Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Fun of Unschooling from a Dad's Point of View

The dad-person over at 'Happiness is Here' recently wrote an article to other dads who might be making the decision to homeschool.  As a dad who already has kids who decided to homeschool, I thought I'd chime in with why it's so much fun.

As a fellow dad of unschooled kids, I confess that people will on occasion give you meaningful glances--over an apparently harmless statement or question about your kids' education.  Glances that obviously are meant to imply that you should be very, very concerned about this non-standard thing your kids are doing, (unschooling).  I'm happy to report however, that this has only happened a very few times for us.

The more common thing, at least for me, are entertaining questions from non-homeschoolers, but those are just fun.  Things like looking with great consternation at the pack consisting of then 1 year-old No. 3, 3 year-old No. 2, and 4 year-old No. 1 wandering around beside us and asking, "Are those your kids?"  Followed immediately by "Should they be in school?"  Apparently the only safe-kid, (I was unclear, but I'm pretty sure the safety the gentleman was concerned about was his own, not the kids'), is a well corralled kid.

Then there was the time a concerned citizen called in a possible bomb threat.  "There's a bearded man with a large package concealed under his hoodie."  The package was 8 month old No. 1 snugged into her Moby for a walk.  The policeman went from terrified to baffled as the situation unfurled on the grounds of a national laboratory.

You get a whole lot of "those kids are too cold," "too warm," or "their shoes are on the 'wrong' feet."  The simple and proud answer, "They dressed themselves!" never seems to suffice.  The perhaps more true answer of "Well, we got out of the house 15 minutes earlier because I did me while they did them." rarely works, and eventually you might just end up at, "Oh, hunh, thanks for pointing that out."

Once we received a standing ovation, as we were sung to.  A group of 20 or Chinese tourists who had amassed on the sidewalk in front of us parted like the Red Sea to let us get through as they cheered and sang.  I have yet to figure out what that was all about.

I've found advantages that I wouldn't have initially expected from homeschooling as well.  For one, we're more closely integrated with our community than we otherwise would have been.  A few years ago when I asked then 4 year-old 1 who she wanted to invite to Thanksgiving, I expected an answer that involved perhaps a grandparent, or an uncle.  Instead she responded that she wanted to invite two of her friends, the brothers who own our nearby convenience store.

Our kids have friends of all ages in almost every section of town.  I think it's due in large part to them actually being out and about in town as opposed to being sequestered behind four walls.  In fact, I meet new friends all the time because of the kids.  People frequently introduce themselves to me when I'm not with the kids, remarking that they ride the bus with my kids.

Our kids are even learning how to bandy about frivolities at bars a few years earlier than they otherwise might!  A few months ago when we trekked to a nearby state to watch the solar eclipse, six year-old No. 1 ventured from our table in the cafe to the bar on the other side of the building, bellied up, and asked for a glass of water.  When one of the patrons asked if she'd be buying the next round she replied that she couldn't as she had no money because she'd worn tights that day with no pockets.  We had no idea what had transpired until a few minutes later the establishment's proprietor appeared to enquire if it would be OK if the man at the bar bought 1 and her sibs a round of ice cream.  That's when 1 told us about her conversation.  The kids enjoyed the ice cream she had finagled for them, we bought a round of drinks for the bar, and a great time was had by all!


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