Thursday, 13 January 2011


Reactions can be bizarre things.
Rye has turned four.
His dad enquired which school he was going to, seemed to think I'd not made my mind up about homeschooling... er????
The deadline for applying for a school place has passed, anyway.

My reaction to all this was to buy Rye a postman pat read along dvd, a white board - the idea being it will be handy for teaching him to write, and  I've had to quell the desire to implement 10 minute daily reading sessions, of the reading books I bought a while back.

I've found myself questioning unschooling and starting to believe that actually I'm not that confident in it and there are some things I "ought" to teach.

So, I've found myself pondering and wondering why suddenly I have this urge to sit Rye down  at our dining table and begin teaching him?  It's a combination of the above, it's that "official" tag that is drawing ever nearer, ready to pounce, like a jaguar leaping from a tree.   Then there's the queries from Rye's dad, what school is he going to?  He's not, I'm homeschooling.  Then the questions on whether I'll be following a curriculum or something.  I respond that I've got it in hand.

And I do...did?
Rye is coming along nicely with our mix of unschooling, waldorf and my own ideas and thoughts on how to faciliate my son in becoming/remaining an avid learner and thus a thoroughly well educated young man.
After all he's learning science in the back garden;
Lawn + water + ride on toy = mud.
He knows his colours - has done for a good couple of years - but here he's also learning about taking turns, he's learning strategy (lol or cheating if we are being uncharitable), he's learning empathy, (offering to roll me a colour I need, or commiserating when I cannot take a turn) and he's learning new words..."Ohhh FIDDLESTICKS!  I can't go."
His imagination is rocketing, he's experimenting with pretend stories, he's building more and more complex train tracks, he's showing that he does naturally understand basic mathematical principles, even if he doesn't know what addition or subtraction yet means.
His memory is incredible, his love of books and stories remain - sure this sometimes competes with more energetic activites; but invarable on an evening I am met with, "Mam, can we read a story?"  Notice "we"?  :-)
He knows his letters, sometimes he gets a bit confused; he can mostly count to 20 - actually I think he can do it very competently but he's at that age where he enjoys the simple joy of silliness.

I'm finding it very difficult to embrace this age of silliness....when did I become so serious, I wonder?
He is becoming more indpendent, he is pushing, experimenting, sensing, feeling.

All this and all the other stuff I have no idea about.  I don't know how he knew a photo of an instrument was a trombone, but he does.  Heck he learned to walk without me "teaching" him, he's learned to talk and grasp grammar, inflections, adding tone and colour to his words - all without me teaching him...a nd besides what on earth makes me think I'd be able to effectively teach him?

It is so much easier to just be, for him to watch, experiment; the best learning comes from self exploration and self realisation.  When I look back on teachers I thought were the bees knees I realise they were facilitators not teachers - they were inspiration, passion and joy.

I do have fear of conflict with my ex, I fear clashes over whether or not Rye is reading by a certain age, whether he knows things that his dad thinks he should; but should I really allow that fear to prevent me from providing Rye with a childhood rich in learning and love?  Should I allow fear to make me throw out all I have learned about unschooling and waldorf?

And yes I have my own fears, will unschooling and waldorf really set Rye up for a life in the 21st Century?  Will he have the skills and get go to follow his dreams?
Could it actually hold him back?

What is the alternative? School?  What's to say school would achieve the above either?  It can for many people..and for many people it doesn't.   Seems this life business is a great big game of lottery.
In the end I simply have to trust.

Scary that, it all comes down to trust... and good dollop of faith.


verdemama said...

We are an unschooling (with a little Waldorf-influence) kind of family, and I would encourage you to have faith. Your boy is still so young. You can say as a fall back that school will always be there (if it helps alleviate pressure) but the chance to have a free, creative, imaginative childhood is priceless. My oldest daughter wanted desperately to go to school for 1st grade and she did for a couple of months and she certainly did NOT learn more there than she was learning at home/in the world. She's been back to unschooling for over a year and loves it.
My 2 cents...

mel said...

((hugs)) i have these moments as well...and it's ALWAYS in reaction or response to someone's questioning-- even if they aren't necessarily hostile...'just wondering' sorts of queries.


wish i had the easy answer...but you answered it yourself really - trust and lashings of faith -- children are amazing, amazing people....and i'm ever in awe of mine.

so mostly just 'i hear you'.......


LauraPinkFaery said...

Obviously I'm not a parent, but I think that children get pushed too hard from too young. I mean in America and on the continent children don't start school until they're 6 or 7 and it doesn't affect their development or later success in the least. There are kids in Australia that have never steeped into a classroom and they are still going to university and doing all the expected things of the 21st century, so I don't think you need to worry. A good friend of mine was home schooled by his Nan and he's half way through a Masters at University. He didn't go into mainstream education until he was 17 and because of how he was raised, he appreciated the knowledge given to him. He said that it was a pleasure to learn, not a rigid requirement.

I have never understood why we push children who are still essentially babies into school from the age of 4. They need those formative years to learn how to interact with themselves, how to have fun and learn to become their own person before anyone even thinks about cramming every piece of knowledge ever written into their heads.

Obviously Rye's dad has a set pattern of how he thinks children should be educated, that's not his fault but rather a construct of how society educates their young. I think if given time he will see that just because Rye might not be able to read Shakespeare at 5, it doesn't mean that he isn't developing at the expected educational rate. I've spent time with your son and he is just like any other little boy his age. But with one key difference. He is being allowed to develop outside the box. He's becoming a little person without homework, tests or being stuck in a classroom for 8 hours a day.

Maybe one day you will sit Rye down at the table for "formal" lessons but I don't think it's the right time. Maybe one day Rye will ask for that. But in my personal opinion I don't think that the time is here yet. And I know that you don't like having arguments with Rye's dad, but maybe this is one argument that should happen, if only because it's one you will eventually win.


Joxy said...

Aww thanks for taking the reply.
Laura, hear, hear, I feel exactly the same; I guess just having a wee wobble. Thank you, hun for taking the time to respond :-)

Thanks Nikole, and yes, yes that is what I so want for Rye, "a free, creative, imaginative childhood is priceless".

Mel - ahh these wobbles eh,

Hehehe and this morning has demonstrated that school would be a bit of a mornign battle anyway. Today is his morning at nursery, and he did not want to go because he was tired and wanted to stay in bed. And that got me thinking, if I did loose faith and decide that school, afterall was the best thing for him, we would have to be more routine led, hed have to have a set bedtime; he'd have to get up earlier, eat breakfast (he refused today), etc.... homeschooling means he can get up when he's ready to, he can eat when he's hungry... really struck me this morning.

I am amazed we actually made it on time, lol. I see nursery as simply an experience for him and a wee break for myself, but also I'm glad it is only for a short time!

September said...

Stay strong!! I've waivered in and out of unschooling, in because it's what i'm sure is right, and out because of any amount of outside pressure - i find myself regularly feeling i should do something to 'prove' we're educating. But in those times when i actually relax and let it flow it becomes totally apparent that Hannah learns the most from just being, exploring and living. You CAN do it, believe in yourself, and in Rye! xx

Fiona said...

I totally think parenting 'wobbles' are normal, and are the things which show us we are doing a good job. If we didn't question our own choices occasionally, then how could we raise our children to question their's?

And that is what we want to achieve isn't it? Thoughtful, intelligent, thinking children, who know how to form educated opinions and then question them.

And if you lived here (Switzerland) you would be practically horse whipped for even mentioning the E word (education) with regards to Rye.

By Swiss standards he is still a child, and needs to indulge in nothing but child led play and social interaction.

Formal education would not begin until he was at least 6 years old, and in the case of at least 40 % of kids, 7 or older. You have years yet before you even need to teach the alphabet!!!

windingcirclelifeschool said...

I spent most of my teenhood living the unschooled life, though at the time i had no idea there was a name for it and i highly doubt that my mother did either. I know my mother got into a lot of trouble with our edu dept when i was a teen for it but she persevered in giving me my freedom.
When our eldest was born I knew i wanted to have her at home but believe that it was illegal to home educate here (well it isnt exactly advertised).Due to pressure from friends she ended up in kindy and then school for 3 years.I fought harder to keep our second out of kindy and school...she was too tired most days for kindy anyway.It was because of this i found out about homeschooling here.
We did not begin with unschooling, rather school at was awful, hard and not a good time for us.My husband was the one who first pushed towards a more natural approach....but still i found it hard to believe that unschooling could work.Even though i had lived it.
I have seen my children learn things through living, watched my middle daughter learn to read through her own interests, watched in amazement as my children learn and grow...YET i still have times where I am scared.
Rye is 4, he has learned how to talk by living, he learned to walk, and i am sure he has picked up so many more things....natural learning happens in the same way....he will be curious and he will might not be in the same order the schools would do it but it will be the right order for him.
If you have friends who unschool/natural learn and they have older kids they may be able to help you with how to word reports for the edu dept.
It takes faith, and trust but also friends.Friends to help keep you sane, friends to talk to about worries, friends who will understand and not judge.As time goes you will question yourself less (or so i keep telling myself) till then just remember how far he has come so far.

Stephanie said...

What wonderful, encouraging responses you've gotten here! So awesome.

I'll not add anything, as everyone has said it all, but I'll send lots of hugs!

*✿*millie meadowsweet*✿* said...

i think you are so brave

i admire you, reallly i do. and i will be following with great interest. i think you are the perfect person to educate your son, your confidence will build in time and your intuition. you will know what is right for him as you follow along and reach each stage. sometimes there will be difficult transitions of not knowing or being unsure (like before a birth) but that is when you will make the best plans. i am sure.he is doing so wonderfully know and i believe that will continue. you are both learning a great deal together, it is a very beautiful journey.

my very best wishes to you

and warmest hugs xxx