© Rachel Papo

As criticism of the U.S. education system grows among parents, so does the appeal of homeschooling. In 2010, shortly after moving to Woodstock, New York, with my husband and baby daughter, I met a mother who was homeschooling her 5-year-old daughter - True. I never heard about homeschooling before and, being a new mother, naturally I was intrigued. I began to photograph True and soon I was connected to a small number of families living in the region who follow this path, and started documenting them as well. While much of the discussion about the subject tends to revolve around parents and their beliefs, I chose to focus particularly on the lives and routines of the children, in an attempt to capture their spirit, and the meaning of growing up outside the conventional four classroom walls. I devoted two years to my photographic research and the result is a quiet meditation on the home education movement, from the children's perspective. With this body of work I hope to encapsulate a cultural movement in a distinct time in history. As I continued to photograph these children I was constantly forced to re-examine my initial opinion of this phenomenon and, for a few hours each time, I allowed myself to follow them into their mysterious, magical world.

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