Radical Unschooling…here we come (*drinks more wine)

Homeschooling, My kids, The Anti-super Mom, Unschooling

If you read my previous blog post you saw where I was having a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself over this whole homeschooling quandary in which I find myself.  Jackson has pretty much began to reject anything that can even remotely be called “educational.”  It’s like he can be doing something he really enjoys but when he catches even a whiff of  me trying to get him to learn something and he says, “Nope.  Not happening.”  For a woman who needs checklists and finds the curriculum EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE this is hell, for all of us.  I seriously would be OK to do like the curriculum teacher’s guide says and do the “Say the following to your child…..” type of teaching.  But, it doesn’t work.  Ever.  With any child.  OK – I have no idea what will work with someone else’s children nor do I have the inclination to give a rats anus but I do know, it doesn’t work with my children.

Case in point:

Today was our first day back after our holiday 2 week break.  I attempted to “loosen up” my curriculum schedule.  Gave the kids the choice of what subjects they did and when and how.  I felt really proud that I was giving away some control but still felt that I had a hold of the reins.  Until Alex (my darling, always ready to please, happy-go-lucky angel) crumpled up her spelling list, threw it across the table, folded her arms and said, “I’m not doing this.”  And Jackson started his math worksheet, got 3 questions into it, put his pencil down and looked me in the eye with all the anger of Beelzebub himself and said, “I hate this.  Do you hear me?!  I. HATE.THIS!”  The shit storm that hit after these two incidents is something I would like to soon forget.

Today our local public schools were closed due to the extreme cold we are having.  If that had not been the case, I can not guarantee that I would not have loaded them up in my car, drove by the school and pushed them out as I rolled by.  It was that bad people.


Jim, God bless that man, told me to get them bundled up and he’d be by to get them to take a drive.  I was curious if he too was ready to drop them off for someone else to deal with but I kept my mouth shut.  He gave me a kiss ,took the kids and I didn’t hear from anyone for almost 2 hours.  I sat with my mother and vented and worried and freaked and moaned for the entire time saying things like, “I am quitting.  I can’t do this any more.”  “What am I doing wrong?”  “I’ve never failed at anything I wanted this badly.”  etc etc etc.  My dear mother listened to everything I had to say and encouraged me the best she could but, like everyone else, couldn’t really give me any ideas on what I could do to fix this pickle I found myself in.  The pickle of I WANT TO HOMESCHOOL SO BADLY and I AM FAILING MISERABLY AT IT.

When Jim got home with the kids I learned that he had taken them to a local doughnut shop (gee – thanks Dad – rewards for being hellions LOL) and talked with them explaining that “Mommy has quit.  She is throwing in the towel.”  And trying to get an idea of what was going on, why it wasn’t working etc.  At this little meeting he learned very little except that they desperately want to remain homeschooled and do not want to go to public school.  Outside of that, he had nothing.  Being the awesome partner he is he told me he will not allow me to homeschool under these conditions.  He understand, more than anyone else on this planet, that Jackson is not only a special needs child but also a force of nature that only the mightiest of souls could handle and Alex was beginning to find her “independent streak” and these two things combined would scare many-a man.  He believes I am smart, strong and able enough to do the job successfully but that at this current time, that is not happening so he was ready to pull the plug as well.

I cried for close to 3 hours coming to terms with the idea that I will be sending them off to school and admitting that something I so dearly want to do I simply am unable to do.  I got out of bed and sat in silence and prayed to Jesus for wisdom and guidance.  He knows my heart.  He knows my strengths.  He knows my weaknesses and also knows my children.  Then I posted on a local homeschool co-op we are members of asking for any advice from veteran, SUCCESSFUL homeschool mom’s could give me.  I got a lot of words of support and encouragement.  But, of course, no answers because that’s impossible.  This is my family, my children, and my problem.  I have to figure it out myself.

I came to the obvious conclusion that what I am doing is not working and therefore I need to do something different.  Radically different.  The most radically different method I could think of was unschooling.  So, I began researching.  This was not a new concept to me.  I had heard about this for a long time.  Honestly, I thought the unschooling famlies were nuts, freaks, off the grid hippies, and crazy liberals.  Sorry, but it’s true.  I really have to apologize for that little admission because I have friends who do or have unschooled but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it as being a viable option.  How can child lead learning result in anything but a 45 year old, unmotivated man child who plays W.o.W. while living in my basement?

I’ve been researching, reading blogs, reading testimonials, and learning exactly what is unschooling and envisioning my children doing this.   This young lady really hit the nail on the head with her answers to all the things I was thinking were reasons NOT to unschool.  She is a 19 year old woman who has unschooled herself and dang, she impressed me.  Could it be true that a human being will educate itself if given the opportunity, guidance, and the availability of information?  I think, knowing my children, their personalities, learning styles, IQ’s, my own drive to see them HAPPY (FIRST AND FOREMOST) and educated, it just might work!

So a decision has been made.

We will begin radically unschooling, effective immediately.  I have until August, when the public school reconvenes after summer break, to see if we can all agree that this is something that is sustainable and commendable.   I think that even if right now, this second, we stopped reading, or doing anything education wise they would still be at grade level when they returned to school in August so, this is the perfect time to try this.

I know my tendency will be to try to coerce the type, style, and way of learning that I know from public school.  I have read several times that where the unschooling model fails is when the parent tries to get too involved in what is being learned.  I will do my best to simply be a facilitator, to strew great books, movies, TV shows, links, and field trips around them.  Making them available…but  it will be up to them what they pick up, and what they don’t.  If they get an interest in something, I will do my best to encourage them, help them find more way to learn about that topic or interest and try hard not to limit things simply because it doesn’t fit in my trained public school box.  This will be hard as letting go of control is NEVER something I am comfortable with but I have to say I tried everything before I decide to stop.  Otherwise, my whole life I wonder, “What if.”

So, friends, family, and acquaintances – I would love it if you could pray for us, maybe encourage us and the no judging thing would be awesome but hey, I used to judge these whack jobs so I know that last one is a stretch.  I’ll meet you on the other side.  If on the other side I look like this I apologize. hippie

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  • Why I Write this Stuff

    My children called me Bobby when they were toddlers due to not being able to prounounce "Mommy." They are now 7 and 8 years old and I am Mommy. But my real name is Mandy. I just do this so I can keep in touch with the REAL me. Being a Bobby is a dream I thought I may never realize and I do not take it for granted. I homeschool (more specifically unschool) my two children and it's easy to lose yourself in the tasts of the day. I just want to make sure that after 19 or so years have passed,and my kids have moved out, I'm not stuck looking in the mirror and squinting in hopes of seeing Mandy again.