Updated: May 17, 2020
Changing your perspective on what school 'should' look like.
I struggled at first with what school ‘should’ look like instead of trusting my instincts as a mom
Welcome back for some more F.U.N. This next step is probably the most difficult. I know that I struggled at first with what school ‘should’ look like instead of trusting my instincts as a mom and focusing on my children’s natural gifts and curiosity. Trust me, if you have the courage to step back and take an objective look at yourself and your kids you will be amazed how a whole new world of learning will open up!
Unplug From ‘School’
“When you take the free will out of education, that makes it schooling.” - John Taylor Gatto
With the shift to ‘school at home’, the fact that colleges (including Cornell) are beginning to make tests optional for the Fall 2021 class, and college admissions counselors are basically ignoring any record of Spring 2020 classes, everyone has the opportunity to focus on education instead of schooling. The question is how?
My kids are sick of hearing me say certain things over and over again, but I'm ok with that because we all need repetition to make things really sink in. The hope is that the good stuff sticks, and the bad stuff won’t. That’s the hope. However, we all know that sometimes the ‘bad stuff’ sticks, too. One thing is sure, when we hear something often enough, and we add repetitive actions on top of it, it will stick.
That is what has happened to most of us who were ‘traditionally schooled’. We not only ‘heard’ about ‘school’, but we also experienced it for many years along with thousands of our classmates. It sticks. Now is your chance to ‘unstick’ any of the stuff you have been doing and hearing for so long, that we just continue to do out of habit, good or bad.
Our first year of homeschooling I would say to myself, I don’t want to do ‘school at home’. I want my kids to play, explore, discover, seek, question. I also wanted to make sure that they had at least math and language arts every day. I thought I was doing a pretty good job until one day I said to my oldest, who was 8, “you need to come sit and do your math.” In all sincerity he looked at me with his head cocked to one side and said, “Why, Mommy?” It stopped me in my tracks. I realized that I had unknowingly been recreating ‘school at home’. I immediately told him that was a great question and asked what he would like to do. He chose for us to all go outside and play. When we came back in I was busy with his younger brothers and the next thing I knew he excitedly told me, “Mommy! Look! I did more than you wanted in my math book because it was Fun!”
I am not saying insinuating your students don’t have to ‘do’ anything, or that they shouldn’t learn anything, but what do they want to do? What do they want to learn?
Here are three things you can do to ‘unstick’:
1. Ask your kids, ‘If you could choose anything, what would you want to learn about? Then ask yourself, ‘Is ‘school’ reinforcing our family values? Are my kids learning things that will help them become the best version of themselves?’
2. Pick one day of the week, for us it is Sunday, that no one works, does schoolwork, is on their phones or other electronics, and everyone plays games, reads, takes naps, does home projects, goes for walks – is BORED! Yes, boredom is a glorious and powerful thing; it develops curiosity, which develops critical thinking, which develops leaders (another topic for another blog).
3. As much as possible, look for ways to put unexpected learning into your day:
An ice cream Sunday break where you talk about how Ben & Jerry’s got started and what flavor ice cream you would create.
Block off some time in the middle of the day, with popcorn or treats, to watch a fascinating documentary and then discuss it afterwards.
Plan out a Victory Garden that you can plant together on that family day, and learn all about where they originated and why they were so important to our nation.
Leave ‘school’ behind and get back to education.