Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Unschooling- 3 months in

Following your intuition is something that makes a great Ted talk topic but is much harder to pull off in the "real world."  The world where you have to wake up every morning with doubts and questions and move forward trying your best to set your child up for a future full of opportunity.
My intuition was telling me that being in school was crumbling the spirit of my son.   Everyone at the school meant well, and tried their best in the system that existed, but that system did not have what he needed.   We jumped out of the system and have been working daily to build something custom designed, and sometimes my ideas of the perfect blueprint get tossed out the window after an unenthusiastic shrug, or the look of complete uninterest. The plans are replaced with a spark in the eye of a little boy who just discovered a new passion that I overlooked.  It might mean that he wakes up before everyone else to master a newly discovered skill or finds inspiration strike just before bedtime and stays up longer to write or code.  The beautiful part is that leaving the "system" allows for this, even if part of me wishes he would go to bed so I could watch Parenthood and have a glass of wine.

There are still those days, the ones where I start to feel like he is slipping, wasting his day buried in comic books and tortillia chips.   I begin questioning what we did that day or that week and measuring up what might have occored in a classroom.  My mind swirls in doubt for about a minute and then comes swirling back to reality, I breath, maybe worry for half a minute more, and then breath again and continue on our path.    Because the good days, the ones where I see him unfolding are so sweet that I know my intuition was right.

Last year was hard, actually every year was hard, but there were so many hostile moments when all his energy was bent toward anger.  He wanted to be good, he wanted to do the right thing, but he just couldn't do it. He would look at me with such defeat when he knew that he "broke the rules" and it broke my heart because I knew his intentions were right.  All the teachers told me how sweet and kind he was if only he could just have some self control.  I am finding now that he just wasn't ready for such a controlling environment.

My son is slowly unfolding into a very pleasent, and self controlled child.  He still jumps around, but that doesn't matter because at home there are no rules that say you can't jump.  We actually have jumping contests!   He has been taking a Chemistry class and also a nature exploring and survival class.  The first few times of picking him up from these classes I feared that I would hear the typical "he needs more self-control" speech, but I did not.  See this time, he had been interested in the topic of the classes, I gave him many choices, including the option to not take classes at all.  These were the ones that sparked his interest!  He was curious for these things and so there he sits (in chemistry anyway) and listens to instructions, follows directions, engages in discussion, and learns.  My son has so much self control that his nature class instructor allows him to use a very sharp, real deal, knife.   This is not the boy from last year.