Back to school. Today, thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 18 will pack backpacks, load buses and fill school halls for approximately 180 days of learning, socializing and extra-curricular activities. I can almost smell the scent of new crayons and clothes as I watch the children across the street wait in the crisp fall air as the rumble of the school bus comes to a squeaky stop in front of them.
As summer draws to a close, many well-meaning adults will ask our four-year-old Dylan, “Are you going to pre-school this year?” or they’ll excitedly exclaim, “Only one more year until you get to go to school!”
No school here. It is our intention to continue as we have been the first four years of our child’s life with exploring, adventuring and learning through living. The hardest part about unschooling for me is de-programming myself from my schooled ways. Trusting that because my child has the capacity to learn, that he will.
Yesterday was Labor Day. In Minnesota, the last day of summer vacation before school begins. Our day started early with my almost two-year-old Julia and a stroller walk to the grocery store for the necessities. She told me when the light was green and I could walk and when it was red and I had to stop. Since she is out and about in the stroller and bike trailer so much, her internal GPS navigation system is spot on! She can tell when she’s in her neighborhood (the 8 or so square blocks that surround our home in Moorhead) and which park she’d like to visit (Davy, Northeast, Hansmann, Arbor and Buland to name a few).
When we returned home, she helped me collect tomatoes and jalapenos from the garden as we prepare to gather all the ingredients we’ll need for salsa!
Later that morning, after Dylan woke up (around 9:30 a.m….the kids don’t have a bedtime or schedule as they really don’t have anywhere to be the next day!) he and I did some baking. Not from scratch mind you. I bought a can of pre-made cinnamon rolls and biscuits that go POP! when you smack them on the counter…still brings me child-like joy every time I open one of those! Dylan read me the directions and placed the biscuits the correct distance apart on the pan and got the oven set to the right temperature and the timer set. Ta-da: Breakfast!
Julia went down for her nap around 2 p.m. and Dylan and I played the Simpson’s Clue game. I’ve never played before so I relied upon Dylan to teach me. And he did. With joy and love, he patiently explained the rules of the game and was gentle with me when I made mistakes and he had to correct me. It’s tremendously fulfilling to me to learn from my child instead of seeing myself in a solely authoritative role. We’re in a respectful partnership and the relationship needs love and patience to grow and blossom!
We finished the day with a bike ride to several parks and then roasted marshmallows over the fire before bedtime at 10:30 p.m.
I don’t really like the term “unschool.” But homeschool isn’t really accurate either because we’re often not at home and we aren’t following any sort of curriculum.
Happy fall, happy schooling or unschooling or the many choices and options in between as make our way in this world together.