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The Homeschool Life

“This is definitely Sitka Spruce,” Zachary explained as he bounded up to the tree. “Take a look at the bark Dad. It’s definitely not Douglas Fir or Hemlock, and it certainly isn’t Red Cedar. See how the bark is laying in a medallion shaped pattern and it almost peels off the tree? Yeah, this is definitely Sitka Spruce.” I had no reason to doubt him. He had been studying the Coast Range Ecoregion for the last several days. Zachary pulled out his camera to document the bark for his assignment and I knew we had made the right choice.

We never set out to homeschool. As a matter of fact, the few times it came up in discussion, I believe my response was, “OH HELL NO!” But as the pandemic began to shut the schools down and my part-time job became a no-time job, we started to entertain the idea of homeschooling. By the end of the school year in June of 2020, it was obvious the next year was going to be, well, chaotic to say the least. As soon as his final day of zoom school wrapped up, we hit him with the idea.

Still, 8th grade was intended to be a bridge year, an effort to sidestep the craziness that the virus had rained upon us. We simply intended to recreate what the school was offering for 8th grade and then have him go back for high school in the fall of 2021. But as the school year rolled on, it became obvious that Zachary was diving deeper and making more connections with each subject than he ever had before so we began to entertain an idea.

What if?

What if we took all the money we were paying for his tuition and used it to create something really amazing?

What if we were able to reorganize the learning schedule so he could dive deeper into each subject without being held back by other commitments?

What if the world became our classroom.

At the end of the schoolyear in the spring of 2021, we sat down again. He was cautious about the idea at first but I knew he come around. He just had to reach that decision in his own way and on his own time. I mean, he’d have been a fool not to agree. Not having to drag yourself out of bed was reason enough.

We started high school in July of 2021, easing into the experience with Environmental Science. We’ve been studying and visiting each of the ecoregions in the Pacific Northwest and that is what brought us to this old patch of old growth in the Quinault River Valley. Zachary motioned for me to come over and sit next to him on a log. “It’s so amazingly quiet here,” he whispered as he stared up into the green canopy of the forest. I joined him on the log under the ceiling of green. I know there are four long years ahead of us and some of it will be difficult, but today is perfect. This journey will be amazing.