Every Day is a Holiday: Sarah Haliwell's Interview


I've gone traveling again. Sarah Haliwell and her daughter Rose, who is pictured above, live in New Zealand where Rose enjoys the freedom of homeschooling so much she considers every day a holiday.

Sarah blogs about her family's life of holidays at Stars in Her Fingernails .

It sounds like education and learning are going very smoothly in this family with hardly any friction at all.

Can't say the same about pram wheels on rocky ground though...

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

As I decided to homeschool when my daughter was about six months old, I guess you could say I've been homeschooling her all her life - ten years. We started lessons formally when she was three, but have drifted in and out of unschooling ever since.

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 am an inherently inconsistent person. I go crazy when placed in a strict routine. So homeschooling suits my flawed psyche!

We love being able to just walk out the door in search of wildflowers on a beautiful day, or welcome friends in at any time, or respond to our natural inherent rhythms even as they change seasonally.

We also really value the flexibility that allows us to knuckle down with books and whiteboard sometimes, if the mood takes us, and luxuriate in free "life learning" other times.

We have got so far out of the school mentality that we never pay attention to term holidays or grades or anything like that. The other day someone asked my daughter what grade she was in, and neither of us could answer the question. I actually had to count it up on my fingers, because the woman wouldn't accept my daughter's response of, "I'm sort of multi-graded."

The same woman was also distressed to learn that Rose would keep on doing lessons through the holidays ... but probably more distressed when Rose said she only did lessons maybe two or three days a week so it all evened out in the end!


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?

I'll always remember the day our homeschooling group went on a nature walk to sketch trees, but the children found a river in the forest, and set about experimenting with different ways of damming the river. All the organised lesson plans were thrown out as the children played at science and the mothers sat sunbathing on the river bank.

At home, we have fun telling jokes about Peter the Great and King Canute, and staying up late to finish the last chapter of Tom Sawyer, and rolling down mountainsides while most children are doing maths in sweltering classrooms.

But to be honest, it is almost always fun. As Rose would tell people when they asked her if she was not in school because of some holiday (or at least she answered this way before she realised how much it disturbed them) - "I'm homeschooled. Every day is a holiday!"


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

When my daughter was about four, my mother took her to the zoo with some friends and their children. At one point, my daughter asked what a strange noise was.

One of the mothers said in a very slow sing-song voice, "that's just from my pram wheels going bumpity bump over the rocky ground."

My little girl looked up at her coolly and said, "Oh, you mean friction."

The woman gaped.

My mother leaned forward and said quietly, "It's alright. She's homeschooled."

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I enjoyed reading Sarah's interview very much! She's an inspiration.