Divorcing Boxed Curriculum: Valerie Moon's Interview

Although she now lives in Missouri, near Kansas City, Valerie homeschooled her children while living in Europe and now provides information to other American military families around the world.

She also has a work-in-progress blog-book for military parents who want to homeschool which you can see here.

From September 05 to September 08, she was active in spreading news about homeschooling and promoting the ideas of freedom in homeschooling as a blogger at Home Education Magazine's News & Commentary .

Valerie also has a personal blog, Happy As Kings.

Obviously, Valerie has been quite the resource for other homeschoolers. As far as her family goes, however, her best resource in the form of talent may be her ability to sneeze with flair...

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

I started homeschooling our three younger children in 1990, roughly a year and a half after I learned about homeschooling. The twins were ten and our youngest was eight. We continued until the kids received their diplomas in 1998.

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)?

When we first started homeschooling, I chose a boxed curriculum, just as do many first-time homeschoolers. By the end of the year, the kids and I wanted to divorce each other, but I knew that homeschooling held a lot of potential for good times together if only we could get out from under boring lessons. That summer, I decided that we'd start over 'from the beginning' in order to give ourselves a fresh start with our learning.

I planned to go back to the beginning of time-as-we-know-it, and keep moving until we returned to the present, and that's what we did. We read creation stories and scientific accounts of what scientists think happened to set our present state of affairs in motion, looked at early Earth geology, flora and fauna to include a trip to a museum of paleontology where we saw fossils of archaeopteryx. My son's class had visited the museum when he was in third grade, but our independent visit was far more interesting than the group encounter we'd had two years before.

We enjoyed the flexibility of cruising through eras that didn't resonate with us, and slowing down during the periods that we enjoyed learning about. We were able to approach the time periods from the standpoint of the most interesting happenings, whether they were artistic, scientific or literary.

The kids were free to express their opinions, and I was able to use these interjections to explore different interpretations of events. I hope that this helped the kids sharpen their ability to see events from various viewpoints.

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 day we found that the rabbit had munched off a corner of Asimov's Chronology of the World. Asimov's book was the book that kept us from straying too widely afield, as well as providing what are now called (in the Age of Google) 'interesting search terms.'

-- The day Dinah (our Siamese cat who is now 15 years old) brought into the house a young bird that couldn't quite grasp the concept of glass in the windows.

-- The day Dinah brought a marathon-worthy mole into the house.

-- The day Dinah fell in the neighbor's ornamental fish pond.

-- Playing Poohsticks from a bridge over a forest stream.

-- The day I sneezed so loudly during a walk in the forest that an echo came back.

-- The day Bearby (a handmade member of the family whose current existence is in the form of a stuffed bear) bought a dirndl dress during an outing on a scenic drive in Austria.

-- Pushing the van out of a deep sand shoulder along the side of the road in a small Belgian town near the sea.

-- Discovering what the footprints in French roadside bathrooms mean ("put feet here")

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

One day, while reading aloud to the kids, I looked up to see this looking at me:

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