Category Archives: Unschooling

Another Chapter

20160908_121248It has taken me some time to catch my breath and process, but things have changed quite a bit around here. I thought it was time that I catch the ol’ blog up to provide some context for the writing I’d like to do in the near future. So, big news here: Our school is closed. The closest thing I can compare that decision to is a really awful break-up. I knew it was the right thing, but it was still painful on so many levels and it has taken me quite awhile to work through the complex feelings I had surrounding the whole thing and feel mostly right again.

Professionally and personally, starting the program was one of my proudest and most rewarding accomplishments and I intended to continue it for at least the next four years, until my littlest aged out at six years old. Over the past three and a half years, I learned first-hand about the joys and challenges of teaching one’s own children and, until this last one, the joys outweighed the challenges and I could honestly say that my ability to meet my family’s needs was enhanced by my role within our little school. This past year, however, the challenges of parenting children with special needs collided with the challenges of running a business and serving as guide, in a way that I did not feel could continue to benefit everyone. I had to let go, either of my plans for my children’s education or my plans for the school. Since my primary goal in starting the school was to give my children an affordable Montessori environment in which to thrive, it did not make sense to continue without them.

So we’ve found ourselves starting a new chapter yet again. Our school space has become a gross motor play area for all three kids and we are unschooling for now, until it no longer works for all of us. Montessori materials come out when they fit in with something one of the children is discovering or experimenting with, and the philosophy will always drive so much of what I do and how I am with my children. With a toddler, plus a four year old and first grader who exist on alternating extremes of the bell curve depending on the skills a situation calls for, however, keeping the full range of materials available isn’t the right choice for us, but we will always be a Montessori family, even if it’s not expressed in an obvious way. Unschooling is perfect for us at the moment, and I’m seeing so much joyful learning take place.

I am itching for a professional outlet, but taking a little breather as I work out how to find that while also being there for my family in the way I feel compelled to be at the moment. Mostly I’m counting the days until the next American Montessori Society Conference, but I toy with the idea of putting myself out there as a substitute or volunteering at one of a couple of programs whose mission resonates deeply with me, among other things. Most likely I’ll start taking some classes in the spring so that when I really dive back into the work, I’ll be that much more prepared for it.

So that’s us. The only other tidbit I’ll mention for those who may have read along in the past is that I have removed a lot of older content from the blog and will share in a bit less detail about the children moving forward. As they grow, I grow increasingly less comfortable with sharing specifics about them and their lives. I want to honor their privacy, even if they’re not at the point of caring about whether I do.

I’d love to know what’s happening in your life, too!

Photo Credit: DQmountaingirl on Flickr

The Schooling Dilemma Part 3: Where it All Leaves Us

I have been exploring my own feelings about schooling and education as our daughter nears “preschool age.” First, I looked at my own educational experience in parts 1 and 2, and here I describe my resulting thoughts on the current best system for child education. Feel free to skip down to the summary if you’re short on time.

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Photo Credit: DQmountaingirl on Flickr

Given the wide variety of options for schooling in the US today, the question is no longer so simple as public school, private school, or homeschooling. Thanks to charter schools and the vast resources available to homeschooling parents, it’s actually possible to have some version of “Montessori” school in any of those three settings, so the first question for me is really what my guiding philosophy of education is, and the second is where I feel that is best carried out.

What I value most in education, particularly in early childhood is freedom. As an extension of this, I deeply value a sort of education that maintains trust in and respect for the child and their process. Continue reading