Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Timely Thread on Ask Unschooling Offspring about Teen trying out school

A post I wrote on Ask_Unschooling_Offspring on Feb 9, 2011 -

Hi! My 13 yr old daughter Katie wants to try high school too! We've always unchooled, so this will be a big change. I have fears and worries too. Mostly because of how she sees herself as wanting to fit in with her schooled friends and be like them and they are not as honest, considerate, respectful or trustworthy as our homeschooled friends!

Her schooled friends sometimes joke with her and call her a "special friend" (like she is "slow" because she homeschools) which I don't think is nice. In the past, the kids have told her what they are learning and then said that she will have to know all of that and they can help her catch up. It sounds so demeaning to me and yet kind of them to offer too if they sincerely want to do something they see as helping. I am worried she feels like she is lacking because she doesn't know everything they know. I thought she realized she could
learn what she wants when she wants to and that we would gladly help her (which we've always done). Maybe she does realize that, but wants to be with those friends doing what they do. And she doesn't know what school is really like from her own experience and wants to find out.

Some days I can be in a place where I can think of school as any other thing she wants to try out and I can feel good that she has the courage to try it and do what she feels is right for her. But this is hard because it is supporting her in attending an institution that I don't believe in and that goes against *my* values in many ways.

Yet the idea of *supporting my daughter is even more important* than what I think of schools. So I need to try to separate supporing Katie from my own beliefs about schools. What a growing experience this will be for me!

Other times I get caught up in my own self and sort of take it personally like when I wonder if I failed somehow by not making being out of school as good as the idea of school.

In spite of knowing better, sometimes I feel resistance in supporting her.

I am fearful being around schooled kids so much will have a negative influence on her. ie. She will not be her true self because she will try to fit in.  I also worry that maybe she will believe it if the schools classify her into a category (honors, average, slower classes). Or maybe she will be embarassed about what her friends think about which classes she gets into or doesn't. She seems to worry about what they think alot.  Anyway, that's what I have been thinking about!

Christina, your post uplifted me too and will surely help me remember to dwell more on the positive and try to quell my negative thoughts as much as I can!

Laurie (Mom to Katie 13, Li 9, Makana 5 and Kanoa 2)

Below is the wonderful, uplifting and insightful (and oh so timely for me!) post Christina wrote to someone on the same thread on Jan 28, 2011...

Re: [Ask_Unschooling_Offspring] Re: My 13yo wants to try high school


I am not an unschooling offspring, but an unschooling mom.  I do feel inspired to share my 2 cents though, so you can take what is helpful for you and leave the rest.

(snip - I cut out some of this post and left the parts that spoke most to me to keep things a little shorter....lw)
you said: I feel like he has never really embraced unschooling and all that this lifestyle offers, so I feel like he's not making an informed decision in wanting to go to school.

how can he make an informed decision unless he has experienced school???

maybe he hasn't embraced all of the freedom you see in this life because he has never been in the stifling situation that so many kids live through - to me school felt like prison - so by contrast I can fully appreciate the freedom this lifestyle offers - my kids might never fully appreciate it until they find themselves in a situation (like a job or something) where their freedom is taken away

maybe it will take him going to school where a different adult is telling him what to do every hour, and he has to comply with a set of arbitrary rules in order for him to appreciate the freedom he has - and take full advantage of it!

you said: And yet, I know that there's no point now trying to convince him to stay home, so I've decided that I simply must support & encourage him in this decision. Our new school year is about to start so I guess it's going to happen! :(     Still feeling sad and like I haven't done a good enough job :(

You can't change the past so all you can do is just start now - let him do EVERYTHING that he is interested in, including school. JOYFULLY support his decisions (even if you know they will backfire on him)

That is the ONLY way he will learn what he wants (and doesn't want) in life.

Maybe he will love school, maybe he won't, but it's not your journey. It's his and he must make it.

and when I say "joyfully support" that means no more frowny faces when you talk about his choices and decisions coming to be! ;-)

and no more frowny faces about your past decisions either - just be grateful he has the freedom he does to make his own choice now - he will be going into school WILLINGLY - not as a prisoner - and he can leave at any time if he decides to! :)

Find a new way to look at it that makes you feel joyful or excited for him or something positive. I see it as an amazing turn of events that so many more parents are trusting kids to make their own decisions and kids are being fully supported in pursuing their desires. What a wonderful world this can be if ALL kids are trusted and supported in that way!!!

Peace to you and your family - and good luck with this school experiment!


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