Living and Learning Together Everyday: Katherine Anderson's Interview

Today we meet a family from a small rural town in South Carolina. Katherine is married to Brian and they have one child, Karl. They are kind of on the front end of homeschooling since Karl turns 6 this month. Happy Birthday Karl!

Mom blogs about their lives at Essentially Unschooling and reports that one of her favorite things about spending so much time with a curious young boy is that it gives her a good excuse to have fun getting messy, especially with food.

I just hope she leaves Karl's birthday cake alone.

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

Officially I've only just started really. Karl will turn 6 in July.

I came to unschooling, which I'd never heard of at the time, via a mention online of it on an attachment parenting e-list. Attachment parenting was a no-brainer for me, as I'm hard of hearing, and putting Karl in a crib in another room just wasn't feasible for me. I'd never be able to hear him from my bed. There was no way I was going to do that.

So basically I started learning unschooling at the same time I was researching attachment parenting, which was while I was still pregnant! So I had in mind this wonderful idea of the whole family living together everyday from the very beginning and we love it more and more all the time.

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)?

Since coming in contact with unschooling boards, I've never looked back. Unschooling was an easy concept for me to grasp because I was an unorthodox thinker and had a hard time fitting in school myself, so I knew exactly what all the talk about visual spatial learner and things like that were getting at.

Karl, and all of us really, have been learning so much together all along on our unschooling journey. We love it more and more all the time. It has benefitted me in countless ways, not least because it fit the way I was already living even before I met and married Brian, and it fit the direction I wanted to go in making changes to make our lives even better. I could see myself being able to do it.

It's hard to imagine a freer more flexible route to take with regard to education and just plain living life than homeschooling, and unschooling is an uber-style of homeschooling when it comes to freedom.

We're not missing Karl all day in school and he's not missing us. We're together. That's the first freedom we like about it. That's wonderful in itself. At this point, I can't imagine putting Karl in school unless it were an adventure he wanted to go on.

The very basis of unschooling is creating freedom of choice for children. Anybody who wants to know more about that should look up John Holt who coined the word and laid a solid foundation for why children need choices and then how to make that happen in a world that doesn't take freedom of choice for children very far.

It's gradual though. We started when Karl was just a tiny one. Things we could do that would answer what seemed to be what he wanted, we would do. It's more in depth than a simple definition and a set of easy to follow steps though. The freedom benefits the trust between us parents and Karl, it benefits our family connection.

What we're doing here has benefited our marriage and the closeness between Brian and me too. Brian and I came from strict religious backgrounds, so allowing freedom has been a long process for us both and the benefits are numerous, and not the least is to enjoy lots of happy times with Karl.

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?

You have a lot of f-words for us to touch on... freedom, flexibility and now fun.

Playing computer games, watching Karl cook and do experiments, talking about all kinds of things, watching movies, TV shows and going to the theater, drawing and puzzling out things on paper, watching Karl do puppet shows, play dress up, making videos, finding some really beautiful parks to play in with shade and water and places to run and walking trails, visiting so many people and places even being a one-car family (we use car availability on the weekends to the max!), going on trips out of state and taking side trips on the way up, and there are lots more things that we do.

And it's all fun mostly because either Karl likes an idea we have or he has one of his own to try out. Yo-yo's, magnets, blobby stuff like Silly Sludge and Silly Putty. Those are all very fun and being a girl in a strict home, well ... let's just say, now *I* get to play with it too. Ha. Playing with food and making up meals and shopping lists together. Anything to do with food! Mud, dirt, sand... we love to mess with it.

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

Karl was making one of his recipes. Some are successes by his standards and some are not. A recent one had to do with eggs and water. Karl thought it was so funny. We laughed and laughed and laughed as the dog, looking suspiciously at us since we were all going a little crazy, ate up the concoction. The mixture looked so funny and the dog thought it was DElish! Well I guess you had to be there.

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