When you decide to homeschool it looks like there are two distinct paths: Homeschooling and Unschooling. It can be frustrating when you choose either one of those approaches. Not just for the parent, it can be frustrating for a child too.
So what is Mindful Homeschooling? It is what comes after attachment and peaceful parenting. Mindful homeschooling establishes the premise for kids that they can follow their interests, not their interests in life, but their interests each day and at the moment. In other words, they get to be in a playful mindset. Whether they get up and start a project or they start the day making breakfast, or they simply get on YouTube.
When parents respect how our kids want to start their day, and what they want to do with their time most of the time, we have all the leverage. Funny, you were just thinking, “it sounds like a free for all, kids are running the show!”
Mindful Homeschooling is having a goal, not having an agenda.
Mindful Homeschooling is about focusing on a great education and having that as your primary objective. Parents don’t lose sight of what kids need and want most, which is to socialize, play, pursue an interest. And they expect mutual respect.
There is a mutual understanding, so kids feel respected and not manipulated, they understand that it is a give and take. So they will understand that when we, as parents, require them to take a class or learn a skill to enrich their education, it comes from wisdom, not from ego.
Mindful Homeschooling is not the same as homeschooling because whether you pick the many forms of homeschooling: Classical, Christian, Montessori, Waldorf, Science based, Relaxed, STEAM, you are pushing a curriculum which is based on a set agenda.
The Hidden Agenda
When kids start Kindergarten the teacher makes it very fun and engaging, sweet, upbeat. They introduce a lot of special projects, activities, crafts, games. At the same time they are establishing classroom idiosyncrasies, schedules, rules, routine, and structure while teaching “important things”, reading and simple arithmetic.
But after a few months kids think “Well, It’s been fun, but I had enough! “ Their bodies, their minds, their whole development system is asking them to PLAY. And of course, that is the one thing you cannot do at school.
Pleasing their parents and their teachers appears to be the daily objective. Because kids are noble, truthful and fair, they think that there will come a time when they will finally get to do what they need to do, but this never happens. Parents and teachers move on with the agenda.
Homeschooling vs. Mindful Homeschooling
There are a lot of families that chose attachment parenting and peaceful parenting, they practice this parenting style until the kids are 5 years old and at that point they know that the minute they go to school, for better or for worse, they will change. Not able to find a nurturing educational environment for their children, they opt for skipping school altogether and see what would happen if they attempted to create learning opportunities outside of the school system.
When you homeschool with mindfulness there is no agenda, apart from their social agenda and scheduled activities. Your homeschool relationship with your child may be more focused on experiencing things together, not setting your own goals for how many language art assignment and skills your child must complete by the end of the school year.
Some kids don’t want to be taught by mom and others demand that mom be right there doing the work with them. Either way, it puts all the load on the parent when the child should in fact be doing the learning. Mindful homeschooling focuses more on age appropriate learning, exposing kids to learning experiences, subjects, supporting their learning, facilitating, finding resources and helping kids use those resources.
So do I need to buy a Curriculum?
You don’t need a curriculum to be in charge of your child’s education. A curriculum can’t keep up with the changes. When you establish a rigid homeschooling program, it is harder to tack. You have to be able to tack at any given time. If you were the captain of a sail boat and you never tacked, you would have a mutiny in our hands.
When parents chose to homeschool by following a boxed curriculum and grades they may find resistance from their child depending on how willful or easy going their kids are.
You hear and read about it all the time: “that it is hard at first but keep at it.” “That there might be tears but at the end it is worth it” After some push-back, tears, mom yelling, frustration, etc. mom or kid wins. How can that be worth it?
So many parents that homeschool take it to heart that they need to do the teaching and they feel as if they need to “teach” every subject. There is no shame in delegating! In fact, if something needs to be taught, it is always better by an expert. And certain things are more fun with other kids and a trained teacher. I have heard more times than I want to remember moms asking “How can I teach my kid Spanish?” when they don’t know Spanish themselves. You don’t need to teach your kid Spanish, there are resources and people that can do that for you.
If you fill your child’s life with art, literature, history, beauty, you provide socratic discussions, meaningful experiences, culture, and promote free thinking, you are providing in fact home education. There is no way your kids will not grow up appreciating intellectual pursuit and understanding that their parents will suggest and expect some level of excellence.
The other path that pops up when we research homeschool is: Unschooling.
The Beautiful Unschoolers
Unschoolers will learn everything they need to know when they’re ready. Does it work? Yes. This is not a whole new revolutionary idea. It has been around for a long time and was originally suggested and turned into shape by child development experts, not policy makers.
Unschooling makes a lot of sense on paper because it really resonates with a natural way to learn, grow, and develop as an individual. As parents, we trust that our kids will do what they need when and how they need to and learning comes naturally.
I have learned a lot from parents that have unschooled their children all their lives until the kids were teenagers and young adults at which time we don’t call it Unschooling, we call it LIFE. It is curiously the same thing.
Mindful Homeschooling vs. Unschooling
So many of us love this approach so we might call ourselves Unschoolers (I did this) when if fact, we do have a vision for our kids’ education so we manipulate even if it’s in small doses. We also have some insecurities. When you talk to seasoned Unschoolers they often will say things like “one of my kids taught herself to read at 3 years old”, and you think “mine is 7 and still has no interest in reading!”
You want to believe it will work for your family, just not sure if you can be patient enough.
You may hear “by the time my oldest was 13 she was intensely interested in Chemistry and by the time she was 15 she was at College level Chemistry. No wonder she’s studying mMicrobiology in university and deciding where to apply for medical school” WOW! My kid is 7 years old and she’s not interested in reading…Yet.
But I don’t want to give up, so we sign her up for Art classes, music classes, which are not academic. However, she didn’t ask her parents to sign her up for Art or piano or anything -we just volunteered her because we thought she might like it, should be doing something other than watching YouTube videos and Netflix, or at the very least she’ll make some new friends. Turns out we are not Unschooling. We couldn’t just call ourselves Unschoolers -you have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
The term Radical Unschooling is used to emphasize that curriculum is not used, learning comes from life, and children chose what they want to learn, when and how.
So what does Mindful Homeschooling look like?
We have put together a resource to give you an idea of what Mindful Homeschooling looks like from the Early Years through the Teens. Depending on the kids’ ages mindful homeschooling may be a mix of: learning to work with different materials and supplies, doing crafts, project-based learning, focusing on Art, literature, history, etc. And specially playing and spending time outdoors.
Mindful Homeschooling is a very dynamic way to focus on excellent education, mutual respect, developing as an individual, social interaction, and play. It is the True Jedi way.