An Unschooling Day: Gone fishing

The size of our apartment lends itself to daily bouts of cabin fever.  To combat this the children and I have begun going to a park each morning while it’s still cool and then for a family walk around downtown in the evening.  Sooner Park is our favorite of late.  It has all the standard playground equipment, a swimming pool (though we’ve yet to visit that), an abundance of squirrels and best of all a winding little stream passing right through the middle.  One day not so long ago we arrived to find the park swarming with a Vacation Bible School group.  As is her custom, Sister quickly made friends with the explorers of the bunch – a sub-group with nets and buckets and enough determination to catch several minnows, tadpoles and and a frog.  Sister played the delighted spectator on that trip but two days later insisted she needed to try net fishing.  For less than $12 we acquired the necessary equipment and headed to the park.

We didn’t catch anything that day or the next day either but we are getting closer and refining our techniques and most of all we are having fun and learning together.  I think sometimes about the group we met the first day (and another group we’ve met since).  Both stayed for a while but were forced to leave their explorations as soon as the teacher called.  We stay until we are tired or it gets too hot or we mutually agree we’d like to try again another day.  While I understand the necessity of organization and schedule with so many children and so few caretakers, I like our way better.  I hope that as they grow our children will agree.

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4 thoughts on “An Unschooling Day: Gone fishing

  1. I’ve been agonizing over decisions about school for Julia lately.

    I hadn’t intended to send her to preschool. She has an abundance of organized activities to participate in each week and I’m home, devoted to her and am certainly capable to teach her the things she is meant to learn in preschool. But, last week at ballet, a grandmother who is also a grade school teacher in our district, was advising me that “every child needs preschool.” I came to learn that children who do not attend preschool are put in a special needs class, since they are “not as socially prepared for a classroom environment.”

    And so, I’ve been researching the schools in our are, finding out as much as I can about the preschools and elementary schools and I’ve worked myself into a nice little frenzy about it all. Deep down, I feel like the way we are doing things is okay. Julia is a social child. She has friends. She does fine in a group. She respects authority. She can follow instructions. She knows her ABC’s, she can count to 20, she can spell and write her name. What does she need preschool for? What can they offer her that I cannot?

    I’m so frustrated and confused.

    Right now, your way, sounds pretty good.

  2. Leslie, far be it from me to dispute the advice of a grandma/grade school teacher but I would like to share a personal memory that I hope will help you with this difficult decision. When Sister was born, I was completely unsure of my skills as a mother. I had read many books and done much research on pregnancy and childbirth but found only one book to guide my parenting journey. There were (and still are) a great many excellent parenting resources available but I chose to follow as gospel the advice of the first book I came across. It promised a child who would sleep through the night, nurse at appropriate times and basically be the perfect baby. The first few weeks were fine but as time went on my relationship with our beautiful little girl became more of a power struggle than a bond. My conscience told me this method wasn’t working but I continued to struggle forward because “the book said….!” By the time I finally wised up and ditched “Babywise” my relationship with Sister was fragile at best. It took much time and love to rebuild her confidence and trust.

    I am NOT implying at all that sending Julia to preschool will ruin your relationship with her. I am implying that sometimes a single source of information regardless of how “expert” it may seem is not enough and that your instincts as a mother (as her mother) deserve much consideration. If “deep down [you] feel like the way [you] are doing things is okay.” then it probably is.

    We love having chosen the unschooling path and I would be delighted to discuss more about it, if you’d like.

  3. I appreciate your comment. The whole school thing is such a source of frustration for me right now. Before I had Julia, I was a college recruiter and spent a lot of time in schools. They were high schools and Julia is far from that, but I was still shocked at what I saw. Sitting in the teacher’s lounge and listening to them talk about their jobs, their students, the standards…it scared me. I want my daughter to have the chance to grow and realize her potential. Sometimes I worry that school isn’t the best place for that. When I hear that she could be put in a “special” class for not attending preschool, it makes me even more nervous. I don’t like that labeling and pigeonholing, especially based on something as arbitrary as preschool. There are kids that go to preschool that will still struggle socially! The worst part right now is, I feel out of the loop – like I don’t have all the information and I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t like feeling that way.

  4. Pingback: This Simple Life » A Frog in the Hand

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