); now, she's been asking "when do we start school?," so we're going to do what I'll call "structured unschooling" very slightly based on Charlotte Mason's methods. We'll see how that goes and adjust from there! (Oh, look! Another benefit!!)

One last benefit is that our girls get to see the reasons behind how we live and the choices we make as a family. They've met the farmer and visited the farm from where we get our grass-fed beef locally, they come with me each week to pick up our CSA box and love to see what's inside. They attend church and Sunday School regularly and know why they do. They know why we shop local, and meet the merchants, because they come with us.

I think just as important as knowing how to do something, is knowing why you are doing it.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

The local park system does homeschool days, and we've had a wonderful time with other homeschooled kids of all ages learning about maple syrup, rivers, local geology, farming in the 1850's, and astronomy, just to name a few.

On the trip we just completed, on our way home we stopped at Mitchell SD's Corn Palace... and wandered around to the side where it looked like they had been working on affixing the corn to the wall. A guy poked his head out a side door and we started asking him questions about the process, and he was extremely friendly and happy to chat with us - even told the girls to pick out corn cobs to take with them! (Bet they don't do that with all the school kids who come through!)

We're looking forward to making many more fun memories!


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

Haven't had a real "funny situation" yet, but we're sort of "funny" people." ;)

As kids of a mechanical engineer dad and a crafty-geek mom, our kids are doomed!

They have a strange but wonderful wind-turbine fascination (which we have been known to pull off the road to visit), K loves Think Geek catalogs (who doesn't?), knitting and embroidery, paging through Wired magazines (while watched over by me), and assumes her dad can build or fix anything (mostly true).

G knows her own way around an embroidery needle and sharp sewing scissors (again, watched by me!), and has an infatuation with putting things in lines or compartments by category. We are proudly raising little geeklings!

Homeschooling Is Freedom Help Needed


Hi everyone,

I'm writing this blog post to let you know that I don't think I'll be able to keep this project going much longer. I've really enjoyed doing it the past year or so but other projects are now taking more priority and I just don't have enough hours in the day.

All parts of this project are time consuming, but the real time sucker is finding people who may be interested and then working to get the questions returned from them. That's no surprise, heck, homeschoolers are busy helping their children learn with freedom and flexibility!

There may be some options though if anyone is interested in keeping the project going. I could add others to the blog posting list who can just continue to find people, send out the questions and add them to the blog.

Or when the interviews that I've already requested stop rolling in, I could just stop there and leave what I have compiled already. Even though it's been a fairly short time I've been doing this, I do think it's a great collection of interesting families and experiences so as it stands, it could be a nice resource for people to read.

As of right now I have interviews scheduled to go up through Friday November 13th. (Eww, maybe I should get at least one more so no one gets hit with any bad luck or anything!)

What do you think? Anyone have any ideas, or perhaps want to take over the project?

This Family's In Exploration Mode: Dawn Smith's Interview

In this photo: Fionna, in exploration mode.

I hope you're ready to go traveling once again because Dawn and her family live in Nova Scotia.

I bet you didn't even finish the laundry from the last time we left the states, did you? Don't worry I didn't either, which means we're both so used to the smells we won't notice.

I just hope Dawn can handle it.

Dawn blogs about their adventures at her blog, To The Outskirts, where, among other things, she shares marvelous photos taken during their nature hikes.

Read on to hear the story of their recent "Epic Nature Hike." It's downright amazing...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We feel like we have been homeschooling since birth but officially this is our second year. We have a daughter who just turned six and a three-year-old son.

We kept our daughter home for preschool while we were in California, then she spent a few months in Primary (Kindergarten) at a public school here in Canada. After we satisfied our curiosity about what it would be like to have her in school, we brought her home for the rest of the year.

Now she is home spending her days learning right along side family, friends and neighbors.


2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

The nature of my husband’s work means that he is very busy in the summer and fall and has much more time to spend with the family in the winter and early spring. Since we homeschool that is when we can spend more time together as a family.

That includes everything from having Dad home for extra long lunches, to taking extended weekend trips to Grandma and Papa’s farm or being local tourists when all the other tourists have fled south for the winter.

Since we have only been in Nova Scotia for a year we have been in what we like to call exploration mode. It is great fun to walk into a museum and have the place to ourselves. We have learned so much from the interpreters who have the time to focus on our little family and answer our many questions.

The other benefit I see in this realm is time. We have the time to explore and focus on the interesting things that we see out in the world and the topics that truly interest us as individuals and as a family.

Our “epic nature walk” comes to mind. We have a nature walk just about every morning. We are usually gone about an hour but I always bring snacks and such just in case.

On this particular day we had the privilege to sit and watch ants carry a small caterpillar back to their home, find a beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly that had come to the end of its lifespan, catch and observe a tiny toad, watch dragonflies skim across the water hunting for food and collect dragonfly larva shells from those dragonflies who had left them behind to move on to the next phase of life.

Then on top of all of that we watched a dragonfly emerge from its larval form, spread its wings (after it had crawled up a rock and onto my daughter’s hand) and fly for the first time.

It was truly magical. Our one-hour nature walk turned into a four-hour epic nature walk because we could take the time to watch nature work its magic. That is true freedom and flexibility.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

One fun time that comes to mind is the Halloween party in the park. A wonderful setting with huge trees all around. The kids running up and down the hills and around the trees in costume. Creative games and delicious not too-over-the-top sweet food.

I think the thing that made it so much fun was that everyone was so relaxed and there was really no schedule. It started around a specific time and things like games and food were going to happen when it seemed like everyone was ready for them. So you could go whenever you liked, or stay until the sunset. It was just a whole lot of fun and I am not even a big fan of Halloween.

Another really fun time we had was our trip to Joggins Fossil Cliffs here in Nova Scotia. One of my daughter’s major projects is about dinosaurs and prehistoric life so we decided to travel to Joggins.

It was a super-fun trip because, once again, we had the place to ourselves. The interpreter we met up with on the beach spent over an hour helping us to identify the fossils we were finding in the rocks. It was great fun and a wonderful learning experience for all of us.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

I think one of the funniest times we have had in regards to homeschooling was when a waitress asked if she could send her son home with us to be homeschooled.

We had traveled to a local spot in the off-season and our daughter was really interested in the lobster tank in the restaurant. Since it was the off-season, the waitress spent all kinds of time with her talking about the lobsters, showing how to tell a male from a female, etc.

Along with prehistoric life our daughter also adores the ocean so she had all kinds of her own information to share. I think she shocked the waitress a little and after I told her that ocean life was one of her projects for homeschooling she asked if I would take her son home. We all had a good laugh.

Learning Math On The Job With Dad: Paul's Interview


Okay, it's time for us to return to the states and visit with Paul, who lives with his family in Indiana. Paul and his wife helped their son learn about math by simply involving him in their daily lives.

And, since he was a teenage boy at the time, he kept busy demonstrating his own math knowledge by subtracting from their food supplies constantly...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We homeschooled our youngest son for 6 years, from 7th grade until graduation. I wish we'd started sooner and homeschooled our oldest son as well.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

During a good part of our homeschooling time I was working in the field, out of our house, as an appraiser and insurance adjuster and I took Nathaniel out on jobs with me during the day.

He learned first hand about the practical applications of math and geometry as I measured and then figured the surface area of roofs. I would have him do the math to figure the square footage of the different shaped roof slopes and he learned the different formulas for different 2 dimensional shapes.

He learned about construction measurements (how many square feet to a square of roofing, how many bundles to a square, how to figure how many square yards of carpeting are needed to carpet a house and the best way to minimize waste, etc.).


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

I think Nathaniel had the most fun with his mom who used cooking and baking to teach fractions, nutrition, chemistry, science, etc. As a teenage boy, eating was one of his favorite things to do. Imagine that!

4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

The funniest things all revolved around going out during the day while the government schools were still in session. The looks and comments we'd get.

People, especially older people, would come up and say, "Why isn't he in school?"

And we'd explain that he was in school.

Learning From Life In New Zealand: Camille's Interview

Strap on your seatbelts everyone! We're taking another trip around the world today so we can visit with Camille and her family who live and learn in New Zealand.

Camille has traveled a long way herself, when it comes to her understanding of education and learning. She has two older children, ages 20 and 18 who were not homeschooled and she learned enough from their experience to convince her to homeschool her son, who is pictured above.

Interestingly enough, Camille told me that when she found this photo to send to me, she noticed the sheet hanging up on the wall. It's from the days when she was more structured with her son's education. Since then, though, she has discovered the benefits of unschooling and says that paper is long gone. Seeing the photo reminded her of "how far we've come..."

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

We have been homeschooling or unschooling our son, age 5, since birth. What we are doing now is a natural extension of what we've always done. He learns new things everyday just as he always has and is loving and learning through life :)

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

The freedom for me is two-fold: On one level we can take advantage of doing things as a family at anytime, rather than after school or on holidays etc. We can go to parks, visit museums, libraries, etc., without the crowds and at our leisure.

On another and probably more important level, our son has the opportunity to learn all the time, when we are out, at home, wherever we are - life is just learning for him. We provide information on what's interesting to him at any given time & it's amazing what he learns when there's an interest - it shouldnt be surprising though as we as adults are a lot more inclined to learn something we are interested in for sure :)

Also he gets to associate with a lot of people of various age groups and relates well in various situations - hes not confined to the one age group.

He is not required to sit for hours and learn things he is not interested in, this would not work for him as he is active and does not do sitting still well as many little boys don't. :)

Just have to share that his older sister who is now grown, started going for her school visits for a week before starting school. After the last day, we had finished the morning there and were leaving, she said to me "Thank goodness we don't have to go THERE again!"

That was only after 5 mornings!!! Made me think that's for sure. :)


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Yesterday we had a hospital appointment which was 1 1/2 hrs away from where we live. After the appointment we all went to the petting zoo, just on a whim, spur of the moment because we had the time and didn't have to be back at any schedule. We had heaps of fun, had lunch, saw the animals and enjoyed the sunshine and the stroll around.

We do things often on the spur of the moment, a few days ago he had a new water pistol - pump action, we spent alot of time running around soaking each other and having lots of fun.

We get to go and visit family at non-peak times due to not having our lives organised around school; it works for us.

Also I think that his self confidence is a lot higher due to being homeschooled & his life is a lot more enjoyable I believe.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

It amazes us how much my son learns about topics without us consciously talking about them.

For example.... One day quite a while ago he stood on a chair and got some moisturiser down to me and said he'd like to rub some on my legs - YES that would be great.

I pulled my trouser leg up and he saw they were cold and a bit speckly.

He said "You look like you have Chicken Pox."

I said, "Chicken Pox! How do you know what Chicken Pox looks like?"

He said... "I just know things."

It was so funny and cute. I was surprised as he's never seen Chicken Pox or even heard about them that I can remember, but somewhere in our days of learning and observing he'd picked it up - he was 4 at the time.

Homeschooling on a Tropical Island: Colleen Smith's Interview

I'm jealous of Colleen. She's living and learning with her family on the tropical island of Guam. For me, that would be the perfect situation and sounds like it is for her too.

Colleen blogs at Memoirs of an Unschooling Teacher and has recently started a resource center for homeschoolers living in Guam.

Her family has been involved in running several businesses over the years which is a great way for kids to learn from 'real life.'

Currently they run a driving school in Guam. If I lived in Guam, I don't think I'd need to know how to drive because I'd never leave the beach.

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

I have been homeschooling for over 20 years. We didn't realize we were homeschooling when we first started, and I used to count our homeschooling years based on when we pulled our first son out of public school - just before he entered 2nd grade. He is now 24.

But in reality we were homeschooling him since he was born. Or at least since he was about 18 months when he first asked me "what's that" and it took me a while to figure out he wanted to know names of letters so he could figure out how to read. He taught himself to read by age 3. All I did was answer his questions and provide him with the learning tools.

Oops...guess that was a longer answer than necessary! LOL.


2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

Only a few examples? Oh my. I'll try to limit myself here.

Homeschooling is all about freedom & flexibility for me! My husband and I run our own business, a driving school on Guam. We've been doing this for over 7 years as our own business (14 on Guam total). It is a true family business. We live 40 minutes out of town in the "boonies" and have to drive into town everyday to run our business (except Sundays, we do honor the Lord's Day). So everyday we pack up the kids and bring them to work with us.

Our office is right on the beach on Guam ( I know, tough life we lead). Our office is our "home away from home" and has a cozy back room that the kids can hang out in and the classroom is used by the kids during the day. I only teach the driving class two evenings a week and on Saturday mornings, so the rest of the time the office/classroom area is free for the kids to use.

Recently I just took all of our homeschool books and resources (games, manipulatives, felt stories, etc.) and organized them into a "resource library" that I have opened up for all homeschoolers on Guam. (see my webpage: http://www.guamhomeschool.com).

My second eldest son works for the family business and runs a northern office two days a week for us. So he is either up there, or hanging out with us. It is great that our 20 year old son still lives at home and can help with the family business.

It is especially helpful for him as he is borderline Aspergers. Homeschooling was great for him and allowed him to pursue his love of music. He composes and creates wonderful instrumental music and makes his own CDs. He is also self taught in Piano and Guitar.

In the course of homeschooling we have run several businesses - a Snack shop at a daycare I worked at (both older boys manned this and learned all their math skills that year!), a website business (my eldest son learned web design and was our webmaster at 14), roof repair, various direct marketing businesses, and now our driving school. Our children have always been involved in our businesses and that has counted towards their homeschooling.

It is the freedom to be able to make your own hours that I love the best. Currently we open our office at 11am, so that gives me the morning to laze around the house, or get out there and exercise or pay bills. Kids can sleep in as late as they need, or wake as early as they want.

Oh and the biggest freedom? Homeschooling allowed us to move halfway around the world to live in a tropical paradise. We started our homeschooling journey in BC Canada and moved to Guam in 1995.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Living on a tropical island with the beach as your backyard is definitely a fun factor. When we first moved our driving school office to the beach location (18 months ago) my very blond 5 year old daughter would beg me to let her swim everyday. Often she swam in only her shorts and no shirt. She is very brown from all that sun and her hair is white blond.

There is a local legend on Guam about a girl who becomes a mermaid - Sirena. Because Cassie is so blond and because she often swam with no shirt on, in the water she takes on a very mermaid like appearance. A new coffee shop opened up down the beach and the owner told me that the appearance of "Sirena" in the waters was a drawing card for many of her clients! The first time she saw my daughter swimming she nearly fainted from fright thinking she was a real mermaid.

Aside from being able to swim year round, we have enjoyed many aspects of our homeschooling lifestyle. Our many pets are a source of joy and fun in our lives. Currently we have 2 mice, one dog and about 14 cats. Not to mention the roaming chickens who think they live in our yard and the geckos and toads in the carport. In the past we have had rabbits, guinea pigs, parakeets and finches. We've even had a snake or two, but those are not a source of joy. LOL.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one
of yours with us?


We think this is kind of funny. Not sure if others would appreciate the irony of it all.

Our eldest daughter, almost 15, decided the other day that she would attempt to spend the entire day without learning a thing. I have no idea what prompted this goal. But she was determined.

However around 11:30pm that night she was playing her Phoenix Wright video game when it mentioned potassium cyanide. Instinctively she looked it up on Google and proceeded to read all about it and then read on about some other poisons and their chemical compositions.

Suddenly she remembered her goal of "not learning anything for one full day" and realized she had blown it by 1/2 hr.

We find this especially amusing since we are unschoolers and it just goes to prove that even when given the freedom not to learn you can't help but learn!

Freedom to be a "Night Owl": Jan Hunt's Interview


Jan Hunt lives in Oregon, where, according to The National Audubon Society, there are 11 species of owls.

But they forgot about a special type of owl, the human night owl. Jan's son is a member of this species and he thrived when given the freedom to homeschool because he did not need to stick to an arbitrary school schedule.

Along with knowing a lot about night owls, Jan also knows a lot about children and respectful parenting. She runs The Natural Child Project, an interesting site where you can get all sorts of information on the topic.

I'm not a night owl and I'm working on this post quite late so I'm feeling really tired. I'm going to go to bed now but feel free to stick around and read this and other interviews. Just do it quietly, okay?

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

My son Jason unschooled from the beginning; he's now 28 so in a way we're still unschooling.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

Jason has been a "night owl" since birth; having to get up early for school would have been really stressful for him - and for us! By unschooling we were able to honor his biological rhythms.

Schools assume that every child is (or should be) on the same daily rhythm, even though it's common knowledge there is considerable variation. It has also been found that disruption of the circadian clock is linked with cancer and other serious diseases, so following his own inner timetable has very possibly helped him to stay healthy.

We've often taken family vacations in the fall just after school starts, so we avoid the crowds, and can take advantage of off-season rates.

Jason used to love it when school started because it meant the playgrounds would be free except for other unschoolers - and they were the nicest kids to play with!

But most of all, Jason has had the freedom to learn what he wanted to learn, when he was ready to learn it, and to do so in his own way. He now has no concept of something being "educational" and thus boring. Everything interests him!


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Every day has been fun! There's nothing more fun than watching a child learn about the world! We could hear his first word, watch his first step, and be there for a million other "firsts". What a delight!

4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

A neighbor, who had a son Jason's age in school, once asked me in the spring if I was "giving Jason the summer off". The idea was so preposterous it really made me laugh! How would I even do that? I'd have to say, "OK, Jason, no more questions until September!"

You Learn More When You're Not in a Hurry: Norma Young's Interview



Norma is another person I "met" online years ago. (But neither of us are going to say how many.) She was instrumental in getting me to understand that freedom is not only important for successful homeschooling of our children, it's important in all areas of life.

That started me down the road to learning more about libertarian philosophy and I've never gone back. As a matter of fact, I've gone even further because now, I consider myself a voluntaryist.

Norma lives in Pennsylvania, a state notorious for its regulations over homeschooling families. She has been involved in helping other homeschoolers for years and she's now on the advisory board for the Pennsylvania Home Educators Association, a statewide inclusive coalition of homeschoolers from around the state.

But even though she's always busy helping people homeschool and understand the ideas of freedom, she still takes the time to just sit and observe the beauty of life unfolding...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

My husband and I never really thought about sending our daughter Jacky to school. Neither my husband or I had very good experiences in school. We had no reason to believe Jacky's experience would be any different than ours.

But she wanted to try kindergarten so she went for a short time (1991) It really did not work into our family life very well so we stopped going. Jacky learned at home all through her "school" years. We were / are unschoolers. She "finished" in 2003.


2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

Oh boy. The list is endless.

One of the main benefits is the flexibility to learn what you want, when you want, if you want.

Jacky wasn't very excited about reading on her own. We spent endless hours with me reading aloud from books we picked from the library. She told me later she was afraid if she learned to read, our reading time together would stop. With our learning lifestyle, she could delay that aspect of her education without fear of ridicule or punitive measures against her.

At age 10, she wanted to read Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. I was busy doing something and she had to wait for me. That did it for her, in about 6 weeks she was reading at or beyond her "grade" level. She never did really enjoy reading for entertainment until about 5 years ago at age 19 and now at 24, she always has her nose stuck in a book!

The unrestricted age exposure and interaction. We got together with other families and the older children would help out the youngers with things. With Jacky not having siblings, that interaction with older kids - the kindness and helpfulness they displayed, really bolstered her confidence. That is something I doubt we could have achieved in an institutional setting.

Continuity is another benefit. We never had to stop doing something just because a bell rang or another subject was scheduled. She was able to pursue an interest until she was satisfied. And if one subject led to another interest, we could go down that path too.

Sometimes those paths would dead end but she didn't have to feel like she "failed" if her interest in something waned. I was also able to pursue something I was interested in side by side with her. She got to see first hand that learning never stops.

My husband is a contractor, we have our own business. With me not working his days were very long and tiring. If Jacky had been in school, her schedule and his schedule would never have given them time together, they would be passing in the hallway! By having the option to choose our schedule, they got to do things together. Our vacations could be when it was best for our family - vacations in the summer when he was busiest did not work for us.

We only have one child and it was very important for us to be able to develop our family relationships without limitations. To this day my husband and daughter have a loving, fun, close relationship. I do not think that would be the case had their time together been limited by school schedules.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Movie Days!!

Jacky and I were just talking about this the other day and saying how much fun they were. Once a week or so, especially in the winter, we would have a Movie Day. Sometimes it would be just random movies we wanted to see.

Other times we would pick a subject (like an animal, a person, or historical event) and try to find movies that included that subject. We always tried to get an old movie and a current one to compare.

We would also get movies based on books we had read to see if they translated well. Some Movie Days would be light, happy days, other times it could be somber and thoughtful as in All Quiet on the Western Front. But we always learned something! And nothing beats being curled up with hot cocoa in our pajamas on a snowy day knowing we don't have to go anywhere!!

Another fun thing was all the people we got to meet throughout our days. Older folks especially seemed attracted to our educational choice and would engage us in discussions and show the kids things they might not share if we had been in a hurry.

When Jacky was 6 or 7, she found a luna moth in the process of laying eggs. It was injured and dying and Jacky was very distraught. We put it in an aquarium and
she laid all her eggs and died. I had no idea how to care for the eggs, or if it could even be done. When we went grocery shopping the next day, we were discussing this and an older gentleman overheard us.

He turned out to be a retired entomologist and gave Jacky great instructions on luna moth care. We did a lot of research ourselves using resources this gentleman had given Jacky. That turned out to be one of the coolest things we ever did. We must have raised and released hundreds of luna moths over the next several years. That led to butterflies and preying mantis and to this day, Jacky has a knack for observing and appreciating things that require patience to really see.

One of the benefits for myself was the exposure I had to so many unique individuals with wonderful, exciting ideas and thoughts! I was able to see my daughter surrounded by other adults who were interested in nurturing children in a non judgemental, non competitive manner. I was (and still am) continually stretched and challenged to learn new things and look at life through many different eyes.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

Jacky was about 7 and used to go to my parent's house to spend time with my mom. My dad's office was in their home and she would sometimes sit in the office playing while my mom was finishing up some work.

After spending a day with my parents she came home concerned about my dad.

"Mom, I think there is something wrong with Grandpa. All day long he kept telling people to sign their John Hancock! And that wasn't even their name! And doesn't he know John Hancock is dead?"

Having Fun Hanging Out With Her Kids: Dawn's Interview


Photo taken at De Young art museum, San Francisco


Dawn and her family live in the state of Washington and she blogs at Renaissance Mama. (Geez, I always have to look up the spelling of that word. You'd think I wouldn't have so much trouble with just 4 letters, huh?)

But enough about my spelling skills, let's learn more about Dawn and her family...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

I've been homeschooling for five years, since my daughter started kindergarten.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

The longer we homeschool, the farther away from the traditional model of school we seem to get. It's more of a lifestyle...learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Museums, the zoo, travel, going off on long "rabbit trails" when the interest is there, cooking together, and lots of time spent outside in nature are the first things that come to mind when I think of what's fun about homeschooling.

I also think it's fun to hang out with my kids on a daily basis. They're fabulous people and I genuinely enjoy their company.


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

I think it's funny to see how the books I read out loud to my kids are brought to life through their imaginations. With my five year old son, I see him re-enacting stories with his toys. My ten year old will often turn the stories into plays, recruiting and directing her little brother and his friends to act out the parts.

Memorizing is Best Done In Your Underwear: Lisis Blackston's Interview



This is a picture of Lisis' son,
who shows his mom how to have fun.

Once, when she asked him to memorize stuff
He didn't get mad or raise a big huff.

He laughed and said "Sure! Heck, I don't care!"
Cause he knew he could do it in his underwear.


Lisis and her family live in Georgia and since her interview includes some poetry from a children's book, I just couldn't help writing a rhyme as an introduction. I guess I'm kinda like that penguin in the movie Happy Feet.

Anyway, back to Lisis. I found her when I went to the Zen Habits blog and read a post Leo Babauta wrote about education.

Lisis lives in Georgia and blogs at Quest For Balance, where she's on a "personal quest to find the balance between the things I need to do and the things I want to do… or finding happiness amidst the challenges of life.."

I'd say she's doing a fine job with that task and her son is lucky to have someone who will be showing him all about the balance needed in life. But in the meantime, he'll certainly be showing her what can be done with the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling and making sure they both have fun on the journey...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long didyou homeschool)?

We started in the middle of Kinder and have just begun third grade... only one child.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

This one is HUGE for us because we love to travel ALL the time. My family lives in Costa Rica, California, and New York; so homeschooling allows us the freedom to visit them during the non-busy (cheaper) travel times.

We also love to take road trips and just bring the materials along. Every moment is a learning opportunity for us. Just recently my son learned all about the Great Lakes, Canada, and the Adirondacks when we visited Niagara Falls.


3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Almost EVERY day of homeschooling is fun in some way. If we aren't having fun I figure something is wrong, either with my mood or his, so I take a break. When we come back to it later we usually can get right back to the fun of learning.

One of the funnest times we've had was blowing bubbles in the rain. It has to be just a light rain (no lightning or thunderstorms) but, if you do it just right, the bubbles get thicker and bounce on all the surfaces... the roof, the plants, the driveway, even the rose bushes! We must've looked crazy to our neighbors, but had the BEST time ever!


4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

I don't know if it would be funny to anyone else, but we laughed and laughed one time in first grade when I was trying to get him to start memorizing things... anything, so it wouldn't be intimidating.

He was reciting a poem from one of the Skippyjon Jones books, in his underwear, and jumping around the bed as he did so...


"Muchas gracias, Skippy-dippy-dango;
bye bobble-ito, boogie-woogie tango.
Muchos poochos, licky-sticky mango.
Gozo-bozo, chimi-chimi-chango!!"

At the end he would throw himself on the bed and laugh, then get up and do it all over again!

I remember thinking how much FUN memorization was for him that day, and I've never had any trouble getting him to memorize the "more academic" stuff after that.

Still Hanging In There: Becky's Interview


Becky lives with her family in Oregon and has a blog called Life Without School. She's also posted in the past at another site with a similar name, The Life Without School Blog, and you can see her posts here.

Becky's online life has slowed down lately as she is very busy with other ventures, but when it comes to homeschooling/unschooling, they are still hanging in there...

1. How long have you been homeschooling (or if finished, how long did you homeschool)?

Eight years and still hanging in there.

2. One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility it allows. Can you give us a few examples of how this freedom and flexibility benefited you (your family)?

My kids are free to pursue interests on their own timetable. Having never been to school, they are not accustomed to being told what to learn and when to learn it. What we call freedom, they call life.

3. Another benefit of homeschooling is the fun factor. Can you give us a few examples of some especially fun times you had as a result of homeschooling?

Staying home in our PJs for most of the day, wandering through virtually empty museums and attractions when "everyone else" is at school, exploring the world and our own community in our time and on our own terms.

4. We all have funny experiences while homeschooling. Can you share one of yours with us?

While walking home from an art class one day, my son began telling about an experience he had earlier that day. When he attempted to explain that some of the kids he was referring to were schooled kids, all he could think of to call them was "real" kids. "You know, Mom, real kids...like those who aren't homeschoolers." We still laugh about that one a lot.