And back to Joy…

Yesterday I posted a pissy post. I don’t like doing that. I don’t want to live in the past or in the negativity, so today I wash my hands of that and step back into the light…into the joy.

I live a happy life. I have a career I love, a family I enjoy and freedom that is not allowed to many. I also want my children to be free.

I have heard comparisons of the school system to the jail system and I have to admit, there are similarities. Cinder blocks, being told where to be and when, needing to ask permission to leave the room, etc. But I think it is unfair to roll the two into one. At least I try not to make that leap. School is great for some I am sure. I just don’t think it is necessary. I also, don’t thImageink it is necessarily healthy due to the stress it can elicit in, especially, young people. So my kids stay home. And this is where I see the joy…as long as I don’t get sucked into societal fears and the education from outside-in paradigm.

This is what I see. A family together, not always the perfect Norman Rockwell picture but together. Fun. Curiosity. Freedom. I think the greatest thing I love is the freedom. But freedom can sometimes seem scary. Like the animal who has been in a cage its whole life, those first steps into a life where you don’t have a “master” can be scary. A day where you can really choose what you are going to do in the day is unfamiliar. This is when taking someones hand to lead you is tempting. But why? Because we really don’t have the freedom we think we do? Because going against the grain is unknown and the unknown is scary? Probably a little bit of all of these things.

But so much joy comes with freedom. Once we take those first steps and see the world isn’t going to crumble. Once you see your children learning and you are not sure how since you didn’t “teach” them that. They just know. They….just….know.

Sure we have the responsibility to search, discover and be curious. But has anyone known a child that isn’t innately these things? How did you lose your desire to discover and be curious? Did you really? Probably not.

Today I am blessed. Blessed to have taken those first steps into the unknown. It is still sometimes scary when we take steps further from what is normal but every step has been worth it to see the happiness. To see the life my children are living.

I have noticed that the only times that I feel stressed or harried is when I get sucked into the darkness. I have fears that are not warranted. That has been proven to me time and time again. I am learning to trust the innate ability to learn as much as I trust the innate ability of the body to heal and grow. How many times do I have to see it happen to completely let go of the darkness? I do not know. But I do know that it is getting easier and brighter every day.

I encourage you to take those first scary steps and trust. Live joyfully and free.



Minecraft Marathon

My son has been immersed in minecraft for the good part of the past 7 months. Being a “new” unschooler it was, I admit, really hard. It was hard for me to give him the freedom to immerse himself in something that he enjoyed so much bleaping iansecause of the constant reminders of how “awful” of a parent I was for not limiting his screen time, for not controlling his server access and for not hovering over him and okaying every new friend he met and chatted with on skype.

I can hear it now…

“How do you know he is safe?”

“What about the possibility of becoming addicted?”

“What about the neurological consequences?”

“What about the __________________ (fill in the blank)”

Have I thought about all of these, yes. Have I worried about all these at one point or another, yes. Did I choose to let fear take over and control my, and his, life? No. But it was a struggle. It really, really was. I didn’t discuss how much time he spent online. Many of my peers have strict controls on screen time and I understand that desire, I really do. I still don’t think that being in front of a screen during all waking hours does the body or brain any favors. Although I also do not believe that having some time to be learning through technology and video is as bad as some believe.

I did, however, choose to trust my child. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t voice my concerns, point out the effects of being online a lot. I reminded him of what frequent hours of being on the computer could do to his health and ian squimwell-being or point out the things he was missing in the rest of the world. But I chose to give him information, and let him choose. (as a disclaimer I still believe it depends on the age and maturity of the child)

7 months later…he is done. 7 months! He still loves minecraft but he is ready to embrace new experiences, to be diving into some new interests in his life. He will continue to play minecraft and I am thankful for that because he really has benefited from the game in many ways. Just some of the things he has learned:

1) Spelling. Spelling was a struggle for us for the past 2 years. He HATED writing and never seemed to care or want to spell anything correctly. He is now not a perfect speller but he is so much better. And I never had to open a worksheet. Yay!

2) Reading. His reading has become much more fluent and his vocabulary has increased. (Yes including some not so great “vocabulary” I admit)

3) Social skills. He has a whole new set of friends. He has favorite skype friends who accept him and are like him. He doesn’t have to change who he is to belong somewhere. His self confidence has

4) Geography. He had friends from all over the world. On Christmas he was skyping with a kid from Australia. Yesterday he was skyping with a girl from Britian. Not to mention he met his “best” minecraft friend from Canada and other cool kids from all over the USA.

5) Computer knowledge. He know knows how to navigate around a computer more easily and although I still help him with things he knows how to research where to find information. I don’t know how many times he has come to me wanting me to help him with a mod or a server and just places the computer in front of me. “Mom here is a  youtube video on how to do ___________. Can you help me with it?” I know he could probably do it himself but he has been told to minecraftnot download anything on our shared computer, just to be safe. If it was his own, he most likely wouldn’t even “need” me.

6) Eventually he learned that he has the choice. He really immersed himself in the game for quite a long time. He learned how to build amazing things, how to cooperate with his friends and how to simply walk away from kids who did not treat him nicely. And yes, there are some, not so nice kids on minecraft.

I didn’t just leave him unattended to discover this new joy. We talked about internet safety. I got involved and interested in what he was doing. Heck I even knitted a creeper hat! I helped, at first, to navigate through social hiccups. I helped him spell words and figure out rules.

Although it fplantseels like ALL he did was play minecraft for 7 months. When I look back this is what I see. He also still played soccer, downhill skiied, traveled half way across the US and Canada, saw Mount Rushmore, watched the whole series of Liberty Kids on DVD, listened to my US citizenship questions and answers over and over in our car, participated on a swim team, read, played with friends, jumped his bike off of ramps, went to museums, watched his favorite animal planet and discovery television shows (ya ya…more screen time), hunted, fished…and more.

But, really, minecraft really wasn’t so bad. He found a place he loved to be, for awhile.

Now onto new adventures! Let’s just hope it isn’t snake breeding like it was last Spring! Although we are attending the Seattle Reptile Expo next weekend…