September 25, 2007

Sweet Relief

Unschooling does not mean unparenting. What a relief! Some of you might be thinking, "Duh!" But seriously, when you read some of what is written about unschooling it does sound a little like unparenting. You can't deny it. I was getting kind of flummoxed by the whole thing, to tell you the truth, but our weekend away in San Francisco, a stern talking to from a good friend, and a conversation with the woman from the ISP (finally!) have jarred me back to my senses. Here is what I've figured out:

1.) There is a way to let your child lead the way without giving up the reins. (Figuring out how to do that is what this blog is all about.)

2.) I have to trust my instincts. My instincts told me to pursue unschooling and I listened. They told me my son was spending too much time on the computer and I plugged my ears. I had read a lot about deschooling and letting the child make his own choices so I ignored my feelings but, the truth is, that amount of computer use just rubs me the wrong way. I did put my child into a Waldorf school for five years after all! I'm not saying the computer wasn't fun for a couple weeks. It was new and J was well aware that the unlimited playtime wouldn't last, but I was feeling so weird about putting restrictions on him. I was worried that all the great results I've read about with unschooling wouldn't happen for us if I was too heavy-handed with the restrictions. I'm over that now though. I'm reclaiming my right to make rules.

3.) Family meetings help. We had a family meeting last night, after we got back from our fabulous weekend in San Francisco. We each had a chance to talk about what we hoped would come of our homeschooling adventure, my husband voiced some of his concerns, J listened and agreed that he could do math every other day as long as he doesn't have too many worksheet problems to do. I talked about going back to our old rules regarding the computer and television. J talked about what he wants to learn (he's sticking with manga drawing and echolocation). I think we all felt our opinions were heard and respected.

So, I'm recognizing that there are as many ways to unschool as there are unschooling families and I think I'm catching a glimpse of what unschooling will look like for us. It's still kind of hazy, but now that I'm thinking more in terms of what will work for us instead of what we're "supposed" to be doing, I think the fog has begun to lift.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've made a lot of progress in a very short period of time!

Terri in NY

Tammy Takahashi said...

You have some great observations! Keeping true to your family and to yourselves is more important than any label. You recognize relationships come first, and part of that is to be a parent. That's what kids expect of us. Yet you don't take your role for granted and let your kids be their own people. Finding that balance - that's the key. And like you said, it's going to look different for every family.

Good luck finding your balance point.