Hello fellow unschoolers! I’m Jennifer and my husband is John. We have six kiddos: Shannon (24), Tyler (22), Garrett (20), Tara (18), Sheila (11), and Gavin (8). We live in Edgewood, New Mexico. All of the kids were homeschooled/unschooled from birth except Shannon who had the misfortune of enduring school through second grade. It was primarily a bad experience for her and we regret ever putting her in school, especially since homeschooling appealed to us from the beginning.
When I first started homeschooling, I was fairly structured. Both of my parents were teachers and my mother was very critical of homeschooling at the time, so I was worried about making sure the kids were “taught” everything that the schools were supposed to be teaching. However, between having to work and the kids being oppositional to the structure, I gave up pretty quickly and we became rather eclectic in our style. I had never heard of unschooling at this time but was fortunate to find Sandra and began going to weekly get togethers at her home. It didn’t take me long to relax and adopt the unschooling philosophy. It has worked wonderfully for all of the children and I am so thankful to have found the support that I got in those early years.
All of the kids enjoy video games and, despite some initial fears about them spending too much time doing it, I am thankful for gaming! It provided the motivation that my younger five needed to pursue reading (my oldest learned to read in school). All of the kids love Minecraft as well as many other games.
Shannon (my oldest) currently works in security for a movie production company in Santa Fe. However, she loves astronomy and has decided to begin pursuing a degree geared towards a career in that field. She loves the outdoors, reading, writing, and exercising. She is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwondo and assists in teaching at her Dojo.
Tyler loves music. He taught himself how to play guitar as well as keyboard/piano and is very good! He spends most of his time expanding and refining his skills including writing musical compositions. He is exploring whether or not to pursue a career in music. He also enjoys staying physically fit through exercise and other activities.
Garrett began attending CNM when he was 17 and recently transferred to UNM to pursue a degree in Geology. He is an avid caver and devotes many hours to volunteering for the BLM and other agencies. He is very active in Parkour and also enjoys the outdoors. He also works part-time at Cool Springs (trampoline park).
Tara is drawn (no pun intended!) to art. She is very accomplished in drawing and enjoys being active on the Deviant Art website. She has also recently become interested in carpentry and has dabbled a bit in that. However, she is interested in a career in computer security and is considering attending CNM [Central New Mexico Community College, in Albuquerque] next fall.
Sheila also loves art and enjoys drawing as well as making creatures and other animals out of paper. She has a huge collection and loves to show it off! Recently, she has begun to create creatures, including an alternative Universe for them, complete with a story line. She also enjoys playing on-line games and has made many “cyber” friends doing this. These interests have really propelled her reading and writing skills. A mere six months ago, she couldn’t read at all…now she has caught up (maybe even surpassed) her “grade” level and her writing is coming along nicely as well. Both Sheila and Tara did not have any interest in reading until they were 11 years old. This was scary at first, but unschooling has proven itself here; when left to their own devices, they learned when they were ready and as a result enjoy, rather than dread, reading and writing.
Gavin, the youngest, is also very much into gaming. He is particularly into Minecraft right now, especially the many MODs. Unlike his siblings, he became interested in reading early (around 6) and requested workbooks. Of course, I accommodated his request. The workbooks did provide some building blocks but his reading has really taken off recently due to gaming (again!). He wants to be able to communicate with his siblings and other friends on-line and they tend to do this primarily through reading/writing (rather than using microphones). He also loves to be physically active and is in an advanced boys' gymnastic class.
We haven’t gone to a homeschooling conference since 2006 and are looking forward to meeting all of you. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to meet other like minded people and we were very excited to learn that so many of you are from other states, even countries. We really enjoy learning about other places and cultures. Thank you, Sandra, for putting together this opportunity for everyone!
I don't have any recent pictures of the older four, so I'm just attaching some pics of Gavin and Sheila, at the Rio Grande Zoo and at Tingley Beach fishing ponds.