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 again.
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 player!”
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
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
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.