Once you have thrown out all those parenting books…stopped watching silly TV shows by nannies who have NEVER had a child of their own…and told your mother/mother-in-law where to stick their advice (Something along the lines of…Oh, yes, and that worked so well for yours! with a roll of the eyes and walk away.)…now you are ready to begin this Crazzy journey into HAPPILY radically unschooling your child with…
Step Two: KNOW THY CHILD!
I hear it now…
What do you mean know my child? He is MY child. Of course, I know her. I have been his parent for years. How dare you?
And maybe you do. But for most parents today they know the child they want to have…they know the child that they fear they have…they know that child’s ‘good’ face.
Especially if your child has been in school…think about it for a moment. Once your child goes to school, just how much time do you spend with her?
- 1 to 1.5 hours before school of waking up, feeding, getting ready for school, and commute to school…all very stress filled.
- 1.5 to 3 hours before dinner/supper/tea which is usually either doing homework or playing…how much of that is one on one with you?
- 2 maybe 3 hours before bed which is most assuredly computer or television, maybe more homework and then bath.
So for five days out of the week, you spend between four and a half and seven and half hours with your child. Much of which is NOT quality time.
And look at the weekends…realistically…between shopping, cleaning, and errands…just how much QUALITY time is there then?
School holidays? Summer break? Have you ever wondered why parents AND children hate these and can’t wait for them to be over?
Because you and they are forced to spend too much time with a virtual stranger. Someone you do not really know…and may not even like.
But now that you have taken that plunge. You have decided to home educate. Perhaps you have even de-registered your child. What do you do?
Yes, I said…NOTHING!
They need a break…and so do you. You both need that QUALITY time…and quantity to get to know one another. I was about to say…the way you did when they were babies. But way too many babies are being raised by nannies, child minders and nurseries these days. Some as young as six weeks. So it is presumptive to assume that parents ever truly knew this little person who has been entrusted to them.
No better time than the present to get to know her then. Heck, even parents who do not choose to home educate should give these first two a go.
But how? How do you do that?
Time…spending time with your child.
Listening to him…not talking but truly hearing what he has to say…about politics, the environment, society….and you! That is a challenging one…I promise. They see us far better than we see ourselves and that is the problem.
Do things together…things that SHE wants to do. Not the ones that you want her to do. Not dragging her around like a silk purse on your errands, forcing her to do things just because you think you need to.
Observe…not just watch. You see observation is watching what listening is to hearing. It is about depth and thought. Take the time to not just see the things that your child is doing, but to think about them. What is he getting out of that? Does she like to do that at a specific time or order? Does it calm or excite him?
BE…just be. What is this? Yes, give your child and yourself permission to just be. No expectations. No demands. No schedules. And as few rules as possible…but more about that one later. Being is surprisingly difficult. Really truly hard. It is not something that our greedy, hurried and self-absorbed society values. Probably because it knows that those who taste it will eventually throw off their chains of enslavement…
At first you may need to see this as temporary. You may be uncomfortable with the idea of learning by osmosis. You may feel you need to ‘teach.’
Here’s a secret…no one, no matter how many degrees they have can TEACH anyone anything! You can provide information. You can be a resource. But LEARNING is an internal process. Like the old Southern saying from my childhood…you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Which is one reasons why schools are doomed to failure…you cannot force anyone to learn!
Back to my point…you may need to set a time limit…for your comfort (see this sort of like being weaned off of some drugs). See it as a holiday…a vacation. Tell your child…for the next month…three…six…year…we aren’t going to do much/any ‘school’ work. We are just going to have fun.
I am betting you will be surprised at how much your child LEARNS…and how much you learn about him…and yourself. I’m also betting that time limit gets tossed out the window.
Because that is the seductive power of RADICAL UNSCHOOLING!