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Pop the champagne, it's back to school!

Meet the teacher night has come and gone in our neighborhood. The sidewalks are decorated all around the school to welcome them back. All any mom is talking about in my neighborhood is the first 2018/2019 wine night. It's finally here. In some ways, it's more exciting then Christmas around here. Kids are back in school!

So that's my situation and probably a lot of parents reading this. However, as we have started to research preschools for our littlest, we've be more intrigued by less conventional formats. Where can my child learn at their own pace? Learn more as a community? Where can I find an education based on understanding and not test grades?

So many questions and so little options is what we have found. Thankfully we still have time to find the right fit.

Just in time for so many kids to go back to school, we got this very special back to school submission. Nina, the photographer, shared with us her perspective on this very special photoshoot- at homeschool.

Nina, this is awesome. I would be so out of my league trying to homeschool. What did you think heading in?

Everyone has an opinion about homeschooling. Some love it, some hate it, some think it’s strange. When I heard that Alison and her husband both work from home while homeschooling FOUR children, I honestly was intrigued to see how it all goes down.

I pulled up to their house near Baltimore, MD and was surprised to see a big, beautiful home, nicely landscaped with a pool in the backyard. I don’t really know why I was surprised…like are homeschoolers poor? lol. As I was getting out of the car, I see a man pull up on a loud motorcycle, long hair, bandana and all…I’m thinking, maybe I am at the wrong house… ???? I wasn’t. I was greeted by 4 adorable, friendly kids. Teagan, 8; Willow, 7; Weston, 5; Marshall, 4.

Alison is a licensed psychotherapist and a college professor – both jobs now done from home! Ronnie has his own home inspection company and renovates houses as well.

“We both like to think outside the box and do things our own way. This has led us to creating our own, nontraditional path.”

I had so many questions…like what do you do all day? Do you have a schedule? Do you ever get sick of it? Are they learning?

Alison explained that what they do is technically called “Un-schooling.” There is no set schedule or curriculum. They don’t necessarily have text books or sit down and work time. They learn throughout the day.

“The whole idea behind unschooling is that children learn at their own pace. They shouldn’t be rushed into learning.

When you have a baby, you can try to teach them to walk every day, but until they are ready to walk, it’s not gonna happen. It’s the same with school. Willow loves to read. Teagan loves engineering and science. Public schools seem to rush students…some move ahead quickly, others fall behind.”

They take at least 2 field trips a week whether it be to parks, farms, group events with other homeschoolers. They have no concept of weekends, summer vacations, or winter breaks.

They do have a classroom of sorts in their basement where they spend some of the day, but the house is set up with so many different areas that they are able to learn from several places.

The classroom brought me back to when I used to play school at home. It had all the fun teacher things. Each kid seemed to take on their own task and Alison was always completely attentive and in the moment with them. Willow is 7, picked up a book and started reading out loud. She was awesome. She is into acting and I can tell she’s good.

Ronnie was outback making burgers on the grill. It was a cool dynamic to see the whole family altogether all day- no parents gone at work, no babysitters, just a lot of one-on-one. It seemed as if time moved a little slower here; like they were living on their own little island.

I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but they made it look good. It takes a lot of guts to do this…they know it’s a risk, and people will judge them…but it just goes to show that the Humphreys will follow their hearts to do what’s right for their children.

“I think in this day of information, it can be challenging to find the ‘right’ balance between giving our children the opportunities they need to grow and flourish and providing them with direction and insight so they can have the information they need to be successful.

I would tell other parents to follow their hearts. I think the bravest thing we as parents can do is to do what we think is best for our children, even if, and especially if, is not the norm or what everyone else is choosing to do.”

Photos: Nina K Photography

Odenton, Maryland