The other day I was texting my best friend and we started talking about my experience unschooling. One of the things I mentioned was that it is so nice to not be tied to a grade-specific curriculum or any curriculum for that matter. The flexibility and natural approach to learning is so awesome.
I have to admit that, as a new unschooler, it’s kind of weird having such relaxed days. Honestly, Jay and I have been gaming it up (very frustrating), going to bed super late, sleeping in late in the mornings, and we have been playing a lot of card games. Playing games with Jay is super challenging, though. He is such a poor sport whether he is winning or losing. It is so painful, and so hard to be patient sometimes!
Unschooling can be a lot of work, although I suppose that might depend on your circumstances. As a single parent, I could not do it without the help of my mom and sister. I take Jay to work with me for a few hours a week, and they cover the rest of the time. I try to get him involved in everything that I’m doing because that is when we get a lot of hands on learning and conversations going. He is learning to cook, tell time, get creative, etc., but honestly, sometimes I do not feel like I have the patience and I don’t want the mess or whatever is required at the time because I am simply tired some days.
With all of that said, patience is key! Jay is not even eight years old and he lacks creativity and imagination. One thing that I see unschooling is doing for him is getting him to be more creative. He rarely used to build Lego sets, but lately, he has been doing a lot of building with Legos, and not just the sets! He is starting to build things of his own imagination, and it has been cool to see that change come about slowly. The more creative he is the more he does independently. (In my next post, I will talk about my battle with PPD, and what unschooling has done for my relationship with my son.) While playing with Jay and spending more time with him is great, it is equally exhausting, and sometimes I just need him to do things on his own. So when he is creative, he works more independently, which allows me to fill up my well of patience. As I was writing this, he had a stack of paper that he was folding; some are being turned into paper airplanes, others fans, and still others are mistakes. He did that for about 45-minutes. And QUIETLY!
When all is said and done, patience is required for how you deal with your child, but it is also required when you are beginning to unschool. As you will probably read on every unschooling blog, there is a deschooling period that you and your child go through, and that can take months in some cases. In our case, school was out in June (2017), and I think we are still deschooling to some degree. So it is true; be patient and let the learning process happen naturally, and stress-free.
Lastly, I believe that children learn by watching their parents handle various situations. So when you are running low on patience, or your patience tank is running on empty, just remember it is a good opportunity to model for your children how to handle that situation. When it’s really bad, I walk away and tell him I need to be alone for a little while. Other times, I call for a quiet time or do something to disrupt the thing that is draining my patience, and still at other times I may be described as an erupting volcano. So stay strong and keep on!
In another post, I will write about how I am feeling the need for structure, not in curriculum, but in our home life with regards to unschooling.