2 August 2010

unschool monday :: what owlets think

To begin with, we were a little worried about how big owlet would go with learning outside the school system. Countless times other parents have commented that they'd love to home educate their children too, but their children are so social... they'd miss other children. I suppose they would if you assume that real friendship only happens in an institutional setting, or in the playground every morning tea and lunchtime.... Its when you step outside that thinking that children only want to befriend children their own age, and not the kid across the street who happens to be two years younger, that you see it clearly. Children outside the day-to-day school system often seem to find it easier to play in a multi-aged setting, I've noticed. I've talked about socialisation before, so I won't go to much into that today, but initially it was a concern for us when we withdrew big owlet from her school. She is a social child too - really social. Would she be missing out?

When the school year began last year, and we stayed home, rather than begin prep with her peers, it took a while for it to sink in. She began to understand that she was at home while some of her friends were at school. She couldn't play with them whenever she wanted. She missed them. She missed her teacher. She missed playing all day and baking and doing craft... We knew that although she'd only been there for two kindergarten years, there was some de-schooling to be done. We kept on with our normal day-to-day. We spent time with other home educating families. We went on outings, spent long days at the beach or park, stayed home and baked, did some craft... At the beginning of this year, I knew her deschooling was complete when she told me how she felt sad for her schooled friends. They didn't get to do all the great stuff we did. They didn't get to go to the playground whenever they wanted to and make new friends each time. They were missing out!

Now when we are out and about, big owlet likes to tell people all about it. At first we forget that we are not within the norm until someone asks "No school today?" or "What grade are you in?" The other day, Huz listened in on a conversation she was having with a new friend. The friend asked "Who is your principal?" "What's that?" replied big owlet. When it became clear that the principal was something to do with school, big owlet said, cool as a cucumber, "Oh, I don't go to school". This always brings a look of surprise, shock or interest from whoever she's talking to. The friend's mother was intrigued... "Who does that? Who teaches you? Your Mum or your Dad?" She asked. Big owlet looked confused. "They both do". I imagine she would have been thinking, "well, duh", if those words were in her vocabulary.... The friend was mortified. "Oh but you have to go to school!" and began listing all the things that happened there. "Oh no, we have much more fun" said big owlet. "We get to go swimming and to the playground when we want and..." and on it went. Cue: warm, smug feeling all over Huz. :)

I suppose we're all a huge leap from where we were when we first began. There's still some deschooling to be done, but for us grown-ups, rather than the owlets. All those years within a system will do that. Its a very difficult mindset to break, but one that we're happy to be battling. To know that our children are learning, almost without us noticing, and to know that they have such fun doing it makes it all worthwhile. It makes the hard days better and the days when they find that zone (today was one), all the more satisfying.


You can read more about deschooling here:

Deschooling for Parents - Sandra Dodd
Deschooling a Parent : Learning to Trust - Jan Hunt


  1. My eldest is really social too, and I've noticed her friends are very mixed age (in fact her birthday is coming up and the guest list has an age range from 3.5 to 7.5!) She has no problems interacting with kids of different ages, or adults for that matter. Sometimes I get the guilts that she can't just play with kids whenever she wants, but then I'm realistic and think "well she can't at school either". So right there with ya!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Can I come and visit you??

    cheers Kate

    ps is that the gorge in your photo looking just beautiful.

  3. well done !
    I'm not brave enough to take on my kids schooling, but I can see so many benefits being away from school.
    They miss out on so much by being locked away five days a week, it's a shame we can't have three or four days at school and three or four at home.
    And our eldest owlet is becoming a real handful because she isn't getting enough stimulation at school - go figure.
    Middle ground is near to impossible :(

  4. Hi Lauren, I really enjoyed reading your article, in fact I enjoy all your articles :) I've met your owlets and I definitely agree with you they are 2 gorgeous well grounded girls - schooling at home works!!! My daughter too has no problems interacting with children and adults alike no matter what their age or interests are, even though she has now started going to an independent school which encourages self expression etc. the 2 years we did do home schooling has helped her become a confident 7yo who never stops to dream. Keep up the good work :D


  5. Just catching up on your blog, Lauren, we are finally back in Aus and moving to Tas next week! So exciting...and can't wait to meet you and your girls. I really love this post as the 'social' question is always the one i get first...(before...how will he read, write, do maths...blah blah!)..Kai is SO social and plays with unschool kids of all ages, from babes to teenagers!
    Anyways, thought i'd say hi, and hope to catch up soon once we do the big ferry trip next week! Jo & Kai


Share your thoughts...