Unschooling: Week One in the Books!

The first week of unschooling is a wrap! Since school got out last week, my stress levels have dropped significantly, and a more relaxed schooling option has started off well. I do have this little voice nagging inside my head nagging at me to do something more “school-like,” but I have been silencing that little voice fairly well. It’s kind of funny how you can remove yourself from public school and choose unschooling just to fight the tendency of recreating that same school setting at home.

Now, most unschooling blogs will tell you to give yourself a month or two to undo all that traditional school has done to you and your child. I have to admit this very hard, but very true and real. The idea is that after your child has had the time to deschool, they will want to start learning on their own. Now, we are only a week in, but all I have to say is, “It is true!” Jay has not had to sit down and learn anything, has been watching an atrocious amount of some vlog called “Hello, Neighbor” (insert gag reflex here, and, no, I’m not proud of this); yet, he has taken four swim classes this week, has been more helpful than usual with things like chores, working on being able to tell time ALL BY HIMSELF, having discussions with me about multiplication (even though he doesn’t know he’s talking about multiplication), AND yesterday he moved away from Hello, Neighbor to watch videos about how to build things out of everyday items, which has now inspired him to build something out of Popsicle sticks!

Our first week looked like this:

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Unschooling a Perfectionist

First things first! The perfectionist in this family is me, not Jay. Previously, I wrote about tracking progress and why I do it, but if it hadn’t been the perfectionist in me to start tracking progress at an absurdly young age, I would not have found the benefits of it nor would I be able to say that it was quite ridiculous in hindsight.

I first started tracking Jay’s progress at the age of 3. I had forms that they use in ABA to determine mastery of skills and progress, etc. I’m not an ABA therapist, BCBA or anything like that, but the form helped me to achieve the results I wanted by tracking his progress. At the end of each “session” I did the calculations, marked the date, the percentages and my observations. Silly, I know.

Why is it silly? Well, for starters, Jay was only three. At the end of the day, I don’t truly believe in measuring success by a series of calculations and numbers. I also don’t believe that good, bad or mediocre numbers equate to successful people, failures or average people. From that little bit of background, you can imagine how difficult it has been to wrap my mind around unschooling and how to do it.  Hence, I have used the word “journey” a lot, and will continue to do so because this is as much of a journey for me (if not more), than it is for Jay. He is already a care-free, little guy; I, on the other hand, am not.

How can I unschool myself? That’s a question I’ve been pondering and praying over for months. I’ve done a lot of research, and many of the unschoolers are so cool and chill. They really help you to understand that it is hard to let go while still making sure your child is learning. At the core of unschooling is education. It may sound as if it’s a whole lot of nothing going on, but actually it’s a whole lot of doing without really thinking about it. For example, have you ever been asked something along the lines of, “Hey, where’d you learn to do that?” And you say, “I don’t know. I just do it. It’s what we did growing up.” My family gets that a lot when it comes to cooking. And when those are your answers, guess what, you were unschooled. I have a friend who was raised in Peru until she was about 10 years old, and she can wash all of her clothes by hand really well. She actually started learning when she was around five years old. I asked her how she learned to do that because she had a lot of knowledge about it. Her answer: It’s just what we did. We didn’t have washing machines or dryers, so you have to learn how to wash your clothes.

So now, imagine, that is how you go about learning everything. There aren’t tests about it, you aren’t graded on it, you don’t have homework for it; you just do it. There is no time limit on how long you can learn about this concept, explore this idea, etc. And the things you learn become part of you, and they stick with you. Can you even imagine that? I have hard time imagining it, yet I’m expecting it to be my reality very soon! But,  back to answering the question: how can I unschool myself? Here’s my plan:

  1. Pray for patience;
  2. Remember what I’m doing and why;
  3. Don’t expect perfection from myself or from Jay;
  4. Take it easy;
  5. Have fun;
  6. Keep it light;
  7. Let him use his creativity;
  8. Don’t be rigid;
  9. Be patient, and;
  10. BE PATIENT!!!

I’ve decided to officially start our 2017 – 2018 school year on June 19th. Our last day of 1st grade is June 14th, so you may be asking, “Why so soon?”

  1. Unschooling is not the same as traditional school. It’s not going to be hardcore and intense, filled with homework, worksheets and tests. Oh, and guess what; we don’t have to start school at 8:00 am! We can sleep in!
  2. I need as much time and practice as I can get with this method!

To add to point #2, I truly believe that unschooling is really a way of life. The biggest and toughest aspect for me to get over is my own mentality, so the sooner I can make those mental shifts and changes, the  better off we’ll both be. I have been trying to train myself a little bit, but it’s really difficult when we have school things to do, like homework and PTA. Once school is out, we’ll have more time and be able to utilize more of each day and weekends better. I don’t believe that education happens Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm, nor do I believe it is a laborious and burdensome chore. Rather, I see it as a series of wondrous, curious moments that can shape our appreciation of the world and people around us. It truly is a beautiful thing!

And that’s how I plan on unschooling this perfectionst.

 

 

Unschooling: Why?

My reason for unschooling is simple (to me): I want to provide my child with the best education possible. Every single person learns differently, and it should be embraced; not forced to conform or fit into a tiny, pretty (or not so pretty) box. There are things that I want my child to learn that a traditional school system does not provide. On the other end of the spectrum, schools or government, feel they have the right to teach my child about things that I feel are my responsibility; my domain. Overall, I want my son to grow up to be a well-rounded, well-balanced, and well-adjusted adult.

I chose unschooling because a traditional school set up is not working for us. Bringing that spirit into my home is not what I want for either of us. It would be painful, and I might as well keep him in public school! If you have a high-spirited, challenging child, I’m sure you can see clearly why that wouldn’t work. After a few years of research, and a really bad year in first grade (can this school year be over yet?),  I prayed exhaustively on the matter. Finally, I came across this method called unschooling. From what I understand of unschooling, it is the exact opposite of everything I know about school. Unschooling will allow me to provide the kind of education and educational experience that I want for Jay. One that fosters curiosity, moves at his pace,  allows him to express himself creatively and freely, to explore the possibilities or impossibilities, and allows him to learn in a way that is natural to him! I cannot think of a more organic or natural way of learning.

I am totally looking forward to the learning experience myself, and all of the bonding we will be doing. I am excited, nervous and anxious to unschool because it is basically the opposite of everything that I know about school. I feel that I will be learning just as much as my son throughout the process.
Let the journey begin!