I’ve noticed something over the years. There are a lot of rules about stuff. Many of them serve no purpose except to hinder us from something, or maybe to make sure (in vain, I might add) that there are never any mistakes.
Schools are huge perpetrators of the useless rule.
They are also very good at instilling a belief of the worth of the useless rule in their students.
I am a prime example.
For years, I tried to keep a journal, and would have off and on success. The problem was, I had all these rules in my head. Like you could never miss a day, you always had to write about what happened on that day (including the weather) and you could never skip a line or even worse, accidentally skip an entire page or the worst of all, get tired of a particular journal before it was completely full and want to switch to a new one. Oh the horror!
Can you guess what happened?
I would start a journal and be diligent for a while, but then I’d forget a day or get supremely bored writing the laundry list of our daily activities. And then you know, I’d BROKEN THE RULES and so was not, in my mind, allowed to continue.
Amazingly, my unschooled kids are not hindered by such random useless rules. They just do stuff and if it isn’t exactly the way someone told them it should be, they usually shrug and continue. (And sometimes stuff doesn’t work out because of it, but they are undeterred.) This is normal for them but for me it was an epiphany. And for an idea of how long it takes to get through to the stubborn school brain, I had my epiphany in June, just after Maya turned 12. We’ve been doing this for a while.
For the first time ever, journaling is a joy. I skip lines, doodle when I have nothing to write and hardly ever write about the events of our day. And you know what? Nothing bad has happened. The journaling gods did not strike me down for not following the “rules” (those I’d make up in my head because everything you do needs to have a bunch of rules attached, right school brain?).
The most difficult thing for us school brained parents to do when we allow our kids to learn outside of school is to let go of the useless rules. The rules that say you must read by a certain age and that there is one best way to learn to read. The rules that dictate how math problems are to be solved. The rules that say your kid must know the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner and the words to the Pledge of Allegiance at the age of 6 or something is wrong with them. The rules, the rules, the rules.
Forget the rules.
Learning is joyful when you don’t weigh it down with so many rules in an effort to make it mistake and risk free. Know how I know? I learned by watching my kids.