Once a week I have a moment of panic that unschooling is not working. But it’s not like I’m telling the kids, “I think you should go to school.” It’s more like I tell myself my kids will grow up to tell everyone how they wish their parents had emphasized math. Or schedules. Or socializing. Or I don’t know what. I just worry that I need to exert more control over something the kids are doing, but I’m not sure what.
So in these moments, I have a few people I reach out to. I have a cousin who is a musician and is always telling me not to worry about how much we practice. (“It’s the quality of the practice!”) I have a friend who is a teacher who sends me private links to groups of kids who quit high school. They are always so happy. (I never talk to the kids.) I have a friend who was unschooled – Melissa supplier of selfies– and it’s the thing she’s most grateful for. (Your kids will love you if you just trust them.)
I send emails to different people depending on what my self-doubt centers around. Today I reached out to Melissa:
Y is doing:
and I worry that it’s too many subjects for him. I hate doing a lot of things at once. Do you like doing a lot? Would this be a lot for you? I would rather sit in a chair for a month straight and do chemistry and then stand up and walk a round a little and then sit back down and not get up until i learned Spanish. One subject at a time, complete immersion or something. I hate switching topics.
So are you like me or different? I think Y learns like you, maybe.
Melissa wrote this back to me:
I am like you and I am like him. So, when I first started homeschooling I was in 6th grade, and I did all of middle school and high school English, plus some college English, in the first few months. But for subjects I didn’t care too much about, I liked being able to bounce around to keep me from getting bored.
So, I think I should just let him do whatever he wants to do, and don’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. And not on any schedule but the one he chooses.
This is not earth-shattering advice. But it’s what I needed to hear this week to feel confident that I’m doing the right thing for my kids. And it’s so comforting to hear the right thing at the right time. That’s why I decided to share it with you.
Maybe some of you have these little doubts as well, and if you take care of little doubts in little ways then nothing has the chance to get big and disruptive or destructive. And we can all leave our kids to their own devices. As we should.