I am experimenting with an unschooling path for Nymue. Unschooling is based on a philosophy that purports that when we trust in our children's innate curiosity for life, they will flourish in a constant state of learning. The path offers children the space to explore the world around them for themselves in accordance with the form and pace that feel appropriate to them.
In his book, Learning All the Time, John Holt (who coined the term "unschooling") writes: Children, without being coerced or manipulated, or being put in exotic, specially prepared environments, or having their thinking planned and ordered for them, can, will, and do pick up from the world around them important information about what we call the Basics. 'Ordinary' people, without special training and often without large amounts of schooling themselves, can give their children whatever slight assistance may be needed to help them in their exploration of the world, and that to do this task requires no more than a little tact, patience, attention, and readily available information.
I made the decision to un-school my daughter for a number of reasons, which were further augmented by learning the history of the (relatively recent) mandatory schooling dictate, which helped put education theory in perspective in light of the very real backdrop of thousands of years without it.
I want to prepare Nymue to live an extraordinary life - to do what it is she came here to do, to enjoy her life, to be kind and embodied. I want her an to have the opportunity to shape herself into herself. Giving children a space of love, and a trusting environment to explore from is some of the most sacred work we can do in life.
The hardest part of unschooling is balancing the rest of my life with the amount of time I spend with my daughter. School, for a lot of people, doubles as their primary form of childcare, so they can work. As a full-time single mother, I am not immune to this need. And so I am learning to do the things I want more of in my life, anyway, with her. For example: cooking, dancing, making art, riding bikes and horses, growing our own food and being in nature. I choose the activities we do together by what feels most alive, exciting and resonant for me, which allows me to share the bulk of my time with my daughter without feeling like I'm missing out on anything.
Because I cook, grow food, make medicine, and care for our little family in a zillion and one hands on ways, I spend less money on childcare, restaurant bills, and emergency health care. I gave it a shot - working extra long and hard to pay for boutique pre-school and time-saving meal choices, only to realize I was caught in a hamster wheel that required me to work longer hours to pay for an expensive lifestyle that didn't quite suit me, or us.
Nymue has been coming with me to Axis Syllabus dance classes since she was in utero. Here is a video of us dancing contact improvisation one morning after class.
She is also apprenticing with me in the clinic. Nymue holds space with my patients, while bringing a sense of lightness to the sessions. She also hands me needles, removes cups, and assist me in massage, limpias, crystal therapy, tuning forks, Reiki, feather work, and aromatherapy. I discovered her love for being in the clinic when we incurred a glitch in the childcare matrix when Nyume was only 2 1/2. I didn't want to cancel an entire clinic day, so I brought her to work with me. To my surprise, Nyume seemed genuinely interested in what was happening, and was excited to learn, while also astonishingly astute at holding appropriate space for my patients. And so it was that I initiated her clinic apprenticeship with me when she was a toddler.
Since the new year, some highlights of our unschooling path and Nyume's clinic apprenticeship include taking her along with me to a home birth. She was loving, attentive, enthralled and helpful. I felt so blessed that Nymue was able to witness one of life's most sacred moments, and to have it normalized in a home environment. This picture was taken just a few moments after the baby was born.
I am excited to write more about our adventures and discoveries along the path of unschooling. Let me know if you are interested to hear more about our journey. Also, as this is a new path for me, I am curious to learn about other people's experiences.
Please share your thoughts, ideas and resources for the unschooling journey in the comments below.