Writer, teacher uses the Upper Valley as her classroom
A Maryland native and her family explore educational opportunities throughout the region
Writer and teacher, Rebecca Trudeau moved the Upper Valley from Maryland last September. While she maintains a freelance business, she spends the majority of time homeschooling her three rambunctious boys. “Strangers often remark that I have my hands full,” Rebecca says, “I tell them, ‘Yes -- full of good things.’”
Describe your educational background and career experience.
Unable to decide between science and writing, I studied both biology and journalism in college. For several years after graduating, I worked at Lehigh University’s communications department, crafting articles for the website and alumni magazine. Then I met the love of my life. To marry him, I moved to a new state and began searching for a new job. At the time many newspapers were folding, so nothing in journalism was available. Instead, I taught biology, chemistry and general science at a private school. Since the birth of my oldest, I continued down this crazy duel career path. I tutor homeschool students weekly and write regularly for pleasure and profit.
Why are you homeschooling?
The world is a fascinating and educational place. My children have a formal school session every morning, but they spend their afternoons climbing trees, collecting cicadas, sledding and building Lego machines.
The schools in Maryland focused on achievement at the expense of play and imagination. I knew kindergarteners with homework and first graders who spent hours doing assignments after school. They participated in organized sports but had no time for experimenting through play or building social skills outside of structured environments. Playtime is so important during those formative years. In Finland, children do not start school until 7, but they have better outcomes when the kids graduate. In the U.S., some kids are burned out by third grade! I believe that the public schools here strive to maintain a healthier balance of play and achievement than the schools in Maryland. That’s great!
Another reason we homeschool is to share our faith with our children. We want our children to love others as Jesus loves them and to know that they are forgiven. Mid-Vermont Christian School is a good option for Christians seeking to teach their children the faith, but since we moved in the middle of the school year we did not consider it this year.
Where do you find social interactions for your kids?
The Upper Valley offers many opportunities for children in untraditional school settings. Our children attend Classical Conversations, a weekly homeschool community where they complete art projects, perform science experiments, and memorize important facts. Every Friday, we and several other homeschool families skate at Campion Ice Rink in West Lebanon. My kids love to visit the Montshire Museum, and we hope to attend some of their homeschool classes this year. I’m am continually learning about other opportunities the Upper Valley offers, such as Raven’s Wood Outdoor Academy and weekly classes at Artistree.
How do you keep from going crazy?
I don’t. I have bad days. I yell. I lock myself in the bathroom. But I then I apologize, and we go outside or read books aloud. Sunshine and stories cure bad days.
Why did you move to the Upper Valley?
A year ago, we were living in a busy suburb of Baltimore. We had many friends there, but we knew we wanted to raise our children someplace wilder. We longed for a place with more snow, with mountains to hike, and with a welcoming community. When my husband received an offer at Hypertherm, we were thrilled. The Upper Valley promised a unique blend of outdoor adventure and cultural sophistication.
You have been intentional about exploring the area. What are some highlights thus far?
Our family has loved hiking around the Upper Valley. This summer, we climbed Moose Mountain and Cardigan Mountain. My boys are young – 7, 5, and 2. The littlest one rides in a carrier, but the other two are learning to be strong hikers.
My husband and I had a romantic dinner at Candela Tapas. We savored the highly seasoned food and the friendly staff. The churros con chocolate were divine!
We also enjoyed the holiday festivities this December. My youngest was enthralled by the horse parade during Woodstock’s Wassail Weekend, and my husband and I enjoyed the Revel’s performance.
Where do you want to go next?
Piecemeal Pie. I love a good pie, and an eatery devoted to all forms of this delectable pastry sounds scrumptious. I also hope to watch a few shows at the Lebanon Opera House this winter and take my children to a family program at the HOP. My husband plans to visit every ski slope within driving distance to make up for the years he spent in a warmer climate.