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every moment holds the opportunity for education

2013 August 2
by Rachel Turiel


Col has been making airplanes lately out of paper, popsicle sticks, tape, glue, rubber bands. This morning he was working on the wings of a new plane when I announced it was “journal time!” Dan gently reminded me that Col was busy working on something else and journals could wait, which is to say, old dogs (parents) can learn new tricks after all.

Thank you everyone for contributing to the discussion on home/un/traditional schooling, I really appreciate hearing from you all. Sometimes I am shy about writing here about homeschooling, not wanting to come across as having found the holy grail of schooling while your kids are suffering through desk-sitting at public school. I want to offer encouragement and support to families who are interested in how homeschooling can work when both parents have work obligations and neither are trained teachers, but I am sensitive about appearing smug, which is helpful to no one.

And as Ellie mentioned in the comments,”regardless of how/where we choose to educate, the thoughts and behaviors we model at home have the best chance of leaving a lasting impact on our children.” Absolutely, yes. Always. Each of you is the most important teacher to your children.


When I first decided to homeschool Col it was partly because at six years old he still napped regularly, and didn’t appear to have the endurance for fulltime school; it was sort of a survival issue. Even last year picking him up on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 6 hours of shared school, he seemed pretty spent and over-stimulated. (Though after picking him up last week from long days at Frosty Pines Frontier Village camp, where he was cheerful, upright and alert, I suspect his capacity for endurance at age eight is related to what he’s enduring).

Now, there are 76,930 other reasons why we homeschool (besides protecting anyone’s energies), all of which can be summed up as, “it works for our family and feels right.” I assume that what you choose works for your family and feels right to you, and I am happy for your ability to choose.


Yesterday at the park I was pushing Col in the swing, on which he was standing, honing his balancing skills for skateboarding (oy). We were talking about The Continental Divide and rivers and chanterelle mushrooms and we were laughing, thoroughly enjoying each others company, and I thought about my father’s recent question, “what is your definition of home-schooling?” And at that moment, I realized it was simpler than I may have thought. It was simply seeing that every moment holds the opportunity for education. How you unlock those opportunities is up to you.

Here are 2 links about homeschool that feel inspiring and supportive and true:

Tidal Homeschooling by Melissa Wiley (thanks Nancy in NC for this a million times over)

The myth of the uninvolved unschooler  by Jamie Martin

Have a truly wonderful weekend,


15 Responses leave one →
  1. Molly permalink
    August 2, 2013

    Yesterday I heard from the director of the after school care programs for 9-R, who promised that even if the child has no homework, they will get daily time for academic enrichment, like fun games at a computer (not just sitting with a book in a classroom). I am busily negotiating my schedule to keep my girl out of the program. I am trying to think of gentle ways to let the director know that I was hoping to hear that my daughter would come home with things stuck in her clothes and hair, sticks and leaves or dough or small animals. Not screen time for a five year old after a full day of school.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      August 2, 2013

      Molly, wishing you all the luck in negotiating your schedule. Maybe L can hang with a friend after school some days. Crazy the pressure on kids to be always advancing academically. Pooh.

  2. Andrea permalink
    August 2, 2013

    Yes, hell yes!

    (translation: thanks+love)

  3. Ellie permalink
    August 2, 2013

    Ever since you wrote about it, I’ve been wondering if we could spend next summer in the San Juan Mountains, having our son attend Frosty Pines Frontier Village camp with Col. It’s always good to dream.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      August 2, 2013

      Many beautiful things start with a dream.

  4. August 2, 2013

    boy i really like you, and i really liked those two links as well. loving the apricot wealth you’ve got going on. here it’s plums from my friend’s mother-in-law’s tree. swap you a pint of asian plum sauce for some whatever-you-made-out-of-apricots….

    ps i never read you as “smug” in case you were worried about it. i know what you mean, and i think a lot of us suffer from the same reticence on this topic, but just wanted you to know you have never come across that way. yet i want to say that for those of us who, as jamie martin puts it so well “make choices that place us in the minority of the homeschooling minority” i feel it is so important for there to be dialogue among us. plus you rock everyone’s socks, girl, and we all hang on your every word. talk it up.

  5. August 2, 2013

    pps i am super in deep thought about all this right now anyway so all of these thought provoking education-related posts are great for me to steep in at the moment.

  6. dale_in_denver permalink
    August 5, 2013

    I know this soundes trite, but as I read this all I could think was whatcha gonna do with those apricots?

    We are in the trap of needing our jobs to pay for the lifestyle to which we’ve grown accustomed. Not really a trap, I guess, because we like our jobs and like our lifestyle and are not really looking to change either. I don’t have the personality type to homeschool my kids. I’m very type-A, so their days would be very scheduled, and I’d constantly have to pull out some sort of “yard stick” to make sure they were where they “should be” academically. It wouldn’t be much different than school and I don’t think we’d enjoy each other as much as we do by being away from each other part of the day. And if there is something they are struggling to learn, frequently my presentation of the topic is different than their teacher’s and it helps them to have that other perspective. However rarely have more than one perspective, so if they didn’t understand what I was teaching, my repeating it would not help them and would no doubt end in frustration and tears.

    My husband teaches HS math. He could roll with home schooling I think, but there’d still be me with my yard stick. I’d worry about their progress. I just know we’d be divorced if we tried this. And anyway, as a teacher in the same district my husband has all the same school breaks as the kids, so they get the whole summer to do their own version of homeschooling. They learn lots – like how to build a chicken coop, safely operating the mitre saw, drill, nail gun, etc., how to care for the chickens, how to build a fence, how to train a newly acquired puppy, how to tend a garden, when to harvest what, how to safely ride a bike carrying a fishing pole, etc. It is a great balance for us. And, since he teaches in the public schools (HS is less than 1 mile from our house), what kind of message would we be sending if we didn’t send our kids to the public schools? Our schools are great, and they are the right fit for our family.

    But I love reading about what others do, how they roll education into daily activities. Sometimes type-A me is solely focused on completing the task so it helps me to understand there are times I need to make it about the process, enjoy an activity with my kids, and teach them something along the way.

    Now I’m not kidding, what did you do with those apricots? I’ve got a load of them from our farmshare – far more than we will just eat fresh.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      August 5, 2013

      1) Thanks for your comment.
      2) Homeschooling isn’t for everyone for many, many different reasons. I’m glad you’re happy with your current schooling scenario. And how nice for your boys to have such an unscheduled summer, I bet they’ll remember these days fondly.
      3) Apricots. We were just having that conversation, i.e. what to DO with all of the already picked apricots when Dan is ready to go pick more. We like to drizzle homemade chocolate fudge in the center of a halved apricot (cocoa powder/coconut milk/honey all simmered on low) for a fancy, easy dessert. Also, lots of apricot sauce, which is basically cooked down apricots with nothing else added, which we eat on pancakes, pb sandwiches, yogurt, etc…Raw apricots (pitted) also freeze very nicely. Then they can be added to smoothies, breads, crisps, etc…Do you like crisps? You can get rid of tons of apricots in a crisp.

  7. Karen in Missouri permalink
    August 5, 2013

    Rachel, I appreciate your clear, thoughtful, never-aloof voice and your remarkable educational philosophy. But I’ll go ahead and confess: it’s those darling, funny, incredibly bright free-range kids that keep me coming back frequently to check in! Much love to all!

  8. Lucy permalink
    August 7, 2013

    Love your blog Rachel. I’d just like to add that not all schools are desk/computer bound. My five year old son regularly comes home from school ‘with things stuck in his clothes and hair, sticks and leaves or dough or small animals’!

    Our local state-funded school here in the UK has an outdoors ethos – the children go out into our rural community every day, and on Thursdays all lessons (I’m talking maths, literacy etc) are held outdoors. We are lucky to have this school. Well, perhaps not lucky – it’s part of the reason we moved to this area!

  9. August 9, 2013

    I really appreciated this post, just so you know. Noticing and making the most of all the un-schooly moments that happen during everyday fun is one of my absolute favorite parts of homeschooling. My recent road trip with our boys ( ) was a perfect example. I think I would slip towards unschooling if I could, but I want everyone else involved in the raising of our kids to trust in the homeschooling process. So, I do my best to straddle the ridge in between those two philosophies.

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