Trust trumps expectations and fear
By Katherine Jones-Greene
My daughter was seven when we took her out of
school. Although my husband and I were very clear that home-based
learning was the best thing for our family, I was scared stiff. Mostly,
it was fear of the unknown, and I wished I had known what to expect.
Now, I realize that my lack of expectations (other than being sure life
would be better) was a good thing. It probably helped make our
daughter’s transition/detoxification time shorter than it might
otherwise have been. I offered her patience and support as she regained
her curiosity, and hoped for the best after that.
Slowly but surely, we all deschooled ourselves; I probably had the most
work to do because I was a teacher at one time. Eventually, as our
comfort levels increased, homeschooling our daughter didn’t seem quite
so scary – at least, most days. Then, just into our second year of
homeschooling, we met some unschooling families. I realized, with a bit
of a start, that we were drifting in that very direction, having already
moved from a formal curriculum to just buying books and other materials
on an as-needed basis, although I was still leading the process and
insisting on a few hours of “book work” each day. But what those
school-free families were doing made sense to me, and their kids
certainly seemed to be engaged in learning so many different things,
more or less on their own. For our daughter, it was like heaven on earth
as I tried to let her interests lead us.
So I took a deep breath, found some books and articles on the subject
(Holt, Laricchia, Kream, and Priesnitz, as well as articles from this
magazine’s website were some of the things I read) and did some more
deschooling. But I found myself scared all over again. Then late one
night I realized that I was transitioning/detoxifying just like my
daughter had done, only this time it was from school-at-home to life
trust trumps expectations and fear every time!"
The next day, I asked one of my new unschooling friends about the
fear. Did she ever feel it? Did she ever worry about whether or not her
kids would grow up uneducated, or if they’d hate her for not teaching
them certain things? I told her that all I want is for my kids to know
that they can learn, that they can figure stuff out for themselves.
Her response was that sometimes she feels sheer terror! But when that
happens, she reminds herself that modern society has it backwards:
Rather than needing to be taught (which is different than being guided,
which they do need), kids are born knowing how to learn, and that they
figure stuff out for themselves if – and here’s the trick – we let them.
Kids are born with confidence, but then adults (and sometimes older
siblings) create an environment that makes them doubt them- selves. So,
she said, for her the biggest challenge is to back off and not destroy
that confidence. Like me, she loves organizing activities, and finding
books and websites for her kids, but she said that she tries to do that
with no expectations that anyone will be as excited about them as she
So there’s that
"trust" word again: Apparently, trust trumps expectations and
fear every time!
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