Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled, Part 2
- Friday, August 15, 2008
Editor's note: This article concludes last week's interview with Rachel Thomson and Carolyn Currey, authors of Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled. Read the first half of the interview here.
Jonathan: I want to talk about your new book in a moment, but first tell me more about your homeschooling experiences. When did your parents first decide to begin homeschooling, and what were their motivations for that decision?
Rachel: My parents started homeschooling me after I “graduated” from kindergarten. Dad was a teacher in the Canadian public school system and he just was not impressed with what he saw, academically or otherwise. He’s a visionary, and I think he wanted us to learn outside of the box. Homeschooling made total sense to him. Mom was a little more dubious at first, but she got behind Dad’s vision and totally supported it. At this point, homeschooling—this way of “doing life” together as a family—is the most natural way of life for all of us.
Carolyn: My parents originally planned to be the usual 1.5 child family on a double income. We would be sent off to school as soon as we were old enough. Gradually their convictions changed (Mary Pride’s book The Way Home had a lot to do with it) and I ended up with considerably more than half a sibling! Then they began looking at other non-traditional ways of life.
I’m told that I was a voracious learner from a very young age. I was reading by the age of three and steadily marching through chapter books at five. By then my parents couldn’t imagine sending me to school so I could learn my alphabet. They began homeschooling us for academic reasons and continued for character reasons. I don’t think you could pay them to put their remaining “school aged” kids in public school now!
Jonathan: Rachel, I know you’ve lived in both the U.S. and Canada. Have you noticed any differences in homeschooling between the two countries in terms of the legal climate or the public’s attitude about homeschooling?
Rachel: Definitely! I imagine the climate here is much like it was in the U.S. twenty years ago. Homeschooling is far less common in Canada. In the States, when I bring up homeschooling, I’m likely to hear “Oh, I know someone who does that.” In Canada, I’m still just as likely to hear “Is that legal?” In some ways there are less opportunities for homeschoolers here, but on the other hand, most homeschooling families are more likely to take it seriously!
As in the states, each province handles homeschooling differently. Some provinces have stringent requirements; others are much more open. Ontario, where we live, has a lot of freedom. I feel privileged to be part of the growing movement of homeschoolers in Canada.
Jonathan: Okay, now that we’ve gotten to know you a little bit, let’s talk about your new book, Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled. First of all, that’s an interesting title! What exactly do you mean by “heartily homeschooled”?
Rachel: We mean there’s a lot of heart in it! According to my trusty internet dictionary, “heartily” means to do something wholeheartedly and sincerely, wholly, thoroughly, with zest and gusto. That pretty much sums it up! We’ve never been “halfway homeschoolers.” This is a whole lifestyle for us.
Carolyn: My experience with homeschooling and big families has been one of rejoicing. The road has been filled with laughter, cooperation and camaraderie. We jump into many things whole heartedly—especially work and laughter!
My mom often reminds us, “We’re a team!” We’re all committed to each other through each person’s joys and sorrows because we love each other. That’s the heart of homeschooling for us.
Jonathan: I so appreciate that perspective on homeschooling! Home education really should be a complete way of life rather than simply an alternative approach to gaining an academic education.
Now that we understand the perspective behind the book and its title, tell me more about Tales. When did you first have the idea for the book, and what motivated you to write it?
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