Some days I doubt unschooling, wondering if we are somehow cheating our kids of experiences they might otherwise have, wondering if we are making the right decisions for their lives. It is a weighty decision, whether or not to send kids to school, and it seemed easier in Saskatoon when I was surrounded by other people on the same path. I don’t think it is unschooling itself that I doubt, but perhaps my abilities to support three small beings with very distinct needs and personalities in their learning needs. I doubt my ability to be patient enough, kind enough, open enough to possibility. I doubt my ability to help them navigate yet another bout of sibling rivalry, or to inspire and engage enough.
But then there are days where we are all intrigued by life, excited by the passions beginning to unfold around us. The kids are motivated and I am present, focused on the process and not the end result. These are the days when I can say “yes” more and raise my voice in frustration less. These are days like today.
Today the kids…
helped clean the playroom
ate waffles with Dad
played polly pockets
played doll house (extensively…involving three different houses and an elaborate set up)
India painted a lovely watercolor picture for our new and improved playroom (the 14$ I spent on real watercolor paints are by far the best money I have ever spent on that kid for cost vs reward)
Elijah played lego
Elijah operated on India, taking out her eyeball, her bones, and giving her a heart transplant, all without anesthetic. She’s a good patient. He also casted her arm, which was broken, and helped her give birth to a baby boy, the first of twins which will be born a month apart because she grows babies fast.
They ate a lot of rice krispie squares.
They worked on their cardboard box airplanes.
They helped with laundry.
They ran a bakery and a restaurant.
Elijah started a puzzle, and set up a game using junior scrabble, mancala, and gnomes pieces.
Had an African supper, with peanut beef stew and Nisheema (a ugandan cornmeal ball). We ate authentically, by taking pieces of the cornmeal ball in our fingers and scooping up the stew with it.
Now they are playing with the neighbour kids, some sort of scavenger hunt game run by the seven year old from next door.
All of that, and I even got to go for a run. My first in a long time, and it was wonderful. I didn’t go far, but the leaves were crisp and the air smells like October and it was quiet and rejuvenating.
In other news…
We have been trying to get Elijah to do more reading to himself. He can read well, refuses to read out loud (except for at Sunday School, where he begs to be allowed to read for everyone), but rarely wants to sit down and read. So we have started a ritual that after we read together for half an hour at night, he gets to read by himself for another half hour. The bonus to this is that it also gives me a half hour of quiet reading time, which is nice for the girl who used to read 2-3 books a week.
The other night he pointed to a word and asked me what it was. The word was blender. I told him the word, and then asked if he also needed help with the word before blender. I told him it was “titanium”, and a big grin spread across his face. “I knew it was!” he said. How can I begin to doubt the process of unschooling when he can read the word titanium without anyone ever “teaching” him to read? And isn’t it weird that the word titanium comes easily, but the word blender is a total mystery?
We are also working on writing. Elijah wants to write, but he gets frustrated because he can’t do it quickly and perfectly. He has been writing letters since he was two or three, but to actually string a bunch of them together into sentences or thoughts is overwhelming for him. Any ideas for helping a kid who wants to be perfect without practicing? He gets so frustrated when the going is slow, needs to spell everything perfectly, and gets bored easily. I wouldn’t care, except that he wants to be able to write.
We were driving to Hinton yesterday and looking for animals on the way. We saw a fox and a coyote, and when I mentioned that Sean and I had seen a bear on our honeymoon, India piped up “Oh yeah, because bears like honey.”
Also, Mattea is talking up a storm. (Or at least a few words.) She says a few normal words, like mama and dada. Otherwise, the words are quite random. Bum. Fetch. Purple. Puppy. Apple. It’s a lot of fun for the kids to put words out there for her to repeat, although they don’t really understand the idea of keeping the words simple, so it sounds like “Mattea…say underwear. Say rice krispie square. Say marble run.”