http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201202/the-benefits-unschooling-report-i-survey-231-families?page=2&utm_source=feedburner&ut A questionnaire respondent’s very eloquent answer to, “What, for your family, have been the biggest benefits of unschooling?“,
“Lack of teenager rebellion, “Hands down, the relationship with our kids has flourished. We have never gone through the typical teen angst or rebellion so often touted as normal. I don’t think it is. If you build up your family life where members work together and help one another, where the focus is on happy learning, it’s hard NOT to get along and enjoy each other’s company! Schools have an insidious way of pitting parents against kids and eroding the relationship that could flourish outside of that environment. When kids, and all people really, can relax and enjoy life and learn and pursue interests, they are happy. When people are happy, they get along better, they work together and inspire one another, learn from one another and grow stronger and healthier. All of that has spilled over into marriage life and all family relationships, including siblings. I knew without a doubt that the learning would happen and that it would be amazing! I didn’t expect the stark difference in our relationship with our kids, as compared to what I thought it should be like by what I saw in other families with kids in school.”
Everyone has been very surprised when I’ve told them I’ve started homeschooling the kids (well, homeschooling Edward at least, I don’t believe in ANY sort of schooling yet for Petra, at age 3. She can carry on doing the very important kind of learning 3 year olds can’t help doing). However, when we talk a bit more about it and it becomes evident that we don’t expect for Edward to EVER go back to school, they are really shocked! People think it’s extraordinary enough to be homeschooling a 7 year old but a teenager! ‘What! You’re going to homeschool them when they’re teenagers! How will they do anything you ask them to? You’ll argue all the time!’ But as the above quote demonstrates from a family with teenagers, it’s common sense to me that home educated teenagers wouldn’t have the same rebellion problems as conventionally schooled ones. They have spent a lot of quality time with their parents over the years and feel well understood by them. Given the more flexible homeschooling schedule, they are probably out in the community to a far greater extent than schooled friends, doing volunteer work or taking lessons in areas of special interest.
The relationship with our kids, at all ages, is a very important aspect of home education for us. We are a very close-knit family, complemented by close, meaningful friendships, and we care very much about getting on well. We don’t accept that the teenage years will necessarily be a time for poisonous relationships. We feel there’s something wrong for this to happen. Yes, it’s a time for exploring boundaries, exploration generally. But that doesn’t mean there has to be a breakdown in communication, trust and cooperation, a loss of enjoyment in one another’s company. There has been quite a bit written about this and I look forward to reading further when the time comes. ‘The Teenage Liberation Handbook’ by Grace Llewellyn is a resource I’ve seen recommended a lot.
We had our first now-we’ve-left-school playdate today. I carefully chose a friend I knew would be kind to us, although I knew she wasn’t at all keen on homeschooling. My husband had brought up the subject at dinner one night, but didn’t let on we were thinking of doing it ourselves. She was clearly against it, for the usual reasons, mainly socialization (which is interesting because this was Edward’s teacher’s main objection too. He said he wasn’t at all worried about him academically but was worried about him having a chance to have friends. This was great to hear because Edward having enough friends is not an issue at all!).
What was interesting was that my friend was almost entirely won-over (in the case of Edward anyway) by the way he announced our news to her. He spread his arms wide and said with such happiness, ‘I am never going back to school again. I’m learning at home’. It was such a lovely scene to behold. If I had the tiniest worry about how he is feeling right now, this dispelled it. The outstretched arms really spoke of freedom and release, as if the shackles had fallen off his little arms, off his mind. He glowed with happiness. It was remarkable. We are absolutely doing the right thing for this wonderful little boy. And Petra is the lucky little sister who, thanks to our need to educate ourselves about homeschooling because of Edward, will benefit enormously from never going to school.
I leave you with this thought from Ghandi, quoted by another respondent’s answer to the aforementioned question (link above), “I believe it was Ghandi who said “be the change you want to see in the world” – and that’s what unschooling lets me do. I can be the change for my son – for my family. And if enough people change, well, then the world is on the right path (my opinion). And if only a few change, then that means a handful of children who got to have happy childhoods and didn’t have to sit around in school waiting for the system to catch up to what’s good and right :-)”
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