Homeschooling Family Interview: Tammy Takahashi

Tammy Takahashi is the author of Deschooling Gently: A Step by Step Guide to Fearless Homeschooling, and the author of the blog, Just Enough and Nothing More. Tammy has been very involved in the homeschooling community in California and her family is just lucky enough to live close to Disneyland that they get to go there once a month. But she has nothing on us Hoosiers. After all, we get to go on amusement rides too, the kind where we slide our cars off the roads and into ditches several times a year.

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

Our oldest is 10, and when people ask this question, I immediately think, "10 years." But, the answer that people want, really, is "5 years," because that's when we officially made the decision.

We had been thinking about homeschooling for a while, and decided to use our "freebie" kindergarten year to try it out. On the first day of school that year, we watched all the neighborhood kids walk to elementary school down the street, and our 5-year-old son obliviously played with his toy trains in the living room. I was more of a wreck than he'll ever know! (Or my husband, since I was the one who convinced him to try it out, and I didn't want him to know how scared I was.) That was the day we started homeschooling, officially. And we're still plugging 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)?

Sleep. Oh, glorious sleep! We sleep when we're tired. Crazy, huh?

Food. We eat when we're hungry. Totally nuts!

Work. We work when we are the most creative and energetic. Amazing!

Travel. We go places when we have the money and it's off-season. Muuahaha.

Reading. We are book-a-holics, and read all the time. Woot!

Family togetherness. All of this freedom and flexibility allows us to be together for most meals, go with my husband on business trips, and do fun things together.

Oh, and as for learning, we have freedom to learn how we want too... I almost forgot about the "education" part. It's such an integral part of our lives, it's like breathing, so I sometimes forget we're 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?

Disneyland! We go at least once a month. And we can go when there aren't crowds. Like I said earlier, we also travel with my husband sometimes when he goes on business trips. We just really love life, laugh a lot, and are thoroughly enjoying our short visit on this planet.

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

Oh boy. It's hard to pick. Mostly it's stuff that my kids say. For example, we were at the store, and like many of our visits out, someone asks, "You aren't in school today?" There was a certain age when my son "got" that we were homeschooling. One day, when a cashier asked him if he had the day off, he said, "No way! We're homeschooling silly. Didn't you know that?"

Another funny story: Last summer, my two oldest went to one week of summer camp. This was the first year that they went to an all-day camp, and it was one of those after-schooly type programs that wasn't intended to teach anything. Just to keep the kids busy while parents worked. I signed them up because I thought they'd have fun doing the activities and see some of their friends from the various city classes they've been taking.

Well, on Wednesday of that week, my son was so upset. Now, before I tell you what he was upset about, I want to say that this is one energy-full kid. He has to always be moving, singing, humming, talking, playing, fidgeting, something. The only time he sits still is when he's reading or sleeping.

So he comes home after camp one day and he is so upset. He was upset because his group (all 10-year-olds like him) was always last to get the afternoon snack, and so always ended up getting the least favorable of the snack options.

Why were they always last? Because the boys could NOT sit still or stop talking, and so the teachers were keeping them on the floor until they were quiet.

My son said, "I was quiet, and did exactly what the teacher said, but all the other boys wouldn't be quiet! It's not fair!"

The next day, he tells his friends that if they are quiet, they can get the really good snack. He even got snarky with a couple of the kids. And guess what, they were quiet that day and got the good snack.

Yes, the hyper homeschool kid who has no social skills or has any idea how to get along in a group was the one telling the kids how to behave so they could get a good snack. HA!!!! So there!

I guess that's not ha-ha funny. But I laughed through the irony of it all.

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