D M Kelly

There are a ton of these stories out there, on Sandra's page, and from other
people, but I wanted to chime in, because I've been on the deschooling path
for almost a year now, and a couple of things happened in our family this
week that I thought would be fun to share for people still deschooling (I
know I am, so it's good for me to get these reminders, too).

One (letting go): my ten-year-old step-son has always hated writing. His
first four/five years of formal education consisted of traditional,
school-at-home, curriculum-based, heavy-duty
sit-at-your-desk-and-pay-attention WORK. We started backing off all that
last year at this time. Slowly, through the year, I have deconstructed his
schooling environment. We've changed a lot at our house: parenting
interactions, activities, following his passions, etc. There's been a lot
more to it than that, and it's all been very intentional, but that's a topic
for another post. I've had a lot of pressure from the people around us (his
grandmother, primarily, who used to teach him) to make sure he's "doing what
he's supposed to." I mostly ignore all that. We haven't done ANY formal
writing lessons (reports, grammar, spelling, journaling, etc.) or anything
like that for over a year. I'm a big writer. I always have a journal with
me, and I like jotting down notes and lists and stuff. Over this past year,
I have really let go of the idea that J has to write, or be taught how to
write, or be taught how to enjoy writing. He can write, and be understood
through writing, but we no longer make him write. If he wants to, he can,
and if he asks for help, we give it, gladly. But we just don't talk about
it or worry about it.

Two days ago, we were all sitting around doing our own thing (it was a lazy
Sunday), and kind of enjoying the cozy living room, with the Christmas
decorations recently up. J ran into the other room, where we have a shelf
full of empty notebooks, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, art stuff, books
with craft ideas, etc., and grabbed an empty notebook. He scurried up onto
the couch with his pencil and notebook, and cuddled in a throw, and started
scribbling in the notebook. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention, but
noticed he looked pretty content. A little while later, he said, "D, you
know what I'm doing?" I said, "What?" He said, "I'm writing all the stuff
that happened today, and all the stuff that happened yesterday, like you
always do. And then I'm going to make a list of things to do."

You could have knocked me over. It was like he had discovered that he could
keep track of things by writing them down -- all by himself. And he was so
pleased. I said, "Oh, that's cool," nonchalantly. And I really feel like
I've let go of the underlying voice that wants to say, "Oh, sweet, we can
turn this into a language arts lesson!" If he never picks up the notebook
again, that's fine. Or if he leaves it laying around for a couple weeks and
then rediscovers it, that's okay, too. His dad doesn't write, or get
anything from writing, so...if J does, that's cool that he's discovered it.
If he doesn't, that's really okay.

Two (regarding TV and connections): we've taken all limits off TV, not that
we had a lot to begin with, but I definitely was carrying around some
concerns about my babies (20 months and 6 months) having too much
screen-time. I've dropped all that. My 20 month old loves The Wiggles and
Barney, and we play the same episodes over and over and over on Netflix for
her. Sometimes she sits mesmerized watching, sometimes she plays at other
things with it in the background, only stopping to dance to her favorite
songs. J, the 10-year-old, is usually around while the shows are on, and
today, we were watching a Wiggles Christmas show. The guys, who are
Australian, were singing a song about Christmas in Australia being warm and
sunny. J, amazed, looked at me and said, "they don't have snow in
Australia?" Which began this entire conversation about the climate in
Australia, the northern and southern hemispheres, why it might be snowing in
Argentina in June, why places closer to the equator, whether north or south,
are hotter all the time, etc. etc. etc. why it's cold at the south pole AND
the north pole. All these questions and explorations online and with our
globe came up, all started by J, because of a Wiggles show.

And I had this memory of being 10, in the 5th grade, and being shamed
because I answered a question wrong on a test about the north and south
poles. For some reason, I believed that *south* meant *hot,* because in my
experience, traveling to the south from Indiana, it got warmer. I just
extrapolated that to the south pole -- it must be hot there. Whatever we
had been told from the textbook or whatever, had gone in one ear and out
again, because my real, true experience was that it is hot the farther south
you go. I just remember my teacher laughing at me, and shaming me about
it. And I'm so, so glad that J has the opportunity to learn about this
stuff when he wants to, when it fits and is connected to things he's
thinking about, without being tested, without being shamed.

Just thought I'd share.

Caitlin, 15
Julian, 10
Josephine, 20 months
Autumn, 6 months

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]