Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Unschooling. What's in it for me?
When I started out letting my kids stay away from school- I said it was for them. And it was. It was so that they could continue learning the way they were already doing; naturally, not contrived but pursuing their interests.Incidental learning would follow.
I wanted them to be able to stay away from a prescribed curriculum, from the ringing of bells interrupting play and work, from the frustration of early morning rushing around and being inside all day, missing family and friends. I wanted them to hang out in pajamas if they wanted to; to witness and be in the first snow of winter time; to see spring time premier with it's fanfare of plant diversity and explosion of color.
So they didn't go to school.
But I discovered there was so much about unschooling that was all for me. Yes for me.
First of all- peace of mind knowing that my children were within reach and in my care. Not with people I knew absolutely NOTHING about.
Secondly, I got to read all kinds of wonderful books to my kids; stories that I loved and that made my imagination and my fancy grow. We read and read and read. Reading these works of fiction (and continuing to read to my daughters-even though they are avid readers themselves) has long inspired me to write my own (getting there, getting there!).
Thirdly, by living close to my children I learned and continue to learn all sorts of things in response to their questioning. What makes the clouds? Why aren't kids allowed to vote? When will there be another solar eclipse? I'll often marvel that my education really got underway when my kid arrived.
I like stopping and observing things-plants, rocks, architecture and often I'd find that people would look at me strangely. Well once I had kids we would pause to look and I would observe to my heart's content with never a backward glance from any passerby.
I also found that unschooling young kids especially lead me to do more of what I love -being in the woods. We walked in the woods and watch the light play on the water of the creek, the green glow of leaves, experience the sudden shock of slithering snakes, pick delicious raspberries and blackberries from bushes only we knew where to find.
Unschooling satisfies my inquisitive nature be it from reading bulletin boards, picking up flyers and brochures, skimming newspapers for information and resources that feed my interest and expands my knowledge.
Unschooling has expanded me as a person. You know when you hear people say things like they haven't learned anything in years, I think what they mean is that they haven't pushed themselves to do anything different. They feel the same. They feel stagnant. Well for me, what unschooling my children has done is enrich my life. Unschooling liberates me. Because I allow myself to venture into the unknown I come out all 'the fuller.'
Some times it is difficult.
I have to walk the talk. Once I opened that door, once I allowed passionate interests to lead my children, I could not stop there. The challenge is forever on. How can I be better than I am; how can I be a better person than I am? That's what's in it for me.