Most weeks, we talk about unschooling. Me, my kids, my friends.
We talk about what how and why unschooling works.
And what we need to make it work.
Or what we did to make it work.
I think we are education nerds.
What is it that makes unschooling work?
I have talked elsewhere about time….how time is often the biggest factor in unschooling. Time for at least one parent to be with the children, to take less demanding career positions, to work part time, so that they can just simply be there for the children. You can’t both work in demanding positions that require long hours. One parent has to have time for the children and may choose a less demanding position or part time work or a home business. Many single parents testify to the fact that this is possible. It may not make you rich but it is possible. (See Sequencing)
Time for the children to play, to read, to explore, to not always live a hurried and harried lifestyle. (The Hurried Child)
Time for the children to grow and mature at their own pace and in their own way.
But what else do you need to unschool?
MacBeth came up with an interesting post on her unschooling “must-haves”.
I second the duct (masking) tape!
For me, for us, our must-haves included:
A library card – where would we be without our public libraries? Games, books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, toys in some libraries, journals. Computers and free internet access. A place to go and hang out. Perusing a shelf has sparked many an interest here.
Attitude – what? Yes, attitude. A parent’s attitude. A learning attitude, an enthusiastic attitude, an attitude that enjoys life and is curious and interested, that enjoys children. For the most part. Because none of us are perfect and we all have our days or seasons of sorrow or despair or irritability. I am talking, however, of the big picture, folks!
Parks – time for kids to explore and parents to explore or read or talk. Time to practice masterly inactivity. And nature study. In all weather conditions.
When I started my unschooling journey, I began on a budget. (What else is new?). I bought a scrapbook for each child ( yes, even the toddler), for their journal or main lesson book or record or portfolio …whatever it is that you like to call it. I bought a scrapbook for me, for a homeschool journal or log (we kept this online for awhile). I bought your basic stationery supplies…textas, some water colours, coloured pencils, glue, sticky tape, plasticene (or made playdough or salt dough) …and yes that masking tape! I saved boxes and wood scraps and material scraps. We cooked. We did chores together. We went to the grocery store together. We talked. We went to libraries and to parks. We wrote. We drew. We made stuff. We listened to music and played music (recorders).We went to free museums and art galleries.We organized get-togethers with other homeschoolers and friends from church or other groups.
My only main purchases were some maths books from a local educational supply store and some unschooling books for me. To educate me.
And now with the internet, you could get these for free. Or do some printing at your local library. And I don’t even know if I’d bother with the maths books now. But they were there. As a guide.
And I would definitely second and third and fourth the resources and support and unschooling education for the parent.
Minimal must-haves. I think, I guess, because in unschooling, as is often the case in life and in education and in mothering, less is more.
“Grief will happen either as an open healing wound or as a closed festering wound, either honestly or dishonestly, either appropriately or inappropriately.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
One of my sons was talking to a professor he had at university, now retired. The professor expressed unexpected grief at leaving the university. Retirement was his choice, he is happy in retirement and yet there is grieving for what was.
A friend of mine has made a major change in her life. She is sure she is in God’s will, this was a decision made with prayer and yet she still feels grief over the life that was.
I think that grief is a natural emotion in times of transition, and yes, it can be unexpected . We tend to think that once a decision or change is made, all will well.
All will be well and the decision no doubt is a right decision and yet we still have to experience a grieving for what has changed. To feel both gladness and grief is part of the human condition. And to deny this feeling, deny grief, to bury it and forget, is also to deny the joy we feel in our new life.
For sometimes, grief and joy during transitions go hand in hand.
“And I say this, I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.” C.S. Lewis, ” Out of the Silent Planet.”
It helps we mothers to remember this, and to allow ourselves to experience grief as well as happiness in transitions. It helps us to practice self care. Doing this, we set a powerful example to our children.
It helps us, too, to remember this for our children, to allow them time to adjust during transitional times.
A number of times we, as mothers, wonder what is up with our children when they are rude or silent or morose or withdrawn. We are tempted to say ” What’s up? You wanted this change or this change is all for the good.” Or we are tempted to wonder why the child is displaying unacceptable behaviour after a move or a new baby or when mum has been unwell.
The child is experiencing his own form of grief over transitions. We can understand this and model a way of working through this. We can make exceptions. We can give it time.
And give ourselves time, too.