Tag Archives: unschooling

The Perfect School

Imagine the perfect school for your child.

Teacher Enthusiasm

Each class is tailor-made to your little one’s interests and abilities. Though the teachers don’t know everything—because nobody can—they are happy to teach your child how to find the information they need. Even better, they are willing to go the extra mile by helping them reach out to those in the community who would better be able to help your kid answer their questions.
The school is small and does not have a lot of facilities but what they lack in funds, they make up for in enthusiasm. They use the interests of the children to plan field trips—sometimes close, to a local pond with a pocket microscope to see the organisms living in the water near the banks; sometimes far, to an art museum cities away for an exhibit showcasing the work of kids your child’s age who have honed their craft.

Deep Caring

You rest easily at night because you know the teachers care deeply about the well-being of your little one. They know the dietary restrictions, the likes and dislikes, the attitude changes. You know that to the best of their ability, they are always responding sensitively to your child’s cues.
This means that when your kid starts to get overwhelmed, they are given a chance to take a breath and calm down. Maybe the teacher has even given them a secret sign so that when other children and adults are around and their heads start to feel a bit too busy, the two of them are able to communicate without risking any embarrassment. There are never punishments; only discipline–a teacher helping a child to build skills when they lose control of their emotions.

Real World Skills

Classes are mix-aged and different students show up on different days depending on their interests. The teacher often stands back and lets kids handle their own disputes. You are always shocked to see how gentle the older students are with the younger; how they want to protect and care for the smaller ones in the group, rather than take that opportunity to bully and show their strength as you remember in school.
Teachers help your little one learn skills that will actually serve them in life by including them in the daily running of the school. While a child may learn what the capital of Idaho is, they are also learning some more fundamental skills: how to balance expenses and income, how to cook a basic meal, how to contribute to a community, and how to cope with failure.

Engrossment

Your favorite thing about the school is that the teacher’s give your child time to delve deeply into subjects that interest them. Instead of being shuffled from one class to another every 40 minutes, breaking their focus as soon as they get the time to settle in, your child is allowed to spend days, weeks, and months on whatever most keenly interests them.
And time spent outside? So much of it. Again, the facilities aren’t great—actually, they don’t have any at all. No baseball field, no tennis court, no trees to climb. But the teachers all know the research and make it a point to take field trips to local parks frequently or just let the kids burn steam off in the front yard.

The Cost

The student to teacher ratio is perfect. 1:1.
How much would a school like this cost?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about homeschool. All of this (and more) is possible when you teach your own. You don’t have to be a genius or a certified teacher—actually, famous educational philosopher John Holt says a degree in education would be a detriment. You need the desire to do well by your kids and a bit of resourcefulness.
How much does it cost?
The math is tricky. Tuition is on a sliding scale.
How much do you make?
How much would you pay to watch your child grow up and discover the world?
To me, it is priceless. We will make the sacrifices necessary so that our son can educate himself instead of having schooling be done to him.

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Something I’ll Teach My Children

I’m a woo-free natural mama. I don’t believe in the pseudo-science surrounding a lot of the prescriptions. I try to do my research, but I don’t “f**king love science.” I am not interested in raising my children to create a better, more caring world. I don’t care about the environment.

I am handling motherhood in a certain way and my son is being raised in a certain way so that I can feel good, and so that he can be strong and get what he wants out of the world.

I happen to have been raised without using much over-the-counter medicine and didn’t go to the doctor often because of who my mother is (thanks!) She isn’t anti-Western medicine—and neither am I. There are just a lot of things that can be done before you take antibiotics.

I am not pro or anti vaccine. I am not for “informed choice”. I am happy to be a free rider on the herd immunity that our nation provides. Nobody likes a free-rider, but everyone wants to be one. Our son will be getting some vaccinations; but that isn’t my point.

Whatever my choice, I will not be make it because I have a fear or autism or the heavy metals or cancer. It is because I can.

My children will be unschooled. This isn’t because, as many seem to think, because unschooled children are bastions of liberal ideology.

I am unschooling because I want my children to enjoy learning. I want to be the person to give them those opportunities. I want to influence their ideas more than other people. I want to have more say in their peer group.

I am unschooling because I want my children to be competent and confident in making their own decisions, and never have their curiosity taken way from them. I want them to remain in a growth mindset. I want them to compete on their own terms.

I am not unschooling because I want my children to take better care of the animals and the environment.

I want emotionally healthy children who are amicable, cooperative, and giving. To this end, I am raising them in the gentle parenting style, as advised by people like Dr. Daniel Siegel, the inventor of the field of interpersonal neurobiology, and Dr. John Gottman, one of the lead researchers in family systems, because I want my children to be able to get ahead in life. It just so happens that these skills are the skills of winners. While takers usually end up somewhere in the middle of the race of life, the givers end up at the top and bottom. I want my children at the top.

If, on the other hand, being at the top and being happy and fulfilled meant being ruthless and violent, then I would raise my children to be ruthless and violent.

While some might find this a dim view on why to raise my children in the way that I do, I find that ultimately, pragmatism towards one’s values carries you further than ephemeral ideas and reaching for the ideal. It is close to home that I want my son to be successful. It is much further away that I want Earth to be loved and respected so that it is a beautiful paradise for seven generations down the line.

The more abstract and idea, the less you get feedback from it in your environment. The less you get positive feedback, the harder it is to remain steadfast in your approach.

I will tell my children that we did all of these things because it is what felt good to us, and we thought it was the best way to make them strong and to want to continue a relationship with us in the future. I will make it clear that there is no shame in approaching things from a selfish angle, and the closer to home you make your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. These are a few among the many great lessons I choose to model—and later, discuss—with my children.