Nearly a year into unschooling, I feel like I have some things to say about this radical learning style many are drawn to. That’s what this blog is for: a real time walk through of our days and moments as this shift of focus moves us towards a more authentic lifestyle.
Well, maybe my child would like preschool, I thought. Surely it would be worth it if my child was happy! So was he? Did he enjoy making friends, playing with playdough with his peers, was he excited about being there? … Not really! When my first was three he told me he didn’t like preschool “because there are too many kids there”. He struggled, we struggled. We shortened his class time. He was so patient with me as I gently pushed along, because isn’t preschool the thing you are supposed to do? It was hard. I thought I was doing the right thing.
It wasn’t easy for me to jump into Unschooling. I have had wonderful experiences in my life when I followed the road less traveled, yet I was still under the impression that school is school, and there are many alternative options to choose from if you want to choose a more tailored experience for your kids. And so, starting around the time my son was toddling around, I sought smaller co-op preschools that would enhance my and my sons’ learning experience. Little did I know at the time it was me that wouldn’t be able to conform to the daily school grind. Even the way less demanding schedule and expectations of preschool had me frazzled. Whenever I had doubts about early education, I got plenty of pushback from friends, family and society that preschool was the way to go. I needed to give it space; kids learn how to adjust in time, right? But I wasn’t being honest with myself. I was the one who could not adjust well.
We stuck with preschool, and over time my son’s experience improved! We moved to a new preschool, and it seemed like a much better fit. Something shifted, and I thought maybe we just needed to find the right school. Okay. Maybe it’s worth the trouble if my kid is happy, I thought. The school co,-op offered a kindergarten class with an amazing teacher, so of course we enrolled. After a few months of kindergarten I noticed some signs. F was tired at the end of the day. He didn’t want to play with his brother. He seemed withdrawn from all of us. I worried. I had just had my third baby, was it that? Yes that played a role, but ultimately I realized he had outgrown this learning environment, and maybe finding the right school fit was going to be harder than I thought.
I found myself dreading the whole production that school demands of families, before fully experiencing it! The waking early, the shuffling out the door, the being organized for every step from wake to sleep, and if something goes awry that can ruin your whole day. I’m not a morning person, I’m not good at getting places on time and I am not organized in every aspect of my life. And this would be required of me, whether we went to the neighborhood school, or a private school. I was miserable just thinking about it. Homeschooling was becoming a clearer choice as the months wore on with no one happy in Kindergarten or preschool.
I was open to other options if we found something worthwhile, but in the meantime, while F was in Kindergarten and R in preschool, I poured over styles of homeschooling and curriculum, and thought I had found the “right one.” I took some online classes on how to nurture kids’ natural learning abilities. I was keen on using the nature inspired program I purchased, and dillegently followed online guidance for connection with other mother’s on the same path. It was inspiring, until my kids wouldn’t engage with the curriculum. I panicked. Wait, I thought they would like this! This is better than sitting at a desk! When I or other moms would ask our online teacher for help, she would give very unschool-y answers. I finally was like yes, more of that please. We needed to fully jump in to this approach to learning. As uncertain as I was of this radical approach, I immersed myself in whatever podcasts, books and blogs felt good to me. I was so inspired by what Unschooling parents had to say about their process, I just had to give it a try. The allure of strong relationships muffled my doubts. So, the fall of 2019 is when we dipped our toes into Unschooling. And here we are!
A year in, and what do I have to say? This blog is going to help me figure that out! I feel like we as a family have hit the point of no return in our deschooling process. We have had enough challenges turned into curiosities, and have had enough trust grow in our relationships with one another, I don’t think we could willingly go back to conventional parenting. I’m going to share our process and more, and continue to unfold this beautiful method that focuses on relationships. I’m excited to be here and share our winding journey with you. Thanks for joining me.