Friday, July 31, 2009

New Unschooling Chapter

How can unschooling include schooling? It seems the two would never meet.

Yet, here I sit.

Alyssa, the youngest of 5 and always unschoooled, has decided that she wants to go to school. It's not that she feels she doesn't learn. It's not that she thinks her lifestyle is not what she wants. But she wants more people - boys and girls. Dates that wouldn't require complicated family coordination. And girlfriends that she could run over to their house and hang out for a few hours and vice versa. She has tried making friends online, and they always live far away. She longed for friends in the neighborhood.

As we were driving across Austin, we started talking about friends who left homeschooling for high school. We talked about some of their experiences.

Then suddenly, Alyssa said, "well, I'm not smart enough to go."
"Why would you think that?"
"I just think that there are some things I didn't learn, and they already know."

This is partly true. We didn't spend years drilling on times tables or labeling sentence structure. We had always unschooled, so learning didn't happen in a linear fashion. While every day was filled with learning, it hadn't been compartmentalized by grade level.  She hadn't been taking achievement tests or TAC tests, or whatever was the latest fad in standardized testing.  Our experience had been that they learn what they need by adulthood. And Alyssa wanting to try high school would be interrupting this process. But, "the process" wasn't nearly as important as Alyssa choosing her own path. She was having some doubts and wanted to see what I would say.

And kids her age did. There were times, over the years, that other children or even their parents, would quiz Alyssa on what she knew and didn't know. And evidently, that stuck with her.

So I had no choice but to take a deep breath and respond, "I think that if you really WANT to go to High School, you could go and you'd be successful. And after you're there, you would see that you are every bit as smart as the others there."

She just looked at me. She never imagined that I would agree to let her go. We talked a little more about her reservations and what we could do to remedy them. I remembered times in the past when other schooled kids - and sometimes even their parents - and quizzed her on what she knew and didn't know. Evidently, that had stuck with her.

I agreed to call the school counselor when we got home. She was nervous but excited. I KNEW she would be successful if she went to school - but I needed her to know it.

So, now we're considering this, her newest adventure!

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