Friday, September 19, 2014

Unschooling to School: Measuring Up

First ever math homework!
Recently my son did an assessment test before his first school experience. He entered grade seven having spent no more than about 20 hours each year completing math questions and writing assignments, so they needed to see how he would fit into the group. Apparently his computation and spelling barely attain "grade level", while his math and reading comprehension are above. To discover that our son is miraculously working at grade level, despite having never completed a "grade" or test in his life was certainly reassuring. For parents traveling a largely uncharted path with our kids' education, that felt like a huge pat on the back. But I am wary of being caught in the trap of "measuring up". The whole reason we're doing this is to instil in our children a desire to live fulfilled, rich lives, independent from societal and social expectations.

Most miraculous, to me at least, was the fact that he enjoyed the test. "It was interesting!" He exclaimed upon coming out of the room. "I liked that I got to write about what I like to do. The teacher was very nice, also." And it occurred to me that these are the things that deeply matter in life: that we are engaged in what we do, and that we are held with respect and compassion by others.

I admit that I have a lot of trepidation about this schooling adventure. I had a terrible time at school. I was the last person chosen for teams in gym class (people actually fought over who had to have me on their team), I achieved mostly minimal grades, and was bored all the time. I felt invisible, and worse, it seemed that when people did see me they wanted to hurt me. I never measured up. Now I've put so much faith in holding my children close, in allowing them to venture out into the world without the measuring sticks of school applied to them, with the hope of keeping their spirits in tact. I'm so scared this year of school will break my boy's spirit; maybe my own. But life is not for the faint of heart, right? So off we go. I will do everything in my ability to keep his fire stoked and his dreams his own; to remind him that every day is his to determine, and I will judge him always only by how much I love him.

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