I'm a member of many homeschool and spiritual groups on facebook. I find that reading about others journey and how they live helps me to grow as well. There is one really special group called Radical Unschooling Support Group that has truly touched me on a deeper level. These families are so different than mine yet they have helped me grow leaps and bounds as mother and as a person. Up until a few years ago I had no idea what unschool was much less radical unschooling. If you know me you know I am an extremely curious person so I joined a few unschooling groups to try an figure out what was the difference between unschooling and traditional homeschooling. Some of the groups were out right rude to those new to the idea. I don't know if that is because they feel they are always being attacked for their views or not but boy did I learn real quick not to add my two cents into those conversations. I felt I was not learning much from them but The Radical Unschooling support group was different. These parents expressed such mindfulness not just with education but with parenting and the world at large. They truly have worn off on me and I have seen so many changes in myself over the last few yrs. Some of these changes I directly relate back to my interaction with this group.
Life, parenting, and education do not come with a easy how to handbook. There just simply isn't one perfect way. It is all trial and error learning and growing. That is because every single person learns in a different way, parents in a different way, and even their life paths are different. Yet you can learn much from others. I have been a mother now for 17 yrs and I can tell you I don't think I started to be a good mother for at least 7 yrs. I was completely clueless and started out following in the footsteps of the adults/parents before me. I was very schedule/ discipline/ do it my way or else mind frame. Even though it never felt right. I always had a sense of guilt like not only was I a bad mother, but I was harming my child emotionally through my need to control everything about their life from what he ate to how he behaved. No one tells you ,by the way that first kid you are going to totally screw it up with them over and over. Like my mother my first reaction to many situations was to yell. That left both me and my child stressed, scared, and in tears. It breaks my heart to even write this and say yes that was me that was how I was raised and how I started out raising my own. Can we say product of your environment. They say you get better with age and I tend to agree because by time baby number two came into the world. I had learned for the most part not to yell but to calmly address the situations that arose in our lives. I learned to not sweat the small stuff and that children learn as much through their mistakes as they do when they do something right.
Over the last ten yrs so many changes in me has happened. I was close to death which started me on a spiritual journey of searching for answers to the bigger questions in life. That path taught me more about love, compassion, and understanding than I could ever truly express in words. I started to enjoy a much less materialistic way of life and to really be in the moment with the experiences life was laying in my path. I don't really know when or how it happened but I was lead to homeschooling. I had never even thought of it as an option but now I can't even imagine life any other way. For us homeschooling isn't just an educational option it has become a way of life. On my journey to be the best homeschooling momma I could be and to truly enjoy this journey with my children I discovered unschooling. Now I have said it before and I will say it again we are not what most would call unschoolers but we are perfectly where and what we should be at this moment on our journey. I call us relaxed interest led life learners.
I became fascinated by the unschooling books, blogs, and groups. These wonderful people who experienced life so differently than anything I had ever known or imagined. Their families have no schedules/ no chore charts/ no rules per say. These children were free to learn what they wanted when they wanted to. They slept when they wanted, ate what they wanted and so much more. There was no hashed out time set aside for math, reading, spelling ect. They learned and lived through completely emerging themselves and their children in the world around them.It truly effected how I seen the world and how I seen our family. I started to wonder not could I add another label to our lives to describe us but could I gain some kind of wisdom from the experience these people were sharing on this facebook group. Could I then turn around and use this wisdom to better mine and my families life. We already have a very laid back, calm, and loving home now through my own growth over the years but could it be better? Would it be better? I spent countless hours devouring the post these wonderful people wrote and expressing what I thought to my husband. We talked about the aspects we felt were great and the ones we felt just really would not work for us as a family. Some of these things we have now called our own and we are learning from the experience of implementing them in our lives. For example we have let go of the need to control of children's life path. We guide but we do not control. The saying " You are a child of light and only you can decide your path" is used often in our home.Yes I still point out when they do something that is either physically or emotionally harmful to them or someone else. But I do it from a much more nurturing way. I try my best to express it from their level of understanding not from an adults level. I have let go of the you must eat what is on your plate mind set. As long as they are eating and it is mostly healthy I allow them to eat what they please when the please. I let go over the fear that to much technology was going to rot their brains. This was hard for me because I am a huge book lover and I wanted so badly for my kids to be as well. I let go of the need for their personal areas to be perfect. I realized that they need their own space to be truly theirs. I let go of the fear that they have to be on a level that society says they should be own. I realized that it is better to let them take their time learning concepts than to force it on them. Through these small changes in our home I started to see my children blossom on their own. I started to truly experience a deeper more meaningful connection with each of them.
Like I said earlier there is no handbook. There is no right or wrong way to live. There is only what is working right now. There is only learning and growing from day to day always changing always striving to be better than you were the day before. I'm no perfect mother nor am I a perfect person but I am thankful for those on my journey that have helped me grow and for me to blossom into a much more loving, compassionate, and mindful person. I don't try to be them but I do try to learn from them the things I feel will benefit me and my family into living a more joy filled life together. I too hope that on your journey through life when you encounter people who are so radically different than you be it educationally , spiritually , or even politically you will not judge but take the time to try and see through their eyes the world or the issue. See if their point of view could influence you to be a better person some how. Life is always about learning and even when we are so different we can still take away something that will change us to be better.