I haven’t started unschooling my daughter yet. I suppose I can only say I have started once I announce it to the authorities and make it completely official. Furthermore, she is still enrolled in kindergarten, albeit she is not attending it very much these days. In fact, she is not attending at all. Since I told her she could choose to stay at home if she wants to she hasn’t gone there. That tells me something about her kindergarten and about her. It tells me that she probably is not as happy about her kindergarten as I told myself she is and it tells me that the kindergarten is an institution, like all other institutions, that deals with what it does in what I assume is the best way it can, but that the people who work there are not able to see that my daughter is not happy there. And this again tells me something about our system, namely that we have all these institutions with lots of good and well-meaning people, who are not in a position where they are able to meet the needs of all the children who are there. The children are too many and the institustions are too big and have too little staff. All in all it has really made me think.
It has made me think about all the things I have already put my daughter through that were not in her interest at all. These are things I have felt compelled to do for many different reasons, not least how our society works and what possibilities it leaves a single parent and her children. These are things I will probably address again at some point.
We have started a so-called deschooling period my daughter and I; that is, I have lifted all restricions I have had for my daughter in the past such as screen-time, bedtime, candy-eating etc. Those are mainly the areas where I have set limits for her. But of course there are other areas that I am only just beginning to realise myself, things I have thought were my only options, such as sending her to preschool/kindergarten and to daycare. These are major things that cannot be undone now. But I can try to mend them. There are other restrictions too, things having to do with my own believes and ideals, but I will not comment on these just now and there are probably things I do that I haven’t yet realised.
My daughter seems to adjust really well to our new way of living. She is at peace, content, happy and self-confident. It is as if she is truly learning to be herself, or actually, she always knew how she is just learning that it is perfectly okay to be herself. Really the one who needs deschooling the most is me. I can feel fear gripping me every so often; it starts with a kind of restlessness or impatience, a feeling that I need to do something productive. I have talked about this before I know, and this is because it is not an easy thing to handle. I think everybody relapses into this fear once in a while. It is a fear that we have learned to obey all our lives; the fear that we wont live up to the expectations of our surroundings; the fear that people will think we are strange or rude or that we just don’t fit in. This fear can be observed and felt everywhere, but it can also be dealt with and we can learn to control and perhaps even use it as a guideline; when something feels truly scary we should probably just do it!
So, deschooling; my daughter needs a lot of downtime these days. She needs to come back inside her own body, to feel safe, loved, accepted and heard. Just like me she is a very sensitive being and she has always needed a lot of time, especially in the evening, to relax and calm down before being able to go to sleep. It has been like that ever since she was a tiny newborn baby. And now she is five and a half. She needs downtime after all the mornings we’ve had that have been stressed and unpleasant, she needs downtime after all the evenings where I thought I had to make her go to sleep even though she wasn’t ready and she needs downtime after all the hours she spent at her noisy and confusing kindergarten without ever having had a say as to whether she wanted to be there or not.
She watches a lot of TV-shows on netflix, she plays a lot, she thinks out loud a lot, she sings a lot, dances and moves around a lot, plays on her iPad some of the time, all of this while asking a billion trillion questions that I do my best to answer. Generally she is mostly interested in being at home these days. She is not in a hurry to get out and be somewhere else. She really enjoys just being. And I let myself be inspired by her calmness and her joy and curiosity for life.
I have learned a few things already myself; I have learned that we do not need to go for a long walk to feel like we have been outside enjoying the weather, we might as well go to the backyard. I have learned that we can bake bread with flour and water and a little bit of salt. I have learned that my daughter is perfectly capable of saying when she is hungry and when she is sleepy and when she needs what kinds of food. I have learned to trust my own instincts more and I have learned that I am not done learning at all!
It has been about a month since we started deschooling and we still have a long way to go. I have taken up a few of my old hobbies like drawing and writing, and I started learning how to knit again, and I really enjoy it.
The best thing about deschooling so far is, once we settle into the holiday feel of living a happy and content life, communication simply blooms; it flows naturally and we have long and deep conversations almost daily. It has opened up a new room, a new space that is there just to be used to speak and be silent together, a space where no clock demands us to do certain things at a certain time, a space where my daughter can laugh and play and use her imagination as much as she wants, a space where there is room for everyone who wants to be there. We started our journey and we are happily continuing seeking wisdom, truth and happiness in our souls and our surroundings.