There are some kids who are completely engaged in a widely revered activity and they receive accolades at each turn. Most kids are not those kids. When it comes to self-directed learning, a wide majority of boys—and a good number of girls—will put themselves in front of a video game.
It’s pretty easy to have confidence that homeschool is the right avenue when you believe in self-directed learning. Until you kid starts choosing video games. Then it gets scary.
The problem is that most boys will choose video games over pretty much anything. Of course, not all boys. But I have a son who loves cello so much that he asked to take piano lessons as well, but even he tries to get out of practice all the time so he can play one more video game.
There are many days I ask myself if my kids will hate me for letting them play so many hours of video games. Some days they are playing five or six hours. I don’t admit that usually. But I’m admitting it now. (They are not in a row, okay?)
This is why I think the biggest issue in unschooling for boys is video games. It’s so clear that traditional school is worse for boys than girls. Boys can’t sit still, but girls can. Boys score lower than girls on everything, until middle school. Grammar school boys are on ADHD medicine at a much higher rate than girls. There is no way that parents of loud, rambunctious, don’t-buy-me-a-book boys are wondering if school is good for them. It’s not. Of course.
The parents worry what the kids will do outside of school. Maybe if the boys would climb trees and play with small animals then the parents could feel good, like they are raising Charles Darwin or Jane Goodall or something. But most boys will play video games. And believe me, it’s won’t be Math Blaster.
So one of the biggest barriers to unschooling is video games.
This is why I spend so much time on this blog defending video games. Because I use this blog as a way to help myself keep going with homeschooling, and what I need most is to have a clear list in my head of why it’s okay to play video games for what seems like, sometimes, all day long.
Here’s the list I keep in my head. Surely some of you will find this helpful as well: