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EP55 - Alternative Education and the Homeschool Revolution with Mary Elizabeth Resenbeck

Updated: 2 days ago





With the mass educational system focusing too much on didactics or test results that often lead to children losing their self-esteem and falling out of the mainstream school system, we all need to take responsibility for our children’s education based on their individual needs. 


For that reason, homeschooling and homeschooling programs are on the rise, and they offer a great chance to address children’s needs. 


In today’s episode, I have the privilege to host Mary Resenbeck. She takes us through: 

-The rise in homeschooling and the benefits it offers in addressing individual children's need

- The need for a more personalized approach to education.

-Her personal journey of homeschooling her children, who had dyslexia.

-The struggles her children faced in the traditional education system.

-The importance of building self-esteem in children and focusing on their talents and passions.

-How her children's success in higher education and professional life is attributed to the personalized homeschooling approach.

-How focusing on children’s strengths and interests is important for their overall development and success. 


And so much more!


Mary Resenbeck is a highly accomplished professional with over 20 years of experience in alternative education, extensive expertise in Homeschooling, and advocacy for children with special needs and giftedness.


She is a highly respected Special Needs Advocate, homeschool educational manager, and academic enrichment teacher with exceptional skills in guiding families through the intricacies of homeschooling while building strong connections among educators, parents, and students.


Mary is a staunch advocate for promoting inclusive homeschooling educational environments and championing the rights and accessibility of homeschool education for students with learning differences. Mary Resenbeck, a seasoned homeschooling parent, began her homeschooling journey with her now-adult children in 2013 and continues with her 10-year-old daughter.


Her steadfast commitment to advocacy has significantly improved the educational landscape for children with special needs. Her contributions, rooted in personal experience and professional expertise, continue to inspire and guide others in the field of education.



LISTEN WHILE READING!


A: Every day, there is a forgetting, and every moment, there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Here is where you free your Soma. 


A: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening, and How to Live from the Inside Out. Today, I have Mary Wiesen back here with me, and she is an education consultant, an IEP advocate, and academic advisor for homeschooling parents. She works with parents who are beginning homeschooling as well as those experienced in homeschooling who are ready to explore new approaches.


She primarily focuses on bringing subject matter alive with theater and dance. I'm so excited to talk to you today because these are subjects that I think are so important to discuss, especially around the way that we're seeing this rise in homeschooling, which I take as a good sign. 


I see parents being more taking more responsibility for their children's education as well as the way that homeschooling and homeschooling programs can really help to address a specific individual child's needs versus kind of this mass educational system that may focus too much on didactics or test results or things like this. So I'm so excited to hear more about what you do and how you do it, and some of the experiences that you've had working in this field. 


M: Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here. 


A: Yeah, wonderful. So, you know, some people who are listening may be already you know knowing a bit about homeschooling or how one might get into this field that you're currently working in, but maybe you can tell us about where this began for you. Where were you, you know some time ago on this journey when you decided to take on this role? 


M: Great, yes. It really began when I became a mother, and around when my son was around three years old, I noticed he was highly intelligent, you know, gifted, and so I really just kind of as every young mother does you know, kind of like was excited to start that whole academic process with him and then realized something was off, something was really wrong that he wasn't really recognizing letters. And I found out through history of the family that my husband was a severe dyslexic and so I realized that that was most likely what was going on and eventually, we did get him privately tested, but I really was worried about him going into the mainstream school being so gifted but yet being so disabled and reading and writing in a traditional manner. 


So, really and truly, I was introduced to education as being a theater teacher because I had already been working as a theater teacher. So I started working at a school, and his school was a Montessori based school with a performing arts kind of umbrella over it. And so that's where my education began was really just kind of walking hand in hand with him and his struggles and really getting involved with the colleagues, and as the years went on, my position moved up. I became a second-grade teacher; then I was a reading resource specialist for a long time. 


So I did that for the first 14 years from 2000 to 2014 when my son and then my also my gifted daughter, that was born at two and a half years after him with similar problems when they left elementary school and went into middle school is when things so started getting really scary because that bubble that I had created in elementary school the safety nets you know everybody adhering to the IEPs and and all of that aspect kind of went out the window.


And so they were, you know, unintentionally being bullied, I believe, by the administration that was supposed to be servicing them saying, you can do it, you know, you're just being lazy typical words like that that a lot of dyslexics you know here and so their self-esteem started plummeting because also when teachers and academic leaders start doing that their peers start pushing back because they're going to align with you know the teachers. 


So they started losing peers that they had had their whole life, even some of them, and so I just saw the self-esteem plummeting so that I had to step in right away, you know, and as a mom, we have dabbled in homeschooling on and off as they were younger because of their dyslexia so I was trying to kind of dance with different methods of teaching but at this point when they landed in high school we jumped in feet first, and it was super scary because we had decided to remove ourselves from the district completely and privately homeschool and that was something I hadn't done before didn't quite know you could even do something like that so that was where the journey began with homeschooling and it was just such a blessing we had to de-school because I had to bring back their self-esteem first that was a priority.


And with doing that, I just really focused on their talents, their passions, and you know what they were interested in and what that looked like long-term for life skills and kind of created all kinds of different avenues for for learning for them. So my son, he ended up working at the local theater in town as a, you know, backstage hand, and that was really great for him because theater was everything still is in his life. 


And my daughter ended up doing a dual enrollment for college courses, and she excelled in fine art, so we just kept going in that direction, and she ended up kind of doing, you know, billboards and different advertising and marketing things in high school for the college shows that were going on. So, all of these other experiences that they would have never had in a traditional classroom no matter even though the school we were at was still unconventional because it was theater-based. 


And so think of mini fame in a way, you know, that show fame back in the day where you could hear the violin in the hallway, and people were being all creative. And that was that was the beautiful part of the school but the academic part of the school there was no understanding after that bubble of elementary school and a little bit of middle school popped so with that they took their classes some online some in person. My son ended up getting a job through that theater program and with that job, he had other opportunities through working through the union and doing things for the San Diego Opera so expanded from there then when it was time to graduate for both of them they graduated in a traditional manner and they both got into the colleges of their choices.

And these were very elite colleges my son went to a top theater college in LA and my daughter went to a top fine arts college but also had every different facet of art as well and Laguna Beach and they both you know graduated and now they are full functioning adults one lives in Wisconsin another one lives in Tennessee and so they're very successful and I do really believe that even though we had a good beginning that rocky middle if I would have continued going down the path because you know society says that's the only way that you can education I might have been on a different they might have been on a whole different path because the self-esteem really did plummet and that is something that with all parents that I talked to them about that's the number one thing we focus on and then we build the foundation from there. 


A: Yes I absolutely agree that if you don't have confidence like confidence in yourself and in your abilities that's you know that's a big part of what it means to be successful. And what it means to like be functioning in the world especially professionally is that carrying a certain confidence in yourself to be able to know what you know and do the tasks or do the things that will take you in the direction that you desire to go. 


And you know what I love about your story is that it sounds like when you got that feedback or when they were getting that feedback from the school that said oh you're just not trying hard enough. The problem is you know that you have some kind of the problem is you when you're just being lazy it was like you really quickly just closed that down like you knew what you knew and you didn't let them tell you how your kids are and that confidence that you had in your children and in their intelligence and in their abilities.


I think that's really amazing because sometimes you know if parents are just not as connected to what's going on with their children they might miss that they might miss that and not understand why their kid is you know sullen or you know feeling down you know and then they might get this feedback from people at school saying oh you know your kid is not performing well because they're just they're being lazy or there's behavioral issue right 


M: right they're being the class clown right and yeah and our daydreaming or all of these symptoms of something else 


A: yes right and I think that there may be parents even parents listening who you know have gotten caught up on like kind of the behavioral and addressing symptoms and trying to you know look at like what's wrong with their children instead of looking at what are my children's natural abilities and in what ways are they different than this model that I'm trying to fit them into right because someone with dyslexia or any any kind of learning disability doesn't mean that they don't have intelligence. 


They may have tremendous intelligence it's just being expressed differently and they have certain maybe sensory or anatomical challenges that are going on that need a different model of education you know going kind of back into the theater and dance and movement as being a big part of your educational model now what did you notice with your children I mean obviously they were in theater so they seemed to light up and be able to express when they were moving their bodies versus sitting in a chair can you say a little bit about that.


M: Oh well they both both my husband and I have been in theater since we can remember so they really started out on the stage so they didn't really know any different but what I noticed was the confidence on the stage is really what held them together what gave them their sense of self they knew when they got out there that you know they were going to handle their business. They were going to make people laugh they were going to you know make people cry if they needed to you know.


Later on, especially my son who went into theater and acting and who is now an entertainment director in Nashville. But he you know when he was on stage it didn't matter who was mad at him didn't matter if somebody called him lazy a seconds before he shined and nobody could deny that you know but I believe that that's just innately in him and so that's I always tell parents too even if your child is not going to go into theater it isn't truly like their number one thing but they really love let's say science and they want to talk about science non-stop because I have my little science kids that love that right. 


You can still do an academic-based musical that gives them the confidence to give that and deliver that information confidently to not only their peers but in time when they are going to do maybe speeches or or present in front of people and then so it kind of gives all kids that confidence that they need no matter if theater is you know down on the list of what they want to do and it isn't so far up the list like what my son wanted to do but both children are going to benefit from learning in that aspect because it puts them both on the same foundation and where they can work together as a team and find those answers together that they come up with you know and I believe in improvisation and stuff like that so the questions that come up and the way you can really dive deep in the information is something that I truly am passionate and believe in. 


A: Beautiful yes and moving you know children learn so much through their bodies and even as you're you know teenager and developing and even later on in life I think that you know getting into some kind of profession where we're just sitting at a desk and we're using like our mind but we're not like engaging with our physical body it's sort of like turns that that capacity down a little bit as we get older. But when we're younger it's a beautiful time to actually play with that to build like you said confidence but also pathways to be able to experience life through our body and experiment with that.


And I know that you know many children with like ADHD have difficulty sitting still because their bodies really want to move and so I think that is a brilliant way I can imagine this being really lovely for you know children who are very creative very smart but don't do well sitting in a chair focusing for long periods of time to be able to have them get up and move their bodies do some kind of improvisational work and apply the knowledge base to something active like a play or presentation right.


M: 100% and it brings all the senses together and so it and what I love is that it unites all types of learners so you can have gifted learners that may be above other children that they are just traditional learners they're on task or somebody who's you know catching up it really brings them all together so there's not a spotlight on what someone doesn't know so even like you know when we do read-throughs and you'll have kids instantly push back and go I don't want to do that I want to read from a script you know I'll just say you're this isn't reading class right now what you're doing is you're getting information right now so I'm going to feed those lines to you and you're going to give them back to me in character.


And so you know that works both ways and then those that want to read read and so those that were being hesitant no longer that already is and now they can actually receive the information and now retain it and then all those children work together for the singing and the dancing and collaborating and they're all learning at their own pace so it really is a beautiful thing that happens and then at the end of the session I do full costumes you know backdrops it's a big it's a big Hadoo for the whole family 


A: Yeah and then the kids really get to kind of enjoy the whole process like everything that leads up to this final you know presentation of a play I mean I think about that in terms of you know how did it feel to finally take some exam maybe if you're a kid and you're like really into numbers or really into the idea of achievement it can feel like some grand finale to take like the end of the term test and get like a B or an A or whatever it is you're getting right but it also for many children.


I think is incredibly stressful and it's like all of my knowledge leads up to this stressful experience of taking a test and am I going to do well on it versus what you're describing is like all of what we've been practicing and all of what we've been gathering and the knowledge that we've been applying it gets to be this like really great celebration of something super cool that we all did together and that's a lot different kind of like result experience of like completing something a result right then sitting there and taking an end of the year test 


M: Oh 100% and like I had a few nervous nillies you always do and especially if this is their first time you know doing anything like this and the fact that the whole class is doing it together is exactly what you were talking about. When you have a test you take the test then the test is passed out and then those children that did poorly are pointed out and the ones that did great are celebrated with this it's the end of the session everyone has learned everything they're learning at their own pace everyone is celebrated through that. 


And they all jump for joy and they will never forget the experience of science or whatever the set or history or I've had I have had adult children that I have worked with from the time they were really little come to me and say that they're teaching the kids certain songs certain movements for you know different exams just because they have never forgotten the information and that stuff does when you are learning it through song and movement at the same time then you're throwing in dialogue it sticks it lands and it really doesn't matter what spectrum of learner you are at that point something's going to stick. 


A: Right? I mean immediately what I'm thinking is just the way that you know if we are trying to memorize some information like right the ABCs right we have that ABC song and what it does is it lights up different parts of our brain you know and play and creativity and like you know anything that you can kind of have a little bit of fun while you're doing it is going to light up certain parts of your brain including like the reward centers of your brain you know that feel happiness and feel joy you know even just a tiny little you know drop of that in an academic lesson is going to stick it a little deeper into your body into your memory as you're saying than something really dry where we're just trying to repeat a thing over and over until we remember it. 


You know I think that's a really beautiful way to get more of our brain to recall something have more literal pathways to that thing to remember and to recall it you know. The other thing here that you're describing is that you're inviting children to experience being in collaboration with one another and cooperation with one another instead of competition which is kind of what the general you know public school system sort of does. I mean they call it you know healthy competition and maybe there is such a thing but at the same time if that's the rule instead of like you know the rule being we call cooperate and we collaborate together and we see each other you know as equal parts in a bigger picture you know that's a totally different mindset that you're inviting children to experience in this kind of setting right. 


M: Right absolutely you know I'm there's healthy competition in the world I mean there's there's going to be moments where you're not going to be winning all the time. But when it comes to learning you want to retain all that information so to make it a competition tells a child that isn't memorizing well or if you're feeling like they've got stress anxiety or you know whatever's going on. There's millions of things that could be going on you're telling that child that learning is something bad I don't want to experience this anymore.


 I don't want to see Sally's A one more time okay you know I don't I don't want to talk to Sally at lunch right now because I'm feeling so poorly about myself because I can't get it together enough to focus long enough to memorize this. And then once you do memorize it you're so happy it's over you toss that information away with this it is a collaboration nobody stands out for what they don't know everybody's going to know exactly what they need to know for this to come together. And with that, everyone is celebrated it and everyone feels good about themselves for the final product.


And so learning becomes exciting learning now is fun now Sally and Susie can go run and practice their song about the the 50 states instead of being like oh I know all my 50 states I'll try to help you out but remember I gotta take my own test here you see what I'm saying so it is a beautiful way of learning competition does have its place but I don't think it should be within learning because learning should be enjoyable because we should be learning until the day we pass away to the next you know frontier. 


A: Yeah absolutely agreed and you know you made a great point I think like they're you know the place of competition is like learning to you take a disappointment learning to you know lose gracefully all that kind of stuff is important and you know in. Say for example like the field of you know sports education sometimes we take that a little too far right especially for children where it's like there's a lot of pressure on kids to perform and stuff but there's like a healthy version of it like a moderated healthy version of it you know when I was a kid I had a lot of you know. 


Physical like now I'm a somatic educator so I understand it I understand that I had like certain you know physical imbalances in my body that caused me to walk for example pigeon toad with my feet turned inward right and I understand now that there's links between you know certain kinds of physical challenges and things like ADHD dyslexia autism spectrum disorder they're physically expressed as well as you know behavior really expressed 


M: Right so you know I look back on myself before all of the somatic work that I've done to bring things back to balance and build pathways I didn't have before. And I go okay there's a reason why I didn't like competitive sports why I didn't do well on the soccer field because for me running just the just running as a kid was hard and I couldn't explain why and nobody was helping me understand why you know but if I had had some kind of educational model even around physical education that was more specialized or personalized you know.


Something that had like very gentle kinds of you know mobility exercises you know and things like that so those are always things that I'm curious about in terms of physical education and you know the way that that'll overlap with our you know more traditional kinds of educational models like with the theater you're guiding children through movement as well and dance you know. How do you see that being beneficial for children who have sensory challenges or who have movement you know it challenges? 


What do you see happen when they start moving their bodies in a kind of free-form educational playful model? Well, I can relate to you very much for myself as well I was very what they would call clumsy as a kid so I was I didn't have a lot of coordination but I loved sports because everybody around me I lived in Texas. So you know if you didn't love sports then something was wrong with you you know and I wanted to play softball and I just could never really. 


I just was never good enough and then same with like gymnastics everybody was you know more limber than I could ever do and things like that so I understand a child that's in gym class and everybody is flat to the floor and I mean I'm sitting there like this you know because I couldn't bend my body that way so for me I encourage it you know for for kids that might have like what what I know of is dyspraxia is where you are going to have trouble with like maybe even tying your shoes you know those fine motor skills maybe it takes you longer to learn how to ride a bicycle it took me till I was 11 to really learn how to ride a bike or you know balance yourself dance in competitive nature is very intimidating right but if you would just allow your body to move and really just move at its own you know direction and you can make you know different directions swaying here and there I don't make it intimidating so I see kind of kids you know busting out of their bubble that would make them nervous or hesitant now you know.

It's kind of like the peanuts you know everybody's kind of doing their own thing in the dancing so I just kind of allow them to move their bodies and make sure that it's you know correlating with whatever we're we're doing but I don't believe that if you are on any kind of spectrum that dances out of the question I think it's a great thing but I don't think being competitive with it could be could be a great thing because it makes a person feel like inadequate you know I can't but I can't physically do that.


As a person at my age now I realize I just didn't have that type of body that just was not going to ever be me you know and that's something that I think kids realize when they do this type of academic-based musical education is that they can be them exactly who they are you know and so we'll work in whatever you know. I had a child with muscular dystrophy and so it was his mobility was very very hard on him but he would get up there and he would just do exactly what he was able to do and to be able to even sway back and forth and get that movement going and get that excitement going with something that was extremely beneficial so you can definitely still have different you know fine motor skill issues whatever that looks like and really benefit from you know a theater based definitely even just a theater based musical class. 


A: That's wonderful yeah I think that this is all kind of bringing me to something I work with in my somatic practice as well as like you know with whatever challenges we came into this world with whether it's a learning disability whether it's certain you know connections in our brain wiring whatever way they're wiring that might be different from somebody else neuro divergency right?


Whether it's you know having some muscular physical coordination challenges something you know intense like muscular dystrophy or you know children who have cerebral palsy at varying degrees that they do like whatever it is that we came into this world with can we find even the small space that is functioning and that is functional and that is capable and can we start there and just allow whatever is able to occur to occur like you're describing with this kid with muscular dystrophy.


Maybe all he can do is sway side to side but in that swaying side to side he starts to find a rhythm pattern maybe it's not the same rhythm pattern as the person next to him that's okay he's discovering it in his own body and he's benefiting from being part of you know a group of people all discovering that in their own bodies right and and just being allowed to given that permission to explore that without judgment is another piece that sounds like a really a be a really beautiful way that you're using dance to encourage development in these 


M: young people yes 100% and you know as long as you're moving your bodies I mean the information again is being retained and I do believe in going where the children is at like I like to be able to kind of see them where they're at and then go from there that is really kind of my mindset on each individual child because I do believe as I can see you do as well that I believe in individualized academic planning for each child and I do believe it's capable you're capable of doing that and academic based theater is how I found it really works best and I found it very early on because I worked for in a Montessori as a Montessori teacher for you know close to 10 12 years and they have multi-age groups. 

And so you'll you know each classroom I you know I had the six to nine age group so that's a big age group and so to really kind of incorporate all of that and try to reach each level of maturity and also intellect and to see where each child's at theater movement dance and to really just also lay on the play factor of dressing up as the characters you know reenacting certain scenes from history and and things like that really just kind of ties everybody together no matter like I said no matter what spectrum I've had I have autistic children in my classroom on different levels of autism and they just really appreciate it my ADHD children certainly do appreciate it they really do get a lot of out of it too it's a fun way to teach I really do enjoy it and the homeschooling community loves it. 


A: Yeah I bet you know it's kind of interesting that model of mixed ages because I got to experience that in a Waldorf school setting oh okay early on in yeah so I had some Waldorf I had some Montessori and then I went to public school in third grade which ended up being a very traumatic and difficult year for me and and it was some of it it was because it was such a stark contrast to the way that I had experienced education and also social the social environment was very different you know.


I was kind of a Pollyanna and I was sort of coming into third grade with this idea that like oh if you're my friend I'm just going to be really nice to you and care about you and like you know that was not how the other little girls were in third grade they were ruthless they were harsh and I was not used to that at all it broke my little heart you know because I didn't I that was not how I functioned and so after third grade, I begged my mother not to like send me back to school and she agreed to start homeschooling.


And so I homeschooled you know but for my mom because she worked and she was working night shift a lot it was kind of like I've sort of designed my own homeschool program in a way because I just she just got things that I was interested in I just told her what I was interested in learning about and she got me a bunch of workbooks on that stuff you know and then like well that reminds me unschooling yeah it is it was kind of like that it was a little we didn't officially call it that and I did like a test you know the rules were that I had to take a test once a year to prove that I got was you know where I needed to be academically right and so she had that but you know she signed me up for pottery classes she you know I remember I took like you know some like specific classes or workshops you know through kind of homeschooling communities right but a lot of it was just like me doing what I was interested in and then like once a month we'd sit down with like the math book and she'd like make me do my math you know right. 


M: No, yes, and I'm totally familiar with that I I did that with my older kids I do that with my 10-year-old now we have a schedule, but you know, it really goes by her passions and her talents and what really works best and then you know let that spirit thrive and grow and I have a lot of clients that want a more traditional type of of homeschooling. But what you're describing is also a lot of parents that I work with. And I always tell them it's a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful way to learn. 


A: Yeah. And I mean, that definitely set me on a path of like, you know, that time that I spent where, you know, there was a bit of like social isolation, you know, at that time for me where I wish I'd had, you know, more of a community, you know, that I was tapped into or, you know, but there were other things that were going on with me, you know, during that time, you know, but it really later on in life, I could see how it gave me this inner strength of like knowing who I am, you know, and not being as easily sucked into like peer pressure as sucked into like what other people thought that I should do or that I should be because I knew kind of who I was. 


I had this stronger sense of who I was because of that time where I really got to focus on myself and my interests, you know, and I think that when we're talking about individualized education, that's one of the huge blessings that you get from, you know, having your interests focused on early on the things that, you know, you look out into the world, and you go, this is for me, I like this, I want to know more about this. 


And then to have your parents to have your educational, you know, system that you're surrounded by, even if it's a loose system like mine was, reflecting back to you, oh, you like this here, have more of it, oh, you like this, keep going, keep going like that encouragement, you know, versus like, often if children are really super interested in one subject, you know, in a school setting, they maybe get like just does how much they desired to learn about that subject, they're only getting met like 10%. Right. Their desire is to know about that thing. And then they're being forced to memorize and learn about all this stuff that they have no interest in. Right. 


M: 100%. And like now, because homeschooling has literally exploded, the socialization that you were talking about, it's almost like non-existent. Now, if you know, you want to, you know, do one-on-one a lot with your child, you can absolutely do that as well. 


I mean, you know, that's fine. But there's so many different communities that are out there, and like homeschool enrichment centers, that's where I teach at a homeschool enrichment center, and I teach at two different campuses. And so I teach on a Monday, half day on a Tuesday, and on a Wednesday. 


And so those are the days that I'm on campus. And so parents kind of, what's so neat is they, you know, kind of pick their child's schedule like a la carte. Some of them use district funds because you can homeschool through the district. So you can actually get money to, you know, facilitate a lot of these different classes. 


You know, it doesn't have to be just strictly academic. The parent can stay home and do that home. And then they can bring them into these classes to do cooking classes with their friends, to have lunch with their friends, to go to, you know, PE or learn about cars, if that's what you love to do or build Lego, you know, whatever. So there's like a ton of different options for you to be able to do it one day a week, two days a week, three days, four days, you get to choose. You have really power, you know, of choice with this type of homeschooling. 


Other parents utilize that same kind of homeschool enrichment center but choose to privately homeschool. And so they do that in a different way and they finance it because they can afford it that way. And so there's different avenues that you can take. 


You're not stuck doing one way or another. Also, there's different co-ops and so many different avenues for kids to really explore extracurricular activities, you know, sports. My kids, they had the prom, they went to Disneyland, they, you know, they were in theater, they were in the choir, show choir and stuff like that. 


They had a full-blown graduation, all the bells and whistles. So I mean, you can take homeschooling, and the beautiful part is right now that you can make it anything that works for your family, your child, and also that whole family unit, take away the stress and put learning in the priority and the love of learning to be 100% the center of the journey. Yeah. 


A: I mean, it is definitely like what you're describing sounds like way more sophisticated and organized than like what I had growing up. I would have loved to have more of that, you know. Sure. But you know, kind of going back to what you mentioned about the way that homeschooling has just exploded over the last couple of years, would you give your comments on like, why do you think that is? Why are people turning towards alternative education? 


M: Well, when I began, it was still kind of hush-hush. People were doing it, but it was still kind of, you know, something that, oh, that's weird, you know, that's kind of odd. And in the homeschooling community at that point in time, and that was 2013, I believe, 2013 is when I really went feet first into it. 


The community still was kind of hush-hush about it, and the pushback was a socialization, and they'll never graduate from college, I mean high school because they'll never get into college and all of that jazz. And as it went forward, it started getting more and more acceptance, especially since the district embraced homeschooling through the different charters that are out there. So when parents realized that they could afford it, because a lot of times, you know, those classes I'm talking about can cost, you know, a pretty penny. So to be able to utilize those funds, you started seeing a little bit more and more families kind of dropping in, and then COVID happened. 


Bam. And when COVID happened, the districts had no idea how to facilitate learning. And because they had done it, you know, they'd been trained to do it the same way, close to 200 years, you know, you're supposed to be in a classroom, sit down, be lectured to take the notes, learn it, and then come back and take the test. When they started putting it online and doing that same Charlie Brown, what, what, what, what kind of learning, the children shut off, talk about not having socialization, you know, talk about, you know, not really being able to love learning. Because, you know, sometimes the teachers would have to be there. 


Then, parents were in the background, not even meaning to be, but they were in the background, which meant that they were in the classroom. So they were listening to some of the things that they were learning about and how they were going about it. And different, you know, you know, people complain about Common Core or, you know, whatever it was, were shocked that the learning quality was so low that that that, you know, if this is what my kids learning, I could do better than that, you know, and then, you know, the internet is right there. 


And so parents got on there and started to realize the look, it's legal in all 50 states. What they're experiencing right now through COVID is not homeschooling. That's crisis management has nothing to do with homeschooling at all. They were finding out these homeschooling communities that were slowly, through the years, kind of making themselves, you know, a bigger picture and a bigger foundation. 


They were like, wow, I can literally schedule even my work day, you know, around this individualized aspect. So you got to take away the old, the old description of what homeschooling used to look like, you know, your mother has you down in a basement, there's a swinging light bulb, you know, you know, whatever that looked like to people is gone because now it is really in the 21st century. And the educational world has been knocked on their feet. I mean, knocked off their feet because really and truly, people are leaving in droves, and they all have their own reasonings for it, you know, there's different reasons on why maybe they're unhappy with what the district is telling the teachers to teach other avenues are the districts are so low on the on the so low with the academics and the test scores that do come out are failing test scores. So what is the point, right? 


So they're not doing their job. There's people that I work with constantly that their special needs child, whether that's, you know, autism, ADHD, or my kids were twice exceptional. That means that you're gifted but disabled in different avenues. All different spectrums of learners realizing that they were really falling through the cracks and that they weren't getting those accommodations and modifications that not only they deserve through a FAPE and the idea act, you know, and federal law, but they found out that they weren't getting them already at all, you know, so so they were they were seeing the bigger picture. 


And so that's when parents just decided, like, I can actually take charge of my child's education. I don't have to be told exactly how my child thinks and learns and in response to learning. Like you said earlier, when I was hearing things like don't worry about it, your kids just being lazy, they're brilliant. They'll snap out of it. You know, those kind of words were those were alarming words for me that that meant, okay, we're not going to do that. We're not going to label my kid that way. And so I understand that the educational system is overwhelmed. 


I understand they have 30 kids per class. I understand that they don't have, you know, the resources they need. And I can empathize with that. But at the same time, my children aren't going to be the collateral damage from that. 


And I think other parents woke up and realized their children don't need to be collateral damage from that, either. And so the parents I work with, some of them work, some of these enrichment programs, they do all of their academics at home, sometimes they'll have a specialized tutor come in, and then they'll do the drop-off program where they'll go to the office. So they so like an enrichment center kind of operates, and it moves like a school campus, but they're not it's an individualized businesses. Each classroom is an individualized business. 


So that's what mine is. So I'm like a vendor. I'm an academic-based enrichment vendor for the homeschooling community. And so that's a whole different topic because not only are the parents grabbing their kids and running for homeschooling options, because there's many teachers are also packing up their bags and taking off and knocking on the door of the homeschooling community and saying, how can we help? 


Yeah, can you show us how we can help kind of build this community and then finding out for themselves that they can have their own businesses and run their classroom their way and be able to teach their way and be able to modify and accommodate students for their individual, you know, talents and passions and things that they're interested in? So it's really become a beautiful thing. I mean, COVID really just popped the bubble, you know, that balloon kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It was bound to pop anyway. And so with people being unhappy anyway. And so, with COVID, it was just exactly that needle that parents needed to wake up and see their options. And there's so many great options out there. 


A: Oh, I love it. You know, the way you've described this, I can almost just feel the momentum of this being a revolution of the way that children are educated in this country, which is something that's been needed for a long time. But when because when you look at like the international education, you know, where the USA ranks on that compared to other countries, it's pretty dismal. It's pretty disappointing. It's kind of sad. 


Yeah. You know, and, and, you know, as you said before, you know, often parents will blame the school district, they'll blame the teachers, they'll be like, why aren't you doing your job? And then the teachers have throw their hands up, they say, I don't get paid, I don't get funded, I spend, you know, tons of my own money on supplies, because I don't get funding. And it's like, okay, well, then, who's in charge of that? We know, looking at the way that the infrastructure of the educational system has been declining. It really has. 


M: It's been, it's been hijacked by bureaucracy. You know, and the other thing is, is that they come in and they start ordering the way teachers are supposed to be teaching, and they had never even stepped into a classroom. So to be able to be on page 47 at this exact time, but not being able to stop if you see the class just deer and headlights not getting it, but they could be, you know, penalized because they didn't reach this goal, that goal, the other goal, from people that have never even gone into a classroom to experience what it's like to have all those little faces looking at you and understanding that each of those kids are individuals. So teachers have had it, too. You know, you've got the low pay, you've got kind of the way that they're being, you know, told how to teach in the classroom. 


You've got overcrowding. You have kids that are on different spectrums of learning now that they really try to label them and categorize them, but you really can't because now they're realizing everybody is a little, you know, different in the way that they process information. And so, for me, that means the way you teach and deliver information should change. But it seems like everybody's just not on the same page on what that looks like. And so that's why homeschooling has become a real, you know, like I, like you just said, but I say it too, it's a revolution. It's going to change it for parents, for teachers, family units as a whole, no more screaming, yelling about homework, and stuff like that. You know, that can go straight out the window. 


You can enjoy family time together now, you know, or you can focus on those things that you guys like to do together. And then same with the teachers, the teachers can have more control over what they're getting paid, what they're, what maybe they love to teach one subject, you know, and they don't want to teach, you know, all the subjects, maybe they do it in a creative way that they have not been allowed to in the classroom because that wasn't on page 57 of their booklet of whatever they're supposed to be doing. So it's happy on all kinds of levels. I really have not seen a downside. It seems like every single five seconds I turn around, there's some kind of beautiful new thing that the homeschooling community has come up with to really support families and kids, but also teachers that are entering this little different world. 


A: Totally. Yes. I mean, it's, it's very exciting and I can feel your passion for this. And the other thing too, you know, maybe we can chat a little about this because I know there's an intersection here. You know, there was a rise in charter schools before this kind of surge in schooling and charter schools are kind of almost like a hybrid, you know, because you can apply for a charter, you know, and then basically kind of run your own little school system. And that's what I ended up doing when I did go back to school. When I was 13, I went to a charter school that had the ages of seventh through 12th grade. So I went in as a seventh grader, but because I was at where I was, you know, they, they tested me, they found out where I was at, they allowed me to take high school classes. 


They allowed me to earn high school credit and I earned high school credit while I was in seventh grade. And then they said, you know, you don't have to really have to go to eighth grade if you don't want to. Why don't you take this test and we'll just put you in ninth grade next year? 


So I took the test and I went straight from seventh to ninth grade and, you know, and this was a small charter school. They were about 80 kids in the whole school, and it was run by consensus that had its own model. All the teachers were equals. There was no principal. There was no hierarchy, and anybody, parents, teachers, students, they were all welcome to come to like the school meeting that they had once a month. 


They had like an administrative meeting kind of town hall meeting for the school once a month that everybody was allowed to contribute something to everybody was allowed to bring their issue or their problem or their idea to the table to be discussed during that meeting. And I mean, at the time, I had nothing to compare this to. So I didn't really know how precious or how cool this was. I was kind of like, oh, I'm doing school now this way, I guess, you know, but now I can see that I can see the value of that experience. And I'd love to hear a little bit about what you think, you know, charter schools offer that might be slightly different from a home school model or in what ways they intersect. 


M: Well, like, charter schools are awesome. They also magnet schools, also that they call them magnet schools as well, where they go in and they are alternative in the way of really kind of looking at the child, the whole child, and sometimes they'll focus on certain avenues of learning. So it could be a technical school. 


A: Right. That was what mine was. We did technology. 


M: So technology, yeah, or it could be a theater-based school, like there's there's charters that are theater based schools. I think they're great. I think that they really help kids. 


And I love them. I actually, because I am about freedom of education, I do believe that, you know, sometimes homeschooling could be overwhelming for somebody. And so these are also different opportunities for families to look into where children can thrive and move forward. And I do remember this was actually in between, like 2013 when people were rumbling about homeschooling. It was getting a little noisier, but the charter schools were the ones that were really kind of popping up everywhere and coming in, and the magnet schools were coming in. So they've actually kind of the private homeschoolers kind of rolled in some of that kind of philosophy. And they do things like called micro-schools and different things where the community will come together and say, Hey, my kids really like robotics. And we would love to do even math and science and tie in everything. 


But still, you know, kind of, you know, have those robotics kinds of like I do with my theater thing and wrap it up all in the end of what they've learned. And so they would create a micro school of that where the family would come into that. So it's kind of like the same idea as charter schools. Charter schools are still district schools. So they still get funding from the district, and the district started getting upset about charter schools because they were quote-unquote stealing funds from the brick and mortars that they hold so dear. 


A: Right. Well, I mean, the thing that I think was so impressive even with, you know, my son is five now, and I've been homeschooling him, you know, kind of unschooling him. Honestly, it's been similar to, you know, just letting him follow his interest. So he wants to paint today. Okay, he wants to draw today. Let's just draw all of the characters from the book that we just read. And can you draw their costumes and oh, this guy wears that hat. Let's put a hat on him, you know, and he does that now. He'll like draw out all the different characters from the books that he, you know, that we read together that he listens to because he really loves audiobooks. 


He's particularly been fond of this reading of James and the Giant Peach. I don't know if you are familiar with it. It's a really good audiobook. It's this British comedian James Acaster, and he does all the voices, and it's really, you know, it's really like expressive. 


And so, you know, it sounds like he's listening to an audio play, you know, and then he'll draw all the characters from that, you know, and I would love to, you know, like, create, I've thought about this, my husband and would be down to this too, that we could create like little mini-plays from, you know, sections of the book that he likes and then act them out, you know, stuff like this. 


M: But that's my expertise. That's what I do. Yeah, that's exactly so much fun. And now that we have like, you know, you can even do a little film, you know, you could do like a little film right now. My daughter is preparing because she's 10 now. So she doesn't really want her dollhouse anymore kind of a thing. She doesn't really play with Barbie anymore. But she sees something interesting here. She sees that her Barbie was a little too big for the dollhouse anyway. So she has this vision now of creating this short segment show, why Barbie is moving out of, right, I'm moving out of this. So she's going to have her in the tub or lays her, you know, oh, no, that's not going to work. And she's going to have this whole move-out scene. She wants to know then she wants to sit down and edit it. 


She wants to sit down. So, like, she's going to take something that she's going to end up giving away, but she's going to make this wonderful film about it. And she's already been doing this. She's been doing stop-action animation where, you know, the clay and things like that. So she's been doing this stuff for a while. But then now she sit down, and she'll edit it, and she'll sit down and understand like she wants certain sounds in the background or certain things like that. 


And it's so much fun to be creative like that. So if you take a story and you do an audiobook, then you sit down and read that story. And then you have them create the picture of the characters in the story. And then you get the little costumes. 


And then you create the little play. He'll never forget it. It'll stick and it'll never leave because it'll be an experience, and learning, you know, should be something that everyone should love and look for and have a drive for. But also it should be a lasting experience for everyone. Yes. That's what you're creating for your son. I'm so happy for you. 


A: Yeah. Well, and now because now, you know, we're transitioning to kind of a different time in our lives. And I'm he's I'm thinking that he would actually really enjoy a more structured setting of school. And so I'm looking at charter schools and the big, you know, one of the big things is just like looking at the class sizes, like they're up to about 30 kids, you know, in a class for one teacher. And, you know, I don't know why I never realized how kind of crazy this is, but like, imagine you're just like one adult, and you're surrounded by 35-year-olds, 35-year-olds, it would be so much better if they were mixed age, because it's like just like the energy right. 


M: The older ones would also help. Yeah, no, yeah. They kind of mellow it out. Yeah. So little, I can only my classes cap at 15. Right. So, you know, even then, if I have tinies, I have to have an aid. If I have littles like from K, TK to K, or TK to first, I need to have somebody there, even with 15 kids, right? 


Imagine 30, you know, on your own type of a thing. My daughter, she benefited from a little preschool because she's very social. And so, at this age, I had things that were going on and I really couldn't, you know, be there at every second of learning at that point in time. So, I put her into a little preschool program down the street. 


It was through the local little church, but they had a 15 minimum cap in the classroom. And she stayed there. Let's see, she went there when she was three, four, five, six. 


So about four years she was, she was in there, and it was very beneficial. It was cute. It was fun. 


It was very much whole child, you know. So something fun like that, I would totally recommend, you know, whatever that looks like for you, of course, you know, whatever centers or whatever that looks like, you know. 


A: Well, I'm looking into something called an expeditionary learning school. I don't know. Yeah, but it's basically similar to what you're saying. Their whole model is, I don't know, there's this German guy Kurt Hahn who created this educational system about like expeditionary learning, meaning that whatever it is that you're learning has to be like applied to something real that you would experience in life or something that you would do. 


And so that's a lot of their learning is project-based kind of just what we were describing, but around all different kinds of subject matter, like it might be about sailing and they're learning all about boats and they're learning all about the history of sailing and then they take the kids on a sailing trip, you know, and have them come back and do a presentation about the sailing trip and about, you know, yeah, just everything to do with that subject. And my big test here was like, okay, so how many kids are there per class? And they're like, well, the kindergarten classes have 22 kids, and there's two teachers. And I was like, perfect. 


M: That's it. That's perfect. Yeah, that works out very nicely right there. Because you don't want to teach it to be overwhelmed with just so many littles everywhere. You know what I mean? Oh, yeah, yeah. Because you know, one child, you know, might be getting a lot of attention. Another because they're being like perfect. And that's what a, you know, teacher needs that could be a good, and then you have somebody that's naughty over here getting all the attention. 


But then everybody who's not kind of gets lost in the shuffle when you have so many, you know, without the help. So that sounds great. That sounds like fun. I love learning like that. Very, very passionate about learning like that. Like when Grace got done with her little preschool, we did world schooling for a while. And that was 100%. I want to get back to that at some point. 


A: What was what's world schooling? What did that look like for you? 


M: Oh, world schooling is well, I would just say that is one of the greatest experiences. So we would pick a topic or something. And and she would learn about it. So we were lucky enough to be able to go to Ireland. We were lucky enough to, you know, go to Europe. We went to Paris, and we went to England. 


And we were very lucky. But we also did local world schooling or what they call RVing sometimes is where you will go to different local places here in the United States and learn history. And so then you're going to go now and see history. You're going to go into that museum. 


You're going to be hands-on with that. Now what we're going to do is like for culture. When we were doing different cultures, we were learning about Spanish and we were learning about French. And so then we went to France. 


French was coming in handy. But now she was hearing it in the country as people were talking about it. Then she tried Escargot. 


I couldn't believe it. And so she was, you know, adventurous. It brought out an adventurous side, but also she learned so much because she was entrenched in it. 


And that's what we really want to get back to. But a lot of people are like, well, that's, you'd have to have a lot of money to do that. There's so many sneaky ways to do that. 


Oh, yes. I mean, you do not have to be rich. I tell people that I'm like, I'm no millionaire. Are you looking? There is no millionaire for me. Look at my car. 


No millionaire. But what I do have is tenacity, and there is different ways to be able to get to where you need to go and experience these really life-changing things. And, you know, you can bring a book along and take a map along. And, you know, geography is huge, you know, and being able to really even go into botany and the different, when we were in Hawaii, the different plants and really, you know, looking at also what's edible, what's not edible, then it kind of goes into something else. So world schooling is so exciting, and you can do it locally. 


You can do it internationally. You can focus on language. You can focus on food. You can focus on different cultures. You can focus on math, okay, geometric shapes of buildings, and things like that. So you can really tie it into everything. So, like unschooling, but you're just traveling around and really experiencing it. 


A: Talk about integrating learning into everyday life and into like the environments that you're in because everywhere you go, there's something to discover and learn if you're looking for it, right? And so I think that's a wonderful, wonderful approach. It definitely speaks to me. I spent my 20s traveling globally, and I agree with you. There are plenty of ways to travel that don't have to be super expensive, you know, especially if, as the adult, you're willing to step outside of your own comfort zone a little bit too, you know, and stay in a hostel or stay somewhere that's not, you know, like a five-star hotel or whatever. You know, just kind of being... 


M: Oh, it's amazing. You get to these house swaps. Yeah. It's amazing. And you get some amazing houses that you're just basically watching over. You might have some animals to take care of, you know, depending on what region you want to be in and what that looks like. There's so many different ways that you can manage that. 


So sometimes people do see that like, oh, I'm going to go to the Ritz, you know, hotel, everywhere. No, there's different avenues, but you can also do it in a comfortable, fun manner as well and not break the bank. Yes. And so there's... It's... Thank you for understanding that. I really like that when somebody understands that. 


A: Oh, yeah. And you know what? I've appreciated so much in this conversation. It's just you have very much kind of that growth mindset, not only for the kids that you are working with, but also in your just your perspective on these things. It's a lot about exploring, discovering, and taking in the knowledge that's available and around us all the time. 


I can see that in like your creativity, you know, and I'm sure a lot of that's grounded in your, you know, your own practices being in many ways like an artist in this world, you know, in creating theater and opportunities for kids to learn in this embodied way. So I just really appreciate your candor. I appreciate your passion. Thank you so much for coming on this show today. 


M: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's been an absolute pleasure. 


A: Thank you. Yeah. Is there anything like, you know, if someone has a question or maybe they are some parent who's been working with their IEP and they're curious about asking you some questions or learning more from you about the way to handle something, right? Are you open to people reaching out to you with questions? 


M: 100%, please do. Okay. You can reach me on my website, which is basically my name, maryreasonbeck.com. I'm also on Facebook. I'm also on Instagram and Twitter under maryreason Beck. You can find me there. I'm also an author of a book on Amazon, Take Charge of Your Child's Education. And you can find that on Amazon. It's a quick read. It's not Weathering Heights, but it really kind of gives parents, you know, a navigation tool to kind of get started on this journey and what the different opportunities are that they have. So there's many different ways to kind of look me up and reach out to me. 


A: Oh, I love that. Take charge of your child's education. Definitely look for that on Amazon if you've been kind of homeschool curious, or maybe you've been doing it, but you're like, there's got to be an easier way or a way that functions better for me and my family, right? 


So anybody who's listening, who's been on that path or curious about it, definitely check out that book because Maryre, obviously, as you've seen today, is a wonderful resource for all things, alternative education. Thanks so much again for being on the show. And yeah, I look forward to hearing more about what you've been up to. 


M: Great. Thank you. 


A: You’ve been listening to FreeYourSoma podcast. To find out more information about today’s guest check the show notes. And to find out more information about me Aimee Takaya and the Radiance program, visit www.FreeYourSoma.com.


A: Hey there, Truthseeker, freedom lover, consciousness expander. You've been listening to the Free Year Soma podcast. 


A: I'm Amy Tecaya, and I'd like to invite you on the somatic exploration of a lifetime. Join me for Revive, a nine-week somatic movement adventure. You and an intrepid group of heartlet leaders will learn how to release muscular stress, tension, and pain, and how to come back to ease and flow in your body. What's more, this tension you've been holding in your back, your neck, your shoulders this represents your untapped somatic potential. When these muscles lengthen out and relax, you will get to experience deeper body intelligence and wisdom throughout your life. Learn more about Revive at www.freeyoursoma .com. 




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