I steer away from talking about unschooling. I’m new here. My kids are only 7 and 9. Though we’ve been learning to live this way for more than 5 years, how can I share a way of life that I don’t yet understand?
I cannot. I can share our journey and I really want to. I am so grateful that we were introduced to living this way with our children.
As an attachment parenting family (not card carrying, it just felt right) sending my kids away from me for school did not feel right. They were little. They did not want to go. They wanted my comfort, my snacks, my arms when they were hurt, and the freedom to ask questions openly as they came up. So we kept delaying the start of school (read that here).
My friend Vanessa introduced me to the work of Sandra Dodd early on. Vanessa and I went to hear her speak. I listened to Sandra. I saw all of the happy children and families. I listened to why and how Unschooling happens. I knew it was what I wanted for my family, but I had a lot of work to do. Correction: I have a lot of work to do. I’m doing it.
The Beginnings of Our Unschooling
Learning to live this way was really messy for a while. I went too fast- I was foolish. The kids were still so young, I did not need to go so fast- though I now know that going that fast is never good. I wish I’d deschooled more thoroughly, and earlier on. I wish, I wish, I wish…
But here we are now. I have an almost 7 and a 9 year old. I am so much nicer to my children than when they were smaller. I’ve almost stopped yelling. I say “yes” more. I have nearly let go of my control- entirely. My kids let me know when they feel belittled or like they are not being heard. They let me know when I am not being just with them. All of this is a big deal. Think about it. It’s a big deal.
You Have to See it to Believe It
I could not have imagined this life when we started out. I did not know it existed. I did not know that children can learn to read on their own. I did not know that one’s own children can learn math- complex math- without workbooks. I did not know that one day my brand new 9 year old would show me on a large scale globe what would happen to Florida and Massachussettes if our water level rises 6 meters. I did not know that he could know where on the map those places are without being taught. I did not know that he could know what a meter is without a lesson.
They can, though, and so much more. Seeing this happen has been incredible.
My husband and I are not hands off parents. We are not Free-Range parents. We do not leave our children to figure out life and learning on their own. Quite the opposite.
We are with our children every step that they want us with them. Sometimes we hold their hand. Sometimes we are leading the way. Sometimes we are running to catch up with them, and sometimes- lately, we are watching them as they sail far ahead of us- exploring things we did not know exist, and try things we did not know would interest them. It is during these times that we are learning how we can best support them.
This is the best part of unschooling. (Okay, it’s one of the best parts.)- getting to see my kids find a new interest or follow a passion fully. Getting to learn who they are really– not who they are as I’ve made them be. It is just the most beautiful thing.
This unschooling life has forced me to examine myself and it’s been hard work. It has also allowed me to know and support my kids authentically. Really, this is the beginning for us.
While my husband and I have so much still to learn, I can see where we are headed and it feels like a dreamland. A for real dreamland.
Two of my favorite Unschooling resources are Sandra Dodd and Jennifer McGrail (click on the name to access them). Here is a podcast with Pam Larrichia that talks more about my family’s beginning and where we are now.