Little Blue School: Lydia Netzer's Interview

Lydia lives with her husband and two children in Virginia and in some online circles, she's known as lostcheerio, which I just love, but I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I've always related to the little cheerio that falls out of the box, bounces off the counter and rolls under the refrigerator.

In addition to homeschooling her two children, Lydia is also a book doctor which I guess means she cures sick books so I'm going to keep her in mind because I have a really sick book idea in my head.

She blogs at Little Blue School and you can see some marvelous photos of her kids in action.

In this interview, Lydia just completely smashes the homeschooling socialization myth. It's now in tiny pieces under the refrigerator. I love her description of how homeschooling familes grow together...

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

I have been homeschooling for almost a decade, since I started the clock when my first child was born. I can't remember taking a break for more than two days, although there have actually been two times when I did pry myself away from my children and drive all the way to another state. Once I was away from them I spent a lot of time talking about them, the clever things they say, the way they brush their teeth, etc. I'm sure it was completely scintillating for everyone around me.

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)?

Today we had the kids' violin lessons in the morning, rather than after school, during the between-school-and-dinner rush when most people do it.

Then we did some solid school work, packed up the van and went to Busch Gardens on a school day. If the weather is nice, we can pound through the school work and fly out the door to the zoo, the park, the pool. Or we can take the schoolwork with us and enjoy it in a rose garden.

If it's a quiet Wednesday morning, we can go to the art museum when there's no one else there, and sit in a gallery and listen to the art.

We travel during the slow seasons, play when it's sunny, and homeschool hard when it rains. It rains enough that both my kids are working above grade level.

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 most fun I have homeschooling is when my children, who are four years apart, are working together on a topic. It has amazed me, since my daughter became old enough to be interested in school, how much it's possible to really school them both at the same time. They can both engage with the same subject matter at their own level, and these are the times when I've kind of pulled back and thought, "This is awesome!" Last summer we did a lot of work on Egypt and elections, and this happened frequently.

The other really fun thing that we experience because of homeschooling is the mixing of social groups that happens when homeschooled kids get together. The way they grow together is more like cousins than friends sometimes. For the most part, they accept each other as just who they are. They get over their bumps and stumbles together, with the help of their parents and all their "aunties" and older siblings, and it has been a real joy to watch these relationships develop.

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

The hardest I've laughed recently has been on the road. I teach a creative writing class to six little homeschooled kids. They are all eight or nine years old.

Frequently I have had three or four of them in my van, and their chatter has been wildly entertaining for me as I drive. Listening to them talk to each other -- my son and these other kids -- is just hilarious.

They're so nerdy, so passionate about their nerdiness, and so completely un-self-conscious about it. It's almost beautiful. Whether they're talking about minutiae of astronomy, or putting the 50 states in alphabetical order as quickly as possible, or about the obscure origins of some breed of dog, they're so completely unaware of how nerdy they sound, or even that it's something to be understood or tolerated -- I just love hearing their uncensored interactions.

It's not just the vocabulary, so far beyond their years, or the stuff they know, which baffles me, but just the sweet earnest way they share it with each other, that is so gorgeously funny. And awesome.

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