One word: Unschool.
Ever heard of it?
Well if you try to explore the definition, the prefix ‘un’ means not; and ‘school’ can be defined as an institution of educating children. So, what does ‘institution’ mean? A synonym for ‘institution’ is an establishment. I think we can all agree that when we think of an education institution, we envision a brick & mortar building. There are public schools and private schools and charter schools and academies and boarding schools and even religious centers.
But what about the situations of children NOT attending a brick & mortal building? Is it called home school or virtual school or online training or Montessori groups? Well, I am here to introduce to you – Unschool. You may or may not have heard of it before; or maybe you’ve heard of it but don’t know what it is. To me, unschool can be defined as an educational method & philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Digging deeper, unschooling allows the student to learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Pretty cool, right?
So, why am I even talking about this? How does this have anything to do with yoga?!
Great questions. For me, living a yogic life or being a yogini has to do with an entire lifestyle. I seek out healthier choices of food. I pay attention to my overall health & wellness. I focus on doing what’s mentally, spiritually & physically best for my body & my family (including my 2 dog kids ‘Copper’ & ‘Scamp’). This lifestyle opens up the opportunity to additional options other than the “normalcy” of today’s society. For my family, the public education system is no longer the best choice for one of my children.
I want to be very clear that I am in no way bashing public schools. I still have my other child in the public education system and feel that he is receiving a high level of quality learning. In addition, the county I live in is one of the top in the state. He has excelled academically and we are excited about his upcoming graduation. Not to mention, I am a product of public schools and have a long line of teachers in my family. However, for my Unschooler, this style of learning no longer serves her. I don’t believe that it was just one reason that we chose to withdraw her. It was an accumulation of factors stacking up. I must add though that I am not supportive of the current concept of teaching basically to have the students do well on standardized tests.
I am in favor of the curriculum that was used when I was in school. We had classes that prepared us for real life situations (i.e. Home Economics – covered food’s nutrition & preparation, household management, clothing basics etc.; Child Development – introduced caring for a child, understanding psychology of a child etc; Life Management – discussed personal health, family life, general finance etc.; Personal Finance – explored banking transactions, money management, investing etc.) Where did those go? Heck, they don’t even have Driver’s Ed as a basic class offered at every school now. And it’s incredibly disappointing that they are cutting more & more fine arts classes. However, I do not want to make this a complain session so I digress.
Getting back to the yogic life & my child, I am trusting my inner voice and being guided by my intuition to serve & honor the best for her mentally & physically. I am grateful that I have extra time to be able to work with her one-on-one; and am thankful that it is a mutual agreement with her dad as well. Life is a lot more fun now and our days seem to go by so quick. We are happy & have fun together. As she gets older, I know that she will continue to do her own things and my time with her will get shorter. But for now, I’m taking each moment I can and making a pleasant experience for us.
If you have any questions on how to do this or are thinking about taking this route as well, I will be more than happy to assist the best I can. I have pages of notes of questions that I asked my support tribe as well as several resources for advocate groups. So far this has been an excellent decision and I trust it will continue to get better & better.