My daughter is amazing.
There are many reasons that I believe this, of course, but today’s reason is:
She spent almost the entire day alone. At home. Working on…stuff.
Trust me when I tell you that the ability to spend an entire day entertaining herself is not something that comes naturally to her. She was the kind of baby/toddler/younger child who would have preferred a personal valet/court jester to be by her side 24 hours a day to assist her, entertain her and be commanded by her.
Being alone? Finding things to do that did not require other people? Not her fortè.
In fact, when she was younger, I worried that my inability (read: lack of desire) to provide constant entertainment might one day cause her to sit up and say, “Screw this! If I’m going to be bored I might as well do it in a classroom with other kids”, but she never did. Apparently nothing is THAT boring.
Lately we have been tested again on this front, (more on that in a minute) and she amazes me because somewhere along the way she has learned how to be alone with herself and although it will never be her favorite thing, it is no longer a source of moaning and grief. In fact, sometimes she chooses it over proferred alternatives, as she did today when a planned project with a friend that she had hoped to be able to do while Ben & I were out didn’t happen.
As she and her peers approach their teen years, quiet a few of our homeschool friends are more and more involved in academia; preparing to leap into the crazy competitive arena that is NYC high school admissions, or barring that, beginning their home-based college prep work. They are less and less available for unstructured time together in which the only projects they undertake are those of their own design. Often the only “social” time they have is in a park or cafe after a class, and so if you aren’t taking a lot of classes….
You’re spending that time on your own.
I don’t think Maya would ever have learned the skill (and it is no doubt a skill) of being alone had she been in school. There is no time for it and it isn’t valued. I think unschoolers have the advantage in this regard. Maybe, as with Maya, it is at first a challenge borne out of necessity, but it has become, if not a favored skill, then one she undertakes with imagination and a smile.