Tales of Alternative Education
Homeschooling around the World: Cecily

Homeschooling around the World: Cecily

The richest education on a dime & how-to advice on finding the math tutor with a hamster under their collar

In a follow up to my last conversation on homeschooling (which you can find here), I chat with Cecily. Nancy Ruiz’s partner in many fantastic years of homeschooling. Cecily captured my attention because of her fantastic ability to get absolutely anyone to teach her kids something. Here’s a transcript of our conversation!

Homeschooling around the World: Cecily 


Cecily: My name is Cecily and I have five children. 

Nicole: I'm so excited to chat with you. For quick background, Cecily (and Nancy, who I chatted with in our last episode) homeschooled their 10 children together and were really powerhouses in every sense of the word. Do you want to tell us a little bit about when you first thought about homeschooling? 

Cecily: I didn't think about homeschooling at all until I basically overnight decided to do it.

And I was working for a company in New York, I had three kids at that point, my eldest was probably, going into kindergarten, and I was working full time. As a matter of fact, at that time I was commuting between Miami and New York City for my company. I had nannies coming in and out of the house. I loved my job. I loved my career. 

And then my friend Nancy, who had been hanging out with me on the weekends-we were taking the kids to do activities together- said, "Have you ever thought about homeschooling?" And I said, "What's that?" Because I'd never heard about it before. She said you should read this book and she gave me a book called "The Well Trained [00:01:00] Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer, and I just sat down and read the book and put the book down and looked at my husband and said we've got to figure out how to do this because I'm quitting my job and I'm homeschooling my kids.

And... I did! Within very short order we were full time homeschooling.

Nicole: Wow. That's pretty crazy. And what was it that was most compelling from the Dorothy Sayers book? 

Cecily: The thing that was amazing to me was that I could do all of these incredible things. That I could give my kids the kind of education that I'd read about in British kids books.

I was like, "Oh, that's so cool. It's like a private tutor and we can do Latin and we can study the natural world and we can be out doing things!" But also the fact that I could literally travel the world with them and show them stuff firsthand. And that wasn't just on a big budget because we were not going to be on a big budget.

My husband is a professor. It's a nice career, but this wasn't going to be something extravagant, but [00:02:00] we could be creative and see the world, whether that was in our backyard, in our local community, or across the globe. 

Nicole: And so from that moment, how did you sort of get into the actual structure of homeschooling? How'd you figure out the classes you were going to take and tell the kids, and how old were they at that point? 

 (Neo-Classical Homeschooling & The Well-Trained Mind) 

Cecily: My eldest was probably five or six years old. So she was just going to be starting (school) and I was all set up. And as a matter of fact, when I went to withdraw her from the private school, the admissions director said, "Are you crazy? People are on a wait list!" I go, "I know, I know, I know." "You've been on a wait list for a year!" "I know, I know, I know." And I just thought, 'No, no, this is superior. We're totally doing this.' 

So, I decided to follow the recommendations of "The Well Trained Mind." [by Susan Wise Bauer]. That's maybe called 'neoclassical' homeschooling.

I just love the classics. I think that training your kids in the classics is the way to educate them and then everything else comes along with that. You don't start with the pop culture. You get to the pop culture. It's not like you're not going to know what's going on in the world. But you start [00:03:00] with the best stuff that's been created and then you move on.

So, you know, we're gonna start with Bach. And then, sure, they're gonna love what's on the radio. We're gonna get there. But we start with what is true mastery of something. And then we figure out the rest. 

 (The Transition) 

Nicole: That's very cool. And so you were working full time and expecting to send your kids to school and really just continue working. What was the transition like for you as a mom as you got into the headspace of homeschooling. I imagine there's you teaching, and then the co-op coordination, and finding other teachers, and all of those things. 

Cecily: In the beginning I was actually mostly on my own because there weren't a lot of homeschoolers. I mean, really, there were no homeschoolers where I was. They hadn't started. And I would say that the transition was very hard for me in the sense that I was trying to apply best corporate practices at home and that doesn't fly.

So, I thought, what's going on here with our [00:04:00] productivity? Come on there's a project and it must get done. And that's the wrong approach to homeschooling. I do think that you need to have a plan and that you do need to have goals for that. I think all of that was right.

But the not understanding that part of this is relational and part of it is experiential in that you can't be driven by your forecast and your shipping date. I needed to make that change and that took me a while and that wasn't because of homeschooling that was just my personality. When I finally got there, things were running a lot better.

So I would have approached it in a much more relaxed way. That said, We did have school uniforms, and I loved it. 

That way the kids didn't have to ask what to put on in the morning. We went out, and they thought it was great. We'd go pick out polos at the beginning of the year, and everybody got to pick their color, and then, you know.

Nicole: I like the transition, you know, you might be homeschooling, but we have the mindset and the clothing for the day. 

How did you start picking things to do during the day. [00:05:00] I mean, I would love to hear some of the stories of travel and how much that was sort of intertangled with the education. 

What were some of the things that you decided to do to teach the kids about the world? 

 (Lessons in the World) 

Cecily: We did everything. So, any lessons that were available anywhere, any cultural activities that were available anywhere, we just did them. So, for example there's this beautiful, museum home in Miami called Vizcaya, and they put on all kinds of events. So I got season tickets to everything there and started taking my girls. 

And at one point, Sophia, who was interested in the violin, met one of the violinists there who then became her friend. And he was the first violin for the Miami symphony. And then we would go to the concerts and she'd get to run down to the orchestra pit and say hi to him. And he would say hi to her in front of everybody. And then he eventually gave her violin lessons. 

So she was getting violin lessons from the [00:06:00] lead violinist in Miami, because we were going to all of these activities. I also bought season tickets to the opera and the girls then took 30 different operas and they would go backstage and meet everyone.

We became part of any naturalist group that was out there. So one of the activities later on when Nancy was coming to visit me in Miami that we did was I designed a private sea naturalist course and we had just our kids going out, (between the two of us we had ten kids) so going out sea kayaking, collecting stuff, bringing it onto the beach, dissecting stuff, and that was a week long of learning about that.

I know she talked to you about the Cuba week. We also did space camp and we had a week of studying everything about space. So we were doing the classical homeschooling, but we were also taking advantage of anything that was available in our community.

So our kids were out and about all the time, morning, noon, and night. 

Nicole: As Nancy mentioned in the last episode we had, you're [00:07:00] pretty excellent at finding people who had maybe even a hidden expertise and pulling them into education, even if they weren't necessarily on board with homeschooling. 

Do you have any advice for people thinking about finding those people or choosing who to put onto their kids' education or convincing them to teach them any lesson or any course? 

Cecily: The thing is that most people who care about a subject or have an interest are willing to talk about it to someone who really wants to hear, right?

So every time I would meet someone who would bring up some interest that they had and after they talked about it for a little while and I'd figure out, Oh, they, they actually care about this. I would really just ask and no one ever said no, it was incredible.

And we're talking about, for example, meeting this elderly lady on an airplane. We were on the same flight and she tells us that she lived during Nazi occupation of her country when she was a little girl and me [00:08:00] saying, "Would you come over to tea?" and she was delighted. So she came over and I explained I said, 'I want I want my kids to hear about this.' So we land in Miami, we make a date, she comes to the house, we have this beautiful afternoon. She brings photos and she sat down at the table for two, three hours and just talked the kids through what it was like to be a child in Nazi occupied territory. But it could be anybody. For example, I knew a high schooler who cared deeply deeply about World War II history because her grandfather had been a soldier.

I said, "You sound like you might want to be a teacher in the future." She said, 'Yeah, when I grow up I want to be a teacher." I said, "Geat, come be a teacher at my house." And so she would come over Tuesday nights, because that was when she was free, and I would make her dinner. She prepared like she was preparing to be a teacher, and she would bring in a lesson plan and talk about World War II, and she had all this memorabilia from her grandfather. And so she took us through World War II history. 

I found this poor, [00:09:00] bedraggled teacher who was teaching at a very posh school in Miami, Latin. And nobody wanted to be in his class. But the kids were being forced to be in his class. But my kids wanted to learn Latin. So he was so excited.

So he'd come over twice a week after teaching all day, at classes nobody wanted. And there would be a full tea, like high tea, set out- he loved, 'cookies, cakes, and crumbles,' as he used to say. And I just loaded the table with desserts, and he would sit down for two hours and take the girls through Latin.

Because he loved that the students wanted to learn. And it made him excited about teaching. 

 (Living History) 

Nicole: That makes a lot of sense. I think I also heard about a road trip that you all might've taken across a number of states. 

Cecily: So — history is a big part of this.

I love history and I remember being in school when the switchover happened from actually teaching history to doing social studies and I thought it was so lame. Social studies was taught without a chronological order so you didn't understand why the [00:10:00] story developed the way that it developed and we don't do that in other stories.

There's always a narrative arc, right? So, one of the things that was fundamental, I mean, absolutely for me, was doing history in a chronological order so that we could understand "How did we get here today?" 

I know Nancy mentioned "Story of the World.". I swear by "Story of the World." Four volumes. I've done it with every kid. My college kids still say, "Oh, that helped me in my college classes." So studying history chronologically became a huge deal for us. And when my eldest was 13 and my youngest was 1, we set out to do a 50 state history tour of America.

And so we followed the chronological development of America from St. Augustine, Florida... all the way through. It was a big zig zaggy trip, so it was not efficient in terms of miles, but it followed the development. So we went up that east coast visiting all of those colonies, and then we went a little bit [00:11:00] across because there was a little bit of development towards the west, and then we came back down again.

I mean, it was really like that. Up, down, up, down. And we covered all 50 states in a year. We did at least one site per president. Presidential libraries you know, birth, cemetery, all that. At the time, Obama didn't have anything yet. He was president. And we only got to go have sandwiches at his favorite sandwich shop in Hawaii.

That was like, we owe him something. But, we got to all 50 states. We also did all of the major baseball parks because my boys were into baseball. So we actually had to go into Canada as well to do that. And we did, like, something like 50 national parks or something.

So it was, it was all of it. It wasn't just historical sites, but historical sites, natural sites and, and fun sites, too. Lots of ice cream along the way. 

Nicole: That's very, very fun. And did you come up with that route and the facts and the places that you wanted to see? Did you come up with it with your kids? How did that work? 

Cecily: So, I came up with [00:12:00] a general plan, I knew we wanted to follow it chronologically, so I kind of knew what points we had to hit along the way. And we talked about, you know, the boys wanted baseball and, you know, one of my girls wanted National Parks and we talked about those kinds of things.

And then my eldest, who is most techie of any of us, was really helping to like map things out and get that all done and the kids all kept a journal that at the end I published into little books for them. So every day they were writing about what we were seeing, what we were doing, and they should all be food critics because they were actually talking about food more than anything else.

But it was an incredible, intense year of learning. We just saw beautiful, beautiful things. We talked to everybody along the way, just like we'd done at home. Anybody who knew anything along the way, we just talked with them. They thought park rangers were rock stars. And they really saw America and learned not just about America, but also about America's place in the world.

Nicole: And how long did you say this took again? 

Cecily: It was just under a year. 

Nicole: Wow. [00:13:00] So your whole life was on the road.

Cecily: Pretty much. I mean, I had already done a previous road trip with them that was the border of the United States. So I drove the entire border of the United States.

And then this time I drove the 48 and we took a boat to Alaska and a plane to Hawaii. So we'd already done that. We'd taken the girls on one of David's trips to Beijing and done chronological history in Beijing. We'd also done several months in France and done chronological history in France. I just got back yesterday from doing five months in Great Britain and doing chronological history in Great Britain.

Nicole: Wow. How was that trip? How did you figure that one out? And do you still keep in touch with any of the people that you met along the way and roped into teaching?

Cecily: Some of them. Not everyone. Some people it's just you know 24 hours they're in there out and other people you you stay in touch with. 

 (Farm Living) 

Cecily: It's not always been traveling. Sometimes it's been deciding to live somewhere else for the [00:14:00] experience. So, at one point we decided we want to try out farming. W e'd always lived in cities and been in cities and this was because my fourth was really into "Farmer Boy" the book and he thought he wanted to be a farmer, so I said, 'Okay, great, let's go find out about that.'

So we moved to this tiny, tiny community in western Massachusetts. The total population is 1, 500 people, and we moved on a farm. And we had goats, and chickens, and a crazy dog, and barn cats, and the whole thing- and there was a lake to go fishing, and he was eight, and he tended to the animals in the barn, and then he put his fishing pole on his... back and walk down to the lake and fish with his little tin with a sandwich. 

I mean, it was straight out of a book. T hat community was actually full of really interesting people who had all kinds of skills and talents and they loved to share. So, the kids not only had farming lessons from real farmers, but they also had music lessons [00:15:00] from real musicians and dance lessons from accomplished ballerinas and art lessons. Lulu at the time was five, and she had an actual botanical artist doing art lessons with her about the flora of the area.

Nicole: Sounds like Beatrix Potter’s upbringing a little bit. 

Cecily: It was. So we had an incredible array of people, and I'm in touch with all of them. We had someone who is this total savant on film, teaching film to Sophia, who then eventually went on to enter film in a competition.

So there were all of these people who were willing to pour into them. I remember one of our friends, she was working as the dramaturgist for the local theater crew that does these incredible, you know, physical theater, outdoor theater kinds of things. Well, she's a fan of Shakespeare and she's also from India.

And she decided that she wanted to come and teach about India and Indian culture and Indian cooking and [00:16:00] Hinduism and all that. And also about Shakespeare. So we had these incredible lessons. I mean, delicious food being cooked in the kitchen. She's learning all kinds of things about Hinduism and Sophia reading through Shakespeare with her, going into New York City to attend plays with her, and she also turned us on to this Bollywood movie that we've all become fans of called Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

And all of my kids have that on their playlist and like sing along in Hindi. I mean, it's kind of crazy, but we, we've been fortunate to have all of these amazing people who were willing to tell us about what they cared about. 

Nicole: That's so cool. And what was the motivation for the border around the US trip that you took? 

Cecily: I don't know. I just, it was, it didn't sort of start out that way, but it just ended up being that way. There were things specifically that we wanted to see. It wasn't just the border. We did the border, and then I drove to the middle of the country because I wanted to go to Independence, Missouri, and [00:17:00] then I drove back out again. And then that led to, well, I could do all of the states... 

But, what's been driving it the whole time is, I want the kids to see the world. I want them to know people, to see the way people do their lives, why they care about what they care about, what makes each place interesting and special. So, we always entered these conversations, you know, we're not going to agree with everything that we hear in the world, but we want to find truth wherever we can find it.

We want to find beauty wherever we can find it. We want to find goodness wherever we can find it. And we want to make connections with people.

 (Lessons in Talking to Strangers) 

Nicole: As I mentioned, I love y'all's story because I think there's so many people who feel that homeschooling is necessarily focused on protecting or keeping an inward focus while teaching. 

And I think you guys have many stories that are an example of the exact opposite and it's very cool. 

Cecily: I would say, that while I understand why people might think that it has just not been true, [00:18:00] not only to my experience, but to all of the homeschoolers who I have come to know over the years.

 You get to do what you think matters in the world. If you think that it matters for your kids to understand the world and to be engaged with all sorts of people, you're actually going to have a higher success with homeschooling than you are with other models, because kids in school become very peer oriented and don't always find it easy to have cross generational conversations, which is where you gather a lot of information. I mean, you're not going to gather a lot of information from your peers that you couldn't already have yourself because you're in that group, right? But one thing that I saw over time with my kids was they would talk to anybody.

They would talk to a toddler, and they would talk to an octogenarian, and they felt just as comfortable. They would talk to a business person, and they would talk to the janitor. I mean, they would talk to everybody, and find out about everybody's story. [00:19:00] And be able to connect with everybody, and that's, that's an education in and of itself.

 (Learnings & Challenges) 

Nicole: Completely invaluable. 

What else did you learn along the way, in terms of other challenges of homeschooling, learnings you had, as you went on, and sort of structuring things, interacting with a family with a ton of kids and scheduling with Nancy's family, who also has a ton of kids? I would love to learn some of the lessons you came across along the way. 

Cecily: I think that when you're homeschooling, it's very normal for the rest of life to be seeping into the hours when you actually need to sit down and do math and grammar. And you do need to do math and grammar every day- there have to be some non negotiables. But the phone rings, or your girlfriend stops by, or your husband says, can you, like, you know, if you're the person who's home, you know, say your husband's the one homeschooling, then maybe you're the, you know, the one calling and saying, would you pick up the dry clean, whatever.

But the person who's homeschooling, must realize that [00:20:00] part of this is a focused, concentrated job. And just like you would go to the office and you would not be doing other things, there has to be a time of the day when you're not doing other things, and the other people in your life know that you're not available.

Because if you don't do that, you are then going to have a different set of issues later on. So you've got to tend to that. Now, what's amazing about homeschooling is that it's hyper efficient. So you're not losing any time. The basics can be knocked out in a couple of hours and the rest can be done throughout the day. So I would say if you're going to take on homeschooling say to yourself, ' There are going to be two sacrosanct hours every day where we're gonna just get the math and the grammar done and that's that.' The other thing I would say is that you should not stress about it.

If you are doing those two hours, and if you are making life full of rich learning opportunities, your kids will not only learn, they will learn on [00:21:00] hyper, warp speed. Okay? So, that leads me to my next point- rather than acting like, 'Now we're doing school and then you'll be free,' let your attitude be, 'We're learners, learning is just a part of our life.'

So, you might be doing a read-aloud at 8 o'clock at night, and they think that it's just a read aloud, and you're like, 'But it's a history lesson too, because I'm reading out a story of the world, which reads like a story, right?' You know, you might be in the backyard, you know, collecting slugs and sure you're having fun, you know, but it's also a science lesson, so you need to shift your thinking about what education looks like. 

So sure, you've got to do the math, got to do the grammar, but then the whole world and the rest of the day you are a learner, and you're collecting that information, and you're, you know, maybe you're jotting it down, maybe your kid is telling you, you say, tell me what, what happened today, and they, they don't know how to write yet, and so you write it down, you know, today I collected three slugs, oh, what did you notice about them, and they're, oh, it was eating a leaf, whatever, and you keep [00:22:00] that journal for them, and you're going to see over time that they have just learned a wealth of information, and what's more important, it's meaningful to them, so it sticks.

You know, so I think you have to do those things. I think you need to make sure that you, yourself, are somewhat organized, because otherwise it's very easy for things to slip. I don't think you have to be crazy, but I do think that you need to say to yourself, okay, 'I'm going to get up, I'm going to throw on my clothes,' you know, you're not going to do it, don't do it in your pajamas.

I'm not a pajama homeschooler. Don't do it in your pajamas. Get dressed for your day just like you would if you were going in the office. Get some protein into everybody. Okay, Greek yogurt, Greek yogurt. You know, everybody, drink a coffee and then cheerfully sit down and do math first. Just cheerfully do it.

 (Find the Math Tutor with a Hamster in Their Collar) 

Cecily: If you hate math, find someone who loves math. I did that. I did math up to a certain point and I was like, "Okay, this is not working. I want only people who love things." So I found people who loved math who would [00:23:00] come over and do math. You know, if you love it, great, do it, you know. 

Nicole: I think I was in that position for a few months. 

Cecily: Absolutely. You were one of our math people and science people, right? Like, just, you love it. Come over because then the kids are going to get that enthusiasm from you.

I love grammar and I love history. So I would always do those subjects. I do Spanish with my kids, right? French with my kids.

So I found somebody. I remember we used to have this, again - she was, I think a high schooler, but she loved science and she used to travel around with little animals who would be on her person. And so she'd be doing a science lesson and all of a sudden, like a little hamster would crawl out of her sleeve and my girls were just delighted.

They would think, "What's going to happen today?!" You know, I'm never going to have a hamster under my shirt collar. But she did. And it was great. And then once that's done, get out and see the world. Get out and see the world. Go do opera. I highly recommend. [00:24:00] Go to opera. Go do baseball games. Go do tennis lessons. You know, take a cooking class. 

 (Homeschooling: A rich life) 

Cecily:  What a lot of people don't realize is it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. I have had an amazing, amazing adult life full of adventures because I chose to homeschool my kids. 

Nicole: That's awesome. That's what Nancy said, I think, or something very similar, that it just opened up the world to her and talking to people with this lens, she then acquired more and more as the years passed, which I just think is very beautiful. 

Cecily: Oh, it's been a really rich life. I feel like 20 somethings and I guess 30 somethings. You know, I think everyone's been sold a bill of goods.

"Oh, having kids is this chore. And oh my gosh, you know, if you have any, have one or two maximum because you're just not going to have a life. So make sure you have your life before you have kids." I'm sorry. That's a big lie. [00:25:00] If you go into having kids with the right attitude, like a good attitude, this could be a total blast.

Sure. At first you gotta like change some diapers, but whoop dee doo, that passes and if you really pour yourself into it cheerfully with good attitude, you are going to have an amazing life. And so I go around telling people, have lots of babies and then homeschool them. Have lots. Have four, five, six, seven, eight. I mean, I'm not kidding around. 

And then just embrace what that is because the world is going to be your oyster. So many amazing things are going to open up to you. You're going to care about the world on a level that you don't care about it when it's just you. So, I would say, anybody who's not having loads of kids and homeschooling them is really missing out on the best life.

 (The Paradigm Shift) 

Nicole: I love that. Do you think it enabled you to have more kids? Through homeschooling? And generally with the structure of caring for your kids and being able to see them day to day- like, do you think it [00:26:00] made it easier to get to know them or not necessarily? 

Cecily: Well, I do think that you get to know them more because you're with them more.

So, I don't know if that's a chicken or egg kind of thing. I went from being a person who said, I'm not going to have any children to saying, 'Okay, I want to have at least six children.' Okay, I ended up with five, but I had a paradigm shift and that paradigm shift actually helped me to love life and love the world and enjoy life a lot more and to make it much more meaningful. And so I would say that when you're homeschooling kids, you get to see them a lot more for who they are. And they themselves are more distinct because they're not trying to just do what everybody else is doing all the time, which is not to say they're totally socially adapted.

You know, they hang out with everybody and anybody their age, other people. It's like Harris thought he wanted to be a farmer. Okay, let's go see what that's like. So he has this very unique experience. When he went to school, it was totally fine. Like, you know, he just merged into school because he went [00:27:00] into high school.

But forever, he's carrying around that, you know, for two and a half years, he actually lived as a farmer, you know. We also took off to Nicaragua for six months, and we, we spent six months doing service work in Spanish. In what is arguably the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Nicole:  How did you decide to do that? 

Cecily: I went to sleep one night, woke up the next day, I had this idea. I think we should do service, and we should do Spanish. Let's go to Nicaragua. I'm fortunately married to a guy who says things like, "Oh, all right." So we took off to Nicaragua and we homeschooled in Nicaragua and worked with different organizations that are helping kids in Nicaragua.

And it was amazing. It was amazing, but I could do it because we were homeschooling.

 (Little Things & Tips) 

Cecily: I think we've, we've covered the why and the how pretty well. I used to tell people you got to turn your phone [00:28:00] off. Prep the night before. Those are little things that just help you to get it done. 

For example, I used to do a breakfast tray. So that I didn't have to think in the morning, so I'd just pull out what we were gonna have for breakfast, put the tray out, I was ready to go. You know, I'd lay my clothes out. I really treated it like I'm getting ready to go to the office in the morning. I've gotta be ready, I've gotta be on, and that's good for everybody.

 It's not good to spend the day lounging around in your pajamas. And it also gave the kids a sense of like, 'Okay, we're doing this now.' But also I think doing all of it with a sense of joy is really, really important. Because like I said in the beginning I was way too stressed out and I think that that made it feel stressful also for the kids.

You know, you set the mood. I also just generally am not stressed out because I've seen the proof of it.

I homeschooled one all the way to college. Everybody got into college. Everyone has been successful. Everyone is employed. Everyone can have a conversation on all kinds of subjects. So I know that [00:29:00] even if I don't get to something one day with Lulu, it's all going to be fine. 

I love being with my kids, and I love seeing them as adults now. And that's a part of this also. That we have shared, not just history, but interests. And we can relate to one another now as they're young adults in ways that I think are really deep and meaningful. So I just want to encourage people: have lots of babies. You can do it on a tight budget. Have lots of babies. And homeschool them. 

 (Affording Homeschooling) 

Nicole: And do you have a advice for that? Some people I've talked to also talk about the fact that it seems like homeschooling is infinitely more expensive, which hasn't been the vision I've seen from people I've talked to her who are homeschooled. Obviously there's a multitude of experiences, but what would your advice be? 

Cecily: I think you have to be more creative.

So, for example, when I say, you know, we've spent months in Europe: we, we've [00:30:00] spent months in Europe, and again, my husband's a professor, right? So nobody's in finance, nobody, you know, there's no, there's no, there's no trust fund. There's none of that. So I figured out early on how to do things like home exchange.

You know, this was before Airbnb was even a thing, right? So we're talking years ago. And it's funny because I started home exchanging whenever it was, like in 2007 or something like that. That's early. We would pay for the airline ticket, but then all of our lodging was free. I would trade cars, so we had transportation, you know, and then we because we had a house: we could cook at home, and pack sandwiches for the day, and do laundry. So it was basically our living expenses just in another country and as it turns out that first family that we did home exchange with ended up last year sending us their daughter as a cultural exchange student. This is from Paris, and she lived with us for a year.

And then she [00:31:00] became a French tutor to my kids while she was living with me after I had been in her home when she was a little girl, you know? So it's just, you know, you asked about staying in touch with people, right?

 My kids were playing with her toys when they were in Paris as little kids and we just lived in Paris while she and her family lived in Miami. So there are ways of doing that. You know, you have to be more creative. You can use your library to get out all kinds of books. I would say, buy "The Well Trained Mind" and buy "Story of the World” (by Susan Wise Bauer).

A grammar series that I love, which is not expensive at all is called "Growing with Grammar." Easy peasy, straightforward. You want to look at different math programs because that's really more about which one you feel comfortable with, but when you buy that, you can get the rest of it from the library. Any books that you want to read. And then there are all kinds of experiences. 

Going for nature walks is free. If you look locally, they're always, kids concerts or even regular concerts. There's all kinds of musical things that you could do. So if you get creative you can [00:32:00] find ways of doing it and also when you're tapping people who have interests.

I had a Latin tutor because he wanted cake and cookies twice a week. I'm like, 'Okay! Come over, I will prepare a high tea for you, and you sit and talk about Latin for two hours." You know, you can bake cookies. So, just really be resourceful and be creative. It can be done.

You can also pull together, you know, if you and one- even just one- other girlfriend wanted to pull together: you guys could come up with stuff. You can come up with fun activities that you want to do and that will teach the kids things. And then you can also trade off and give each other a little bit of time.

 We ran a co-op out of Nancy's house at one point. You know she was doing Shakespeare. I was doing Spanish. Sophia was teaching art history. You know another mom was doing I don't know what. And nobody was paying anything. And the kids, the kids all know their stuff.

Nicole: Any other advice, words of wisdom for [00:33:00] people who are now interested or considering homeschooling? 

Cecily: Do it.

Just do it.

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Tales of Alternative Education
Welcome to the newest section of Nicole Ruiz's substack. This podcast, Tales of Alternative Education will be about new experiments in learning. Interviews with people who I admire and are educating in new ways, inside and outside of a classroom.
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Nicole Williams Ruiz