This is our third year homeschooling and first real year completely unschooling. Many times over the past three years, I have questioned myself. Am I doing what is best for my kids? Are they learning and thriving in ways that work well for them? Does this unschooling life actually work? And for how long?
We have spent a lot of the past three years working on emotional regulation. We have worked on our home being a safe space to express all emotions. I have had to resist the urge to fix things more than once, especially when it comes to sibling conflicts.
I have noticed that my kids are much better problem solvers now. They are able to take a step back and try to understand another's perspective (of course this doesn't happen all the time, but it happens more than the zero times it did before). They are also better able to utilize the tools they have to regulate themselves, things like tablet, switch, writing, deep breaths, burrowing under covers, cuddles, etc.
And so it happens, that today I was reminded of how far we've come, of how much my kids have learned. Today they set out to turn our house into one of the maps from the video game Among Us. They worked hard on making the tasks and hanging them up in different rooms. At one point though, conflict arose. The 8 year old flat out refused an idea that I had interjected. The 6 year old really liked the idea. The 6 year old took himself off to his room to calm down and be alone.
I talked through things with the 8 year old. I had to physically show her how the idea would work so she could understand. She had been unable to visualize it, and it didn't make any sense to her. Once I showed her, she also really liked the idea. We went back to check on the 6 year old. We explained the misunderstanding and how the 8 year old did in fact like the idea.
But something unexpected also happened. When my 6 year talked to us he said, "You know, I think the reason why I am having such a hard time is because I haven't watched any TV today." He was able to recognize that watching TV is something that calms his nervous system. He was also able to recognize that he had been missing the thing that helps him. So, even though the 8 year old still wanted to work on the things for Among Us, he decided to take a break. He went and watched something and calmed his nervous system. He was then able to return back to helping later and he was no longer getting frustrated as easily.
These little glimpses of all the hard work we have been doing day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, really help me to keep going. There are lots of days when everything still seems to go all wrong. But days like today help me to trust the process.
Jenn Yang is a Bay Area native. She's a former teacher turned unschooling mom of three. She enjoys sewing, reading, DIY projects, and coffee...lots of coffee.