Julianna Speers : Service-Oriented Nature Lover and Secular Homeschooler
I had the pleasure of meeting secular homeschooler Julianna at the Secular Eclectic Homeschoolers Conference in West Virginia 2017. She did a lot of volunteering at the conference. Secular homeschooler Julianna and her mother, Karen, have already signed up to volunteer at the 2018 conference! She is the type of person who sees a need and jumps in to help. Secular Eclectic Homeschoolers is lucky to have such a committed and caring teen as a part of our community.
How long have you been homeschooling? Ever since I was born.
What is your favorite part of being homeschooled? My favorite part of homeschooling is that I enjoy doing things at my own pace instead of having required time limits which give me the opportunity to explore new things instead of having to do whatever the school tells you to do. I am proud of the fact that we are constantly told by naturalists, docents, teachers, and other adults brought in for enrichment that homeschoolers make their lives simpler. We have the reputation for attentive listening and not interrupting while respecting the teachers.
You do a lot of volunteering. What piece of advice would you give other kids who want to get involved volunteering? That’s a hard one. One of the reasons why I enjoy volunteering is that I get to work with other kids and be part of a team. When I volunteer and do a good job I receive a lot of praise and am not treated like a kid. I feel happy that we are able to complete a task while affecting other people’s lives. I have the joy of telling others the things I have accomplished like leading families on a nature walk like a naturalist, building cots for wounded veterans to sleep on when they go hunting, scraping and painting buildings at my favorite camp and doing countless hours of face painting for children learning more about their environment and nature while at the Audubon center. It makes me proud see the finished product or the joy on the little faces while having people look up to me because I am in charge of something. Going behind the scenes is very interesting to me. When you volunteer you get to go into places that the general public doesn’t get to go. Volunteering is adventurous! I choose to volunteer where I do because that’s where my passions lie. Find something you love and see if you can get involved some way.
How has homeschooling affected your ability to work on volunteering projects? I am able to work on the service projects like those I do for Secular Eclectic Academic Homeschoolers in the comfort of my own home at my pace and schedule, and for out of the home projects, I have the opportunity to arrive earlier and stay longer than the other children. We adjust our school schedule to meet our needs.
What does a typical day look like? A MESS! I get up at 6:30 in the morning and start on my Spanish first thing because it takes so long. I stop for the arrival of the kids we watch and eat breakfast with them while watching CNN 10. I head back upstairs and continue with my math, English, and history that I do on my own. The three-year-old child that we watch typically helps me with my chorus and instrument practice. Then I head back down for lunch and play with the children before they go to bed. After lunch, I head back up and work on my biology which is easier to do when the children are sleeping and finish any of the other subjects that I haven’t completed. Some nights I go to the library or take classes on the rez (Cattaraugus Indian Reservation) or do sports like soccer and basketball. On Fridays, I have weekly choir and band lessons that I do with my enrichment group. Most weeks I wind up doing schoolwork 7 days a week because I don’t get everything done on my list because I can change my mind and play with the babies or the goats or my friends or go on a field trip or play with caterpillars or, or, or. I’m homeschooled! I don’t have to have a schedule!
Do you have any advice for other homeschooling kids? Since we tend not to be around a bunch of kids every day like the average student, you need to be able to go up to a random child and find ways to convince them to be your friend by being kind, finding their interests, talking about your family and where you live, and by inviting them to play a game. I don’t think it’s wise to judge a child by what type of school they attend, whether they go to public school or if they are homeschooled they can still be a great friend.
What is your favorite way to connect with friends? I enjoy connecting with my friends by playing with them outside in the barn, the woods, climbing a tree, playing football and soccer, and an occasional board game when the weather isn’t so good. If I can’t be with my friends in person I like to call them on the phone and talk with them until my mom yells at me to get off!
You love National Parks. What is your favorite National Park? I do not have a favorite National Park because I enjoy them all equally. Each park offers new sights, activities, and experiences but until I’ve seen them all I can’t just pick one.
What is it like living on a farm? I enjoy the acreage that we have because it is so diverse. I have an outdoor playground that includes water formations, lots of woods for fort-building and hide-outs, huge trees for fairy homes, and tons of fields to run with my goat, Romea. I’ve had a rabbit that may or may not have been dead when I played with it–no joke!–baby ducks to crawl over me and nibble on my face, a little chicken…NOT Chicken Little!…that would chase me around in my yard and ride in my bicycle basket and a barn cat that would go with me in the woods, take naps with me, climb my trees with me, and hide in the hayloft. We have a small goat farm so I have had many goat companions that enjoyed jumping on me and running through the fields. If they are well-behaved they can be let into the yard to keep me company while I do chores. I have witnessed the births of many kids over the years including two C-sections that I was able to assist with. I enjoy all of the many trees we have on Maple Grove Farm, all of the gardens, the outbuildings but mainly the big barn in the winter. Our farm provides me with peacefulness and nature which is what makes me happy.
I hear you love to bake. Do you have a recipe you want to share with us? Now that the little one we care for is 3 1/2-years-old she does most of the baking with my mom. She has more time! Lately, I’ve been getting creative with napkin arranging. I just made rosettes for our place settings this weekend that everyone enjoyed. I look forward to creating the place settings and tablecloth for Thanksgiving again this year. Last year I used a Sharpie and made autumnal designs and decorations on our tablecloth that made our visitors afraid of getting it dirty!
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