I am a questioner. I just am. I see everything in layers and take practically nothing at face value. I can’t stop myself, I question everything and constantly seek deeper definitions for simple things.
So you can only imagine what happened to my brain the first time I saw this animated version of Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED speech. Seriously, go watch it if you haven’t already. Or watch it again, even if you have!
I am a sucker for logic. And that there just makes a darn lot of sense.
Which brings me to this: there are a lot of factors that went into my decision to homeschool. Some of them are illustrated (ha) above. It started, as usual, with me questioning things. Why am I sending my kids away all day? Just because everyone else does? Just because it’s normal and expected? How long has public education been around, anyway? What do I really want my kids to learn between now and when they grow up and leave me?
Now, once I decide which side of a line I fall on, I don’t dawdle on making a decision. I don’t dance back and forth or worry or spend a long time deliberating. My process goes a little something like this:
“Hmm. That’s stupid. Okay, I’m not doing it anymore.” The end.
I don’t really care that other people think differently or won’t understand. I’m an all or nothing gal, and once presented with a truth I have to act on it, 100%, immediately. Like a few years back when I started learning about nutrition. I walked away from an article on artificial food dyes and went straight to my pantry and threw all of that stuff away. And more or less never bought it again. The end.
So, that’s how my decision to homeschool came about, also. Oddly, there was no last straw. There wasn’t even a camel. I just woke up one day and said, “This is stupid. I’m not doing it anymore.” I wasn’t even mad at the public school. They didn’t actually have much to do with my decision. My decision was about me and my relationship with my kids.
Now, bear with me for this next bit, because this is going to sound a little out there. I did not bring my kids home to educate them.
Sure, that’s a side effect. And I realize that’s a big motivation for some people. Everybody knows homeschooled kids are “smarter.” Score higher, spell better, speak Latin, yadda yadda. But that’s not why I brought my kids home.
I brought my kids home to disciple them.
I was becoming painfully aware of how quickly their childhoods were going to be over and what a crappy job I was doing to pass on to them what I actually thought was important. (None of which was found in this place called “school” that I was sending them away to 8 hours a day.)
But of course, as soon as I took the first step into the world of homeschooling … I started to question things. Not things, actually, everything. Why do I have to have a grammar curriculum? Who says my kids have to do this kind of math at this particular age? Do they really need to know about American Presidents, or predicates, or what year the pyramids were made?
Why should my kids have to keep an academic schedule that they played no part in picking? Or even if they did help pick it, why do they have to do a history lesson right now on ancient Egypt that I’ve planned, when what they want to know about are worms? Or to read a book, or to write a story, or to sketch a horse, or to climb a tree, or to build with legos? And why am I going to make them cry by insisting on my pre-planned academic schedule when they’re just going to have a bad attitude now anyway, because it’s not what they’re interested in?
And why did I bring them home again? Oh yeah, it didn’t have anything to do with Egypt. It was to teach them what it really means to know, hear, and follow God. It was to foster their unique talents and abilities. It was so that they could live a life outside of marketing and materialism. It was so they could care about people instead of brands. It was to create an authentic loving relationship with them that would go beyond parent and child, to discipler and disciplee.
What does Abe Lincoln have to do with that? What do comma splices have to do with that? What do equivalent fractions have to do with that?
And that’s how I found my way to a little thing called unschooling. Does it mean not teaching your children anything? Absolutely not. It just means letting learning happen naturally. Which it actually will do if you just let it. Will they still learn how to read and write and do math? Yes. Just not out of a workbook at an assigned time of day.
Unschooling does not necessarily mean child-led families, or lack of structure, or a lack of discipline. It just means not forcing certain structures and schedules and academia and curricula on them that so don’t matter. And in the process, potentially sacrificing your ability to disciple them in things that really do matter. And possibly killing their creativity and their love of learning with a slow painful death while you’re at it.
In the past couple of weeks my boys have been really interested in puzzles. And they continually impress me with how good they are at them, even the little guy.
The Four Year Old has been wanting to learn to write letters. On his own.
After watching an episode of CyberChase, my 6 year old brought me this:
And explained to me that 1/2 was the same thing as 4/8ths, and that 2/3rds was the same thing as 8/12ths. Equivalent fractions!
Which, according to the math curriculum I ordered at the beginning of the year, is what my 4th grader is supposed to be learning right now, not my first grader. If the curriculum had it’s way, I’d be making him do worksheets full of adding problems right now. And honestly, he’d probably be crying. But instead, I took the opportunity to show him what fractions look like when they’re written down. And what the bottom number means and what the top number means.
Today he wanted to take his piggy bank down and count his money. Am I supposed to tell him that right now it’s time for our pre-planned science lesson, but if he’ll just be patient, in 2 weeks our math lesson will be about nickels and skip counting by 5′s? Why? Why not let him do what he’s interested in right now?
He skip counted by 10′s.
I constantly underestimate them.
Here’s the thing, at the end of the day I want my kids to understand God, to love life, to care about serving others, and to use their unique talents and gifts to do all of the above. And if that means they never get around to a pre-planned lesson about Harriet Tubman, or never master muliplying by 9′s, I really don’t care.
I refuse to waste my life or the few precious years I have with my children focusing on things, and making them focus on things, that won’t matter 20 years from now, and certainly won’t matter in eternity.
Because … that’s stupid. So I’m not going to do it anymore.
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