It occurred to me this morning that we are now exactly 6 months into this unschooling journey. How did that happen?! It still feels so new. It is still so new, but we’ve received so much support from friends, family, and fellow homeschoolers and unschoolers that the transition has been much easier than anticipated. So, first and foremost, I’d like to say a heartfelt, ginormous thank you to everyone that has encouraged us. It means the world to us, especially on the off days and self-doubt days. This sincere gratitude should in no way be construed as permission to cease encouragement. Keep it comin’, folks!
We did a generous amount of deschooling to start. T spent many days pantsless playing Xbox, which is, I believe, the very definition of “boy heaven.” Then it started: A random question here, a google request there, busting out his Legos on his own and building silently for 45 minutes…Somehow we had transitioned from deschooling to unschooling right under my nose. I must admit I had my own doubts for a while. Folks kept telling me it would happen, but as the weeks and then months went by I wasn’t so sure. I remember when it finally “clicked” that we were rocking. I was so excited and emotional that I cried (just a little bit).
I’ve noticed so many positive changes in T since we made the switch. First and foremost is that his personality is back full blast. Since he no longer requires his ADHD medication to sit in a chair for 6 hours a day, he’s back to his outgoing, hysterically funny self. His appetite bounced back as well. He was so underweight from the meds that he had a 6-pack. There was not an ounce of fat to pinch on him. He’s had quite the growth spurt since he’s been home. He’s almost 4 ft tall and weighs around 64 lbs. He was 38 lbs at his skinniest toward the beginning of the school year. That’s a 26 lb difference and he merely looks “filled out” now.
His ADHD symptoms have improved noticeably as well. He still has a period in the late afternoon/early evening when he gets a little wired, but it’s not as intense as it used to be. I’ve made accommodations for that by buying an indoor mini trampoline for him to bounce on when he needs to burn off some energy. Tantrums are few and far between and when they do happen, they’re much shorter. I’m not sure whether this is thanks to unschooling, the fact that he’s finally getting enough sleep, or perhaps he’s just maturing. Perhaps a combination of the three? Dunno. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Socialization has taken a hit the past few weeks thanks to 100+ temperatures making going to the playground and even the pool less than appealing. Luckily he has Jr. Space Engineer camp this week and our weekly homeschooling co-op starts up next month. I’m sure we’ll attend more events with our local unschooling group once the temperature drops a bit. Even just mid 80s would be heaven at this point.
Dad is still unsure about this whole unschooling business, but I think he’s starting to see how T is learning all the time and how interested he is–especially in his favorite topics. The kid loves science–astronomy, physics, geology, paleontology, biology, zoology, etc. He can’t get enough. It’s awesome to behold, and I’ve learned so much by learning with him! His reading has improved immensely. He reads entire paragraphs with barely a pause and is able to figure out words from context that I would’ve thought would be challenging for him. He’s even spelling words for fun now–not always correctly, but he’s usually within spitting distance. We haven’t worked on his handwriting much because it was so frustrating and stressful for him with his fine motor issues. I figured I’d give him time to get used to unschooling and enjoy learning again. It’s something I can gently encourage from time to time until he starts doing it out of want and necessity.
I check in with T at least once a month to ask if he still likes learning at home or if he’d like to go back to school. The first week he said he’d like to go back to school, but changed his mind by the next morning. Since then, his answer has always been that he prefers learning at home. That little vote of confidence from him once a month reassures me that I’m doing the right thing for right now and makes me look forward to the next 6 months.