This post is written by my good friend Carly. I love her insight into the deschooling process and how she came to realise what her children and family truly needed and valued in life. You can find her on Instagram HERE.
I’ve only recently begun the journey of unschooling.
My children are aged 5, 2 and 4 months. Our journey of unschooling began when I had to consider the possibility of kindy for my 3-year-old and I started to question the concept of school entirely.
Homeschooling was always something we had considered prior to having children. The concept sounded incredibly appealing. But as that became more of a reality for me I questioned my ability to do so. I had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old and sometimes regular daily tasks felt hard! Could I actually manage to provide my children with the education (I thought) they needed?I then stumbled across this wonderful blog and my eyes were opened to the idea of unschooling. At first, I saw unschooling as something that will still yield the results I wanted, but just in a nicer way! Everything about unschooling resonated with me, the togetherness, doing life with our children, being able to influence them in positive ways, having a meaningful bond with them and not sending them off to someone else’s care 5 days a week. (Other benefits such as the lack of stress in regards to homework, school runs, only holidaying in school term etc, also greatly influenced the decision!).
We formed friendships with a wonderful group of unschoolers. I started to witness the life of freedom these kids deserved. I was convinced! This was a beautiful way to live. But I still had those thoughts… “Do they really just play all day? Will they actually learn to read and write and be successful in life?”
I still struggled with the concept that it wasn’t enough, or rather that I wasn’t enough. That I still needed to be providing opportunities for my children to learn and be successful.I had to ask myself, What is this all about? What is “enough”? What is “success”? It comes down to our priorities in life. And I guess some might consider that our purpose. Everyone wants life satisfaction. Everyone wants happiness. But is living lives totally separate from our loved ones actually satisfying? Does that actually make people happy?
Of course, there are the practicalities of needing to provide a home and food for our families and our children’s abilities to do so when they no longer are dependent on us. But even school doesn’t guarantee this. If people argue that financial success or stability is a guarantee of happiness (spoiler alert: it’s not) school isn’t a guarantee of financial success either. If unschooling is a risk, school is much riskier.Living a life you are passionate about is important! Every human wants to engage in meaningful work and contribute positively to their community. Some say you either do what you love or you work to do what you love. But if work is consuming so much of your time that you don’t get to do what you love or the work you are doing is not meaningful to you, perhaps its time to question your career and your life choices?
I am not about to send my children to school in order to prepare them for jobs that may not exist anymore by the time they graduate, and I am definitely not about to send them to school simply because “they have to work and that’s just the way life is”. What a waste of a childhood! What a negative way to view your own life!
If we can let go of the idea that unschooling is a means to an end, just another way to get to a certain result, and recognise that the “result” we are desiring is actually not even necessary, what does unschooling become? It is simply just living. Simply being with our children is enough! We don’t have to be like anyone else or live the same life as anyone else. Our children (or we) don’t need to achieve certain things in order to be satisfied, and most importantly, my identity as a person is not dependent on my child’s success.
“My child isn’t my easel to paint on
Nor my diamond to polish
My child isn’t my trophy to share with the world
Nor my badge of honor
My child isn’t an idea, an expectation, or a fantasy
Nor my reflection or legacy
My child isn’t my puppet or a project
Nor my striving or desire
My child is here to fumble, stumble, try, and cry
Learn and mess up Fail and try again
Listen to the beat of a drum faint to our adult ears
And dance to a song that revels in freedom
My task is to step aside
Stay in infinite possibility
Heal my own wounds
Fill my own bucket
And let my child fly”
– Shefali Tsabary
So I have let go of the idea that I need to be or do ANYTHING in order to be an accomplished person, and I have let go of the same for my children. I am enough, we are enough, our life is enough.
Whatever happens on the way, I really don’t mind! Whether my children are “successful” or not, doesn’t matter to me. My love for them and my desire for a relationship with them is not conditional on a particular outcome. We are going to spend less time doing and more time simply being.
“We were together, I forget the rest.” – Walt Whitman
Follow Carly on Instagram HERE for more beautiful photos and an inspiring look into unschool life.