Had an interesting conversation last night that got me thinking. Parents put kids in activities – music, art, gymnastics, sports – and hope to see their child go all the way and achieve the top level of proficiency. If the child stops enjoying it and wants to quit, the parent would try hard to encourage them to keep going. The idea is that the child should suck it up and stick to the activity because it will teach them how to achieve their goals in life.
When we started unschooling, we were frequently asked the same question, “What if they learn nothing and play video games all day?” To be honest, we were worried too. Yet the unschooling approach made so much sense and we trusted our kids and our parenting abilities so much that we decided to take our chances and go ahead with it. Years later, I am even more confident in unschooling.
I find it funny that even the kids in my children’s BJJ class discuss politics, so every time my kids come back they announce to me whose parents are voting for whom! But really, it shows how heated things have become before this upcoming election. Which brings up a good point: should parents discuss politics with kids?
My husband Kon will make a presentation at the online Jewish Homeschool Convention about how we both homeschool while working from home and running our own businesses. Homeschooling and working is a hot topic these days, and Kon and I have been doing it for over 11 years, so join in to see his presentation! You need to register for the convention to see his and other presentations. And you don’t even have to be Jewish to benefit from the content!
Nina’s Note: Our older kids have been seriously involved in Magic The Gathering game lately. They go to weekly local play sessions and participate in tournaments. They also play at home almost every night. Initially, I thought it was a waste of time. Now I realize that the game is beneficial to the kids and can be extremely useful for our homeschooling. It helped my kids develop better social skills and reduced their performance anxiety. By playing together, they bond with each other and with their Dad and learn to work as a team when they help each other and teach the game to their younger siblings. My kids also show great improvement in their reading, math, and strategic thinking skills. So I asked Kon – who himself is an avid player and who introduced the kids to the game – to write this article describing the game and its benefits.
Sometimes homeschooled children want to go back to school and their parents wonder how to keep them interested in home education. This problem usually happens when the child previously attended school and misses his or her friends from there. Friends who go to school can easily provide the necessary outside influence.
Even though I unschool my kids, I never tried unschooling on myself until I started BJJ. Here is what I learned.
The information we give to kids about careers is often feel good unrealistic nonsense. When you daughter says she wants to be a famous singer and she does not have a musical ear, why do you tell her she can do it if she works hard? She will most likely never become a singer. Year after year, thousands of aspiring young singers show up for auditions with great expectations, only to learn that they don’t possess the skills they thought they did. The same goes for sports: only select few make it to the top, so if your child has average athletic abilities, why do you let him believe he can be a professional athlete?
Maybe it’s different for you. For me, the best memories of my childhood were those moments when something unexpected, spontaneous happened – something that would break out of a schoolchild’s monotonous routine. Like skipping school or playing on the streets with friends after school. I have fond memories of these moments, but I don’t have any lasting memories of school classes or after-school activities that my parents put me in.
I don’t think that homeschooling is necessarily superior to schooling. True, many schools have problems, such as too much sedentary time indoors, political brainwashing, poor quality of instruction, perverted sex ed, bullying. But if you can somehow find a nice private or charter school without all these problems, then everything will probably be fine. Absent these negative factors associated with most schools, the homeschooling model is not necessarily superior to the school model. It’s just that these two models serve two different goals, so you need to pick the model that is best suitable for your goal.