For one California family, homeschooling doesn’t always mean learning in their home. Some days it means learning in the home of Henry VIII in the United Kingdom: Hampton Court Palace. Other days it means learning in Colonial Williamsburg, or on the road in Savannah, Georgia.
Kemi Ingram calls these experiences roadschooling and worldschooling. She describes herself and her three children as “unabashed museum hounds.” Homeschooling’s flexibility, and Ingram’s resourcefulness, has resulted in a history-rich learning adventure for the Ingram family, one leavened with museum trips and family time.
Growing up in the Silicon Valley, much of Ingram’s own educational upcoming was off the beaten track. Her early education took place in the context of experimental schools, often attached to colleges or universities. For K-5th grade she attended public magnet schools, then moved to traditional public schools for middle and high school. “A lot of our schools [in the Silicon Valley] were fantastic and innovative,” she says.
Years later, Ingram worked as a multimedia producer of motherhood-focused content. While preparing a podcast about navigating education options, she interviewed educators and visited multiple school environments. The episode quickly became a personal learning journey for Ingram, whose oldest daughter was preschool age.
Ingram finished the podcast with an appreciation of various learning methods and an idea for how she could incorporate elements of each into her own children’s education… through homeschooling.
“We built a garden, exposed the children to music, athletics, and critical thinking,” she recalls. Homeschooling allowed Ingram to toggle back and forth between learning styles, incorporating Montessori, Waldorf, and Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences through various developmental toys and resources.
But, from the start, the Ingram family had another resource in mind for their homeschooling experience: travel. Ingram’s flexible work schedule–she runs her own business providing research and digital support to humanitarian agencies, faith-based organizations and grass-roots initiatives–has allowed her to work and learn alongside her children even as they’ve roadtripped.
“When the girls were learning colonial history, we packed up and went to Jamestown and Williamsburg,” Ingram says. “They spent a couple of weeks just learning about colonial life and writing about it.”
Another of the trips was an American Girl-themed trip across the country.
“Historical fiction was brought to life by experiencing Josefina Montoya’s rancho in New Mexico, Cecile and Marie-Grace’s French Quarter and Addy’s plantation life in the Carolinas,” says Ingram.
As an educator, one of Ingram’s main goals is that her children receive a comprehensive foundation in history and culture, particularly their own African American heritage. So, when the family studied the civil rights movement, they chose historic sites to experience in person, visiting Birmingham, Atlanta, and Mississippi.
Fostering her children’s love of history and culture hasn’t even stopped at the nation’s borders. While Ingram worked to complete a residency requirement in the United Kingdom for a doctoral program in 2015, the family spent six months participating in London’s homeschool community.
“Lots of museums,” Kemi remembers. “Lots and lots of museums.”
Today, Ingram’s children are in 10th, 7th, and 4th grade. The family is still happily homeschooling, drawing on supplementary resources such as charter school enrichment programs, like Biola Youth Academics courses.
Kemi Ingram and her family are powerful witnesses to how homeschooling offers flexibility—and flexibility offers possibilities for outside-the-box educational adventures. As Ingram’s experience indicates, homeschooling is largely what you make of it. That’s the magic and challenge of this particular educational choice. Placing the power and responsibility of K-12 education squarely in the hands of parents, homeschooling can transform education into a remarkably personal and unique family experience.
Ingram’s advice for other parents bears repeating. “Don’t feel pressured to pick a particular schooling option because ‘everyone else is doing it,'” she says. “There are so many options. Choose the one where your child will thrive.”
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