Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Homeschooling Thoughts

To parents I say, above all else, don’t let your home become some terrible miniature copy of the school. No lesson plans! No quizzes! No tests! No report cards! Even leaving your kids alone would be better; at least they could figure out some things on their own. Live together, as well as you can; enjoy life together, as much as you can.
~John Caldwell Holt

I love this! You don't know how much this tempts me. And scares me at the same time. And makes me wonder, how in the heck? Because we do have a schedule and we do have expectations. An hour of reading a day, a half hour of writing, a page or two of math. A few chapters of history. Hands-on art and science. Some educational television. Some misc. workbooks that he actually likes... Snowboard lessons, Racquetball lessons, PE at the YMCA... And that's just the home stuff. Then we have the classes at the resource center. Musical Theater, and Metal Works, and Science and Literature, and Earth Culture, and Guitar, and Geek Tools (computer lab tools), and whatever else. It's a very busy SCHEDULE. And the above IS a lesson plan. And he WANTS to do the state achievement test in the spring....

It's working for him, and I feel good about what he's doing all day...

But I wonder... what would that look like. No plans, no tests. UNSCHOOLING. Would we spend a week following one idea and then a month following some new passion? Could we really just take off and travel and explore new places for weeks at at a time? Wouldn't that be nice. Would he really sit down and journal about it, research things on his own? Become engrossed and exhaust one passion and move on to the next? And if it went that way, could I even keep up with the kid and indulge him in whatever idea caught his attention? Would that give me time to do my own passions (because what we have going on right now, doesn't). It sounds dreamy... I would have LOVED that as a child myself.

Or would we be just cleaning the house and watching TV and taking the dog for a walk, wondering what to make for dinner that night and worrying about 8 years from now when he's going to try to get into college but hasn't formally studied algebra or geometry or know the parts of speech inside out? Because that sounds no fun at all. None of it.

And then I wonder some more, what could possibly go right with Unschooling? Could he find something he loves and get swallowed up in it and become a child prodigy? Could he be happy beyond measure and make a good living someday because I let him invent his own life without the conventional expectations we mold our kids into? Maybe. Do I want to take that risk and experiment with my only child? Probably not.

I think... if he had any clue at all what his life-long dream could be (besides wanting to be a pro soccer dude), I'd be more tempted to give it a year or two and try it out. But he doesn't. Right now, he is LOVING being exposed to all kinds of things. The busier he is, the happier he is. (Me, not so much! I'm the bus-driver! I just want to spend some uninterpreted time in the studio melting glass already! Hmn... Perhaps I should find a real mini-school bus and install a portable glass studio in it? Now there's an idea!)

But I keep running into these Unschooling ideas, and the Sudbury Valley School (which sounds awesome!) and I wonder... could we? Could it really work? I wonder if I'll ever really know. I wonder if I'll ever be brave enough to give it a chance.


  1. That is the first paragraph I've ever seen that even remotely makes unschooling look appealing. I am a very much fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, but all that freedom from structure just scares me. Why, maybe because that's not the kind of world we live in. And maybe it's just because I have found that between the two worlds of structure and non-structure, my children respond much more positively to the structure side. And I think it is a matter of knowing your child. I'm sure if he had shown inclinations to that way of learning, you would have explored it. Trusting yourself and your child is the best way to homeschool. :)
    Have an awesome day!

  2. I love the idea of unschooling and wish there was a way to blend the two. There is so much potential!