Autumn is slowly coming into itself here while most of the country is welcoming the chill and stillness of Winter. Days are only reaching high 60′s and early mornings are met with blue orange glow of fire in white stone fireplace. We spend these days deep in exploration and learning. It seems fitting to me that as we really find freedom and settle into who we have been becoming, we are in the season of freedom, of shedding away of the old and preparing for the renewal of life.
I finally can say we are unschoolers. I say it with no hesitation, no doubts, no mumbling of terms. A long time coming, I have only been able to truly claim it in the past couple of months. As last of oak leaves hang on to ancient branches outside my picture windows, I hung on to expectations and fears that my head could not let go of. I wanted freedom, but… I wanted peace, but… I wanted my children to know that life was learning and learning was life and to love and embrace it, but…
Coming from a Charlotte Mason and Waldorf homeschooling background, I placed importance on certain things that I just couldn’t seem to let go of. I told myself and my children that we could unschool as long as the kids read from great literature daily and as long as we only had natural wooden toys, Waldorf dolls and stayed media free. Oh, and of course we needed to spend time outside, observing the natural world, daily. Needed to at least do a bit of copywork or drawing in main lesson books. And then of course, what were the Waldorf developmental stages again? Were the kids learning too much too soon? Maybe they should only study what the Waldorf curriculum decreed for their ages. Circling round and round again, from freedom to fear, from unschooling to curriculum, and dragging my children along in the chaos.
Knowing my children were capable, I deeply questioned what my hang ups were. Seeking advice from seasoned unschoolers and friends, spending time deep in prayer, study and journaling, I found my answer. I was afraid of the unknown, of the mystery, of not having a part in everything. I could see so clearly how my entire life I had been desperate to know the answer, to have a label, to be able to fit everything into a neat little box. Even in matters of faith, I accepted answers, didn’t question, just needed everything to make sense. Charlotte Mason and Waldorf were easy because I knew what to expect, I knew what would be read, studied, mastered and the results that would come. They promoted the things that I loved and that I wanted my children to love as well.
I suddenly understood that these were my issues and I needed to let them go. God had a plan for each of my children and had placed certain passions and interests inside of them and who was I to keep them from growing in those things, to tell them that classic literature and red-winged blackbirds were far more superior than computer games and rope swinging? I didn’t need to be in control of everything, I didn’t need to know the beginning, middle and end of the story, I just needed to live each day, each moment and let my children do the same.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and of a sound mind.”
I saw that I had been walking in fear. Fear that if my children didn’t do these things that I deemed necessary, their lives would not turn out the way that they should. I finally saw my fear for what it truly was, how it was keeping me from a life of trust in God and from the deep and open relationship I should have been having with my kids. I finally understood this fear and how it had put a wall up and was keeping my children from developing their God given passions. With eyes open I was able to find that power, that love, that sound mind, was able to see clearly and trust completely, was able to put to death that fear that had been strangling us for so long. I was able to let go.
That is why this autumn things are different around here than ever before. We don’t struggle to get going in the morning, don’t argue over books to be read. We live. My 9 year old has spent the past week creating and filming a stop action lego movie which is currently 5 minutes long and is not yet done. He also has begun reading at night after we watch a show together, deep in story until late and he can no longer keep his eyes open. My 11 year old daughter chose to study the Holocaust and World War 2, immersing herself in somber, heart wrenching stories and growing and maturing because of it. One of my 6 year old twins decided it was time to start reading and has taught herself amazingly quickly, while her sister was uninterested but is slowly starting herself, probably motivated by a bit of twin rivalry.
We spend our days laughing, playing, reading, watching tv, using kindles, doing projects, running around outside, asking questions, finding answers, and most importantly, enjoying each other. Outside there are still leaves hanging on, but this mama, she’s finally free.