Not Tied Down: Christina Pilkington's Interview

Christina Pilkington, her husband Steve, and their twins, Jared and Alexa live near Chicago, a city full of great things to do, but they also love to travel. No tying down this family with school schedules!

Christina has a blog, Interest-Led Learning, where she writes about "how to co-design a life of passion, adventure and connections with your children," and it's loaded with great articles, information and resources.

She also shares her experiences as a teacher, explaining how this passion for interest-led learning came about. I particularly love the fact that after she became disillusioned about the current system, she tried interest-led learning in an actual classroom. You can find out what happened by going here, but for now, see what she has to say about how great it is not to be tied down...

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

We’ve technically been homeschooling for one year, but I’ve been living and learning with my kids for six years now.

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 biggest freedom we have is traveling. We’re not tied down to a school schedule; no one tells us when we can or can’t leave home.

Traveling is one of the highest priorities of our family. Our biggest periods of growth have come from travel both far and near. We’ve climbed dunes in deserts, hunted for sea stars in foreign islands and went alpine sliding in the Smoky Mountains.

Another important freedom is the ability to learn the things we’re excited about and interested to learn. My kids can each learn at their own pace. For example, my daughter picked up reading at a young age and was reading chapter books at age 3. My son just now has become extremely interested in reading and can read very simple books.

I passionately believe in interest-led learning. If we are not deeply connected to what we are learning about, it just won’t stick. If we don’t have enough concrete experiences and a wide variety of experiences, then true abstract learning will not be possible.

It’s also been a great freedom to do things on our own schedule. No two days look the same in our family. If the kids went to school, they’d have to get to bed at a certain time, have to do homework they didn’t care about, and that would eat into our time as a family.

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?

I guess most of our fun experiences have had to do with travel – whether it has been across an ocean or across our town.

Here are some wonderfully fun memories I have so far:

  • watching the kids paint themselves from head to toe
  • picking apples from the orchard
  • hunting for hermit crabs in the sand at night with flashlights
  • going whale watching
  • going to a chocolate factory
  • visiting relatives and friends at their jobs in the middle of the day
  • grinding corn at a mill
  • holding baby ducklings
  • attending lots of theater performances
  • going sledding in the middle of the weekday

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

One time at the doctor’s office, the doctor asked the kids if they were getting a day off of school that day (it was a school holiday and our doctor knows that we home school).

The kids just looked at me questioningly.

I explained how we never take a break from learning.

The doctor looks at the kids and says, “Wow! You have a really strict mom!”

1 comment:

Christina @ Interest-Led Learning said...

Thanks again, Debbie, for asking me to participate in this project. I really enjoyed it! I've also loved browsing through some of the other interviews, too. It's been fun seeing how other families live and learn at home.