Saturday, October 27, 2012

Step away from the curriculum!

Well my attempts to move towards unschooling have been a failure! I am finding it so very difficult to let go and trust that relinquishing control over Koala's learning will not ruin his life!

Today I realised that I have not yet come to a strong conclusion as to where I sit on the home education continuum. I have constantly vacillated between methodologies without having a firm opinion as to which one I believe in most strongly. They all sound so worthy and interesting! The only style I have never tried is unit studies! Natural learning holds a strong attraction for me, but why can't I just get on with it!

Of course I know why. I'm ashamed to admit the reasons because I know that they are not valid, but the fear is still there whether or not I agree with the principles of unschooling. So here are my fears. Perhaps if I share them they will dissipate. (not likely but worth a try!)

If I allow Koala to unschool, I worry that he will do nothing for months. Just the thought of it, and I can feel my anxiety rise. As it is he is content to sit and wait for hours, doing nothing before gaming time begins. On Sunday, our gaming free day, he is lost!

What if he never learns the basics well enough to succeed. I do believe that when children and adults want to learn something they will, if they have been given the tools to learn, but...

Will he blame me for not having made him do enough. For giving into his anxiety over certain things rather than gently pushing on through.

I'll get the whole unschooling thing wrong. I'll allow my lazy tendencies to mean that I won't strew enough interesting things along his path.

It just sounds like so much more hard work than other methods of education. The parent has to be on the job all the time. Constantly thinking of ways to engage their children.

So these are just some of my fears. But I have decided that on Monday things will be very different. I will only ask Koala to do the following:
Sit and listen to a read-aloud about St. Dominic Savio, and  continue our reading of Acts of the Apostles, copy out his spelling words, and a small passage of copywork, continue to read "Then" with me. That's it! If he wants to do a chapter of Life of Fred, great. If not no problem. The same applies to listening to The Rangers Apprentice on audio book.

I want connection and joy to be our most important goals. The curriculum of conversation! I want to see my little boy smile more, and confide in me more. I want him to know that he is loved, respected and supported in the significant challenges he is facing. I want us cook something yummy together. I would like him to want go to the beach, or rock climbing, or explore the bush behind our house, or any number of other activities. I want him to explore things that interest him. But if he doesn't do any of these things on Monday, or for the rest of the year, that will be ok.

As for me, I want to let go and feel that it is safe to do so. To be released from the fear that I'm stuffing it all up!

I'll keep you posted!

P.S. The previous two posts were written some time ago, but I wasn't ready to post them in case I decided it was all a big mistake!


Sue Elvis said...


What a journey you are on at the moment! And I guess you're not sure where you will end up. It can be scary changing direction.

I tried all methods too including unit studies! In the end I knew my relationship with my children was more important than anything. I couldn't battle on with methods that my children hated because it was driving us apart.

Cooking, exploring, talking... I wanted to do all these with my children too. I wanted us to enjoy our days together while they were learning. We got there in the end!

It was interesting what you said about unschooling being a lot of work for the parent. So many people falsely believe unschoolers don't do a lot! I'm not really a hands on person either. I don't organise wonderful experiments and craft very often. The girls usually have their own ideas though. Most of my ideas revolve around books and the Internet.

I am wondering how you feel about learning maths through computer games. Would that suit your gaming fan son?

I hope you are able to find a balance that will suit the needs of your children and your own peace of mind.

God bless!

Kez said...

It's hard to let go - I would imagine more so with your education background. I've found it does get easier with time. Maybe if you give yourself a time limit - think of the rest of the year as an experiment or say you'll reevaluate in Jan. Then you don't feel locked in to something.

I still have those times of anxiety though sometimes and wonder if I'm screwing him up for life. Then he'll come out with some fact that I have no idea where he learnt or he'll show understanding of a concept, and I'll relax again. It's a journey!

Good luck :)

Tricia said...

Thanks, Sue. I'm relieved to hear that you're not a hands on type person. In my imagination unschooliers must be mother earth types who love nothing more than enbarking on a creative project with their children (wink!) I'm happy to be wrong!

Tricia said...

HI Kez. It is hard to let go. "You can take the teacher out of the school but..."

Your idea of a time limit is just what I'm thinking. Although I wonder if Jan. is too short. He might just start to *wake up* by then.

Prepare yourself for lots of questions on a Tuesday!