Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

I realize that it always takes me quite a while to settle in to unstructured time. Certainly a result of so many years of school schedules where every moment is planned and full and prescribed. So here I am, on Sunday afternoon, finally relaxing into the reality of a day with no commitments. What do I want to do? How do I want to spend my time? What is important to me? These unscheduled days often leave me feeling a little lost and panicky. Busy-ness and a full plate feel so much more predictable and secure. As I enter into our 6th season of not chooing to enroll the kids in school, I'm aware that inch by inch I'm becoming more and more familiar with life without school, as much for me as for my children.

My kids have never been to school. The bulk of their days are open and available for activities of their choosing. What would it have been like for me to have had that experience as a child? What would it be like for me now, as a 36 year old adult, to have learned how to manage my time as a child? It is interesting to imagine what might be different for me today. Would I be more productive? Less? Would I have the ability to sit on the couch reading a magazine without guilt? Maybe. But what I know for sure is that my kids won't ever look to an adult to tell them how to spend their time. Sure, they have moments of boredom. But for the most part, they know how to choose their level of activity without being told that it is time to read, or play or rest. It feels good to know that at the ages of 11,9 and 6, they already know how to check in with their own bodies to find out what their needs are rather than relying on a teacher, coach or parent to inform them.

Every once in a while my oldest and youngest take turns testing the "school waters" by telling me that they are thinking about going to school. I always take a deep breath before responding. Inside I'm thinking: "Oh, no, here we go...the ultimate unschooling test: letting them choose school." Of course, I believe that they are better off without school, but the whole point is choice. If I force my kids to stay home from school, some say I would be denying them the very choice we unschoolers are so proud of. And so, I breathe...and then calmly say, "Really? School, huh? Okay. What do you need from me as you consider that choice?" Sometimes my 11 year old will say, "Oh, nothing. I'll let you know when I'm ready to enroll." And my 6 year old will often say, "I'm just thinking about it, Mom." They know that this is a test just as much as I do. They know how I feel about school and there are moments when they want to check in just to make sure that they really do have a choice. And so I'll keep breathing deeply.

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