A little more unschooling

Christmas was lovely this year. I was spoiled by my husband and I appreciate his love so much. I missed my family terribly, but we did spend Christmas evening with my in-laws and that made my heart ache a little less. I think they are beginning to like me. 🙂
We are on a two-week break from homeschooling which is good because I feel dreadful today. I hardly wanted to sit up to write, but there’s something stirring in my heart that I want to share with you.
Parenting is sometimes an uphill battle. There are times when it feels like I am a constant source of correction, scolding, and even nagging. If I am to raise them up right, me and the hubby need to be the ones to show them what to do and what not to do. In my parenting and my homeschooling, which overlap, there’s been a paradigm shift. Instead of telling them what to do and what choices to make, how can I show them the road to making better informed choices?
We are always nagging the boys to wear their coats. It is truly a struggle with one of our boys every single time we want to go anywhere. Our son rushes out the door after putting his shoes on and grabbing his backpack, or toy, or whatever he wants to bring, but he intentionally leaves his coat in the closet. He says he’s not cold, but we force him to wear the coat. And then his excitement, joy and spirits are squashed. He says he’s not cold, but I am cold so I force him to wear his coat because I don’t want him to feel cold. I am forcing him to make, what I believe, is a good choice. When in fact, I’m not. I am forcing him to do something he doesn’t feel he needs to do because his body temperature is different from mine. Here’s the shift… instead of forcing him to make a good decision I begin to allow him to decide for himself if he wants the coat. If we are going to be gone a while I bring the coat with us. When he gets cold I point out that this is why bringing our coats is a good idea. It’s a small way I can allow him to make a good choice without nagging.
After having the revelation of allowing my boys their freedom in learning to make good choices, I remembered something a friend told me about how she is raising her boys. She said one time that she has seen mothers on the playground who make their children “be” last in line. She resolved to raise her boys to be strong and then lay down that strength in order to let others go first. I think about that all the time because I really like her style.
One of the main components of our homeschool is that we do what’s best for the kids, not the state, and not me, but what’s best for the boys. Are they thriving? Are they learning to read, to tell time, to take care of their bodies? Can they find what they need? If I am planning every bit of their school and home life, how will they learn to make good choices?
I am changing from a teacher into a guide in their exploration. I am the protective wing over them who shields them from harm so they can be free to live without fear (and bullies).
Through conversations with my sons, I’ve begun to see them as people, with ideas, goals, and feelings and I release my need to control their education the way I have been. They, in turn, begin to pick up the responsibility for themselves. Now, I do have little ones so there is a level of instruction I’m not comfortable letting go of, like phonics and spelling. And then there’s math. It’s very important that they know the absolutes of math and understand them thoroughly. I don’t believe in memorization or rote instruction, so we don’t do drills. But, we used to and I did as a kid so I understand why others do them. So you see there are some areas that I still have control over. And I need to, in order to support our family goals.
When we were living within a power-and-rules paradigm, letting go of control seemed like a pipe dream. At first I imagined all hell breaking loose as it could have gone the other way and I didn’t want to invite wild behavior. But I believe that the key to handing over freedom and becoming a bit more “unschoolish” is to move slowly. As we take small steps and the children learn what their choices mean for them, it works famously. Discussion is a vital tool in this new joyful, freedom filled life. They begin to see that I am not fighting for power with them. I take their needs seriously. And they begin feeling comfortable taking on new challenges and seeing how far they can reach spiritually, academically, and personally. I look at this new life as a team-based approach and hope that the boys feel supported and heard.
Statistics show that most children abandon their faith once they become young adults. That includes children homeschooled in Christian homes- according to homeschool.com. I share my faith with my children the same way Christ shared Himself with the 12, through conversations with them as we live our lives together. I let them know why I believe what I do and they see me live by Christ’s life. Sometimes I read the Bible with them. Sometimes they write the verses that touch their hearts as handwriting practice, but not always. But what about the charge to hide the Word in our hearts? Well, Christ is the word. The Word was made Man. I am raising my kids to know that there is a living person Who loves them. I am raising them to know Christ, but not forcing them to accept Him. Otherwise their faith won’t be real and won’t last. I hope they accept Him and I am showing them things of Him. We are a team and I don’t force anything on them. Except veggies.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And as you take time off from homeschooling or whatever you do, remember the freedom we are granted in Christ. He extends to us a true freedom that can’t help but trickle into every part of who we are.
Thank you for reading.
Love,
Jackie

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