Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | September 10, 2015

Actually Letting My Child Lead…

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Unschooling is a beautiful life.

Allowing children to follow their interests.  To learn about the world naturally, on their own time table.  I am sold on this lifestyle.

And then my nine-year old child announces that she only wants to go to park days this fall.  No other activities, thank you very much.  She needs a break.

Wha?!  She needs a break from the rigor of our summer at the beach?  I was annoyed.

But then I thought about it.  Sometimes I need a break.  Sometimes I don’t even pick up a book for a couple of months.  But at the end of my hiatus, something big happens.  I start a blog.  We go on a trip.  I start cooking with recipes (instead of the prepared bar at Whole Foods).  We all need to percolate.  And why shouldn’t children be allowed to do this?

And so I agreed to my nine-year-old’s demands.  No other organized activities, just two park days.

And then I sat down and looked at the situation on a calendar…

2 days at the park.

1 day at the library.

1 afternoon with our beloved teenage babysitter.

1 afternoon (every other week) with the big girl’s art mentor.

If we had a class or two thrown in there, we’d be more rushed.  And as I am always saying, pace is our family’s main homeschooling thing.

Rushing ruins my family’s peace and happiness.

NOBODY likes a hit and run at the library!  That is my girls’ bread and butter.  They LOVE that place.

We could leave a park day early to fit in another class.  But why would we rush the best part of our week to fit in something that doesn’t particularly interest my girl at the moment?

Sometimes we well intentioned homeschool mamas can get caught up in the excitement of the amazing world of homeschooling.  So many classes!  So many activities!  So much fun!  Or it seems like fun ’til there’s no time for play dates.  No time for snuggling up on the couch and reading all day together.  No time for apple picking.

When we think of child-led learning, we think of finding ways to facilitate our child’s learning on a topic or skill in which they express an interest and or an innate talent.  We unschooling mamas are vigilant about this.  But I am realizing that it’s more than academic.  It’s also personal and spiritual…allowing kids to get to know themselves, their own rhythms and to trust their own innate wisdom.

It took me a few weeks, but I am (now!) grateful for my girl’s wisdom to “take a break”.  And I must admit that I’m quite proud of myself for listening and allowing her to lead.

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