It’s a choose-your-own-adventure, except that instead of an exciting mystery to determine the fate of the protagonist, it’s a battle of the minds, emotions, and wills to get my kid to do something not very fun. Today it was “I don’t want to go to school—don’t make me!” First from the 7-year-old, then from the 10-year-old. The second I hear those words my mind kicks into gear, going through all the techniques I’ve learned over the years—and tried sometimes with success—in the last month.
One thing I’m constantly grateful for in my job is that I’m surrounded by education-related content, and even better than that, I have opportunities to meet with educators from all over the U.S. At our spring meeting in DC, while catching up with my teacher friends, the one question almost all of them asked was, “How’s unschooling going?!”
There’s two things I loved about that: 1) they were genuinely excited and curious, and 2) it was an opportunity to share perspectives and get ideas. Some of them are familiar with unschooling and some aren’t, but all of them had great ideas for me to bring back home—innovative, engaging ideas from their own classrooms that work well with their kids.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about our unschooling adventure. “How’s homeschooling going?” people ask, not realizing (or remembering) the difference. And what’s struck me is how strongly I feel the need to explain what we’re doing and how it’s going, as if to provide enough detail to justify the whole thing—and sometimes, I realize, it’s as much to convince and reassure myself.
After each interaction, I take a step back and question it. What am I trying to prove? Why not just say, “great!” and move on? I feel a responsibility to not only be honest, but to be specific, and I’m not entirely sure why. It’s partly due, I’m sure, to the fact that in my circles, education is a big deal and I wouldn’t want those around me to think it’s something we’re taking lightly. And of course, so many of us were raised in a traditional public or private school setting, that the idea of homeschooling, not to mention unschooling, is murky, uncharted territory.
It was just me for five days. Well, me and the girls…and the cats…but in the adult category, just me. Sarah was off in Florida for a conference and got back late last night. I took a few days off work and took the role of solo parent while she was gone. And it was, in a word, awesome.
I loved having extra time with the girls, but I think what I loved most about it was the freedom. Since two of the three kids are homeschooled, there’s a lot of flexibility. Also, I’m usually juggling work and some aspects of the kids’ schedule and meals—which can be crazy-making—but this gave me the opportunity to focus solely on the kids and keeping the house in order.
It’s 9:56 p.m. as I begin to write this and I finally got the kids to sleep about 30 minutes ago—solo. Yes, I’m on my own with these little scruffers until Sunday. More on that later. It seems to make more sense to step back to look at that trip to the beach…
Taking the R-Pod Out, Round II
In my last post, I mentioned our new travel trailer and what it affords us vs. just sticking with the tried-and-true tent. Over this last Christmas break, we put that to the test with our first winter camping trip. (Side note: Can you still call it camping if you’re in a trailer? Since we were at a campground, I’m going with it.) We got hitched up and headed to San Simeon for a few days.
I wrote my first post about unschooling and how we were thinking about ways to homeschool a little less than three weeks ago, and pretty much right after I wrote that, it became clear we would be jumping in head first, sooner than later. As the testing began and the pressure rose for our first grader, her days became more miserable and her nights filled with stress and anxiety. We found ourselves thinking (again), surely there must be a better way. So we took the plunge and pulled her out of school.