Iris and Roan on Ice, 2012
Roan with Kilda and April, 2011
Roan Writing in the Outhouse Guestbook, 2012
Iris in the Morning, 2012
True on Her Bed, 2011
Randy and True on the Sinking Bridge, 2011
Piano Lesson, 2012
Hula Hoop, 2012
For the past year and a half I have been photographing a small number of families living in the Catskills who practice homeschooling.
Having recently moved to the area with my husband and baby daughter, I decided to explore this controversial topic in depth and challenge my own pre-judgements on the issue. Rather than documenting the parents and their unique methods, I chose to focus on the children, their objects and environment, in an attempt to capture their spirit and the meaning of growing up outside the four classroom walls.
Twelve year old Iris and ten year old Roan live on a family farm with their parents, who are convinced that their children would benefit more from spending time in nature and at home, rather than on a school bus and in a classroom. Apart from studying traditional subjects, their daily chores involve helping out on the farm and discovering their own topics of interest.
Six year old True has been raised by her father since she was four weeks old, after her mother returned to a full time job as a waitress. True assists her father with outdoor tasks and is being taught various subjects with an emphasis on religion and music. Dissatisfied with the schools in the area, True's parents believe it is "a bit careless to allow my daughter to fly on an airline where pilots are not required to pass a test."
While I continue to photograph these children and spend more time with them, I am constantly forced to re-examine my initial opinion of this phenomenon. Are they really 'free' of the school system or are they actually imprisoned in their parents' world? Will they feel isolated from the outside world or will they be more mature and better equipped as they enter adulthood? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I allow myself, for a few hours each time, to follow them into their mysterious, magical world.