Homeschooling was part of my own education from ages 15-17. I remember the rush of possibility that filled me when I discovered the work of John Holt and Growing Without Schooling. The nights I stayed up reading till all hours are my fondest memories of this stage.
After college, I applied the same spirit of self-directed learning to an alternative unaccredited master’s program, studying under veteran civil rights leaders and other mentors committed to working for justice.
Through these different experiments my constant was writing, which has always been about connection as well as expression. Whenever I share a poem with my monthly writing group, I think of a saying from one of my mentors who helped integrate the Woolworth lunch counters: “Our work is building community; everything else is an occasion for it.”
When my husband and I decided to homeschool, I was intrigued by the “circle of support” model of community building I had encountered in my writing work for a disabilities advocacy organization. A circle of support gathers to help individuals with disabilities manifest their dreams and gifts. It struck me that people with disabilities are not the only ones who could use that kind of support! We formally invited some friends and relatives to accompany us on this education journey (some jokingly refer to themselves as the “Board of Ed”). My 7-year-old blooms under the warm concern of mentors and champions who wish to meet her where she’s at, using her interests to scaffold her growth. They help construct a cardboard whale costume or make rainbow pizzas together, and her 16-month-old sister watches, wide-eyed.
In a similar fashion, I am excited to have the backs of Brave Writer families. I’m thrilled to connect with parents and young writers, and to add reading and responding to their writing to my family’s daily rhythms of project time, nature time, and, these days, lots of mermaid-led games of leaving messages in bottles on the shores of the kitchen and living room.