Unschooling is an extension of what children were born knowing. I define unschooling as being a partner to my children, helping them follow their passions while being very present with them. Our day to day life really has no glimmers of “school” in it, unless my kids ask specifically for something schooly. School is not a part of our lives. I don’t look at what school is doing in order to determine what we should be doing. We live our lives in joy and partnership, following the passions that naturally arise. My children live a life connected to the inner joy they were born with. I don’t mean that I am a perfect parent and have made no mistakes! We all do, and I am sure I will make more.
All of us are born with inner joy, and a connection to that inner joy. Children remember this connection until they learn to stop trusting it. Many children stop listening to the connection when they start school. We as parents are led to believe that our children need to learn about separation, they need to find out that the real world is tough sometimes. If I had a dime for every time I hear the phrase, “They may as well learn it now, life is not always easy and fun, it is hard and you have to do things you don’t want to do”, I would be really rich! By keeping my kids out of the school system, I am hoping to keep this message out of their lives as well. I want them to learn that things do happen in our lives that make us sad, or angry, or disappointed, sure, but having the outlook that life is bad and you have to do things you don’t want to do is not the same thing.
By keeping my kids out of the school system, I am hoping they learn to decipher between what is true and what is a made up story. I want them to learn that being human is a joyful, wonderful experience, and they can keep their lives joyful and happy for as long as they want to. I want them to learn that some people will tell them life is hard and you have to do stuff you hate, but this is only true if my kids decide to buy into that and make it true in their own lives. If kids don’t keep hearing these messages, maybe they can keep their joyful connection, and be able to face conflict more openly and from a more loving place. If kids keep their joyful connection, they don’t know another way, unless they are taught another way. When they are put into school, they learn to conform to what others expect of them. They learn that in order to fit into school, they must learn how to be the way someone else decides for them. Most of the time, this is different from who they are at their core. I am sure there are schools that help preserve this in kids, but I don’t know of too many.
I completely understand the fact that some parents are not in a position to just pull their kids out of school. I know there is a lot more to it. I also know there are many wonderful teachers out there! However, we can begin by completely starting over with the definition of school. School should not be a place where kids are forced to go against their will. A gathering place for all ages who want to be there would be a good start. Teachers would be mentors who partner with kids to help them find the information they need. Mentors would be there for the children, not to tell the children what they have to learn and do. Tests would not be needed. If the children are asking to learn about something, they will retain it, because it was their choice to learn it. It takes the excitement and the passion away from the process when someone is tested, or judged on their learning.
I do not keep my kids out of school because of my own experience or my husband’s experience with school. However, I have to be honest and say that I really didn’t like school much. I thought it was boring, and I was afraid to be myself. I became a really good actor so that I would fit in, and I became skilled at taking tests and doing what I had to do in order to move on. My husband and I keep our kids out because we don’t want them to lose the connection they have with their inner self. I want them to experience life the way they thought they would experience it when they came into this world. I don’t want them to have to conform to our society’s definition of who they should be. I want them to check in with themselves first before checking in with anybody else. Most importantly, I want them to have the freedom to follow what their inner voice tells them. I don’t want them to have to put their own inner voice on hold in order to fulfill someone else’s vision for them. Unschooling and being partners with my kids allows us to connect on a deeper level with ourselves, and best of all, with each other.
I have a website at www.benurtured.com. I write mostly about personal growth and healing from depression with self-love, but I also write about mindful living, meditation, unschooling, homeopathy, and peaceful living with kids. Hope you will visit me!