Why IS Unschooling A Good Idea?
Everyone's "Why?" is a little different.
Sure, when we hear some people's reasons to unschool, we quickly think,
"Yeah! I agree with that one!"
But back up a little more.
- What's YOUR reason to do this?
- Why did you choose to take such an unconventional approach?
- Why, when most people go left, you chose to go to the right?
It certainly would have been easier to go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing... but something pushed you. And I want you to think about what it is/was.
There are as many reasons for unschooling as there are families who make this choice. Home education, in general, offers freedom along with responsibility - freedom to make our own decisions regarding how we wish our children to live and learn. Whatever initially leads parents to make this choice, it nearly always evolves into something far more than an alternative educational choice - it becomes a lifestyle choice of personal responsibility and freedom and incredible joy. Many families find unschooling is a natural step in this direction.
Like so many others, we unschool because we caught a vision of what learning and living without schooling could be like, decided to take the risk, and found out for ourselves that we loved it. The benefits are apparent to us as we look at our children, and we experience great joy seeing the love of learning and life so vibrant and alive in them.
That doesn't mean we don't have rough days. Days when we're a little tired, we have a short fuse, and things just aren't going as planned. Kids can be fussy, and we can be grumpy. That's why it helps to think about why we're choosing this unschooling approach. And I get it, days like these we may wonder ourselves, "Why the heck DID I choose to do this!" But then if you've already done the legwork, you can reach down and grab your spiral (or your google doc) to see what you wrote down for your reasons why.
I think it always helps to realize that every day is really still a choice. Every day we can decide to keep going with this unconventioal approach, or return to the mainstream. Knowing that we always have choices can help us through difficult days.
It's interesting, to me, that educational research, for a long time, has supported learning that is more play-based, delaying academic lessons, encouraging a more homelike setting. While we may be aware of this, most of us don't move in this direction until the status quo just doesn't work for us anymore.
So let's think about your "why?" Sit with it for a while.
If your child (or you) had a horrific experience in the schools, go ahead and start with the list of "Why Leave School Behind?" Many of us, when we remove our children from school have a lot of anger and disappointment at how events transpired. We can feel the schools misrepresented themselves or didn't really take our child's needs into account. And sometimes our anger is because we had this story in our head (oh, it's always those stories in our heads, isn't it?) of how we saw it all playing out. But now, that story isn't going to happen. Maybe never. And we may even have a little grief about that. It's ok. It's all a process that we have to walk through - and everyone's path is going to be different.
Once we've focused on the negative aspects - because sometimes they can be loud and distracting and demand our attention - it's time to think about what we're moving toward.
What's our rationale for why unschooling is the better approach?
What I found fascinating - and still do - is how I and other families start with a few reasons to make this choice. But as time goes on, we add more and more to that list. We learn more about how unschooling works and we didn't even REALIZE some of the benefits we'd enjoy later down the road.
That's why it's nice to have your lists of "Why?"
Be sure to leave plenty of space to add more as time goes on!