Reflection 2016:1

So we have officially decided to unschool Cam. I don’t know why I say officially, but we’ve really talked about it and come to terms with the fact that she will not be going to school in the fall (or for many falls to come).

In some ways this makes me sad. I love the succession of the seasons and because of my childhood going to school I feel like the school year is very intimately connected with that. It makes me feel like she won’t have that even though I know this is not true. In our family we do a lot that is connected in with the seasons. Gardening, chickens, bees to name a few. Plus our family traditions and celebrations focus on the seasons too. For my husband I know he is sad that Cam will not be a “lifer” at the school he went to. He had deep ties to the school (we both do, but his are deeper and more positive than mine). I’m sure he’s mourning the loss of that potential connection, one we thought for several years would happen. 

I think we both have needed to come to terms with the idea that Cam will have a happy childhood without having one that looks like ours. It’s a mind shift for sure. 

Now that we are going to unschool we’re actually talking to people about our decision. I am getting questions from people. Is she going to school in the fall? Oh, really? What exactly is unschooling? And that right there has been a hard answer for me to articulate. Basically nothing is going to change. We’re just going to let her be. She can play and imagine and choose what she’s ready to learn. Which brings me to her latest endeavor. She’s started to write letters. 

The other day I was working in a puzzle magazine and she was watching me out of the corner of her eye. After a few minutes she leaned over and asked if I would help her write some words. I showed her how to form the letters and told her which ones to write and she did it. And she’s been doing it since. Prior to this she had been doing scribbled lines to indicate text, but she made a comment that she no longer needed to write in “her way” (which, as a side note, made me sad to see that go, it was so sweet).

This is how unschooling works and works well. She has the interest, no forcing or cajoling from me. I’ve offered to teach her letters before, but she hasn’t been ready or interested. Now that she is, though, she’s off. Slowly she is learning the letters’ names and the sounds they make. I suspect if she keeps this up she’ll be reading in six months or so. I’m helping her when she asks for it instead of inserting myself and deciding she has reached an arbitrary date for learning something. It’s very exhilarating to see this happen, because I think until you see your child do it, it’s worrisome and hard to disconnect from everything you’ve been taught about school and the traditional model. 

So, yeah. I’m working on formulating an explanation of what it is we want to do with Cam, not because I’m confused, but because others are. And they are genuinely curious about what it is we mean.  

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