Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thoughts on unschooling

This post is going to jump around a lot.  Because that's how my brain is working right now.  Have you heard about this idea called "unschooling"?  It's basically what it sounds like - the opposite of school.  Some think that means kids watch tv all day and never leave the house.  And maybe that's how some parents do it.  This idea alarms many people.  I'm not sure why.  Some think that these "uneducated" kids will be the ones on government assistance when they're older because there is no way they can be contributing members of society.   I tend to think most people on government assistance are public school graduates, not homeschool kids who were "unschooled" so it doesn't bother me.  In fact, I'd love to see some data on this.  I'm okay with parents choosing how to raise and educate their children, even if it looks completely different than my choices. 

But I digress.  I told you, lots of jumping around.

The idea of unschooling isn't new to me.  I read about it when we first started and I liked some parts of it but didn't know if I could handle being that "different".  At least if we were going to homeschool, we could do school at home and have some things in common with my friends.  My kids could complain about math or about doing school when they didn't feel like it or about looking forward to summer break.  Wait a minute, maybe we have too much in common.  Maybe learning shouldn't feel so much like school.

I keep reading more and more about unschooling and even though it still scares me (that whole idea of being different), it also calls to me.  I hate forcing my kids to write when they don't want to write.  I hate making my daughter do math problems that don't mean anything to her and I can tell she has turned her brain off because she does not want to do them.  I hate that Brendan doesn't read for fun anymore because he has to read so much in his other classes.

I love when Tori grabs a notebook and starts writing her own chapter book.  I love when Brendan gets out the circuit kit and puts them together to make some contraption that can turn on and off.  I love when Owen copies the map because he wants to draw the countries.  I love when Rachel decides to copy a book she's reading because she likes writing her letters.

I have witnessed first hand that my children love learning when I provide the materials and don't force it.  I have also witnessed the frustration and tears when I try to make learning happen at a specific time.  So, why am I even questioning it still?  Worry, fear, and comparison.  So I am praying for wisdom and courage.  Courage to take the path less taken, to do what others will say is "easy" even though it is the complete opposite.