The Geography of Learning

The Geography of Learning

Reflections on Homeschooling

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written by Cathlin Sentz

photos by Elizabeth Alison


"Homeschool is woven into our family life, through chores, meal prep, playing."

We school at the table I grew up eating at, my brother and parents snugly seated one to each side throughout my childhood. Now my children gather round, tipping in the same caned chairs, with both leaves fully extended - the sort of opulence of space reserved for only the most special occasions of my childhood. Christmas, Easter, very big parties that held the promise of cousins and filling up on appetizers.  It wasn’t always this way. First with my eldest in our little rental, at a hand me down table from my college years that broke quite rudely when I leaned on it during a weather lesson. Bolted together again, it served til the next table, a solid oak beauty my husband rescued from a university and restored for our kitchen. From there to here, with many a stop then and now on couches, babes in arms, reading, laughing, marveling at extraordinary bits of history and at the cruelty of the English language in all its absurdity. 


ALWAYS GROWING

I wouldn’t dare to promise this is our forever spot, we are always growing and changing, adapting, everyone needing new things. I am growing ever more comfortable in bending to accommodate. It’s this flexibility and fluidity that is the hallmark of homeschooling, one of its finest qualities, and also one of the most daunting. It isn’t the sort of thing done in schools, the biggest to grapple with - that home and school therein does not look like “school”. All the differences - the simple geography of where we school not least among them - these are our features, not our flaws.                                        

A modern school is structured around working hours and when people are most likely to vacation - those things don’t apply to us, so it’s not a paradigm we need to submit to. It doesn’t take 6-8 hours a day. It doesn’t divide children by birthdate or reading level.  It doesn’t  require strict    adherence to sitting at a desk or permission slips for field trips. It allows us the opportunity to revisit and reexamine the paradigm in myriad ways. These are our features, not our flaws. We can practice math, bake, study history, play piano and go pick blueberries in a day. The kids know that to progress in anything whether it’s writing skills or dance, singing or physics, they practice throughout the week and year round. We are consistent pursuers of learning. 


Homeschool is woven into our family life, through chores, meal prep, playing.   Schooling multiple kiddos across multiple grades further echoes the nature of family life.  Helping each other along and building each other up, waiting for and on one another with forbearance, recognizing  “disruptions” as opportunities to  practice  fondness, tenderness and a  willingness to come alongside those that are littler or different or need to do something an unexpected way.                                       

"Curiosity is foundational, a love of learning

is my responsibility to nurture"


These are our features, not our flaws. These are the seeds of grace and flexibility, diligence and patience. Together we are growing, knit together more closely for loving each other through dull times and gnarly ones.  As we’ve traveled between tables.  I’ve learned not to get bogged down by curriculum or what   pencils to use. Each of my children requires different things of me and the curriculum - but the key is me. Curiosity is foundational, a love of learning is my responsibility to nurture. Regardless of curriculum I am the constant, and any curriculum will live or die at my hands, around any table. I’ve learned not to exhaust myself looking for magic, my children and I are the magic. This is our feature, not our flaw. 

Cathlin Sentz  is an Idaho living, homeschooling mama of three and childrenswear stylist. 

Follow her on Instagram @cathlins for inspiration on more homeschooling philosophy and for a beautiful journal of her family.

And for more of Elizabeth Alison's gorgeous photography, visit her website or her Instagram page @elizabethalison



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Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type.

Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Cathlin Sentz
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