I knew that homeschooling would benefit my children, because the public schools in our area are lacking in funds and pushing Common Core, however, I really wasn’t sure how we were going to pull off homeschooling. I consider myself to be an educated woman, and I love to learn, but I am mostly self-taught on subjects that interest me. I went to college, but received no degrees. School was never a passion of mine, even though I enjoy learning. My issue was always that I wanted to learn about what I enjoyed, not subjects that I had no interest in, and that’s why I, myself never finished college. I knew the direction I wanted to go in, but I would have been required to study a bunch of subjects that had nothing to do with my passion, and so I decided to move on with my life instead of graduating college.
We pulled our children out of public school in November of 2013 and began homeschooling by the book. I quickly realized that my kids were exactly like me, they loved to learn, but hated to be told what to learn. that is natural actually, all children are able to learn at their own pace, because education is all around them in every day life. About a 3 months into homeschooling, I discovered unschooling and knew that was exactly what my kids needed, but it wasn’t easy for me to let go of everything I knew. Kids should be on a schedule, they should learn this subject and that subject and should be reading by the age of 5 and so on. Fear of the unknown is normal! Letting go is hard! I did my best to let my kids explore their passions, and eventually my 7 year old daughter fell in love with Minecraft. She was playing hours at a time and I, as her parent was naturally concerned. “Is she addicted?”, “She’ll never learn history if she won’t put that game down.”, “It’s 2am, she should be sleeping!” the fears were there, the questions, the concerns, the struggle with myself was pushing me to want to stop allowing my kids the freedom to learn on their own at their own pace, I wanted to start back with text books and workbooks and worksheets. I was SCARED!
I decided to give it a bit longer, we weren’t quite at a year and my kids were still in that “deschooling” phase anyway. You know, the time that you allow a newly homeschooled child to decompress from public school. “They” say to allow one month “vacation” for each year your child was in school, which would give us 10 months according to my oldest child, so I pressed on.
My 7 year old went to public school for preschool, kindergarten and first grade; yet she didn’t know how to read. She didn’t want to read, she “HATES TO READ!” her words. By letting go and letting her explore on her own, something amazing happened! Yes, she was playing Minecraft for hours on end, but something changed! in order to communicate with other players, she had to figure out how to use the chat system to send and receive messages and find out where she needed to be on the map in order to do what she wanted to get done. She taught herself how to read! The words came alive, they finally meant something to her and it clicked.
I know that many of you are thinking “Sure, she figured out how to decipher some video game words, but she can’t actually read, just decode.” however, isn’t that what reading is? It is decoding random symbols strung together to form words, that then form sentences, and then paragraphs, and chapters and full books! That is exactly what happened! About 2 months after she started to decipher these random symbols on the computer screen, she picked up “Charlotte’s Web” out of our home library and read it from beginning to end without being asked to stop playing and pick up a book. She decided all on her own that she was going to read this book and she did it! My daughter, the 7 year old, who could just barely read her own name, picked up a book meant for public school grades 3-5 and read the whole thing, simply because she wanted to.
Letting go isn’t easy, but it has been truly a blessing. My daughter did – on her own – what public school teachers failed to do, found her passion and followed herself down her own little rabbit hole. The very first book she read was more than 2 “grade levels” above her own, all because she knew could do it and nobody was forcing her.