The Homeschooling Gift of Time: Sybille Kramer's Interview

Boy, do I have a treat for you. Today's interview is from a homeschooling family in Italy!

I met Sybille while on one of my twisting, turning trips on the internet and somehow ended up at the top of the boot-shaped country. She lives in South Tyrol, Italy and blogs about her family here.

Sybille speaks German and Italian but very little English. She is trying to learn and one way she works on it is to read homeschooling blogs from English language writers.

She used google's online translation to help her answer my questions and was relieved when I told her not to worry because I would correct any spelling and grammar.

I did change a couple places for readability, but you will see that I kept her answers pretty much as she wrote them to me. It just seems more authentic this way.

As you read through this interview, you will clearly see that it makes no difference what country we live in or what language we speak, sometimes when Mom just isn't paying attention, funny things happen...

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

We have been Homeschooling since June 2008. John (13) went two years to public school here in the village, but we realized that for his personality it just was not right. So he went for a few years at a private Montessori School, guided by parents. Even Sandro (10) attended this school for three years.

Unfortunately, this project because of the financial problems, ultimately failed. So we thought about: what now?

And we decided to try Homeschooling. It was a great decision, but here in South Tyrol nobody else is Homeschooling and we have no direct role models.

All ask us: Is it not prohibited, will you not be arrested? But we found out it is legally ok, fortunately. We still have a family acquaintance who homeschools, but they do Unschooling and the kids are even younger, that is also a difference.

Through my friend Carmen (also from South Tyrol)- she lives and works now in America doing Montessori-inspired coaching for Families and Schools, New Learning Culture - we learned more about Homeschooling and how it could be in the different ways. So we feel that it can be a "normal" thing, and we have quickly become accustomed, and we love this way to live and learn.

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)?

It is mainly the small freedoms that we enjoy: getting up, when we have slept enough. Go to sleep when we are tired. Food and drink, when we are hungry and thirsty (and not when the bell rings at school).

When something special happens, we always have time to watch it and talk about it just in that moment. Yes, it is precisely the time that makes a difference: time for ourselves, for our own interests, for our own rhythm.

John often says, the best of Homeschooling is the time that he can use for his projects. And the worst at the school was that there were other schedules saying what you have to do from this to that hour.

Yes, time is freedom, really!

The family life, relationships, benefit from this: when Dad comes home from work in the evening, the children do not have immediately to go to sleep because the next day they must get up early because of school, but they can spend time with him. Every day, not just on Sunday.

We also take beautiful trips on days when other children are at school - because the weather is so beautiful.

We go to the museum, if something interests us, we do not have to wait for Sunday. We can spend time on ourselves.

This really is luxury and we enjoy it very much.

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 many small situations every day that are funny! And this is the most important in learning: it must make you happy, awake good feelings!

Among the most beautiful things are the shared cultural experiences. In the winter every Wednesday evening in the next village's library there is cinema hour. If the children go to school and the next day at 6:30 would have to wake up, this would not go. But yes, now we can do it sometimes!

It's fun go out of the house at 8 p.m. with a some juice or tea and biscuits, and to think that all the others go to bed already ... In the library all look at us and ask the children: Could you stay awake so long, must you not be at school tomorrow morning?

And they answer: No, we do not go to school ...

- We have seen such beautiful movies together and enjoyed that, for example, "Der fliegende Händler (Les Fils de l'Epicier)." And it is a great pleasure, then come together to talk and to tell about...

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

I have noticed that children, learning with homeschooling in another way than at public school - with many discussions and practical implementation - learn the things more for themselves and remember better.

For example, we had this funny experience: It was a while ago that we have learned about Human Rights.

I walked with the children and our young dog Indy. Because Sandro always quickly ran ahead of us, Indy also wanted to race, but that was not good on the road and with the leash.

So, I called: "Sandro, do not run as fast, or else Indy will tear on the leash because he wants to seek thee!" And you know what he replied?

He says: "Mum, if you forbid me to run, it is against human rights."

Yes, and yes he did right!

I had a good laugh and then I said: "Okay, I don't forbid it, I appeal to your sense of responsibility... " Thus, it works.

Another story was with John. We learned a long time ago about the emigration of Englishmen to America and read about the Puritans, we had viewed photos on the Internet as they were dressed.

After a few months, I had completely forgotten about it.

One day John came and asked: "Mum, what is the name of the people in America with the blue dresses and special hats?"

I was concentrating on something else, and said without thinking much: "You mean the Smurfs?"

That was obviously a very stupid answer, and also because the Smurfs come from Belgium and not from America, and it was so funny and ridiculous.

How could I know that he was only searching for the word "puritan?"


Bookmom said...

What a great post! It sounds lovely where you are, Sybille. If I could live anywhere I wanted it would be somewhere near you, or maybe around Lido di Fondi (between Napoli and the mouth of the Tiber).

Funny story about the Smurfs and Puritans! I have in my head a picture of the First Thanksgiving now, complete with Papa Smurf carving the turkey.

I hope someday you can visit Indy here (where I live) and take the kids to the many museums here, including the largest children's museum in the world. And meet some of the homeschoolers here!

Jessica S. said...

That is a good read!! I am in neighboring Germany! In Germany, homeschooling is not allowed. But, I am a Army spouse stationed overseas..this is our first year homeschooling, I we truly LOVE IT!!! Thank God for such a wonderful opportunity!!

Random musings said...

Great! I am a homeschooling mom and we are thinking of moving to Florence in Jan. Am not sure what I should do and who I should contact /register with to homeschool in Italy. Would love to get some info. Thanks