It dawned on me today that I’ve never really talked about why we unschool. It’s not really a complicated thing. I mean, making it as simple as possible, we do it because it feels like the right thing to do. Isn’t that why anyone does anything?
Of course, there’s always a way to make it more complicated. In truth, it really is much more than simply because it’s our choice. It has a lot more to do with our values and how I want my kids to grow up.
Now, in no way are we as radical as we used to be. I never used to require anything from my kids. They showered and bathed because they wanted to. They brushed their teeth because they liked to. They weren’t required to have what everyone else was having for dinner (though I was only making one meal, so they had to choose something they could do on their own). We didn’t even really do family dinners. Everyone ate where they wanted to eat, engaged in what they wanted to be doing. Often times this meant watching television shows and chatting about them afterwards. We were totally radical.
And I wish we could be that kind of radical again, but it’s not in the cards. As long as we live where we do we’ve got to keep to stricter standards. Even so, we still want to unschool as much as humanly possible. We’re trying to do the minimum required to make the system happy, something I wish we didn’t have to do.
But why do we still do it? Wouldn’t it be easier to go the more formal route? Aren’t we kind of leaning towards the more formal route by means of doing curriculum?
Well, no, it wouldn’t be easier. No, we’re not really headed towards the formal homeschooling route. We’re just doing what it takes to follow the rules. It’s living within the laws of the society we live in, even if we don’t like all of them.
I’ve seen other homeschool families. I’ve known a lot of families that work fairly well with homeschooling of all varieties, but when the kids struggle they can sometimes grow to hate the experience. That’s what I hope to avoid, a scenario that the kids end up hating me, or hating learning because it doesn’t work for them.
Now, for Beekee, he really seems to like the whole workbook thing. He’s really interested in learning and has no problems with writing, so long as I write out the words for him to copy. I write faster than he can and he can’t write at speed of thought. For him I think a more formal style of education might suit him.
But overall this helps us avoid tears. Instead of fighting to get the required work done, I can relax and enjoy my time with my kids. I can show them stuff I think is interesting and cool. They may take to it or they may not. I introduce topics to my kids and they either take it or leave it. That’s the way it needs to be. I’m excited to be able to provide that for my kids. It’s a free-form kind of learning that I love.
Most of all, I unschool because I’m lazy. Yeah, I said it. I don’t want to be wasting my time working on lesson plans and projects that my kids will struggle through because they have to. I’d much rather throw a few things out there with the vibe of “Hey, isn’t this interesting?” Then I can sit back and watch them latch onto it, or not. If they’re not interested, we drop it and move on, but if they take to it, we go deeper into it.
Above all, it’s about freedom. We can live in the way we want to live. We can have fun, relax, and enjoy our time together. There doesn’t have to be tears over lessons, or fighting over getting things done. There’s no bribery or coercion. It’s fun, the way learning is meant to be. That’s what we love about it. That’s what we hope to keep doing with our time. Hopefully we’ll be able to get closer to that as we move into the future, but for now we do the best we can, taking it one day at a time.