Time To Connect With Each Other: Ren Allen's Interview

Would you want to have tea with this lady? I sure would!

This is Ren Allen who lives in Tennessee with her radically unschooling family. Ren has two blogs. One is about her family's unschooling life called Learning In Freedom. (You should be able to guess that I really love that title.)

Her other blog is called Tea With Ren, which is her more personal blog.

Ren is active on unschooling email lists and speaks at various unschooling/homeschooling conferences around the country. She really enjoys the fact that homeschooling gives her family plenty of time to connect with each other, and make messes...

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

We started after my oldest child left one year of school (kindergarten) in 1996.

He's 19 now and living in Hendersonville NC.

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 could go on and on about that freedom. We live our lives as though school does not exist and that means we focus on living well. Living well is about connecting with each other, with our passions and learning what we love all the time. I can't imagine giving our freedom of choice in how to spend our time and our lives, over to anyone else.

We have more time to really connect with each other, to make plans that suit our needs, to travel and play and work around our family's desires. I think schools can really intrude on family time and make it difficult to create a joyful, playful atmosphere in which rich connections naturally unfold.

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?

There are a lot of great memories! At this very moment I am out in Oregon traveling with two of my sisters, their families and three of my children making many more fabulous memories. We spent the day traipsing around my Grandparent's farm, laughing, hiking, eating, celebrating my 40th birthday and doing the chicken dance. Yesterday was spent down at the Oregon Coast seeking out sea stars, anemones and watching some crazy children jump in numbingly cold surf!

Our favorite memories seem to revolve around messes. There was a night when we shot film canisters across the dining room, spraying baking soda and vinegar on everything! From Mentos/soda explosions to celebrations with sparklers and late night sleepovers, we spend a lot of time laughing.

There are plenty of quiet spaces in between. Space for quiet reflection and gardens and tea.....but our fun times seem to include some sort of mess.:)

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

My youngest child gives us a lot of "funny" lately. Funny phrases and descriptions of the eight-year-old mind.

We were recently discussing our move from Florida to Tennessee a few nights ago and the contrast of mountains and beach.

"But why do they call it TenneSEE Mom? There's no seas around here."

An experience we laugh about now--because it was so miserable--is a time we visited family in Alaska and all of us got a 24 hour stomach flu. There was an entire house full of kids and adults puking their guts out for a day and a night. I remember helping two of my kids while they were ill, all while I was retching my guts out. It was SO insane and awful but we laugh so hard about it now and have many fond memories of that summer trip.

For us, unschooling is simply living life, so all of my examples are about things we do as part of our living. There's a lot of funny and messy in the living!


piscesgrrl said...

I want to have tea with Ren too! Oh wait - I already did. :)

Actually, I think it was coffee...

Ren said...

Haha!! It WAS coffee because I was so durn tired after the conference. It was so kewl to sit and talk with you finally though. Looking forward to more tea/coffee chats.

Lovely blog you have here Deb. Nicely done!:)

Frank said...

Shhhh! Don't tell her hubby (wink and a grin!) but I had drinks with her. In her hotel suite! We had a fabulous time! All googol of us crowded in there during one of the after-hours parties at LIFEisGood! Hooray for Ren!

Debbie H. said...

Thanks Ren, for participating!