We have been in and out of unschooling for about a year now. We do it and then we don’t. Such a lack of consistency. Until recently.
I don’t know how I missed it but I did. I went and rid our house of all of the formal curriculum and programs for learning and we jumped right in to unschooling.
I spent days getting out puzzles and snap circuits, we stocked up on marker is in paints and all sorts of crafty things.
It never occurred to me once to take the time, for myself and my kids, to deschool. To really deschool.
If you are not sure what deschool is, let me just say that it is necessary. For anyone who is beginning their journey into homeschooling. For moms and dads; for kids too. Because we all think we know what school is supposed to look like. And that is how every one of us can wind up making homeschooling worse.
What would you do if there was no such thing as school? How would you do the things you need to do? A big part of deschooling is living for an extended period of time as though school didn’t exist; this is a time when we detox ourselves some all of our preconceived notions. We break those chains. We set ourselves free.
We have never really done that. We pretended to deschool; I have allowed my children sometimes days and sometimes a week or two. But this is not enough. It has never been enough.
For the most part my kids love to learn, but they quickly got burned out on programs and curriculums and worksheets. I remember hating those when I was a kid too.
Of course we are all convinced that this is the only way to learn. We have to follow a certain pattern, our children have to know specific things by a specific time or else….
Or else what??
In a conversation with another mom at my kids gymnastics class, we were talking about this very thing. Especially my oldest son who is soon to be in “high school”.
I loved her response to me when I shared my anxieties and fears about his learning. He struggles with math. He hates to read. In many ways he is very advanced for his age while in other ways she is very behind.
I love how she smiled at me and casually said about these things that he hasn’t mastered and doesn’t know just yet, “So what?”
I admit that initially I thought it was kind of flippant and immature. But as she continue to explain this to me, it was like a light bulb went on.
What really matters? Whatever things are children really do need to know? certainly memorizing dates and places and historic events can be nice but does it really matter? If they know how to learn, if they are able to think critically and search out whatever they need .. maybe they don’t know it when the world says they should but so what?
we cannot truly help our children to become lovers of learning until we break free of what we have been programmed to believe about what really is an “education.”
So here’s what I am doing right now, to deschool myself. My children are deschooling along with me.
I have made myself some promises, they will be hard to keep. For now I will not do any curriculum, and I will not download any free learning materials no matter how awesome they look.
I will be still. I will let it go.
I will trust my God.
Another thing we are doing is avoiding planning. this doesn’t include the fun opportunities my kids are a part of. They do woodworking every other. There is gymnastics and lots of time on the ice; there is leather working and there are lots of zoos and museums and parks to enjoy (at least when it finally gets warm here in Wisconsin lol).
I have promised myself that I will not sign every moment of the day but I will step back and wait to see you organic learning happening with my children.
I also promised myself I will read. I love to read but I don’t do as much as I would like. I am sure many of you have seen pictures of piles of books but I have all over our house. Many are on homeschooling, often unschooling. I promised myself to read them all. John Holt, John Taylor Gatto … A host of websites and resources that I have collected but never really dug into. I will dig in now. I will search for more.
I I will try the cast my fears and anxieties on the Lord, after all I am responsible for my children’s education right?
But how much are they learning just living day to day. It’s challenging to forget about school and grades and subjects. Yet it is fun to live everyday as though it were a Sabbath day.
We can slow down. We can enjoy one another.
I can step back and watch my children. Really get to know them and understand what makes them tick. I can see for myself the things that they love and then go after them.
Free homeschool that trend I have talked to recommends one month of deschooling for every year the child was in school.
That is such a long time. Especially for my older one. And wild he has always been homeschooled, the school they speak of is the one that operates just like the schools so many of us know and do not love.
What if life is really can be our curriculum? When I stepped back it sounds crazy but not that crazy.
This is a way that is holistic. It is when we see everything as connected. As my children drive to monster trucks and fly their drones; small my daughter knits and makes her own hair bows, I can see you the many things they are learning.
Our our children want to learn. They will learn. They do not need our help. How many of us had to teach our babies how to walk? We simply have to trust them and in turn trust ourselves. Not an easy task but one has anything worth doing ever been easy?
When you do not force our children to learn, our children will learn what they need when they need it, learning simply by their own desire. This is what we need. This is what I want for my children. Don’t you?