Friday, October 12, 2007
Community, At Last!
In my six years of calling myself an unschooler I have often felt like a bit of a freak. Even amongst many of my homeschooling friends, I have often been a bit of an outsider. No curriculum, no tests, no lessons at the kitchen table. It makes people uncomfortable. As I watched friends and neighbors dip in and out of unschooling, varieties of homeschooling, school at home, and alternative-type schools, I stayed fast. I got used to being a party of one, so to speak, and each summer anxiously awaited the HSC homeschooling conference where I was first introduced to the term unschooling and realized that what I'd believed all along actually had a name.
At the conference I am surrounded by hundreds of other homeschoolers. Parents, young children, teenagers, toddlers, babies, young adults, all homeschoolers, many of them unschoolers. It is heaven. This summer as I was driving home from the conference, I reflected on what exactly it was that made me feel so grounded at the conference. It didn't take long for me to see that it was the amazing sense of community. Sitting by the pool with other moms and dads talking about living a life without school. Asking a parent of older teenagers to tell me about what it was like for them. Listening to experienced panelists and key note speakers share how they have lived for years. Laughing, crying, living and breathing life without school. It is an awesome experience.
As I got closer and closer to home, I got sad. Where was my unschooling community? Why couldn't I experience tat sense of support and belonging right here at home? As summer turned to fall, I started talking about my desire to create an unschooling community. I was thrilled to find that others were looking for the same. One day my daughter was dropped off by another homeschooling mom. I had no idea what her particular homeschooling flavor was, but I asked, "Would you be interested in joining a homeschoolers group?" Her eyes lit up and she laughed, "I've been dying to hang out with other homeschoolers!!" We quickly discovered that we'd both been longing for the same type of support and immediately set a date for our first meeting.
I just returned from that first meeting. We met at the park. It threatened to rain, but we were bundled up and determined to get to know one another. 9 parents, 20 kids and a desire to be in community. Some were skeptical that we would be able to come up with a regular meeting time that worked for everyone. Others expressed that if we really want to form a supportive community, we may have to sacrifice other commitments in the future to make it work. Big kids played with little kids, moms and dads shared snacks and swapped stories. It was a huge success. And we did find a meeting time that works for everyone. Well, almost everyone. Stay tuned. I've think I've found my unschooling community.