This is a guest post from Danielle Ali Shah. She is an Australian living in Rawalpindi, Pakistan with her husband, and three children whom she homeschools. You can read her blog here. This post is about Danielle’s daughter, Diyana, pictured above.
I often think of my kids as pretty non-self motivated learners, since they tend to glue themselves to their computers to play games for hours on end whenever they are allowed. It is one of my biggest fears with the idea of unschooling… that they will NEVER leave their computers if they were given the choice.
But lately I have realised that learning doesn’t always come in the form you expect it.
My daughter Diyana has a very, very lazy left eye. It was diagnosed when she was about 5 and at that time in Australia they tried to make her wear a patch to exercise the bad eye. She really, really hated it and I think the torture was even greater for me than her, watching her bump into walls and cry with frustration about not being able to do anything. After a few months we gave up on the patches and decided whatever benefit they were bringing, it was not nearly as much as the psychological damage that she was undergoing.
Now she is 11, and for the last 6 years we have basically ignored her bad eye, since her good eye was more than capable of taking up the slack. Lately however, her good eye has been deteriorating, and she has been terrified that she will go blind. Finally we set off for the eye specialist, and he told us that her left eye was essentially so lazy that it was not working at all. He explained that because her two eyes were sending completely conflicting messages to her brain, it totally made sense that she experienced extreme anger, frustration and learning difficulties. The only solution to prevent a permanent squint, useless eye and increasing mood swings was to start the patches again.
I was absolutely sure this was never going to happen in a million years. But I seriously underestimated the willpower of my daughter. She is now old enough to appreciate what is good for her, and I am in awe of her commitment to this regime. She wears it for two hours a day and from the first minute until the last, she endures intense anger, frustration, fury, nausea, headaches, and about 10% vision. Yet she hasn’t missed a day in a whole month. As much as she hates it, she knows she needs it and her patience with the process is incredible.
So while she refuses to do maths, has tantrums about science, and has frequently declared her hatred of anything to do with learning, she is learning bigger lessons in patience and perseverance at the age of 11 than most adults have learned in their entire lives.
I couldn’t be more proud.