Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Friday, August 1, 2014

This. Is. Real.

It's August....August 2014, S is 5 years old, soon to be 6. This makes it so real. THIS is the year Samantha would HAVE to start school, real school, not pre-k. (I can't imagine her JUST starting Kindergarten!)

....I sent in her Letter of Intent for this year. (We submitted one last year too even though it wasn't required-simply for a Homeschooling Status Proof for discounts, groups, and activities.) This time I knew what I was doing as I filled out that tiny form online. Name. Age. Address. Signature. Submit. We aren't new to this anymore...Beforehand,  I researched the laws to see if they were updated. They were. Homeschoolers now qualify for HOPE Scholarship. :) The point is, however, I knew the whole process.

It's August. I am preparing to see my little brother off to school as the Summer Break comes to a close. He is sad. And I am sad with him. I'll miss our Summer Days together, playing games, swimming, jumping on the trampoline,  experimenting, taking trips to the library. He unschooled with us this Summer and he loved it. He learned so much too. He'll miss his friends. (He made friends with the brothers of Samantha's friends this Summer.) And we'll all miss each other. Luckily I get to stay involved, eat lunch with him, go to his holiday parties, field trips...but nothing compares to the Days of Summer.

If S were going to school we would be preparing to enter a world I know almost nothing about. I would have already registered her with the school board by now and been anxiously awaiting to see who her teacher is, not that I would know him or her. That would have been the first step. And being that next week is pay day for Hubby we would be school supply shopping Friday night, using a list provided by her teacher. Open house would be in a week. And I am sure we'd be struggling to get S on a strict school schedule before school started in 18 days!

Then. August. August 18th. Samantha would be standing in front of Ringgold Elementary School while I kissed her over and over and told her goodbye, that I would see her at lunch-"I promise." I'd probably spend the morning asking around the school to see if they needed my help. If they did, I'd hang out there to stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks. Maybe staying involved at her school would make us both feel closer like it did my Mom and I when I was little. If not, if they didn't need me, I'd go home and curl up in a little ball to sulk-until lunchtime. I would have to drag myself out of bed at lunchtime to eat with her, at which point I'd probably check her out because I missed her. It's the first day. Who cares?

As I'd see my child off, I do believe she'd be nervous, scared even. She might make some friends. She is good at that, you know. But some of the other kids might think she is odd....we have raised her unconventionally. She'd like Science, but to be perfectly honest, she'd probably be bored in class. She is too old for Kindergarten. She would adjust eventually. I'm sure we would face some obstacles, as we do in everything. We'd overcome them though. I'd be scrambling to stay involved, maybe be the Room Mom or member of the PTO. That would be fun. :) I'd pick her up from car riders, although I loath those long lines! (I think I'd be the first one there every day.) Eventually I think we would...adjust. But would we all be happy? Guess I'll never know because...

It's August and we are not spending our time supply shopping or adjusting to sleep schedules. The vision I describe seems so far away, so...unreal that it actually seems as if it is someone else entirely. I am just feeling their emotions, and I don't like what I feel. It isn't natural. It isn't right.

I can't imagine life now without the things that we do. I can't imagine our day long trips to gymnastics-gone. I cherish our time together walking around campus, reading in the lobby, swimming in the pool, even running the track. I can't imagine life without CHEA now that we have made them part of our family. I can't imagine volunteering without her. Heck, I can't even imagine not being able to pick up and go to McKay or the library during the school day-WITH HER. It is so quiet and empty. We can wonder in different directions and both come back with piles upon piles of books. We like to read in the rocking chair in the kid's section. Then we play trains until it is time to run more errands or go home. These are the days we will both remember, always...Gosh, I just can't imagine. I praise God every chance I get for leading me to homeschooling. I thank God for my time with her. For the patience he has given me. (He has definitely equipped me for what he called me for.) For being able to choose the way S learns best. For all her CHEA friends who have really helped her grow in ways unimaginable this past year. I thank him for the lifestyle we are able to lead. I thank him because....

August 18th we will wake up early, but not for school. Waking up early is unusual for us, but vital if we want to get to the beach before lunch! At the beach we will build castles, dig up shells, talk about ocean animals. We will probably read some books and discuss why the sun can leave burns on your skin. We will take some historical tours in Savannah. Eat at a nice restaurant and look up the history of it. We will camp, build a fire, cook on it, probably check out some of the local fauna.We will live. And we will learn. Without school. Just like we do every single day.

We will be gone 5 days, 4 nights. And then we will return home.

The next few weeks will be filled with many things. As soon as we get back we have a Not Back To School Picnic and Pool Party, a trip (just S and me) to the Old Stone Church-It is related to the Civil War, which S is still interested in. S's art co-op will meet again. (Side Note At Bottom). We have birthday parties-one being hers, and an AHG Orientation. We have vegetables to harvest, chapter books to finish, art skills to polish, and dolls to sew. Fall will be coming up soon and we will have lots of baking to do, holiday History to study. Camping trips will come to a close, but caving trips and bike rides in the Battle Field will follow. New flowers. Changes in leaves-to add to the compost pile! New animal behaviors. The change in season always brings a change in life, but the best part of unschooling is it always brings new learning opportunities, 24 hours a day....7 days a week. 365 days a year.

It's August. And this is it. This is real. No turning back. We are saying "No" to school and "YES" to unschool. We are taking the road less traveled, but as I see the image of the mother and daughter in front of the school fading, I can't help but think how glad I am that this image, this "memory," will not be a part of our lives.

Side Note: While discussing possibilities of AHG with S, I tried to really convey to her that AHG is a big commitment, a 13 year commitment really. I mean, you could quit anytime, but it would he a sticky situation. A lot of time would go into AHG. And although it is well worth it I'm sure, I definitely wanted S to consider her options...I am currently reading a book, "Free Range Learning," that discusses extra curriculars in one section, which is what sparked my thoughts on all the other things she could choose. Then I had an idea. A CRAZY idea! An idea that I would always read about in the past and say, "Not us!" But we all know how that goes. So I threw the idea out there. S and I collaborated and before I knew it she was planning her very own art co-op! It is just a few friends right now. But everybody is welcome. All ages. Most of the kids in her co-op belong to our good friends, the Weavers, so we are holding co-op at their house right now. (We will start to rotate soon.) We decided everybody, kids and adults alike will take turns learning and mastering an art related skill and teaching it to the others.  It can be anything from sketching to clay making to hair dos! The oldest Weaver will be starting out the meetings by teaching a series of classes on looming and crocheting on the loom! She can make socks and hand warmers, necklaces and rings. But first they will do a mixture of looming and beading to make barefoot sandals, which are BEAUTIFUL! I am so happy for S that she is able to take leadership and do something she loves. She has had ideas sparking everywhere over the last week. Can't wait too what she has in store! This year is going to be even better than the last.

Just a few pictures for the road. ;)
Local Beach/Lake

Camping Trip to Little River

Caving with Daddy

Playing Games

Free Play-the most educational activity in the world. Army men and Littlest Pet Shoppes mesh really well, don't they? 
Making Pankcakes All Morning

Learning to Hand Sew

Fairy Dress
First Fairy House
Fairy House After Finding Out Fairies Like Nature Better Than Manmade Items

Picking Our Fabric for her Project

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