None of Her Children are Wired To Code: Laureen Hudson's Interview

For this interview, we are going to visit Laureen Hudson and her family who live in the San Francisco Bay area. Well, to be more exact, they actually live IN the San Francisco Bay - on a boat. She blogs at The Excellent Adventure and also has some homeschool writings here.

In addition to living in the Bay, Laureen and her family are planning a round the world voyage. In the meantime though, they are teaching people a thing or two about real-world socialization...

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

Officially, just two years, but y'know, learning begins at birth.

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)?

This is so completely huge, that it's hard to narrow down to just a few things. Here's my top three:

1) Unschooling the world

We live on a 47' catamaran, and are planning a round the world voyage. That's completely impossible to do in a traditional schooling framework. And I can't see trying to maintain a standard learning path while being in the middle of a journey like we're planning. They'll be immersed in such a wide range of topics; meteorology, navigation, oceanography, biology, mechanics, physics, language, culture, food, topography, physical education...

I can't see trying to slow that down or alter it to fit what a group of strangers think is "appropriate" or "typical" for kids of their ages. What they'll be doing with their lives isn't typical, so it seems sorta Procrustean to try to make their education fit a typical mold.

2) Unschooling nurture

We have three children, three years apart. I deeply believe that learning to be a family, to be together, to care for little ones, depends on actually doing it, being there in the thick of it with siblings. I feel that age-segregating kids into classrooms might be a big contributor to how completely disconnected we are from how to nurture.

And at the other end of the spectrum, my father died this last year, and we were able to drop everything and rocket out there to be with him for a few weeks before the end, and be with Mom for a few weeks after. You can't do that kind of thing when the all important school schedule controls your life.

And I can't help but think that being removed from those sorts of life experiences is part of why our culture handles them, generally, so poorly. Before school, kids were part of the entire range of life experiences through their family and their neighbors, and now, most people have never seen a birth or a death. My kids have seen both, and I fully believe it's more enriching than memorizing prepositions.

3) Unschooling our lifestyle

None of my kids is wired to code. Part of that is because of our liveaboard lifestyle.

At 4, Rowan was totally capable of disassembling our space heaters, cleaning them, and reassembling them. It's not on the preschool curriculum, um, anywhere, but it's a talent he has.

Kestrel has a really amazing emotional intelligence; he actually seeks out people who are sad or withdrawn, and draws them out. Again, not a curriculum item, but a talent he has.

I cannot see any rational person placing making paper chains above these kinds of real world, practical skills.

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?

Every single morning, we hang out on someone's bed, and cuddle, and talk about our days and our dreams, and sip tea and hang out. We only have to rocket out of bed, eat breakfast, and dash off someplace if there's a previously-agreed-upon adventure that requires it. And maybe my sights are really low, but I think that those mornings are the sort of fun you look back on and say "Life? Life is good."

I love being able to say "yes!" Let's go. Let's do. Let's. Yes. These things are fun, and fun is good. =)

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

We live in a marina currently, and a marina full of liveaboards is a lot like an oldtime small town. Everyone knows everyone, everyone is sort of in everyone else's business. Every so often, we have bonfires up at the firepit on shore, and the whole marina comes out to hang out and socialize together. And it's the sort of thing where I feel totally comfortable letting my kids loose, because everyone kinda looks out for them.

One person had brought a friend of theirs to the event, who did not know my children. Being thoroughly social, both my boys pounced on the newcomer, dragging him around introducing him to people, offering him food, generally being the welcoming committee.

Eventually, the topic of homeschooling came up (as it does), and this newcomer, with a totally straight face, said to me, "But, if they're not going to school, what about socialization?"

One of our neighbors literally punched the guy in the arm, and said "What are you, stupid? You've been interacting with those kids for three hours, clearly they're more socialized than you are!"