The Accidental Homeschooling Dad: Ben's Interview

Ben and his wife, Mary, have four children and live in Indiana. In addition to being the parent who stays home with the kids, Ben is also very active in Indiana's homeschooling support community. He manages a project called the Indiana Home Educators’ Network, which is an informally organized, grass-roots group whose main purpose is to help Indiana homeschoolers network with each other. Ben recently moved his family to a farm where he is a self-described Accidental Farmer raising horses, chickens, sheep and apparently doing all sorts of farm-boy activities.

So obviously this is one busy homeschooling dad. I’ve been trying to stop Ben long enough to do one of these interviews and it's been tough. I thought I’d finally get his interview done when we met recently for a project related to homeschoolers, but I found myself having so much fun talking with his children that I just plain forgot all about him.

Sorry about that Ben. But you know me, if there are some interesting and fun-loving kids around, that’s where I’m headed.

So this really isn't Ben's interview, it's Ben's children's interview.

This was the first time I’ve had a chance to do an interview in person and we had a great time. Of course it was under the best of conditions since we were all sharing a wonderful meal at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Indianapolis. That’s where this picture was taken:

From left to right: Jeremiah (12 in June), Jamie (10) , Jennifer (6) and Jessica (15 in June).

Aren’t they cute? They sure look nothing like their father:

Now, don't think I'm the one being silly here, Ben submitted this photo! If you want to see what he looked like before he began his farming adventures, click here and scroll down to the January 6th entry.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, let’s hear from the Bennett children on the freedom, fun and flexibility of homeschooling…

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

The entire crew has always been homeschooled.

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)?

Jessica: I like to work with horses and do a lot with 4-H but I also want to enter into open horse shows and the flexibility of homeschooling lets me do that. You get the chance to earn prize money and it’s lots of fun.

Jeremiah: Field trips! And you don’t have to wait until school is out in order to learn what you want to learn. I can learn where I want and when I want. And I have the freedom to speak up when I have something I want to say.

Jamie: I can do what I want and learn in my own time. I don’t have to sit and do math for an hour; I can do 10 minutes and then do 10 more minutes an hour later if I want. I don’t have to eat school cafeteria food; I can eat good home-cooked meals three times a day.

Jennifer: Oh, I like it because I don’t have to do anything. (This is about all I got out of Jennifer because she was too busy helping her dad do things like sign the meal receipt and showing me the other words she can write: mom, dad and DVD.)

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?

Jessica: I really enjoyed the Renaissance Festival we went to in Indianapolis.

Jeremiah: Niagra Falls. My mom’s company has yearly conferences and the whole family goes together. The best part was going on the Hurricane Deck and you can even see Canada from there. Oh, and they had this cool generator too.

Jamie: When we went to Disney World and Disney Land.

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

Everyone agreed that one of the funnier experiences happened when they went to Disney Land on one of their Mom’s conference trips.

Jeremiah explained, “We were heading out in a van and saw a sign that had pictures of Minnie and Mickey on it which said “Come Back Soon.” And a minute or so later, we saw the sign again, which made us laugh because we really did come back soon!”

“Yeah,” said Jessica, “And that’s because Dad was driving. He didn’t know where he was going and got lost and we started calling it the ‘Van of Terror’ because we didn’t know if we’d ever get out of there. Now every time we go somewhere, if Dad’s driving, we say we’re getting in the “Van of Terror.’”

“But if mom drives,” said Jamie, “It’s the ‘Van of Roses.’”

I guess Ben better stick to driving the tractor on the farm.


Ben later confided in me that what he enjoys most about homeschooling are the learning moments. In the case of the Van of Terror, the older children ended up learning all about maps, navigation, reading street signs (again and again) following directions and many more life skills – all without a qualified teacher. In fact, they learned out of necessity because their teacher was obviously unqualified to navigate. Ben has learned the one thing necessary to be a great homeschooling parent: Humility.

(One more note: I also had the chance to meet a previous interviewee, Christa and her family in person. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of them but you can read about her family here.)

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