A Ride on The Unschool Bus: Kelly Halldorson's Interview

Today we get to meet Kelly Halldorson and family. I was first introduced to Kelly when I attended Porcfest, a freedom-oriented festival in New Hampshire. Well, to be exact, I didn't really get to meet her, but I attended a presentation about homeschooling in New Hampshire and she was a member of the panel.

Brett Veinotte who does the School Sucks Podcast was a panelist too and he recorded it so if you want to hear the presentation, click here. (I said a few words at the presentation too. I'm the one who gave a pep talk for anyone concerned about college and spoke about my daughter's college application experience.)

Kelly and her family decided they wanted to go on a traveling adventure as part of their unschooling lives and they are now roaming the country on a refurbished school bus.

Is that not the best idea you have ever heard for a retired school bus!? I imagine that bus has had more fun in the past several months of its existence than the entire time it was used to dump kids into institutional schools.

(As a matter of fact, I'm thinking someone should start a organization to rescue retired school buses like there are for rescuing retired racing greyhound dogs. Families could rescue those poor buses who are worn out and depressed about their past use and fill them with kids who are living and learning free from the constraints of school.)

You can find more about Kelly and her traveling family of five at her blog. Kelly and her family are also available for speaking, conferences, interviews and a whole host of other activities. Feel free to contact the family at kelly@halldorson.com.

Now, let's get a glimpse of life on the family traveling on The Unschool Bus...

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

We have homeschooled for 7 years, not consecutively. When my children were little they went to two separate private schools, one Montessori type and one Christian.

I homeschooled them upon removing the from the first school and before enrolling them in the second school. My oldest son was in second grade, my middle son was in Kindergarten and my youngest, a daughter, was pre-school age at the time.

They attended the Christian school for three years and my oldest, Wolfgang, attended 3rd, 4th and 5th grade at the school. My middle son, Griffin, attended 1st, 3rd (he was skipped past 2nd) & 4th grade at the Christian school while my daughter attended K-2nd grade.

After those years were through we started homeschooling (which quickly evolved into unschooling) and haven't really looked back - not too much anyway. My oldest son will be starting his last year of homeschooling next month. It has been a wonderful ride and I cherish the time I've been able to spend with my kids along with the relationships we've built as a result of our 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)?

Wow, almost too much to list here! My very early homeschooling style was eclectic. However, we quickly evolved into an unschooling approach, a type of homeschooling/education philosophy that provides maximum freedom and requires a huge degree of flexibility and openness on the part of the parent as far as the topics of learning are concerned.

Unschooling provides kids with an environment that fosters their innate desire to acquire information, pursue passions and learn practical everyday/real-world skills.

Last fall we set off to live full-time on the road with our three unschooling teens and what that has allowed us to experience and learn together is really unquantifiable. I have a list on my site of 99 things we did/learned/talked about in our first six months on the road and it's really just a piece of it.

All those experience were possible only because of the freedom and flexibility homeschooling provides.

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?

Our kids' favorite experience on the road has been our trip to Key West. We parked right in town, in a (closed) bank parking lot, and the kids were able to walk around together on "the Strip" safely because of the proximity to the bus.

They came back within the hour telling us we absolutely had to come meet these people they met in the Wyland Gallery, an art gallery featuring the work of world renowned artist Wyland. You know the guy that paints the huge murals of dolphins (and other water scenes) on big city buildings? Yeah, that guy.

Well, needless to say we followed the kids over and spent the evening chatting and laughing with the managers about art, travel, life experience and island history. They even went so far as to clear out their back parking lot so we could park there for the night.

Another example of fun was when my kids were much younger and we were not yet traveling. A local liberty-activist and videographer was looking to do a little civil disobedience. Through looking into New Hampshire code for ridiculous law he discovered that it was illegal to perform a puppet show without a license. His act of civil disobedience would be to perform a play about Henry David Thoreau in front of the state capital.

I thought it would be fun if we helped. I talked to the kids and asked if they would be interested in making the puppet and helping with scenery. All three were on board.

We spent the next month building paper-mache and felt puppets of Henry David Thoreau, his mother, and a vulture with a badge. We filmed the experience, we read about and discussed civil disobedience and Thoreau, we laughed the absurdness of requiring a license to perform a puppet show and discussed the ethics of victimless crimes and taxes. At the time they were 11, 9 and 8 years old.

This past January Jeff, the kids and I had the opportunity to take a guided boat tour of the Bayou. Not the kind of tour you pay $150 and a guide takes you out on a boat for an hour on the same trip he took the last 500 tourists, but a gifted personal, 4-hour ride through the bayous all the way into Texas waters.

Our guide? Seventy-two year old local resident Don McCaughlin. For four hours we listened to Don tell us all about the land he grew up on - including the history of logging, how to retrieve sinkers (how money can be made at it), art in the area (including all the work he had done), swamp music, and how he was once responsible for finding and rescuing folks reported lost on the waters.

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

Funny experiences? That's an easy one...The looks we get when people find out we live on a bus full-time.

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