Finding Freedom from the Four Walls

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I never in my life planned to homeschool. When I first learned about homeschooling, which was years before I was married and had children, it sounded like some type of weird and extremist way of raising kids. Coming from a traditional public school background, I knew that was the route I would take, when, and, if I had children. My elementary school years were some of the best, and I believe it is during that time a seed was planted that would later lead me to welcome the challenge, and the opportunity, to homeschool.

It was my sixth grade year and my teacher, “Hoff,” took school outdoors one day. He placed us all under a tree, opened a book, and began to read. I felt rebellious, because school belonged inside a classroom, but I listened. I felt relaxed, but remained engaged. I was not sitting at a desk surrounded by four walls, but I was outside, under a tree, enjoying God’s surroundings—and I was learning,

Even before that moment, I had always enjoyed being outdoors. Without discounting the value of learning at home with family as we do, I also realize we are not limited to learning only at home. There is so much to learn outside of our four walls. Learning could be as close as walking out to your backyard or as far as traveling the world. I must admit that it is my nature (pardon the pun) to be outdoors.

Fortunately, my children have adopted my perspective on learning wherever we are and have been willing participants as we learn together.

One of the many issues my husband and I discussed before we were married was how we intended to educate our children. By the time I met him, I was ready to settle down and have children. Homeschooling was a more appealing way of leading the children we would later have. I did not know how many children there would be, but I knew I wanted to get out and let them experience many of the things I enjoyed as a child.

We have been blessed with three children: River, who is 10; Lily, who is 9; and Canyon, who is 6. It is amazing to realize we have been homeschooling for six years. I consider myself a newbie because I am still trying to figure out what it is I am really doing.

The years we have been at this “homeschooling thing” have not led me any closer to truly defining our homeschool style. When asked, I make it easy on myself and say we are eclectic with a little bit of Charlotte Mason mixed in. So far, it has worked for our family.

Our definition of homeschooling has given me permission to take our learning outside of our home and not feel guilty about the lack of table time we spend indoors. Some of the outside experiences we have enjoyed include: a private airplane flight (free-falling included), meeting the governor, meeting the county and local mayors, seeing the Broadway play Matilda The Musical  in New York (in which my sister, Karen Aldridge, is starring), walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the 9/11 Memorial, visiting the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and enjoying our yards. Plus, we enjoy the freedom to treat every place we go as a learning experience—even if it is not inside the traditional four walls.

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Source: Crosswalk | Jennifer Smeltser, Milk & Honey Mommy

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