Sunday, February 5, 2012

The School Year Begins, Unschooling Goes on as Usual

Spike would be heading off to school this year if we were a schooling family. Instead he's teaching himself to read and write, playing cricket, and gardening. We just got home from a holiday with fishing, canoeing, much sight seeing, wildlife everywhere, swimming, and lots of precious family time. Seeing him doing the stuff he does just makes me so certain that unschooling is the way forward. There's no way I could take him somewhere full of strangers, wearing strange clothes, wave him goodbye and leave him there. It wouldn't feel right.

I remember when Stylish started school I felt wretched. It felt wrong on so many levels but I couldn't have begun to understand why. I wasn't an attachment parent - although I tried hard to be gentle and thoughtful I didn't understand attachment - and everyone I knew sent their kids to school. My parents were teachers my partner's parents were teachers, school was normal and expected. It was a new stage in life to be embraced. But I never really embraced it, I just kept forcing myself to keep sending her, denying the rumblings from every fibre in myself.

Now I've been unschooling for over three years I just squirm when I hear about children crying on their first days at school and mothers with broken hearts waving bravely from the gate. How have we come to deny our feelings to such an extent that we ignore primal instincts to protect our small children? Why do we believe that forcing children so small and helpless to be independent of us is the only way they will ever learn independence? I understand that children adjust to schooling and it becomes their way of life, but that still doesn't make it right.

My heart really goes out to those mamas and babies who have no choice but to school. I am painfully aware that I'm extremely lucky to own my own house and have no debt that would require me to seek employment for money. I work from home and earn a small amount of money that I hope will one day be a little more generous but I've chosen to go without financial glory because being rich doesn't mean my life is enriched whereas unschooling, vegetable gardening, living slowly, does make me richer!

I really hope that all the children who have just started school will enjoy their years within the institution, and I hope that the mothers of unhappy schooled children will find their way home ... to unschooling.