Originally Posted by Lillian J
Because it's pretty easy to set up rhythms and structure to our time without having to use school as the framework, and children are fairly helpless to find the sorts of things that really interest and inspire them unless they have exposure to them. So of course a bright and restless child might be happier with things from a packaged curriculum if that's all that's available - but that child might be a whole lot happier with the amazing world of things he's not yet had any exposure to, and the structure and rhythm of his days can just as easily be spent in exploration of things outside of the traditional school model.
Yes! Very well said.
Originally Posted by karina5
HOW do you make sure your child has had exposure to a variety of things? It sounds so simple, but yet, I am a type of person that occasionally feels like I can get in a "rut" now and again. I just worry that I wouldn't be doing all the sorts of creative things required to be a good unschooler, and sometimes find that overwhelming. Does this make sense?
Well... for me, even doing "nothing" is preferable to schooling. Especially when the kids are young, because they have their play, their imaginations, the people around them and their talk, the wider community... and in our household, for instance, there is also television, movies, books, internet (internet is HUGE), yard, garden, kitchen, occasional free music in the park, walk to the library, look at the art on the cafe walls... what we do in just living our lives is "nothing" in one sense, but exposure to all sorts of things in another sense, things that could fill a lifetime, but I think in this world in which there is so much variety available to consume, we get in this mindset that a simpler lifestyle is unacceptable, like we have to be continually moving into something more and "better". I finally came to the realization that this was a source of stress for me, and that it's okay
to "just live" if that's what we feel like doing. And that being focused on output or achievement interfered with true creativity. (Which I think is a major problem with the schooly approach.)
We do a lot of other things than just the basics of living life, but only when we really feel like it. It's not something that we feel that we have to do to be living a valid life. So that when we come across something we're interested in, there's such a feeling of authenticity and rightness about it. It's not just one thing in a string of things that we're very matter-of-factly doing ostensibly to enrich our lives or better ourselves, you know? It's really about *us* as individuals.
So, for instance, my son (who is ten years old) plays a lot. That's pretty much what he's done all his life, is play. From a goal-focused mindset it might not look like much. But somehow, suddenly, he's navigating the computer world, writing a book, inventing his own recipes, and building a chicken coop and reading up on how to raise chickens. I'm not responsible for any of that. It's all sprung up out of "just living".
I think also that there's something to be said for having a lot of time that isn't filled with stuff going on. It creates a space to think and find yourself. Growing up, I could have done with more opportunities and a richer environment in general, but I'm grateful that my time wasn't filled with "enriching activities".
That's not to say that it's not good to offer opportunities and a rich environment. Just that... it's okay, even good, to relax about it. All those websites and blogs and magazines and books that show us how cool unschooling and homeschooling can be... I think they are great as resources, but they also do us a disservice because we start thinking that's the way it ideally is. I don't know if it's really like that for anybody, though. It's like the house porn magazines, you know? Totally unrealistic. In fact, even I get people writing to me after looking at my flickr page of photos of my house, and they're just in awe and depressed that their houses are not as pretty. But the thing is that it's really a fantasy. Fantasy is fun and can be inspiring, but... being in my house isn't like that at all. There are messes, and up close nothing is as nice as it appears through a telephoto lens.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that it really just is okay to get in that "rut", as long as it makes you happy. And there's the key -- if you're doing what makes you happy, whatever you're doing is just right.