It feels like a reached the top of a verrrrry steep mountain this weekend. A metaphorical mountain, but anywho…it’s a triumph.
Ever since we realised that the Steiner school wasn’t a great fit for Tabitha, and decided to homeschool (which was always the plan…until I changed it!) I have been veering wildly between elation and DREAD.
“How am I going to coordinate a curriculum that works for children of different ages?”
“How am I going to have a life?”
“This is not going to give ME enough ME time”
So, things haven’t been a whole lot of fun in my brain of late. Then, just this weekend, I turned a corner. I have been resisting the idea of unschooling ever since I heard the phrase.
“Pfft! Unschooling?! You can’t let children just do as they please! They need lessons! They need routine and structure. Otherwise they’ll surely just be wild!”
Ohhh, my mind can be a minefield of dogma at times. Especially in this field. My Mum was a Headmistress for goodness sake. I was raised to believe that a formal education was of paramount importance. Surely, surely we wouldn’t be better off without school?
When I met my Husband, he shared some of his insights on the school system and how it emerged and evolved into what it is now. When we had Tabby he suggested we look into homeschooling. I said “no”…then I said “yes”…then changed my mind again. I’m so annoying. Then we hit upon the ‘compromise’ of Steiner school, it seemed perfect. It was a total disaster. She didn’t care if it was Steiner school or borstal, she just wanted to be back at home with her Mum. It wasn’t just the first day that there were tears, this was week after week of fighting every instinct in me, to peel my sobbing child off me and leave her in the care of the school we had moved Heaven and Earth to send her to. She said she enjoyed the things they did there, but she didn’t want to be away from me. I felt so guilty and so trapped. If I admitted defeat and withdrew her, what did the future hold for me?
Well, obviously in the context of this story you are probably aware that we did withdraw her. She ain’t designed to be in a classroom, no Sir. And it’s only now I realise that that’s OK. In fact it’s better than ok, it’s great because now I’ve finally come to see that the best education approach for our family is, in fact, unschooling.
“Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities, often initiated by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults” Source: Wikipedia
This weekend I was reading my digital issue of The Green Parent (on my iPhone, while doing a night feed, as one does…) when I happened upon a new article about unschooling. I’d read a bit about it before, but I think I must’ve been doing it with my uppity, judgy opinions already festering in the back of my mind. In the last week I’ve been really focusing on being peaceful with Tabby at all times, and this time I was able to read with fresh eyes. This approach looked perfect for us. Natural, instinctive and wholly in line with my parenting approach.
Now? I’m excited! Everyday experiences have become the basis for long chats about the way things work, Tabby is learning from the person she knows and trusts above anyone else: Me. And I’ve been relishing the opportunity to explain things to her in depth, and to research them together. I don’t need to worry about what my life will be like. I’ve come to realise that my children are my life. Utterly and completely. I was never a career girl. I was always looking forward to having children, and now they are here! I’m going to enjoy every second that we get to learn together. Everyday. I don’t begrudge it at all, I can already feel what an awe-inspiring journey this is going to be. Raising two human beings, the future generation. This approach feels like Freedom and it represents the way I want my children to live their lives. Freely, without constraints, and the chance to chase every rainbow that comes their way. Unschooling For The World, I say!