Being Together and Being Ourselves: Sarah Wassinger's Interview

Today's interview is with someone I "met" through Facebook. Sarah and her family live in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Though we've never met, through our interactions and our shared "likes," I know Sarah and I have a lot in common, even down to the deeper philosophical issues. I "like" Sarah. :)

Sarah was also kind enough to help with one of my free offerings for homeschoolers on the topic of writing. She kindly read it beforehand and gave me her feedback, which actually turned into a post highlighting another great writing idea.

Sarah seems to be part of a small group of homeschoolers who moved straight from traditional schools to the relaxed style of unschooling. Most families just can't make that big of a leap at once. I know I didn't. But then again, maybe this family just connected with that so easily because bright yellow school buses make their eyes burn...

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

I happened upon the idea of unschooling after reading Alfie Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting. I immediately connected with the idea that children should be treated and respected the same as adults and I knew that rewarding and punishing felt all wrong to me. I wanted more information on non-punitive parenting and I found unschooling. I devoured everything I could read on this new (to me) idea.

I also got involved in the education reform movement and joined the PTO and attended meetings at the school board. After three years of research, I decided to offer my three children the choice to stay in school or leave government school and take charge of their education along with me as their guide and facilitator.

This was almost a year ago. The two youngest jumped at the opportunity immediately and my oldest joined us a month later. My children left government school last October.

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)?

Just meeting my children's most basic needs of sleep and nutrition is so much easier. We are all well rested and we eat when we are hungry.

We have been able to vacation with my parents during the off season at a popular vacation destination. Museums and galleries are much more fun now that we don't have to visit on weekends during very crowded times.

My father is retired and he visits once a week during the day to give guitar lessons or work on higher math. We have coffee and the kids and I chat with him and it is very relaxed.

My husband travels for business a few times he was able to bring my oldest with him.

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?

When I made the decision to home educate I knew I wanted to have as much support as possible so I joined a local group of homeschool parents and their children. The group meets once a week and we always have fun. The children have organized their own flea market, they have organized art projects and sometimes they make up and perform their own theater.

At home we have been able to do longer more involved art projects like paper mache. We have raised butterflies and praying mantises. We spent many days on bug hunts. For the very first time ever we planted a garden and my youngest just ate her first homegrown watermelon.

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

There are so many little things that will always be memorable. We all get to be together being silly and being ourselves. We always have a little laugh to ourselves when we tell people we don't go to school.

My children love to scream to the school buses "my eyes are burning!" and they now call backpacks death sacks thanks to our new friend Laurette. ;);)

The other day my younger children used our trumpet vine and some sticks to run around pretending to be lost boys from Neverland. We all had a good belly laugh from that scene in the backyard.

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