Unschooler, writer and editor Karen M. Gibson shares her personal reasons for stepping down as editor / writer / layout artist from HELM, Home Education Learning Magazine.

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The Unschooling Handbook
How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom
by Mary Griffith
Unschooling, a homeschooling method based on the belief that kids learn best when allowed to pursue their natural curiosities and interests, is practiced by 10 to 15 percent of the estimated 1.5 million homeschoolers in the United States.
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
~ Emily Dickinson

    Thoughts Upon Leaving HELM
    Karen M. Gibson

    In last issue’s Reflections (See note below) I wrote about change, both that which was occurring at the time in my mother’s life and that which home-schoolers often undergo as they move away from public school thinking. I closed my article with the words “Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. And change.” Little did I realize at the time how much change I would soon put into effect in my life and, subsequently into Donna’s life and that of HELM.

    Through this column I have shared much of my life over the past two and a half years, including the illness and death of my mother-in-law and the many “working vacations” undertaken to help different family members. Through all of this I have continued to feel as though I had everything under control, that I was following through on all my commitments successfully. Lately, though, several events have led me to consider whether this is really so, whether I have been successful in keeping my life balanced.

    My mother’s recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which can be a hereditary disease and is often aggravated by stress, caused me to seriously think about the level of stress in my life and to realize I needed to begin taking better care of myself, both mentally and physically. Probably more importantly, though, it has become evident to me over the past several months that my children, as they begin to move through the teen years and into adulthood, now need my focus, my time, and my energy more than ever before.

    When Donna and I first began HELM, I felt publishing a magazine was a great way to get my thoughts about the benefits of home education out into the public, and HELM has proven to be a good avenue for this. I have certainly enjoyed my work, both in the writing/editing and in the behind the scenes production.

    Lately, though, so much of my time and energy has been directed towards HELM that I have begun to feel as though it has taken over my life. Even when I’m not actively working on something related to HELM, mentally I’m still there at my desk. The very reasons why I write about home education — the benefits of spending time with your children, enjoying them for the few years they are with us, being a family instead of just people residing in the same household — seem to have disappeared before my eyes.

    Therefore, it is with great regret that I announce my departure from HELM following the publication of this issue. I will miss working with great writers. I will miss the fun of preparing the layout. And most importantly, I will miss the close working relationship Donna and I had as we strove to bring you quality issues full of thought-provoking articles. I wish Donna, and HELM, only the best for the future.

    What does the future bring for HELM? I will leave it to Donna to inform HELM readers as to her plans. You can be assured that Donna will continue to put HELM’s message out to the public in every way she can.

    As for myself, I will continue to write about our home education journey, posting articles periodically on my personal blog site, Musings, Mischief and Mayhem. I plan to find time for myself and some personal goals, like reading something besides home education information and picking back up on some hobbies (photography, crocheting, counted cross stitch).

    Mostly, though, I plan to spend a lot of time with my family. We are planning a vacation to the Grand Canyon this fall. My daughter and I are already at work trying to locate some long-lost family members to fill in gaps on our family’s genealogy. My dad has a huge box of family pictures from the last forty years that he would like help cataloguing. Hopefully I will now have time to learn to play Age of Empires with my children!

    If you would like to keep in touch, e-mail me. I would love to hear from you!

    And always remember to unfurl your sails and ride the wind!

    ~ Karen

    Copyright July 2002

    Note: Originally published in July/August 2002 issue of HELM (Home Education Learning Magazine) in the regular column entitled "Reflections."

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The Teenage Liberation Handbook
How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
by Grace Llewellyn
For everyone who has ever gone to school or is interested in the current national debate over educational reforms, but it is especially relevant for teenagers and the parents or caregivers of teens.

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