Your Life Learning Child Proves You Wrong
By Sage Justice
Please indulge me while I share
some humble pie and a proud mama moment.
As a homeschool/unschool mom, I
struggle with trusting the process of child-led learning. I have a base
curriculum that I would like for my daughter to do just so that I won’t
feel guilty or responsible for any holes in her education. But I have to
let that go when she tells me that she would rather write a story or
play chess. I believe that the time she spends teaching herself a
passion is serving her more than if I or a teacher forced her to spend
her time learning something I know she is unlikely to retain if she
isn’t interested in it – in that moment. There will be another moment
when the other subject is more interesting to her via inspiration from
others or self.
It takes a lot of trust to
facilitate a child’s education in this way. Sometimes, fear gets the
best of me and I just want to power through the common core basics by
making it fun myself and becoming the entertainer to get her interested.
But time and time again I have learned that the most sustainable
learning happens when she is led by her inspiration alone to engage in
the subject of her choosing.
Today, I decided to choose
faith, and low and behold, she proved life learning successful once
We were playing chess and I made
a foolish move. My daughter swiftly and gracefully mastered the game to
a checkmate. I’m really impressed with the board. She executed a
gorgeous fork! She had her Knight on f7 which put my King in check and
threatened my Queen. And she had both of her Bishops c4 and c5
controlling g8 and f8. She won the game a few moves later by bringing
her Rook from h1 and her Queen out for checkmate! I’m really excited for
her growing passion and skill level for a game I so admire and enjoy. I
think the film we saw, Queen of Katwe, inspired her to want to do
another chess tournament soon.
Her energy is high. She is in a
confident place. And now she is ready to take on some of the standard
educational requirements that will make me feel better (I’m obviously
still working on the “me” part in all this).
She earned this confidence on
her own. This is not a participation medal. This is not a condescending
“good job” for a correct spelling test. This is a “Wow! You put your mom
in checkmate, fair and square, because you are an observant and skilled
She awoke with a desire to play
chess more than a desire to eat breakfast. Now, she feels stronger
because she listened to her intuition. She feels loved and supported by
her parents because we didn’t tell her, “No, you have to get your other
schoolwork or reading done first.” We didn’t douse her flame of
inspiration; we fanned it and now her brain is fired up on all cylinders
and the other learning seems easy, effortless, and fun.
Her dad and I still have to work
on conquering our beliefs around rewards: “If you do this, then we can
do that.” When she was younger, we did use rewards to motivate and I’m
learning all the ways that limits potential. But that’s another article
for another time.
Who knew that when homeschooling
chose us, we would learn more about faith, patience, acceptance, love,
nurturing, and how to trust the process of life? I am feeling grateful,
proud, and humbled by life. What an amazing journey!
Sage Justice is a minimalist with two
storage spaces: a complicated woman of nuanced contradictions. She is in
her third decade of marriage with her BFF. When SJ is not being a beach
bum living and traveling in a broken down, old RV, she’s probably
fighting the good fight for patients' rights. She and her child live
with a rare life-threatening genetic disorder: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
and its gang of disabling comorbidity hoodlums. She spends most of her
time managing their health and homeschooling through life learning
principles. She writes open letters to her daughter on her public blog
www.sage-living.org, and is a
firm believer in gentle self-deprecation, poised authenticity, and puns
(well placed or otherwise). Her bucket list includes being a contestant
on Jeopardy, but her fear of not knowing a single answer in the form of
a question stops her from auditioning.
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