Did you used to “play schools” with your friends or siblings when you were a child? You know, the game where someone would be the teacher and tell all the “students” what to do? I did. In fact, I loved that game so much I dreamed of being a teacher when I “grew up”. By the time I was actually a parent, however, I knew that I wanted to stay home with my children full-time, so I happily put the teacher idea to bed.
When one of my children eventually asked to be home schooled rather than go to school, I was so excited! Finally, my dream of being a teacher could be fulfilled AND I could still be a stay-at-home mum! It wasn’t long though, before I realised that my children actually just wanted me to be their mum, not their teacher, and our co-learning adventure of family-based autodidactism, or unschooling, began.
Sometimes I still imagine what it would be like to “play schools” with my real-life children, where I would REALLY be “the teacher” and my children would be my fair dinkum students. But instead, we live life. We learn as we live. We follow our interests and passions, and I provide a resource and experience rich smorgasbord for them to discover and partake of if they so choose.
These days, whenever I am tempted to put on my teacher hat, I am much more likely to pour that energy into finding some cool new resource, experience, opportunity or weblink that I think they might enjoy, and share those with my children, in much the same way as I would share them with my friend. “Hey, I found this awesome game I thought you might like. Wanna play?” Or I busy myself with my own passions. Or I join them in theirs. Together, we are partakers and students of this grand adventure called life. Playing schools would be such a poor, limited version of the real thing.
My children do not go to school. Neither do we “play schools” at home. They live a life of rich diversity and opportunity, enjoying the possibility of partaking in anything and everything beyond the box of school, playing in the real world rather than in the small, limited world of school. Welcome to the joy, freedom and possibilities of unschooling!
N.B. For any readers with children in school, this post is not in any way intended to discredit your choice. It is simply a reflection of our choice, and some of the thinking that led us to this life beyond the schoolyard. I honour and respect every family’s freedom of choice.