It’s hard to believe we’ve already been back at this for over a year. Homeschooling has just become a natural part of what we do. We’ve spent a lot of our time figuring out who our new identity as a homeschooling family is. It’s been an interesting journey, that’s for sure. I expect it to be a good one going on into the future too.
We’ve found a lot of things that work for us, and don’t work for us in the year we’ve spent together. Some of it’s a struggle to get through and other pieces are just easy, natural, and fun. We’ve got a lot to think about going forward into the future. This year we’re reassessing everything we’ve done and have been doing so we can figure out exactly where we stand.
I have to admit, I’m torn. A part of me wants to ditch the ideas of unschooling completely, move on to a more structured style of homeschooling. Part of that is outside pressure, but part of it is the lack of trust I have in unschooling. What if my kids don’t grow up learning all they need to know? What if they fall flat on their faces in college because they don’t know enough math? What if they fail their English 101 classes because they just don’t have the writing skill to back it up? Worse still, what if they find they have no job skills and end up working a dead end retail job?
I know these are fairly common problems unschoolers face. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the question, “What if they never learn to read?” It’s hard to have faith in your kids like that. I mean, in a world where they’re expected to have covered so much content by the time they’re “out of high school” how can a kid accumulate all that knowledge on their own?
What if the kids decide they really do want to go to a brick and mortar school someday? Beekee is seriously considering it for next year. We put in the application for the charter school because he said he’s interested. Of course, he probably wouldn’t be interested if I hadn’t brought it up, but he mentioned having interest last year when a friend of mine brought it up, so I figured I wanted him to have the opportunity, but what if his writing skills aren’t on par? What if he’s not a strong enough reader? I haven’t really pushed those lessons on him this year. It’s one of those things we’ve kind of cast aside to be unschoolers and we’ll figure out the rest of it later. At least I know he shouldn’t be too far behind on math, so that’s a thing.
And what about Luca and Sander? What if they want to go to a public school some day? Sander is already talking about wanting to go back to his old elementary school, and he’s got Luca thinking about it too. Eventually they’re going to be old enough to make their own decisions about going back, and I’ll have to give them the freedom to choose. Wouldn’t it be an easier transition if they had a more solid schooling structure to rely upon? Shouldn’t I be doing this for them?
This is the hardest part of unschooling. As much as I want to go back to it with reckless abandon, I’m having a really hard time giving up the curriculum we do have. I love our math program. While I absolutely hate doing phonics, at least the kids are learning how to decode words. Isn’t that something they should be doing?
Doesn’t it all come back to “should?” A friend of mine used to say, “Stop shoulding on yourself!” I think he’s totally right. I have to give up this need for worrying about what we “should” be doing and go back to trusting my kids the way I always used to.
It’s also hard because there’s the whole thing with family expectations. They expect that the kids will hit certain landmarks like their peers, and I’ll be doing them a great disservice if I don’t meet those landmarks. It’s not exactly easy to stand up against all of that influence in my life.
So the way things have fallen out so far, we’re going to keep history, because the kids seem to like what we’re doing, which is reading out of Story of the World once a day. We’re going to stick with the math curriculum, because I love it and I’m not comfortable giving it up yet. We’re going to stick with phonics, because while I hate it, I’m going to give it a bit longer before I throw that to the wind, and we’re going to see how it goes.
Next year we’re going to reassess where we stand. It’s possible that Beekee will be back in schools again, but Luca and Sander will be home still. We’ll see if they’re still interested in doing the curriculum, or maybe we’ll just go for broke and unschool like we’ve never unschooled before. One way or another, we’ve got time to figure it out.