At the time of year when my friends are taking their children to orientation days, buying uniforms and savouring their last home days, I'm glad we're not on that roller coaster. Wondering which school to enrol in (and when ... what age should they start school?) Hoping they make nice friends and get the best teacher in the world! With my sky-high expectations it would be a miracle to find a perfect fit, and I hate the idea that even the best situation would be a compromise (after all, it's still school). We might have our share of wonderful days, but there'd be inevitable disappointments. Do I sound paranoid, idealistic or pessimistic? Perhaps I am. I know it's possible we'd have to send the kids to school one day, we can't predict the future, but I'm so glad that for now, it's not part of the equation!
I'm not claiming the life we can give our children will be perfect, just by avoiding school. Home schooling (or unschooling, as I'm loving right now) doesn't exempt them from life's trials, but it does give them space and time to deal with things in a loving environment. In a way I am unashamedly sheltering them. I'm also freeing them to spend their time as they wish and become who they are. I believe they will grow into more secure teens and adults as a result. They won't come to accept nastiness and bullying as the norm, they'll have friends but can choose when to be with them.
Despite all the freedom we've enjoyed lately, school is all around us and the kids are well aware of it. They sometimes play schools (as I did as a child). Miss 4 says she's starting Kindergarten next year, and I told her she is lucky because she can choose her own school uniform, or choose none at all. She wants a rainbow coloured school uniform. She can have it! With all the money we're not spending on some drab costume, I'll take her shopping one day to choose a few pretty dresses which she can wear anytime she likes.
The thing Mr 5 is most proud of this year is that he has taught himself to play the guitar. We have no talent ourselves, except a willingness to experiment, so it's not genetic. By his request he's had no lessons. He just persistently strums and plucks and voila, out comes a really nice sound. It's pretty inspiring.
I'm delighted because the kids are truly best friends, and have learned mostly to get along happily with each other. They talk about and practice team work and cooperation, and are learning to communicate respectfully when they need time apart. In case that sounds too perfect, be assured they still have plenty of conflict and occasional childish violence.
Lately I've deliberately neglected subject based learning in favour of letting them loose with experiences, experiments, construction, creativity and nature. This may seem unusual to people who've known me a long time, and think of me as a planner, organiser, teacher, record keeper, rule follower ... however people are busy in their own lives, and I haven't had to try and express the massive philosophical change that's been taking place inside me.