I know this post will hit up some disagreement but ruffling feathers is not always a bad thing! This is just a little tale of our journey with learning in our house. Take it or leave it...it is what works for us. And I wanted to share because others may be in the same place I was last year. I wanted them to know these feelings are normal for some of us. Sometimes we live in fear or worry of what others will think. So in the spirit of being open and honest, I thought I would just share.
When I was a little girl I was not a big fan of school. I would like to say this had no weight on the rest of my life, but sadly it did. I had a few years I did not mind. For the most part I detested school. It was not the learning, so much as the petty junk going on in so many classrooms. I was painfully shy, and was so not athletic. On a paper we found from second grade the 2 subjects I disliked the most were recess and gym. When I started home schooling in High School, I really found myself! It was like a wonderful door opened up and I no longer felt trapped. I flourished, and went on to college where I did just fine.
As I approached having children, Hubby and I would discuss what we would do. We really went back and forth. Not in disagreement. We just were not sure. I truly believe every child is different. Some excel in a classroom, where others grow better at home. We decided to give school a try. We loved the kindergarten class A was in. The teacher was awesome. I did have to get past the nausea I felt when entering the school. I believe the smell of glue and cafeteria food will always make me ill, but then I was pregnant at the time. As the year went on we all just decided as a family we wanted to give home schooling a try. So we did.
Home School seemed a great fit for us. And for awhile all was smooth and peaceful. For the most part I did not use a set curriculum. I used bits and pieces from different places. Then last year, A was getting older and B was starting kindergarten. So we thought it might be time for a full on curriculum. Yikes! The year started off ok, but soon school time turned into crying time, melt down time, yelling time, and mommy feeling like it was back to school time! I seriously knew this was not working! No one was learning. It was torture for all involved. I was so sad! The kids were so sad! We all wanted it to work...reality was it was not working.
Around this time we moved home. I figured we would muddle through the rest of the year, and start school in the fall. This made me nervous for B because I was not sure with her medical issues if school was a good fit. Then I talked to a friend. She explained to me their fam was trying unschooling. The idea intrigued me. I started reading more about it. I was amazed! It was exactly how I felt. It reminded me of a Montessori type philosophy. Which I have always been a fan of. The idea is learning is very self directed. I figured it was worth a try. It is suggested that you take a break from all learning to clear minds and refocus. I agreed. We needed time to regroup, and figure out what this all meant for our family.
I can say with pure enthusiasm...a year later and we love it! The kids are more relaxed, and actually ask to learn. I love that it is not a 9-3 kind of day. Learning takes place all day every day. It never stops! It happens in our car, in the waiting room at the doc, and in the coziness of the couch. One question from A could possibly lead to a week long discussion and fact finding mission. Now I will say we are probably not considered radical unschoolers. Honestly all the labels drive me a bit batty. I just want my kiddos to learn in a comfortable environment. I want them to feel safe when asking questions and seeking out the answers. And this is what is happening. I am excited that the learning never turns off now. They are seeking out ways to learn more and expand their minds. It is a fun adventure, and we are totally loving it!
I know many may not understand this, and that is ok. Many do not understand why I nursed until my kids quit themselves, or why we co-sleep. Why we sometimes stay up until midnight to finish a good book or watch a movie. Why schedules are not terribly important to us right now. I saw a quote on facebook today which made so much sense to me. Another mom posted how every parent makes different choices- choices to nurse or bottle feed, choices to discipline one way or another, and on and on. In the end, most parents are making these choices with their child's best interest in mind. And that is what is important! Not that we all agree, but we support one another in the decisions we make for our fams. I am blessed to have the support and so our my kiddos!