Tuesday, March 24, 2015

some more or less random musings

Things have been chugging along over here, doing much of the same things as always-- lots of hanging out at home, playing with legos and the xbox, making up new creatures and superheroes/villains, D made a new stop-action movie or two, we've gone to gymnastics classes and homeschool park days and a museum or two. Suffered through a minor illness or two, and recovered. The usual.

Every so often we'll have a day that feels like a "quintessential proud homeschooler day", like last week when D and I had a short lesson on venn diagrams, and then we walked into town for an errand, picking up trash along the way. We baked cookies, with him taking the lead, and then he sat out on the sidewalk selling them to passing neighbors, counting up money and making change as needed. It was just this Really Cool Day with Learning Opportunities!

Other days look a little less impressive. We may meet up with our homeschool group at the park, or stay home most of the day just playing and watching some tv, maybe catching an "educational" video at some point, but nothing that sounds that impressive and certainly not much that would be considered classically academic. And those might be great days, where we have fun and enjoy each other and have some interesting discussions about whatever might randomly come up, but I sometimes have that nagging voice in my head that we're not "doing enough." That maybe we should be more structured, maybe I should push more on reading and math stuff.

A while back I came across this post about being an "unexceptional unschooler" and it's one I have saved for repeated reading because I agree so much with what she says. There is so much pressure to be Someone Impressive and to Do Impressive Things, and that's for anyone let alone homeschoolers who are prone to feeling like we have something to prove, and it's all just... silly.

I've heard some unschooling families say they aim to live as if school didn't exist. If I try to put myself in that frame of mind (meaning completely letting go of the schoolish expectations of kids learning X, Y, Z at this age and not that) and look at our lives, I'm pretty happy. Sure, it would be nice if D were doing more of certain things, but he does other stuff that's pretty awesome as well. And he's a fun kid, both my boys are. And I like getting to spend so much time with them. I like the creatures and stories they make up, and the questions they think to ask, and the conversations we get to have because we have the time to have them. And it's freeing to keep in mind that we don't have to be "exceptional" in any way-- we just have to be happy and satisfied with how we are living our lives.

One of my favorite books is John Green's The Fault in our Stars. One of the themes in the book is the clash between Augustus and Hazel's views of what it means to live a meaningful life. Gus has this intense desire to accomplish something big, to be a hero. Hazel, instead, is quite happy living her quiet life-- she doesn't need to have a big impact on the world, she's content to spend her time doing things she enjoys with the people she loves. That's enough. I think that attitude is highly underrated in our culture.

And even that is a bit too overbearing, because part of the point is not to put so much pressure on what we are doing now and today, what my kids are doing at 7 and 4 years of age, as if it has some huge bearing on what he will be doing as a teenager or an adult. I have no idea what sorts of things he'll be doing by then. Him being a math whiz now is no guarantee of that still being true in a decade or more, just as him not knowing the multiplication tables in no way means he won't be brilliant at math later on (to focus on just one subject).

Long story short... I think were all enjoying our days as they go, doing things that are fun and interesting to us, enjoying our time together. And that's one of my main goals for us as a family. And things tend to go best when I let go of these arbitrary notions of what things are Important To Do and Impressive, and instead trust in my kids to become who and how and what they want to be.