Homeschool life in downtown Orlando


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COURTESY OF VICKI TAULBEE

Jeff and Vicki Taulbee, parents of three school-age children — Owen, Will, and Natalie — are among many in the area who have made the choice to oversee every aspect of their children’s education. They are a thriving homeschool family.

But homeschooling really needs a new name, because due to the resources and community support in our area, this family studies anywhere but at home.

On Monday mornings, Owen and Natalie attend a science and creative writing class at Libertas Academy, which offers a la carte classes in various aspects of science, critical thinking, history, and writing.

“We realized from the very beginning that we would need a community to do this,” Vicki said. She is the primary teacher for Owen and Natalie, balancing time between working with each child individually and allowing them to work on their own. She also manages their schedules as they take classes such as piano and acting.

“I have always liked the flexibility homeschooling provides,” Vicki said, “but I also love that we can tailor an educational track that is truly personalized.”

“We follow a classical model of education,” Vicki shared. “This may sound old-fashioned, but it just means that we use this framework to teach any new subject.”

That framework includes grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In the grammar phase, students acquire vocabulary words, phrases, and concepts as building blocks for learning particular subjects. The logic phase enables students to critically examine arguments, including their own. Finally, in the rhetoric phase, students learn to articulate answers to important questions in their own words to try to persuade others with these facts and to defend them.

Within this framework, the Taulbees take field trips around Orlando and Central Florida. They go to places like Juice Bar, Chick-fil-A, and SeaWorld to participate in interactive lessons. They walk across the street to study Latin with fellow homeschooled friends who follow the same curriculum or learn from their dad as he sells real estate in the area. They even do P.E. at CrossFit in the Milk District.

Finally, on Fridays, the Taulbees attend a co-op program called Classical Conversations, a national group designed to cultivate a love of learning in students.

“This year, we sent our middle son, Will, to private school,” Vicki shared. “It was strange that I was not the one overseeing his lessons, but we all adapted, and he is doing so well there.” The Taulbees continue to search for ways to individualize educational activities for their children, and they are finding those opportunities here in Orlando.

“We are really fortunate to live in a place that offers so much,” Vicki concluded. “We don’t have to reinvent this whole process.”

The Taulbees have found a strong homeschooling community for support, and it has made all the difference.

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