Unschooling Reflections

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I’m just going to jump right in with this one. I had been thinking of putting the girls in school for the past two months now. In many ways I feel like our lives have been turned upside down. And I was beginning to doubt myself in many areas, unschooling being one.
I would frequently ask myself if I were doing it right. I had talked about it with a few friends and they all said the same thing….you could try it and if things don’t work pull them out.

I’ve been under so much stress lately and felt like I’m constantly in a state of anxiety….not a good feeling and not a good way to live your life. I found myself being more short tempered than usual, especially with Nakiah. Her strong, energetic personality, mixed with mine can be a recipe for disaster some days.
I’ve had to really step back and figure out what to do.

My problems with the kids have nothing to do with the kids, and have everything to do with me. They’re young and doing their best to navigate their way through life. They live in the moment, they don’t worry much. Life is all about discovery, curiosity, and play. Sometimes I forget that and start searching for more but it may not be more of what my family needs.

I research so I’m constantly reading and wanting to stay in the loop on certain topics…. Unschooling, Birth, Breastfeeding mainly.
But then I get started and don’t know when to stop!
You know one of my biggest mistakes the past two months? Taking my eyes off my kids and looking around at other kids, other peoples lives, and focusing on what they don’t know or what we don’t do. Especially with Nakiah since she’s the oldest. The truth is she knows a lot! They both do.

We suspect that Nakiah has Dyslexia and ADD. I’m Dyslexic and didn’t find out until high school and still nothing was done. Charles was diagnosed with ADD as a child. Besides these two things being hereditary, we’ve with seen signs. So I’m working on having her tested for both. Here’s something else….to many in the unschooling community, this is a big no no. I’ve been told that she’s only 7 so how can I know this about her and why would I want to label her that way at such a young age.
I’m tired of letting people who don’t know my child like I do, if at all dictate what I will or won’t do with and for her.
We need to know what’s going on so we know how to best help her. We believe these are real conditions that affect how we function in the world.

Here’s what I’ve done…first I stopped reading about Unschooling, Dyslexia, and ADD. Then I sat and talked with Charles about my concerns, next we decided that putting the kids in school would not solve our problems but possibly create more. There are many reasons I could list for not sending them to school…..but the main reason is that I actually like being around my kids. I really and truly enjoy their company. I do not believe that school is the place for them. I love watching them play and listening to their dialogue. I love having this front row seat to their learning.

I think adding a bit more structure and rhythm to our days will work for everyone. That will require more discipline on my part.
We’ve decided to start weekly science projects. Have more cooking and baking. More home life and a monthly outing to museums and such. Girl Scouts, more documentaries, and still allowing plenty of time for free play.

I had to stop worrying  and wondering if I’m doing this right, because I’m going to mess up from time to time. I’ve put the focus back on my kids, watching them intently and taking notes.
I always thought we needed to be out and on the move several times a week. I’ve recently discovered this is not true. I like being how more often now and so do they.
What matters most is the relationships we have with each other, that they are happy and healthy.

I wish I had picked up on this two months ago when my feelings surfaced, but I’m grateful for the journey. It made me take a good long look at our lives. See what’s working and what isn’t. It put the focus back on the reasons we chose unschooling in the first place.
As a family we’re happy with our new ideas and that’s all that matters. Not every single day has to be full. It’s perfectly ok to relax and just be some days.

p.s. The title was Unschooling Confessions, but I’ve changed it to Uschooling Reflections. It was brought to my attention that confessions could imply that there is only one right way to unschool and I definitely do not believe that.

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18 thoughts on “Unschooling Reflections

  1. Pingback: One Day At A Time | The Mahogany Way

  2. I have to admit, I’m one of those moms that refuses to label my kids. I suspect my son is ADHD and my daughter definitely has signs of ADD, but I don’t want them to be tested because my label became my excuse. My partner and I both had a lot of problems once we were labeled, but that was largely because we were pushed to be medicated. Your situation is different. Schools aren’t going to push you to medicate because it’s the easy answer. You need to do what’s best for you and your family. Avoiding the labels works for us because we don’t need to know the problem to work with it. Your family may be different and getting your child tested may be the answer to a happier, healthier, more balanced home. It’s all in what you want to do.

    I have to admit, this has been a summer of doubts of my own too. It’s been a struggle, so I hear where you’re coming from. It takes a lot to sit back, take a deep breath, and realize that there is no “doing it right” that works across all families. There is only what’s right for your family.

    I’m looking forward to read more about your family’s journey, and to hearing more about the decisions you make.

    • I like to think of it as more of a diagnosis than a label. I have asthma, but don’t refer to myself as an asthmatic. We wouldn’t tell her until she was older and better able to understand. We still want her to be the happy playful child that she is. One thing that would change in my mind is knowing exactly what I’m working with. That’s how my mind works. If I know facts then I can better figure out what to do.

      I think every homeschooling family wonders if they are doing it right at one or many points throughout the years. Thankfully we can all tailor homeschooling to our unique family and situations. Sometimes it can be a little more difficult than others….but we all find our way eventually.

      • A thought just crossed my mind. Have you tried looking into a gluten intolerance? My son has really bad ADHD symptoms, but it turns out to likely be a problem with gluten. I’m not saying that’s what your daughter’s problem is, but it never hurts to check out every option. The more you know, the better capable you are of handling it.

        As for the diagnosis, like I said, I can’t blame you. Personally I wouldn’t do it, but I know a lot of families that would because it helps give them an idea of what to expect. You’re totally right. It really just is each family making the experience their own, owning it, so to speak. I think that’s really what makes homeschooling work so well! I’m really looking forward to reading more about your experience, and hearing what the diagnosis comes back as.

  3. Oh how I understand the sentiments here. This is my “who cares” year. I’m exhausted with “looking like a homeschooler”, with “using the right curriculum”, with “meeting the standards.” The state of perpetual nervousness you described is with me all the time. I’m letting it go. I’m doing what MY GIRLS need this year. I’m meeting them where they are. I will use curriculum. That’s how we work best. But I’m not panicking about what others say about our year. I’m planning to have fun. I wish you luck. You have my ear… Say hello any time you need the reminder that you indeed know those beauties best. Hugs!

  4. I completely agree!!!! it is very much OK to just BE and not to be doing all the time. Giving yourself space to act on impulse or to do nothing but what inspires you is also very important!!! As a dyslexic myself, which I only discovered when my daughter was found to be dyslexic (I was labelled as stupid and lacking in concentration! You know the usual!) I understand how difficult it for children to be schooled at school! Unless the school is sensitive to it and actually recognises that dyslexic people are not people with learning difficulties but people with skills and talents beyond the norm, then the children suffer. I have found that Dylexics and ADD kids are extra sensitive to energies around them and will act out when around discordant energies. If you are enjoying home schooling then it is right for you. Maybe you just need some help sometimes. I wish I had been able to do that with my kids. I had five girls!
    Sounds to me like you do a brilliant job. Keep on reflecting. It is an important part of the journey. You are a wayshower, showing others that there are different ways. That was never going to be easy! Keep up the good work!!!

    • Exactly! We have this idea that if your brain is different than mine than there is something wrong with you. Not true! Who says that any of us are normal, ya know? We are all wired differently. We all have strengths and talents. My daughter is very sensitive and always has been. She’s a lot like me in so many ways. Since this post, I’ve really enjoyed simply being with my kids. It feels much more peaceful.

  5. Please don’t beat yourself up. As a parent you have to know what your limits are. I would love to homeschool, but I have problems with stress/anxiety/depression. It wouldn’t be fair to my daughter to be dealing with my mood swings when she should be care-free. That being said, you know you and you know your kids. I don’t see why you can’t have it both ways. Unschool and have Nakiah attend an afterschool program a few days a week. The saying about taking a village to raise a child is not just some buzz phrase from the 90s. Sometimes we need to call in reinforcements and it doesn’t mean we are parenting failures or unable to maintain some ideal…quite the opposite. 🙂

  6. What a wonderful post. Your children are lovely. I want to share something with you. We are only 2 years out of our 6+ year public school journey. I worked in the school and my sons went from preK until 4th and 5th. I’ll be honest, unschooling feels wrong sometimes, simply because it is so vastly different than what we were doing. I tell you this because I want you to know you are not alone. Anytime we stray from the social norm, we experience anxiety. But look at the beauty of living life on a path less traveled! You know your lovelies so well! Look at your concern and care. Unschooling may feel wrong but it looks so good on you!

    Also, a note on labels, learning disabilities, etc- both my sons have special needs, I’ve lived this and I can tell you honestly, knowledge is power. Not power over your kids, but empowering power! You can formulate plans, you can access respite or helpful resources. Why would anyone not want to know more about their child’s brain? The more we know, the better equipped we are to help them!

    Hang in there. I think your journey is so special. I wish I’d heard of unschooling when my sons were young.
    XOXO Angie (myfreemind06)

    • Thanks. I agree that knowing can be empowering. Society is quite messes up in a lot of respects these days. I think sometimes we can take things to the extreme. Yes there are people who label their children and make sure to address them as only that label and that is definitely not us. This is something I’ve struggled with for a long long time. I’m a little upset that its taken me so long to finally do something about it. I don’t look at it as labeling as much as a diagnosis to help all of us.

  7. Darcel, I *love* watching you with your kids. I think we all doubt ourselves and have to realign our priorities and I’m glad you’ve found that. Klaw’s geneticist constantly reminds me that I know my son better than anyone else. It’s advice for every parent. You know what your kids need. You know what your family needs.

  8. I agree with Tracey, be easy on yourself. No one knows your children better than you and you know what is best. You sound like you are extremely informed and I am sure you will make the best decision for them. And the best part is you can change your mind or technique. Good luck!

  9. My first thought after reading your post was to say, give yourself some slack! You are the mother of three young children and that takes a lot out of a woman [been there, done that]. Next I would tell you that while the internet is great in so many ways, in others it’s not, and comparing yourself and your family to others is never a good idea. You, Charles and your babies are unique, each with your strengths and weaknesses. Please believe me that as your children get older it will get easier.
    I have a husband and two children with dyslexia. There are quite a few books on the market dealing with dyslexia that might be helpful to you. I will share that it took me over a year to get my son to know the alphabet and another two years to teach him to read. Now he reads everything and continues to blow my book budget!
    You know your babies better than anyone and all I can really say it follow your heart, you are doing a great job raising three beautiful babies that will grow into productive adults!

    • Thank you for your kind words. They really mean a lot. I do try to cut myself some slack, but some days I feel like I’m messing up with everything. I don’t want to look back on their early years when they are older and wish I had done more. I was reading The Gift of Dyslexia but put it down. I was on information overload. She knows the alphabet and has been picking up words here and there. There’s so much going on that I don’t talk about here. Sometimes I think I share too much as it is. Lately I feel like I should quit talking. One day I won’t have this anxiety every couple of months.

      • Oh Sweetie, just know that all you can do is your best, that’s it. My youngest is 15 and my oldest is 29, and I can honestly tell you that I do look back and wish I had done certain things differently, You know what? I think if you ask any mom she would say the same thing. One day you and I will just have to sit down around the kitchen table and have a good heart to heart okay? Much love to you and please, please try to relax and just enjoy. Your babies are going to be just fine, promise!

  10. I try to not pick up on what other kids are doing at Humnoy’s age or skill level. Just because he’s advanced, I see how other kids qualities that I don’t ‘see’ in mine. You’re right; Being happy and healthy is the most important.

  11. it makes no sense that some people in the unschooling community can be so didactic about what you should/shouldn’t do when they simultaneously believe that children should be in control of what and how they learn. you are a person, too, who needs to follow your own path and explore your way to your best life.

    Holt said, “True learning – learning that is permanent and useful, that leads to intelligent action and further learning — can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.”

    you are learning from your experiences, your interests, and your concerns. no purist approach is going to be able to meet your and your family’s unique needs exactly in the way that works best for you.

    in other words, good for you! 🙂

    • I’ve recently unsubscribed from a lot of the unschooling lists I was reading. Some are really helpful, but even then I really just need to look to my family to figure out what will and won’t work.

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