It's Unanimous, Unschooling Wins!: Holly Graff's Interview

Holly lives in New York and is pictured here with her daughter, Lucia. Holly blogs about their unschooling lives here.

Holly's family gives us another great real-life example of the benefits of freedom from school. When her husband, Nick, took a temporary job in France, of course Holly and Lucia went along. She has another blog where she recorded that experience.

Of course lots of fun and interesting things happened while they explored and learned in France, but nothing beats the adventures they had with those racing cartoon sperm...

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

We've been unschooling for the past three years. Lucia had a wonderful experience with an exceptional pre-K teacher who had both the freedom and the creativity to create a fun, democratic, child-centered classroom. Seriously, she had 4-year-olds voting on what they should do for their group projects. It was awesome, and Lucia was always excited about school.

Maybe it's because we were so spoiled by that experience, but public school kindergarten came as a great shock the following year. Lucia no longer had any sense of ownership of her classroom or autonomy in her learning. She no longer enjoyed going to school. She seemed completely drained, both physically and emotionally, by the end of the day and lost her former ability to talk enthusiastically about the goings on at school.

The combination of Lucia's experience as a student and mine as a high school teacher convinced us that school is not for us. I can't tell you how much happier we are since we started unschooling!

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)?

Freedom! Yes!

Once we left school we suddenly realized the extent to which our lives had been shaped by the school schedule. We thought, "Hey! We can do anything now. We can go live in France!" So we did.

My husband got a temporary assignment through his company's office in Paris, and we lived there for seven months. Lucia and I spent our days looking at art and architecture, visiting historical sites, learning French, learning about the culture, and traveling around Europe.

It was an incredible learning experience for all of us!

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 comes from spending time with other home/unschooling families. It is so much fun to hang out with other open, curious, thoughtful parents, watching the children explore something new, enjoying that together. We've been lucky enough to do that in foreign cities, at the zoo, at a museum, and even in our own back yard.

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

We definitely laugh a lot, but one of the funniest moments happened in Paris when Lucia was 7 years old.

Nick thought it would be cute and funny to buy me a French children's book that told the story of human reproduction from the point of view of a little cartoon sperm who gets to swim in a big race, the winner of which receives for his prize a wonderful egg!

Thinking we weren't quite ready to have that discussion with Lucia, I hid the book in a drawer. But, as luck would have it, Lucia found the book. "Is it about a tadpole?" she asked.

Alas, no, I thought. “It’s about sperm cells and egg cells and how they come together to make a new baby.”

Her interest was piqued, so that night I read her the book, and we discussed the birds and the bees. The next day she began retelling the story to me using some of her dolls and toys to act it out.

She started off by introducing the sperm and his best friend who were both very fast and loved to race each other. They had to practice a lot because “once every minute a race was held, and the prize was an egg.”

Despite all efforts to keep a straight face, maybe I revealed something in my expression because she stopped and quickly corrected herself, “No, I mean, not every minute. Only once every year. They held this race once every year.”


Ruralmama said...

That's just too hilarious. I love that they only had the race once a year, instead of every minute. Just...too...funny.

sunnymama said...

It's really inspiring to read about the lives of other unschoolers!

I left 'Homeschooling: Freedom and Fun For Your Family' an award at my blog. No need to pass it on unless you want to but I just wanted you to know that I think your blog is great :)

Debbie H. said...

Wow, my very first blog award. Thanks Sunnymama!