It’s been almost a month since I last posted here, and it was a much needed break.
The one thing I want every parent to remember is that unschooling is not about spending all your time talking and thinking about “education”.
It is about living life to the fullest, together with your kids. You do this, not only by supporting their interests but also by following your own. That’s how you set the example. You can talk about what it is to be self-directed until the end of time, but there is no better way to convey the truth of it than by living it yourself.
For the last month my focus has not been on “unschooling” per se. Rather, I’ve been spending my time on a photography project that you can see documented over on my personal blog. Several years ago my friend Karen, who lives in England, suggested a photo of the day photography project. At the time neither of us were involved with social media, so we simply emailed the photos to each other. Sometime in February of this year we decided to revisit the project, only this time we would each post our daily photo on FB. (And I’ve been posting daily blogs about them as well, as mentioned above.) It’s been great fun. For myself, I’ve learned more about my own photography and photography in general in the last 30 days than I have in years.
Another great bonus of this project has been to see my world with fresh eyes. At the beginning of March I noticed that when walking through my every day neighborhood, I would find nothing of interest to photograph. Then I would travel to the East Side or to Chelsea and suddenly the streets were alive with photo ops! Of course, my own neighborhood is not so different – it’s just that I see it all the time. The realization made me challenge myself to find my daily photo within a few blocks of my house for at least some of the days of the project.
(There is also a lesson in here for us about the way we view our family and especially our children. Sometimes we fail to see the wonder because they are our “every day”, and we take them for granted.)
The other major activity of March was my daughter’s involvement in a production of “Oklahoma”. She had never done a musical or full length theater production of any kind, so it was a big deal. She was in the chorus and the entire experience was enriching, from the daily travel to and from the theater – on her own in the subway and sometimes at night – to meeting new people and reconnecting with some old acquaintances.
Unschoolers often worry about their kids’ social prospects. Neither of my kids have ever had a broad circle of friends, and of course have never had the sort of “built in” group of 30 peers that kids in school are saddled with. (Yes, I meant to say “saddled”.) Socialization is, in my opinion, the thing you should worry about the least. (You probably shouldn’t worry at all, but being human, I doubt it’s possible to rid ourselves of it completely.) Maya has, in the last year, developed communities of friends in several areas including her modern dance class, Not Back to School Camp and now her theater troupe.
Will she become close friends with every single person in each of these groups? Of course not, but unlike in school, she chose to be a part of each endeavor and in each of them she is surrounded by like-minded people of varying ages. She has made several new friends who she sees and with whom she speaks regularly as well as many acquaintances with whom she will reconnect every time there is another dance class or camp or play.
A major factor in unschooling is seeing the world with fresh eyes every day and building friendships through the pursuit of your projects and interests.
Always attempting to categorize your kids lives in terms of “education” can cause you to miss out on some great stuff. Stuff that our rather limited definition of education cannot even begin to cover.
And so my break? It was all about unschooling. In the truest sense of the word.