To School or to Unschool
Everyone keeps asking me if Satch has started preschool. We have decided not to enroll Satch in preschool this year because at the time of enrollment (last year) it seemed...well, too soon. I'm so torn on this whole issue because on the one hand I don't want him to miss out on an experience that he may enjoy, but on the other hand...do three year old children REALLY need to be in school? Have we forgotten the value of play and experiencing the world? We decided that we would rather wait until he until he has some more communications skills under his wee belt so that if something or someone upset him in any way, he can tell us about. We also want him to have the confidence to voice his opinion and stand up for himself, if needed.
In the meantime, we've signed Satch up for some Mommy & Me classes that we are certain will nurture his current interests - Music, Creative Dance, and Creative Explorer which engages children to explore, science art, and photography. These activities are offered through our local community center for a nominal fee.
I've read some books that have completely changed my concept of education and have moved me into a place of self-reflection and asking lots of questions...
John Holt's Classic, "Teach Your Own" was the first on my list to read and what I can't get out my mind is this quote: "What children need is not new and better curricula but access to more and more of the real world; plenty of time and space to think over their experiences, and to use fantasy and play to make meaning out of them; and advice, road maps, guidebooks, to make it easier for them to get where they want to go (not where WE think they ought to go), and to find out what they want to find out."
What really drove that statement home was when getting ready for bed one night, Satch decided to remove all the pillowcases. I asked him to leave the pillowcases on the pillows and he replied, "Mama, I need to do this...it's my job to experiment". This completely blew my mind!
I was then lead to the book, Guerilla Learning: How to give your kids a real education with or without school", by Grace Llewellyn. I could NOT put this book down and kept reading passages over dinner, while my husband (a former history teacher) nodded in agreement.
I found this book very compelling and I know that I'll be referring to it over and over again.
And when I heard that Jan Hunt was writing a new book entitled "The Unschooling Unmanual", I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. It's a collection of essays on the subject of natural learning written by 11 noted thinkers such as Daniel Quinn, John Holt and the author herself. It is concise, easy to read and thoroughly inspiring. You will be hearing from Jan in October's Mom to Mom interview.
These books gave me more insight into the history of our educational system and provided me with resources and options. They also enabled me to self-reflect upon my own experiences with schooling and I've gained some understanding as to why I did not enjoy it. My parents didn't know there were other options that would be more suited to my personality, interests and needs. I think the key is to know your children and find the method that truly suits them.
We are still uncertain about how we will approach our son's future education. There are just so many things to consider. I like a lot of the Waldorf concepts and how in the early years they focus on play/fantasy. I also like the Montessori method which emphasizes self-directed learning. And then there is the Emila Reggio approach which sounds to me like the best of both worlds. That said, we have a lot of thinking to do.