March 18, 2008

From Rotorua to Tauranga & An Unschooling Plan

After two nights with our host family in Rotorua we said farewell and hopped on a bus to Tauranga where another homeschooling family had invited us into their home. This next family lived on a hilltop with the most wonderful view. They had a miniature pony, chickens, a duck, and the sweetest dog, a bull mastiff named Zara.
That first night we roasted marshmallows in a fire pit in their garden then headed off to bed. The next day they took us to a beautiful reserve where we hiked to this waterfall,

had a picnic lunch, fed the ducks,then walked to this peaceful spot beside the water
where I found this tree with these crazy roots sticking up all around its trunk. Doesn't it look like a place where the faeries might dance?
On our way back to their house we stopped and walked around these lovely boulders. After a second night in Tauranga we checked out a few local beaches then caught the bus back to Auckland. It was such a fun week we needed two days to recover when we got back!

I can't stress enough how wonderful it has been getting to know all these homeschooling families. It's not just the fact that they are sharing what they love about New Zealand with us that makes meeting them so wonderful, though that in itself is a rare treat for any traveler. What I love is getting to know them and seeing how homeschooling works in their lives. No family we've met does homeschooling the same way. We've met traditional homeschoolers, radical unschoolers, and everything in between.

Being so new to unschooling I've frequently found myself wanting to "do it right," especially in those first few months (I'm approaching day 200 as an unschooler, by the way!). But trying to do something right often means following someone else's lead and while a guide is surely necessary early on (and I thank my lucky stars to have found several), at a certain point one needs blaze her own trail. Of course I'll always have a map in my back pocket in case of emergencies. But eventually I think I'll take everything I've learned and come up with a version of unschooling that's unique to our family.

For now, though, we're just enjoying our time in New Zealand and not thinking much about school, un-, home- or otherwise. Is Jerry learning anything? You bet. For math he's converting NZ Dollars to US Dollars, converting metric to standard measurement and back. He's baking. He's seeing our planet's inner workings in action. He's learning about the history of New Zealand, and with it some of Britain's history. And that's just the tip of the iceberg (he'll be seeing one of those up close in a few weeks).

This trip has made deschooling much easier for me. I wanted this blog to be an accurate representation of a typical first year of going from school to unschool. But with this trip I feel like I'm cheating--it won't really be a typical at all. I've been wondering, though, if thinking of the first year of deschooling as a vacation at home would be helpful for people. You know, buying a guidebook and doing all the things a tourist would do if they were visiting. I'm going to try to keep up the vacation when we get home. And I'm going to stick my nose out of my shell at Park Days a bit more so I can meet more people--just to keep up the things that I've enjoyed about being here.

By the way, I've decided that the whole month for every year in school thing should be thrown out the window. I think it's best for people fresh out of school to take an entire year. During that year follow your bliss, act like you're on vacation, go out of your way to meet other home- and unschoolers then, when that year is up, take a look at where you are and determine where you (and your family) want to go from there. That's my plan anyway and I'm sicking with it!

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