January 3, 2011

The First Day of Our New School

It is the first day of school. Or, rather, should I say unschool?

For the last several weeks, we have been on break. By the time our break came David and I were both completely fed up with our daily life together. For months, we have been struggling with our school at home. The tools of our school - goals and plans, math books and grammar programs, carrots and sticks - have not been working. We had given up on "meeting at the table" - our term for the daily 9 a.m. appointment at our kitchen table to begin our day of school. We were deadlocked in boredom and frustration and our homeschool was dead in the water.

What's the recurring word in that last statement? oh, yeah - DEAD!
It had gotten so bad that I felt that it might be better to fight to get him on the bus on time in the morning (and, oh, would it be a fight), send him to the public school (where he would have to fight all day to meet the expectations of many people, not just one), and then fight with him all evening to do the homework he was sure to have and get him back into bed so we could get up and do it again the next day. At least I wouldn't be fighting with him ALL day, right? It might save our relationship, RIGHT!?

I think it would be more accurate to say that I would be throwing him under the bus. No matter how you shake it, our poor little pathetic homeschool is and always will be the lesser of the two evils.

And, then, a glimmer of hope to make a change that would save us both. In the last few weeks, as I struggled with the direction to take our homeschool, I attempted to turn the screws ever tighter on an approach that was already failing (see my last post). At the same time, something happened to drive home the concept of unschooling.

Last Wednesday David received the Lego Mindstorm NXT 2.0 robot that he has been working for nearly all year. And lo and behold... he hasn't played any video games since. He's engaged in building and programming. He's solving problems, doing math, dealing with frustration when it doesn't work. He's learning a lot. And, having fun.

Hmmmm, natural learning or force fed curriculum - that is the question. We have five months until summer break. At this point, we also have nothing to lose. There's only one answer.

I officially declare us to be unschoolers.

First, I'm changing my title from teacher to facilitator. By facilitating I will teach him how to learn. In doing this I will no longer spend inordinate amounts of time and energy fighting with him. What can we do with that time and energy? Experience friendly collaboration instead of frustrated conflict. Utilize creativity instead of suffering boredom. Explore the real world instead of study textbooks. And, maybe... just maybe... a little time for myself? It just may be a win-win turning point.

Ooohhh, the possibilities. Today is the first day.

To be continued...

Best regards,



  1. What an encouraging post. Honest about the frustations and insight with hope! It will be interesting to see where this takes you.

  2. Thank you so much. It can only get better from here. David and I have lots of great ideas and I'll keep posting. By the way, this is my very first comment :)

  3. Welcome to HSB!

    HSB Senior Editor

  4. Loved the cartoon! And welcome to HSB to you!

  5. Thanks for the welcome. Checked out your blog, Atha SFB, and liked the visual on the lapbooks. Thanks!


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