This week, we’re finishing up my miniseries, In Celebration of Unschooling, sharing the draft of an as yet unpublished book I wrote a few years ago. The book looks at unschooling through the lens of parenting.
In chapter 8, Childhood is Bigger Than School, I explore how we can choose to embrace the unschooling mindset even if school happens to be part of your lives right now.
I talk about a number of small, but powerful, paradigm shifts that can help you move beyond the school mindset. The classroom is definitely one way to learn, but you don’t need to relinquish control over your family’s lives to the education system as if it’s the only way to learn or give it the final say on what your children are learning. The world is bigger than school.
How looking beyond test marks and grades doesn’t mean we need to belittle the classroom environment in which our children find themselves. Using school as a tool means taking all the great parts and letting the parts that don’t work for our children flow on by. We can continue to follow and support our children’s intrinsic motivation within the school environment.
There is so much life outside of school hours. Even when school is in the picture, you can spend the many hours outside the classroom focused on helping your children explore themselves and their world through making choices and following their interests, rather than insisting on certain activities chosen strategically for future school success.
Even if school is in part of your lives, you don’t need to value school learning over any other kind of learning.
And then, in the final chapter, The Art of Parenting, we take a moment to gather ourselves. We’ve reached the summit of our parenting expedition. What does the view look like from here?
It’s not a pristine view, with picture-perfect trees, and a babbling brook of ice-cold, clear water streaming out of a crevice and meandering down the slope. It’s messier. A bent tree searching out the light. A fallen log decomposing. A broken branch over the brook, redirecting its flow. But it’s more alive. Raw beauty.
Now it’s time to weave together our beautiful unschooling tapestry! We pull together the threads of questioning the eighteen-year window of childhood and how we define success. The intimately connected threads of curiosity, learning, and creativity. And the many threads of character growth and the connected and trusting family relationships we continue to cultivate. Again, raw beauty.
Sure, the knowledge and skills our unschooling kids gather over the years won’t reflect the school’s curriculum exactly, and maybe not even closely, but it will reflect each child’s unique view of the world. And it is the threads of those personal interests and passions that will weave into their adult lives. The roots of their days—pursuing their goals and aspirations—don’t change from childhood to adulthood, even as the content of their days may change drastically. Their curiosity, lifelong perspective on learning, and creative approach to challenges come together in ways that will serve them well over their lifetime.
The Living Joyfully Network community
The Network is a wonderful online community for parents to engage in candid conversations about living and learning through the lens of unschooling. Our shared goals are to embrace lifelong learning, develop strong and connected relationships with our children, and cultivate a thriving unschooling lifestyle in our families. If you’re curious to learn more, click here!
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