The Freedom To Learn By Doing: Heather & Shamus' Interview

Heather and her husband Shamus homeschool their children in Western Pennsylvania where the whole family lives and learns together. Both parents have talents that enable them to work from home, so the family makes the most of the freedom their lifestyle allows.

Want to learn more about them? Here's Heather's family blog, An Untraditional Home . She's also an artist and you can go to this link to learn more about that. Shamus' blog is called Twenty Sided Tale where you can go and learn about all he dabbles in as part of his untraditional life.

Heather planned on working on the questions with Shamus in person, but sometimes an untraditional life gets pretty busy so she gave up on that and just emailed it to him. Heather reports that "His answer ARE my answers though he did write it from his perspective and that is just fine with me. :)"

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

We've home schooled ever since our kids were old enough to not go to school. Twelve years ago my wife was pregnant with our first child. She was a public school special education teacher at the time. Sitting in the teacher's lounge, listening to her own former teachers talking disdainfully about her now-students changed her perspective on how public school actually works. Specifically: It doesn't.

Whatever their faults or virtues, those teachers were never going to love our kids as much as we do or care about the quality of their education than we do. So why don't we just do it ourselves?

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)?

There really is nothing more useful than being free to teach the kids what they're actually interested in, instead of trying to make kids interested in what you're supposed to be teaching them this week.

Kids are into bugs? Let's study bugs!

Curious about the stars? Let's grab a telescope and do some astronomizing!

Curious about plants? Let's get some seeds and grow some. Or watch them die because my wife has a black thumb. That's a learning experience, too.

Meanwhile a public school kid is sitting at a desk in late May, looking out the window and wondering about how flowers grow while the teacher hands out worksheets with the stuff the kid was into last year..

They have the freedom to learn by doing.

They go camping instead of reading about it.

They visit museums instead of seeing pictures of the stuff inside of museums.

They collect flowers and herbs instead of sitting in a lecture on flowers and herbs.

They learn to cook instead of standing in the lunch line.

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?

It's great being able to vacation while everyone else is still stuck in school. We don't have to school when they school, rest when they rest. Our kids can get the park and Chuck E. Cheese to themselves if they like.

We can take spontaneous trips. We often go off and visit friends out of state. Not only has this been educationally beneficial, but it is also just plain fun to do things as a family and not constantly have to figure out who needs to be where when.

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

This summer we went to the lake. The kids flew kites (learned about
airfoils) saw interesting topography (learned about glaciers, man-made lakes, and how a dam is constructed) watched the sailboats (learned about economics and why our family can't afford boats) and generally got a head full of knowledge without even realizing it.

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