Hello Susan;
First, I want you to know that I understand and identify with your
anxieties and fears. I see you as a loving, caring parent who wants
the best for her children. We all want our children to experience
success, to be accepted by everyone they meet, to be seen as valuable
not only in their own families, but in the eyes of the rest of the
world as well. I am a home schooling mother who is taking the first
tentative steps into unschooling, mostly because I have been
struggling with the same thing you have: encountering resistence from
my 8-year-old son. In his case, it is the pencil-and-paper learning he
objects to, not reading, but in many respects I can identify with what
you are expressing. He is a strong-willed child, and I am a
strong-willed mom! Which both helps us to understand each other, and
gets us butting heads with each other. I have been attracted to
unschooling, but have been reluctant to take the leap for the same
reasons that you express: fear of my children not developing important
skills, falling behind, etc. But in the end, I have decided that the
absolute most important thing is my relationship with my son. I would
like to hear more about your son's interests. What really lights his
fire? What are some of his great strengths? Where does he shine? I can
tell you that, as a former (and recovering!) classroom teacher, I
could always tell the children that would do well in life, even if
they didn't do well in "academics," because they had their own
interests, parents that cared about them, and a sense of themselves
that went beyond simply wanting to please me as a teacher. I hope you
have not been put off by some of the strong responses you have
received. Sometimes in the zeal to promote strong beliefs, it is easy
to forget the person behind the questions, to forget to show
respectful tolerance for other views and choices. I applaud your
courage in opening up to this circle, and I applaud your desire to
find better solutions for you and your son. I have found it eases my
mind greatly to read the many success stories I find on the web, about
children who were "late bloomers" as readers, writers, etc. And there
are so many greats contributors to the world whose learning was very
unorthodox and perplexing to "traditional" ways of learning. So, dig
up and print up some of these stories to ease your mind when you're
anxious. You know, the bible is full of stories of late bloomers too!
And, if any one starts making comments about your son's reading, break
in with some great stories about some of his fabulous talents,
interests, etc. Take heart! Your son's different path through the
world of reading may just be the opportunity for you to learn to let
go in some ways, as I am learning to do, and it's actually quite
liberating. In the meantime, enjoy reading together, so many great
books out there to choose from! Good luck, I will be thinking of you!