This morning is my daughter’s first day of “school.” We un-school 4 days out of the week, but on Fridays, my 9 year old is enrolled in a home-school enrichment program through our school district, that allows students to attend classes throughout the day in various subjects that may be hard for parents to help teach or facilitate, and provides opportunities for the kids to be involved in various activities and projects with drama, art, music, etc. Last year we did the same thing, and Friday’s were a bit hard, as my daughter didn’t like some of her classes, etc., but we agreed there were some good things about it so decided to try it again this year.
We picked her classes together, trying to choose what would be most fun for her. Her schedule is Creative Drama first, then Science (just fun hands-on experiments,) Art, Lunch, P.E., then finally Music Explorers, where they just explore all types of music, instruments, singing, and dancing. Sounded like a fun schedule to me! My daughter, however, still had some trepidation. She has a hard time in the structured school setting, and does not like feeling forced to do things, or forced to try and be social at lunch, etc. I understand and honor these feelings, so we talked about it, and agreed that they are valid feelings, but there are some things to do to work through them, etc., and she finally agreed that she will try one day of school to see how she likes it.
Flash forward to this morning, I get up, ready to get my daughter excited for her day, wake her gently, rubbing her back, exclaiming what a great day it will be! She doesn’t move. I give her some time to open her eyes, then try again…
“let’s do this! we can go get some good lunch for you, and I know you are going to have so much fun!”
…nothing but a groan. I try and try, but no matter what she does not want to get up.
“I hate school! I’m not going!”
“You haven’t even started yet! Let’s keep an open mind! It will be fun!”
My mind starts spinning…This is such a cool program!…If I were her age I would have loved it!…do I force her to go? I hate that, it doesn’t make anyone feel good, but sometimes people need to be pushed to face their fears…but ugh, that is not what I’m trying to do here with my kids…goes against the un-schooling philosophy…am I doing this because I need a break? It is nice to have a day with just my 4 y/o and she needs a break from her sister….why won’t she get excited about this?….she agreed to try just one day!…ugh being a parent is hard…what should I do?…should I try and enroll her in a different program?…and on, and on…thought spiral ensuing…
I decide to just let it go, and take my cup of coffee outside, where I sit down in the sun. I begin to just listen. I hear the chirping crickets and other insects greeting the day. I hear the traffic noise of people, busy on their way to wherever they feel they need to be going. I begin to just look around. I notice the morning dew on the grass, glistening in the sun. I notice the sharp prickles on the strong, proud thistles, popping up throughout the yard, no matter how hard my effort to contain them. I spot a roly-poly bug crawling under my leg on the concrete of my patio…I watch how his body moves along in a rolling motion, following his legs. A fly lands on my leg, and I watch it shaking its wings, sensing the air around him. His wings are shiny, glistening in the sun. He has beautiful red eyes and I notice the amazing pattern of black and white stripes along his body. He is beautiful, and I am glad I took the time to notice him.
Suddenly, I am filled with a sense of relief and peace. This is what is. Right here, right now. Nature has it right…it just is…doing what it does everyday, being its beautiful self, without the thought about if it should do something different, or more, or anything other than just being. Sitting there, just being with it, I realize I am it…it is a part of me. I don’t have to get lost in the spiral of thoughts my mind creates. That is not real. What is important is here, it is the connection, the flow of life itself.
My daughter finally comes down stairs, once she realizes I am not forcing her to go to school, dressed in an overall-type dress over a t-shirt, exclaiming, “I am a farmer’s daughter!”
I smile as it hits me…here she is doing her creative drama. She will probably move on to pouring some water in various buckets with various substances added for her dolls beauty salon…science. She is constantly creating clothing and other things for her dolls out of cardboard and fabric…art. Our trampoline is used by both girls at least once during every day…P.E. We constantly play music, sing, dance, I am learning the guitar and she listens, we play with rhythm instruments…music. All of these things she would be doing in school, she is doing here and so much more…reading, writing, math, social studies…it is all there, just in a different form than I am used to, coming from a long history of being taught these subjects in “school.” As for the social aspect? We are part of several local un-schooling and homeschooling groups that get together regularly for various activities, and we are constantly out doing things where we meet new people. We have made more friends we feel close or connected to this year than any of the years my kids have been in school.
This is why we have chosen this un-schooling path. Allowing my kids to be who they really are and encouraging them to choose their own journeys of learning is empowering to both me and to them. The world is changing so fast, we have to be able to be open enough to change with it, and realize there are different ways of doing things, different ways of being, different ways of learning. When I just be, and go with the flow, encouraging joy and passion, I re-connect with nature, with life, with now, flowing how it should, or will. This is really what un-schooling is…I am un-schooling myself, re-directing, or de-programming my pre-conceived notions about how things should be, and just connecting with what is. In doing this I suddenly realize that everything will be as it will be, and it is all-right 🙂