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Conversations with Rachael Alsbury

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachael Alsbury.

Rachael, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
When my first daughter was born in 2011, my husband suggested I start a blog. I didn’t know who would ever want to read my online diary, but I thought that it might be a good way to stay connected to family and friends cross-country from our home in California. I bought a domain and got a (very ugly) free WordPress template and pushed “publish” on my first blog post in October of 2011. I committed to simply write one post every Friday. Through consistent practice, I eventually found my way into a niche writing informational content about topics like DIY cleaners and natural hair care. As my audience grew and Instagram entered the scene, I decided that I wanted to improve the quality of my photography. For the next five years, I continued to blog but turned my focus from writing content to mastering lifestyle photography with my DSLR camera.

In 2016 when it was time for my oldest daughter to start kindergarten, I wrote a post about how I’d become an accidental homeschooler. I had a very unexpected response from my audience: they wanted to know more about homeschooling! Though I was just learning myself, I received so many questions that I partnered with a friend to write a Charlotte Mason-themed starter guide for homeschoolers called Small Beginnings.

As I continued to document our homeschooling journey and share what I was learning, I found a homeschooling community on Instagram called Wild + Free. I became a regular contributor to their monthly magazine and found a world of new homeschooling friends and comrades from all over the world. My current message is focused on providing practical tips and routines for the homeschooling family.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My greatest struggle in this journey has been learning the difference between schooling and education. School is simply an institutional structure, while education is far more holistic. It’s not as easy to quantify and that can feel scary! As a home educator, I have had to come to terms with the fact that learning is going to look different at home. It won’t look like a traditional classroom, and that’s not only okay, but it’s the beauty of the homeschooling life! What does learning look like at home? How do we nurture vibrant, lifelong learners amid the everyday chaos of laundry, nursing babies, and stirring soup? This is the greatest question for every homeschooler! It’s the question I’m always exploring and examining through my writing.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My mission is to provide practical patterns and blueprints for learning at home through compelling words and images. What could it look like to care for small children, cook meals and keep a functional home while teaching times tables and phonics? Rather than complicated schedules and never-ending to do lists, I encourage mothers to develop anchoring routines and sustainable habits that support a rich learning environment at home. I know that my art has real purpose and meaning when I am able to hand a homeschooling mama a tool that she can use to build the home learning environment she envisions.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is my dad reading aloud to us in the evenings. I have six siblings, so at night when we’d all been bathed and put in pajamas, we would be read to by lamplight with everyone perched around on the couch. I especially loved the Little House Series. I have vivid memories of the detailed food descriptions in Farmer Boy! My dad was a teacher, so he had an enjoyment and appreciation for books that he passed to us with this routine. That experience not only gave me a lifelong love for words but in a small way, it gave me a blueprint for what learning at home could look like with my own children. In fact, it’s the first practice I implemented in our little kindergarten homeschool six years ago. I think this memory is a testament to the enduring influence of simple routines done with care.

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Image Credits
Rebecca Clair Photography

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