Sunday, January 27, 2013

It really was like that

Over the last several years I have found myself becoming a bit of an unschooling advocate. There have been lots of, "What did a day look like at your house?" emails and conversations on email lists. There are been young moms on the verge of how-can-I-do-all-this despair.  There have been evenings with glasses of wine and questions, evenings when I found myself being quizzed by a circle of moms and wondered, "Why on earth are they asking ME?!"

(Of course, I do know why they are asking me. I have grown and almost grown kids who seem to have turned out okay. They are finding success in college and life beyond. They can use an alarm clock. They have reasonable standards of personal hygiene.)

I have often feared, when I have heard myself cited by someone else, that I didn't paint an accurate picture of our lives. That I made it sound looser than it was. Easier. Better.

It has been reassuring for me to talk to my kids about it. To hear their accounts of their childhoods. To hear them explain to others what it was like being unschooled. (Yes. In hindsight, I can admit that aside from a few panic-stricken moments, we have been pretty darn complete unschoolers.)

I wasn't exaggerating.

It has always made me nervous, this dispensing of homeschooling advice. I have always tried to emphasize--as anyone who has heard me speak formally, or heard me talk about homeschooling more than once can attest--that homeschooling, like parenting, is an individual thing. What works for each kid and each family may be different. And yet, when it comes right down to it, I do think that for many people, in many situations, unschooling is best. So when I am asked my opinion, that is the direction I tend to lead.

Unschooling has not been the whole story of our parenting and our family life, but it has shaped it. It has influenced the way I deal with my kids. It made me evaluate what was really important and taught me to value their input into those decisions. It made me look differently at the whole concept of what it means to be a success. It taught me to treat my kids as full-fledged people whose opinions about their own lives matter far sooner I would have otherwise.

It gave me lots of years to enjoy life with my kids, on our own agenda. And it really was like that.


Elephantschild said...

I still have moments of panic. Lots of them.

But there's nothing I can really do. *This* is what keeps us sane, so we do it. For better or for worse...

Susan said...

It IS interesting to hear the kids' perspectives of what happened in our home. I wonder sometimes if it's because I have so much "undoing" of what I experienced in school, so much in my mind of trying to justify why I did it SO differently. Well, let's be real here: so much trying to get other people's speeches out of my head; so much reminding myself that people are individuals and that what is done in school isn't necessarily best for my kids, even though it's the most common path.

Jane said...

Yes, Susan. Lots of deschooling of myself, continually over the years. :)