Freedom to Roam

Segues – A Benefit of Homeschooling
written by Irina Gallagher

It’s Monday again and, for the first time in several weeks, instead of squeezing school lessons haphazardly into our day, I spent a large portion of the weekend planning and writing out plans for each third grade lesson that we would finish during the first part of this week. My intention at the beginning the current school year was to plan more effectively than last year so that my daughter, who tends to be much more interested in her own projects than schoolwork (so say we all), can have more visual/list-based cues that could help her stay on task. My plan was working brilliantly until our family became so busy with Fall activities that I lost my planning momentum.

This week would be different. With my planning, I would get us back on track and regain our far gone momentum. During breakfast, we read a Social Studies lesson about Elissa (Dido) of Carthage that would be the starting point to a day’s worth of Social Studies lessons. Afterwards, we went on a walk in our neighborhood to diffuse the grumpy, snippy mood in which we all awoke. My daughter and I were trying to figure out what kind of daily rhythm would be most conducive to both the completion of school work and to time for her numerous personal projects. But, that short stroll changed all my fruitful planning without intending to do so.

We noticed that some native wildflowers had started blooming and this lead to the collection and plant identification of 7 different species of wildflowers in our neighborhood. The tiny blossoms and their gentle existence changed the course of our week. We spent the entire day looking through regional plant guides and making field notes and sketches of our native plants. This seemingly small segue is actually a huge part of homeschooling. This is ultimately the ability to roam; it is one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling.


PSA to Homeschooling Skeptics

Written by Irina Gallagher

KiteAfter a busy summer spent with family and friends near and far, we have just finished the first month of second grade. I’m so excited about the beginning of this school year. We’ve accomplished a lot during the last several weeks – cultures have been explored, paintings have been drawn, kites have been made, books upon books have been devoured. Unfortunately, along with the excitement of empty libraries, parks, museums, and beaches, we are also back to homeschooling commentary from well-meaning and, in some cases, outright critical members of our community. In the summer, no one cares much to ask about your child’s schooling, but as we return to our extracurricular activities and find ourselves out in the world during regular school hours, we encounter our share of remarks on the subject.

Over the last several weeks I have been a part of too many of these interactions. The latest was with a woman who was very concerned about how many hours per day we spend on school, how I examine my daughter’s progress in any given subject, and how we socialize. It’s fine to ask these questions; I can safely say that a majority of homeschooling parents don’t mind being asked about our schooling logistics. I think most of us are eager to talk about our homeschooling lives; after all, this is an enormous part of our time. What we do care about is that when we’re asked how we choose a curriculum, how we report our kids’ progress to the school board, what our days look like, and the deluge of other questions that we are confronted by regularly, that people do so without implying that we could not possibly be capable of teaching our own children and that our children are severely lacking something crucial by being homeschooled.