This Family's In Exploration Mode: Dawn Smith's Interview

In this photo: Fionna, in exploration mode.

I hope you're ready to go traveling once again because Dawn and her family live in Nova Scotia.

I bet you didn't even finish the laundry from the last time we left the states, did you? Don't worry I didn't either, which means we're both so used to the smells we won't notice.

I just hope Dawn can handle it.

Dawn blogs about their adventures at her blog, To The Outskirts, where, among other things, she shares marvelous photos taken during their nature hikes.

Read on to hear the story of their recent "Epic Nature Hike." It's downright amazing...

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

We feel like we have been homeschooling since birth but officially this is our second year. We have a daughter who just turned six and a three-year-old son.

We kept our daughter home for preschool while we were in California, then she spent a few months in Primary (Kindergarten) at a public school here in Canada. After we satisfied our curiosity about what it would be like to have her in school, we brought her home for the rest of the year.

Now she is home spending her days learning right along side family, friends and neighbors.

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)?

The nature of my husband’s work means that he is very busy in the summer and fall and has much more time to spend with the family in the winter and early spring. Since we homeschool that is when we can spend more time together as a family.

That includes everything from having Dad home for extra long lunches, to taking extended weekend trips to Grandma and Papa’s farm or being local tourists when all the other tourists have fled south for the winter.

Since we have only been in Nova Scotia for a year we have been in what we like to call exploration mode. It is great fun to walk into a museum and have the place to ourselves. We have learned so much from the interpreters who have the time to focus on our little family and answer our many questions.

The other benefit I see in this realm is time. We have the time to explore and focus on the interesting things that we see out in the world and the topics that truly interest us as individuals and as a family.

Our “epic nature walk” comes to mind. We have a nature walk just about every morning. We are usually gone about an hour but I always bring snacks and such just in case.

On this particular day we had the privilege to sit and watch ants carry a small caterpillar back to their home, find a beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly that had come to the end of its lifespan, catch and observe a tiny toad, watch dragonflies skim across the water hunting for food and collect dragonfly larva shells from those dragonflies who had left them behind to move on to the next phase of life.

Then on top of all of that we watched a dragonfly emerge from its larval form, spread its wings (after it had crawled up a rock and onto my daughter’s hand) and fly for the first time.

It was truly magical. Our one-hour nature walk turned into a four-hour epic nature walk because we could take the time to watch nature work its magic. That is true freedom and flexibility.

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?

One fun time that comes to mind is the Halloween party in the park. A wonderful setting with huge trees all around. The kids running up and down the hills and around the trees in costume. Creative games and delicious not too-over-the-top sweet food.

I think the thing that made it so much fun was that everyone was so relaxed and there was really no schedule. It started around a specific time and things like games and food were going to happen when it seemed like everyone was ready for them. So you could go whenever you liked, or stay until the sunset. It was just a whole lot of fun and I am not even a big fan of Halloween.

Another really fun time we had was our trip to Joggins Fossil Cliffs here in Nova Scotia. One of my daughter’s major projects is about dinosaurs and prehistoric life so we decided to travel to Joggins.

It was a super-fun trip because, once again, we had the place to ourselves. The interpreter we met up with on the beach spent over an hour helping us to identify the fossils we were finding in the rocks. It was great fun and a wonderful learning experience for all of us.

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

I think one of the funniest times we have had in regards to homeschooling was when a waitress asked if she could send her son home with us to be homeschooled.

We had traveled to a local spot in the off-season and our daughter was really interested in the lobster tank in the restaurant. Since it was the off-season, the waitress spent all kinds of time with her talking about the lobsters, showing how to tell a male from a female, etc.

Along with prehistoric life our daughter also adores the ocean so she had all kinds of her own information to share. I think she shocked the waitress a little and after I told her that ocean life was one of her projects for homeschooling she asked if I would take her son home. We all had a good laugh.


Tara said...

Despite the fact that we have never met I consider Dawn to be one of my dear homeschooler pals. She and her family soak up all the goodness in nature and I always enjoy seeing her fantastic photographs of all the wonderful things they encounter on their nature walks.

I find her blog and her homeschooling philosophy very inspiring!

Dawn said...

Debbie... Thank you for the interview. It was fun to reflect on our homeschooling journey.

Tara... You are too sweet! Thank you!

tara said...

I'd like to echo Tara's words... through this little blog world of ours, I've grown attached to Dawn's family and love to view little snippets of her daily homeschooling life. She is a treasure and an inspiration, and a perfect mama to interview for your series. I'm eager to see more of this blog!

(and hello Tara, I could say the same for you!)

Lori said...

i love dawn's blog and her perspective on life and parenting - thank you for this interview!

denise said...

I love reading the interviews. So interesting to have peeks into lives not so unlike our own...and inspiring for new ideas as well!

Debbie H. said...

I'm glad you're enjoying them Denise. :)