Karina Orton, 14, sits on the living room couch leafing through her biology textbook while her sister, Sarah Jane, 10, munches on a sandwich at the table and Alison, 12, plays the piano in the next room. Their brother Eli, 6, is building planes with his favorite Legos and their mother, Emily, reads to Lily, 4, who is drinking milk from a sippy cup.
The relaxed scene resembles a weekend morning, but it’s 11 a.m. on a Thursday. For the Ortons, this is the norm. They don’t rush off to school each morning or spend afternoons doing homework. Emily and Erik Orton have been homeschooling their children for more than four years.
“I was really nervous because it’s such a huge responsibility,” Emily, who’s 37, says about that decision. “I have my degree in education and I was still nervous because it felt like I would be replicating a classroom in our house.”