Monday, August 8, 2011

Unschoolers no more :( a Mama's Perspective

Camille is going to school in the fall.

 I tried to offer her more of certain aspects of schoolish-ness that I thought she might be interested in.  More fun classes, more playdates and groups of kids, more worksheets or organized activities, but this is not what she is seeking.  She wants the whole experience, the school bus, the tests, grades, all of the kids, being shuffled to the lunchroom, etc.  It all appeals to her.  So, I am supporting her in this.  We toured the school, met the principal, and have the paperwork to enroll her.  The local public school itself is nice, as is the principal.  The school day is broken up by three recesses, the kids have music twice a week, and art, and plenty of time for lunch, small class sizes, and yet I am still sad about this (selfishly so, I suppose).

I'm going to miss our days of adventures, and homeschool parkdays, and sleeping in, and all of the freedom to flow with it that is inherent in our unschooling days.  Not to mention there is a twice a week program for 4-year-olds that Sylvia is now keen on.  Ugg.  It's not that I want to hold my kids back, but I just don't want to see much of their imagination, curiosity, and spontaneity squashed or squandered.  For all that school does well (and I'm admittedly a skeptic about that), it undeniably expects some measure of conformity just to get through the day with x-amount of same-age kids, in one classroom, trying to be taught the same thing.

And then (selfishly again) it's hard not to feel like I 'failed' somehow as an unschooling/homeschool parent.  I sometimes think if only I'd done more...or less, but with more structure...or...or...but when I really step back from my emotional involvement / investment, I can see that it is truly not about me.

So, if Camille does enjoy school and comes home happy, bubbling with what she learned and did and created, how can I not be happy for her?  If Sylvia goes twice a week and makes all kinds of little friends and sings about her days, won't I feel her joy? So here I go, an unschooling mama, who begins to let go of how much that affects my identity, and begins to embrace the next movement in our lives.  This is but one change in a series of unfolding changes that make up our lives, and yet it feels huge from right here.

I am taking the word unschooling out of my blog profile so as not to misrepresent, but I will continue to blog here as I feel inspired.  I think I will replace it with...joy-seeking...respectful-parenting...country-living.  That should do.

8 comments:

  1. awwww :-( well maybe she won't like it. that's awful isn't it? we want her to like it and enjoy herself, but not like it and come home. i wonder if i will go through this some day as well. my daughter loves school buses but when i ask her if she wants to go to school she says no. she wants to go to "homeschool." we'll see as she ages. good luck! what will you do with so much free time? you still have ayla but it will be so different...

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  2. (((((hugs))))) mama! I know how difficult this must be. All will be well. And yes, maybe she'll decide she is ready to return to unschooling at some point. Or maybe you'll all find a new normal that works well for all of you. It will be okay...

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  3. {{hugs}} to you. She has gone to school before, so you know she is still herself and has an idea of what it is like/how things work. She has a strong personality, which I think helps. :) I know how difficult it must be - and perhaps living more rurally will mean smaller classes, less of the 'bad' stuff? Good luck! xo

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  4. Ah, Nikole, my heart creaks for you. I hope the first day of school is easy on you. I hope she has a wonderful day, and yet, I'm here half-hoping like others that she will come home after trying it out and say, Actually, Here is best. Either way, I hope she finds so much joy she glows from the inside. That's what I want for you ALL. And I love your new blog profile: Yes to joy seeking, respectful parenting and country living! Your identity is still right there—gentle, loving, mindful mama that you are. :)

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  5. Thanks Ladies for letting me process my feelings out loud (or on screen, as it were) and for your hugs and support. It's like on a rollercoaster, for me nearing the top is actually much scarier than when it's tipped past the peak and I go rushing along :)

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  6. and who has recess 3 times!? maybe it won't be so bad.

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  7. As always, you are a wise mama. That wisdom is what will keep your kids happy and whole.

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  8. The tough stuff in school, or anywhere, will be less confusing with a connected parent such as yourself. She might choose to stay and navigate the school environment, knowing she can come to you for support and ideas anytime. Or, she might change her mind, and return to homeschool. Either way, her confidence will grow with the freedom to make that choice, and the unwavering support of those she relies on. For me, unschooling is about the journey of living and learning, not the place learning happens. It seems to me, you will always be an unschooler in your heart.

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