Tomorrow I will be mailing in the quarterly reports for my kids to the Dept. of Education’s Central Office of Homeschooling. For the first time, writing up the reports has been a difficult task, because although my kids are learning every day, from everything they do, I feel one of the biggest lessons they have been learning over the past month is about life choices. I mentioned in a past post about a friend who has gotten herself into a difficult relationship; she is separated but not yet divorced from her husband of 21 years, has two grown daughters, is dating a younger man and recently discovered she is pregnant at the age of 46. She does not want to start a new family, is unsure of her feelings for this man, and yet is allowing time and his promises to influence her so that she has become a nervous wreck about what to do.
Because she is a dear friend of mine, and because my kids know her quite well and have met the new ‘boyfriend’, discussions about her situation have been frequent and detailed. I’ve had to explain what it means to terminate a pregnancy, and we’ve discussed the physical and emotional repercussions of having the abortion or not. This is quite mature stuff for such young kids, and I’ve tried to present it in an accessible but not overly graphic way. They are extremely interested, and ask all manner of questions, mostly centered around why on earth she would choose to have a baby with someone when she’s not even sure she wants to be with them, and why he would make having the baby a condition for the continuation of their relationship. Very good questions, with sometimes complicated answers. My view is that if they remember even a little of what we’ve talked about, it may cause a bell to go off in their brain at some future date, helping them to avoid similar mistakes. At least that is my hope.
As for writing up the quarterly reports, how does this fit in? Learning math through playing Monopoly? Easy. Geography through travel to the Caribbean? Great. Reading skills through the Magic Tree House books? Perfect. But discussions on relationships, families and reproductive options? Ummm, what subject do you suppose that should go into in a 1st or 5th Grade report? Health & Fitness? In the end I left it out of both reports. It might be construed as ‘unsuitable’. But though hard to categorize, it is very suitable, because it is real life in the real world and has to do with a person we all care about.
This is one of the ways in which unschooling is difficult to define, and why ‘life learning’ is such a superior term for what we do. We learn all about life, in ways that cannot be categorized and may even be uncomfortable at times. Life never comes in a nice neat package that can be filed away under specific subjects. Why do we expect our learning to be?