Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My new neighbor

the dining room
The renovations on the new city house continue swiftly, as we seek to restore the home to its original state. Built in 1894 as a single family home, and then awkwardly converted into a two-family sometime mid-century, we are returning it to a single family and are uncovering wonderful details as we do.

Our rental home is only a few blocks from the new house, so we spend a fair amount of time watching the progress, observing the contractors and builders, plumbers and painters, and, most excitedly, meeting our new neighbors.

In the lovely yellow house behind us lives an older woman who has lived in Cambridge for most of her life, including a stint when she actually owned our new house. We got to chatting about raising children in the city and how the neighborhood has changed over the many decades since her children were young.

Over the course of our conversation she revealed that she homeschooled her children until they were teens. She was an original follower of John Holt, reading his books and Growing Without Schooling newsletter and attending his local workshops. She decided to homeschool for many of the same reasons I do: the freedom to follow each child's distinct interests and pace for learning and tailor learning accordingly. She always looked at life and learning more holistically, she told me, choosing, for instance, more holistic healthcare choices for her children, and a gentler, slower pace of childhood. She is truly a kindred spirit and I feel amazingly lucky to be her neighbor.

Once we get settled, I can't wait to have her over for tea and hear more of her homeschooling stories. Homeschooling in the city now, with its vast resources and large, diverse community, is so much easier and more straightforward than it must have been when she was raising her small children. Back then, with fewer resources, fewer peers, little cultural acceptance and understanding of the homeschooling option, it must have been challenging to pursue an alternative education path for her children. In fact, the lack of community is what ultimately led her to send her children to the city's public high school--while always telling them that they had the freedom to return to homeschooling if they chose.

Today, thanks to pioneers like my neighbor, homeschooling is a viable, accepted option for many families, and the vibrant urban homeschooling community and abundant city resources make it much easier to sustain this path for the long-term.

What are the odds that my new neighbor was a city homeschooling trailblazer? This new house seems meant for us, in so very many ways.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, to have a neighbor like that would be a dream come true! Enjoy and I hope you'll share some of her stories with us! xo

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