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S. Courtney Walton interviews the Dyson family -- 33 year old mom, Regina; daughter Mich'al, almost 9 and son Caleb, age 2 -- of Carrboro, North Carolina.

How long have you been homeschooling and what brought you to this decision?
The Dyson family has always approached learning and enrichment as a family activity and mom Regina, believes it is important for parents to take ownership of their children's education. Their goal had always been to begin homeschooling at age 10, but at age 7, Mich'al decided that she did not want to go back to school and so they began their unschooling journey.

Describe a "typical" week in your household
Regina Dyson is a resident of, as well as the part-time director of the Weaver Community Housing Association. WCHA is a cooperative living community and her position there allows for flexible scheduling and compliments the priorities of her family. A long-time advocate of cooperative living with a self-described "Entrepreneurial Spirit," Regina's careful choices have created a unique learning environment for daughter Mich'al, which includes opportunities to learn about her mother's work at the WCHA, as well as learning from restaurateurs, organic farmers and veterinarians in their community. Their unschooling schedule is rounded out with Mich'al's adult pottery, Spanish and Sign Language classes.

What is the biggest reward for you personally as a homeschooling parent?
Seeing her children more and on a daily basis, Regina says is, "super significant." She often receives compliments on the maturity of her children and finds it very affirming of the conscious choices she has made.

What is the greatest challenge to homeschooling your children? What steps are you/have you taken to overcome it?
Regina sites two main challenges to homeschooling -- "challenges from others' lack of knowledge and lack of sister friends" for her daughter. Because of often having to defend her lifestyle choices, Regina says she has become more aware of other people's interests and has a stronger sense of her own. Regina creatively looks for opportunities for socialization with other African Americans outside of the homeschooling community, saying she often has to "make the change I want to see."

What keeps you motivated? How do you nurture yourself and avoid burnout?
"I do what I do for me and not because of other's expectations," is both Regina's motivation and how she nurtures herself. She also stresses the importance of prioritizing and laughing, as well as frequent double peppermint mochas.

Mich'al, 8yr old Unschooler
What do you like to do for fun? "Go to sleepovers and play board games."

How many books do you have on your bookshelf? What are some of the titles?
"About 60. I have a collection of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books."

What would you like to do when you grow up and how are you working toward that now?
"I'd like to be a professional ice skater and an animal doctor." Mich'al has enjoyed ice skating since she was 3yrs old. Mich'al's experiences with animals include working at a veterinary clinic as well as finding an injured cat and nursing her back to health. "Rosemary" the cat is now an adopted member of the family.

Jan/Feb 2004 Vol 1/Issue 1

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