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In Defense of Unschooling

August14

It’s almost time for school to start, and with it the inevitable question, “Where do your kids attend school?” For the past several years the answer has been a local charter school, still public, but home based. They provided all the curriculum, kept attendance records based on the work samples we turned in, and were there to answer questions. They also provided some great extra curricular activities. But this year we are unschooling (If you want to know what I’m talking about you can Google it or read John Holt’s Teach Your Own) This is something I’ve wanted to do for 10 years, since my oldest was 4 and the thought of sending her to school seemed daunting. There are all kinds of ways to homeschool, but this has always been my favorite..

But even so, I have never done it. I have never followed my heart, based on the fears of what others would think, as well as my own fear of failing my girls. But this year I have decided to follow my gut. My gut believes in unschooling. Maybe your gut doesn’t and that’s okay! Your gut doesn’t have to listen to my gut. Your choice is right for you and my choice is right for me. In a world where everyone is constantly comparing themselves to others and trying to keep up with the Joneses, it is hard to be a unique thinker. But that is what I am, that is what we all are. Our thoughts and ideas are uniquely our own. No two families look identical. They may have similarities, but they are unique in their own way. And that is wonderful! That is what makes the world so diverse and beautiful. I don’t want to be the model for you, heavens no! I don’t want that responsibility! Nor would I want to push my ideas on you, because what works for me may not work for you. If you see something I’m doing and it appeals to you and you want to try out, great. But otherwise, who cares what I’m doing? I mean, of course there are parameters. I want my girls to learn and grow, the same as most parents do. I would never want to do something that was to their detriment. But I don’t think schooling at home is to their detriment. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity and a huge blessing!

I know a lot of teachers and I respect them immensely. I couldn’t do what they do. I don’t have that gift. But it’s different with my girls. I want to nurture them as much as possible and give them the freedom to learn and grow within different parameters than the public school system. You can disagree with me, you can think I’m crazy, but please don’t ask me what they’re learning or if they’re socialized. My girls are two of the most social kids I know. They make friends easily wherever they go. And they are able to interact with adults, too, because they’ve never been told they couldn’t. My oldest went to public school for 2nd-5th grades and my youngest attended Kindergarten and loved it. But after 3 days of 1st grade told me she was done with school. She went through a seperation anxiety for a while and wanted to be with me all the time. And I am lucky enough that I was able to indulge her. Was it the right choice? Should I have just made her stick it out? Maybe. But for us, at the time, it was the best choice. Circumstances change and with them our choices may alter, but ultimately it’s our call, mine, my husband’s and my daughters’, how we approach education.

My girls are very creative and independent, they are learning all the time. And the thought of putting them in a classroom for 6 hours a day doesn’t sit well with me. They’ve been given the choice and they’ve chosen to learn at home.

So even though I may ask where your child attends school, I’m just being conversational.  I don’t worry whether or not their teacher is good or the curriculum is sufficient or they’re being socialized. What your child experiences at school is between you and them and their teacher. You’re their parent, not me. But just because public education is the norm, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to go about educating our children. I wish you the best on your chosen path.

 

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