This isn’t even JUST about homeschooling per se. It’s about looking at what defines you and being honest about how that profile is serving the larger goals for your life. My family is examining this 42 ways to Sunday right now…
For me, this isn’t as hard as it used to be. I think life has absolutely beaten me down on this particular point. I have had to rebuild “who I am” so many times at this point that I can no longer take great pride or stock in the profile that I present to the world because I know it can quickly change. Long ago and far away, I defined myself by my job–like MANY. MANY. PEOPLE. And I had an amazing CAREER–not just a job. I was plucked from one place and planted into another over and over again. I knew my craft, that skill and tact was recognized, I was in demand, and I was paid well for it. Those days came to a SCREAMING halt and if I had any question that this was NOT “who I was”, I promise you that 3 years of not finding work (post 9/11) made it clear to me that I wasn’t who I thought I was and my value wasn’t in that career.
Twice more, I would get knocked to my knees and stripped of some outward profile that made me consider what my value was to the world and what the value of my actions were to the world. I can honestly say now that while I still have pride and joy in the endeavors I take on, I am keenly aware that these things are NOT my value in the world. My ego has been trampled (almost) completely. (I’m human, so…) I’m thankful that lesson is over.
So now, when I have presented myself to the world as an unschooler–someone who trusts that my kids will learn what they need when they need it in the manner they need it (but who is not opposed to curriculum if they want that)–I find myself making a change to something completely different. And it’s not about me or my image or “what will people think?” Because it’s not about my ego–it’s about my purpose. My purpose is to serve my children and we need to try something different.
After the new year, we will be moving towards child-centered learning for my kids.
BigGuy needs more scaffolding and support skills. He needs more hand-holding to get to where he wants to be. We have unschooled for so long that I know how he handles things, what his interests are, etc. He definitely loves working in a class/curriculum setting and I can now really understand why: he needs the structure to be successful because he lacks the skills to be self-directed. I have had to have a long, hard talk with myself about the fact that my guy IS disabled. We have brought him SO FAR that he often even fools me into thinking that he is neurotypical. But the result is that we’ve laid some unfair demands on him in terms of managing the things he’s wanted to take on and in the last year–his inability to meet those demands has not resulted in anything positive. Least of all, his own sense of self-worth.
BigGuy isn’t going to just figure it out and we need to step back and realize that he needs some help. Not just to succeed in the things that he wants to take on, but at this point–to make him feel like he’s not a failure in life. Because that’s where it’s heading.
Girly is going to get the same treatment and partly for some of the same reasons. She has had the worst time finding her “things” and a lot of that has to do with her emotional issues. I feel like she DID find her “things” but her feelings about how the world saw her in those things or how accepted she felt by others there really did her in. She really seems to be adrift and what’s worse–she’s now feeling less capable than the girls on our block that are in public and private school. She doesn’t realize that in a few years, they will all know roughly the same thing. She’s extremely self-conscious and she doesn’t want to explore HER interests. She wants her interests to be the same as everyone else’s. To say we have some work to do here is an understatement.
I have been gently introducing some academics to Girly and she is keenly aware of the levels (which are hard to avoid sometimes). I’m thankful she’s home where we can work through all of these big feelings together.
I really don’t think much about what people think of me changing course. The entire reason we homeschool is to NOT be locked into a model if it doesn’t work for us. Our kids change at a constant and we homeschool to be able to accommodate who they are, what they need and where our family is at the time. I’m only a purist in wanting to be sure that my purpose is in serving my kids over following a specific model, pedagogy or lifestyle. If your family manages to adopt one way and it serves you all through a lifetime–I am thrilled for you. Truly.
But it’s clear they my kids need a change. And my kids are bigger than my ego.