The Relationship Factor: Joyce Fetteroll's Interview

Today's interview is with Joyce Fetteroll. She lives in Massachusetts and keeps herself busy with lots of projects so I had to work a bit to score this interview. She says I happened to remind her at just the right time, apparently a lull before another project-filled storm. Sometimes I get lucky.

I really wanted to learn a bit about Joyce because she has one of the best resources I've seen to help people learn about unschooling and peaceful parenting philosophies. Her site, Joyfully Rejoycing, is just loaded with information and even though I'm done homeschooling and my kids are adults, every time I go to her site I see another question that I just can't help clicking on to see what she has to say.

Now let's see what she has to say in answer to my 4 questions...

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

We've been unschooling since Kathryn would have been in kindergarten. She's 17 now so legally we're weeks from being done.

Joyce's Daughter, Kathryn

Ironically Kathryn's last year in preschool allowed us to unschool. While she was at preschool I plowed through AOL's homeschooling boards, starting at the Calvert end that appealed to my engineering half that loves structured learning, to unschooling, where the posters seemed to be the only ones having fun and not complaining about how to get their kids to do their work.

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've become almost oblivious to the school schedule that I'm not conscious of where it would have limited us anymore. ;-)

Kathryn was able go out to work with her father. Carl's an adjunct professor at Springfield college and she took a couple of his math classes starting at 14.

He's also the coordinator for the Massachusetts Senior Games and directs sports programs for the disabled so has had a lot of opportunities to help with both of those.

Probably the biggest benefit is that her help is perceived as legitimate work rather than a special day off from school.

Most recently, unschooling has allowed her the flexibility to stay up late talking to internet friends on the phone. I sometimes feel bad she's keeping her schooled friends up but their mothers seem very supportive and understanding. :-) She's visited one in Texas and the other has visited here from Michigan and they've had grand times together.

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

I'm trying to think of something grand but what keeps popping into my head is going to the Friday opening of the Boston Anime convention and openings of big movies like Harry Potter and Star Trek when all the kids are still in school. I suspect people think I'm a really cool mom who has allowed her daughter to skip school for a movie. ;-)

I think more than the fun factor for us has been the relationship factor. Schooling parents don't have any idea how much school damages their relationship with their kids. They think the distancing and rebelliousness is just how kids are. I have a 17 year old who actually likes me -- which is actually the norm for unschoolers!

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

Finally remembered one! There are always funny things, but one ties into unschooling. On Christmas Eve we had family over for dinner. I was struck by the idea to have a birthday cake for Jesus. I must have heard it somewhere, but even though we're atheist I thought it was a pretty cool idea.

So I set the cake out and went to light the candles and asked the kids whose birthday they thought it was. All the Catholic cousins looked blankly and Kathryn piped up (on her own, I hadn't told her) "Jesus!"

Maybe a clue that gentle absorption works better than pushing?

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