Monday, May 07, 2007


I read a couple of days ago about a hs/unschooling mother who was talking about giving her son assignments, and how he was loving it. I tried not to judge it, (grin) especially since I was there not so long ago. She was thinking "he needs this", and "he does so much better when I give him something to do", and "he's lost without my guidance." Yup. Think I thought those same things (had those doubts) even less than a year ago.
What I have found, is that I had to go through the deschooling process.
Even though I was familiar with the process, and had an idea of what it entailed, I didn't really see it as something I needed to do. My children were pre school aged, they've never been even to daycare or preschool, and I was definitely on board with unschooling.
So I skipped it.
But, as nature will have it, turns out you can't. Doesn't matter if you choose it or not, your head and heart still have to go through the process.
What that process meant (and it might change and evolve, continuing) for me was getting over my son reading fluently at seven. Keeping up with peers. (ugh.) Encouraging him to learn so others would validate our efforts by saying "he's so smart!", and so forth. blech.
It wasn't about deschooling my child, it was about deschooling me.
It was getting over attachments.
When he was four, and pre kindergarten, it was easy to believe in unschooling. It's just a matter of continuing on with attachment parenting, in a lot of ways. My child learned to walk and talk, to make believe, to get his needs met, and so on. But something happened to me when official kindergarten started last fall.
There were back to school commercials. Hs groups were talking curricula and programs. I started to worry that we'd be behind, or that Eric's and mine families would be ashamed or embarrassed by us and our lack of school smarts.
But since then I think I've really started to let go. I actually think blogging about our day-to-day lives really helps, as I notice, keep track of, and remember bits and pieces of the learning and seeking that happens every day.
I don't think I went overboard with Trev last fall, I always gave him the option of saying no, and I truly don't feel that I was coercive, but it was the thought behind the suggestions that I had to shift.
The thoughts that came from fear.
The one that said "he might not learn anything if you don't steer him in the right direction." Learning was so much more evident when it was on paper.
At that time.
Now I watch the learning happen every day. It's in his vocabulary. His discoveries. His conclusions. His conversations. His relationships.

So deschoooling is learning to recognize these things.
And letting go of fear.
And learning how to embrace fully life's great moments of exploration and discovery.
And also finding peace with the fact that just because you sometimes can't see the learning happening, doesn't mean it's not there.
Not to worry, it'll show itself in a bit - in a most delightful and enchanting way.


Lena said...

So I followed the link from Kim's blog here and clicked on ru/unschooling and found this post. I LOVE this idea. It sounds wonderful and I can see the need to de-school. I never thought of myself as an unschooler because we have books that the kids DO learn from and I've honestly never even looked into unschooling at all. However, I'm finding my attitude towards learning changing all the time. My son turns 7 this month and is by no means a fluent reader. Do I think he will never be able to read well? No. I'm positive he will- and read very well by the looks of it. I tried to get him to learn to read but he just wasn't ready. Until now. Now he wants to learn and is learning and retaining quickly and easily. Relief. I'm finding that we skip "school" quite often and my kids are still learning more than most, lol. Anyway- I just wanted to say I loved this post. Mind if I read some more?

Stephanie said...

Lena -
Of course I don't mind.
As much as I'd LOVE to go on and on about unschooling, I'd love to sell you on it :), I won't.
But honestly, when folks say things like (my sister Kim, too)
"we learned a ton today, and didn't crack open one "school book" it just makes me go "well, Yeah!"
It's a beautiful, amazing, thrilling process.

Read all you want!