Over these Easter holidays I have been reflecting on the past twelve weeks or so of us doing a week of schooling alongside a week of unschooling. It is clear it wasn’t a good fit for us, in the same way it is clear it was something we really did need to try out in order to find out just how bad a fit it was.
On the one hand I am glad we tried it. We scratched the unschooling itch and found it to be a dissatisfactory learning experience. It is out of all of our systems and that is a good thing. In the process we learnt much about ourselves. I have learnt that I value certain activities higher than alternatives. And this is a good thing to know about myself. I have one very quirky, funny, individual twin daughter. And I have seen her in a different light over the past term. The things she enjoys are an enigma to me. Seeing her seek out, for example, musical pursuits (I am very unmusical. Really VERY), and the pleasure when she aced her exam; the joy on her face when she sings; the excitement she has towards the day when she can finally stand up with her father and lead worship in our church – this is a priceless part of her that I now understand. I don’t always get her need to print copious number of modern lyrics, her passion to defend One Direction, Olly Murs, as well as Rend Collective, Enya and various Christian rappers against anyone (this includes impassioned speeches in the car aimed at the radio broadcasters. I mean, I’m certain she understands they can’t actually hear her….), and her need to cut out pictures of her favourite musicians to keep in a file. But I understand passion. I don’t need to ‘get’ what floats her boat, I just need to allow her the space to explore it, feel it and express it. It has been a privilege to see into her heart.
On the other hand I lament the weeks we wasted whilst trying it out. This term feels like the least productive term ever.
One of the biggest lessons I learnt during this experiment was that during the unschooling weeks the children followed their passions and in addition had lots of screen time. Interestingly, during the schooling weeks they enjoyed the learning we all did in school and in addition followed their passions during any extra time they had. Can you see? In both the schooling and the unschooling weeks the children followed their passions regardless, it is just that during the unschool week it happened when they weren’t on their screen and during the schooling weeks it happened when they weren’t studying. Their passions remained their passions regardless of the arbitrary titles of schooling or unschooling. The difference was the screen time. And if I had the choice between the children studying or screen time I will choose studying every. single. time. Unashamedly. Plus the fact they sleep better when worked hard 😉
I believe my children will always find time for their interests because they are passionate people. When they are required to do normal school they simply make time for their interests once formal school is over. There truly is time for everything under the sun.
So what next for our little homeschool? Things still feel not quite right, if I’m honest. The last year or so has brought such a huge change in my older children. The biggest change ever, I think. They are growing up and as such their needs are different now than they were. Next year I will have three teens on my hands and I think over the next few weeks we will be reassessing what their needs are for this next season in their life. It may be more project based work, or a transition to specific IGCSE study materials, or we may plod on in much the same way as before or it may even be a mix of all three. We will be discussing, praying, thinking and praying some more as a family as we try to work out what is important and what needs to be let go of.
I may not know where we are heading but I know one thing for sure: There is a time for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3) and this is a very peaceful thought.