My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.

I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.

Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Different Interests

This isn't a numbered Woody-learning moment because it's not his. It's mine! Actually, most of the previous posts were about my learning too, especially since I've never done unschooling before, but this one is about me learning what I set out to learn while Woody did his own thing, not bothering much with my activity.

I started a couple of worm bins back in August, using this video. I thought the boys would be interested in making the worm bins with me, what with the drilling and ripping up of cardboard and all, but they passed. When the worms arrived, they wanted to look at them squirming around in the peet moss in their bags, but that was about it. So, I chatted about worm biology as I poured the red worms into the bins I'd prepared. Woody and Fox remained passive. Did they want to feed veggie scraps to the worms with me every couple of days? No takers. Today's project was harvesting the first batch of worm castings to add to the spring garden. Again, I found myself alone.

So, the worms are my thing, not really theirs. I'm totally OK with that. Whether or not the boys participate, the vermicomposting is something cool going on in the background of their lives, and they're watching their mom learn as she goes, experimenting and researching and assessing results, clearly getting a lot out of trying something new and different.

I think sometimes about the accusation that some parents are "living through their children." People often say this as an insult, but I think to a great extent, many of us try to make our children's childhoods more like the ones we would have liked to live; we build in the parts of our childhoods that helped us to feel good about the world, or that we thought would have, and we leave behind that which contributed to our hurts and sorrows. Sometimes, we guess right and something that we found really fun or nurturing, our kids do, too. But not always.

Our children count on us to help build their childhoods out of engagements with new or favorite activities, ideas, and people, every day creating opportunities for them to fall a little bit more in love with the world. It's their childhood, and they have the right to build their own preferences into their experiences when it's possible.

But that doesn't mean we, as parents, have to forego the activities, ideas, and people that enrich us. We can help create the childhood we see that our children really want, meanwhile going back to pick up the pieces we wish we'd had as young people, maybe even some extras we didn't know we wanted until we were grown ups. This isn't living through our children, it's living with our children, and I think it helps them to know that curiosity and exploration can be a terrific part of one's whole life.