We are an unschooling family. Although I grew up traditionally schooled, I can look back and see that, even when I didn’t know anything about the term or that it even existed, I was always an unschooler at heart. If I had an interest, I explored it until my heart was content. I have always loved learning, but I did not love school.
Before my oldest was 2 years old, I met a homeschool mom who I know God sent my way to set ablaze the path we were to take concerning my child(ren)’s education. Frankly, at that point, I dreaded the day I would have to officially send my child off to school. We had so much fun learning together. I didn’t want to miss anything.
Unschooling was and is very natural for us. After having lived it for almost 20 years now, I am definitely a believer. A quick definition is that unschooling is simply child led learning. It is gaining an education for a child that is fully centered around each child’s individual interests. I enjoy following and facilitating activities centered around what each of my children are interested in. It makes for quite an adventurous life that one would be hard pressed to plan or duplicate. For us, it is very much Holy Spirit centered and led as I know Holy Spirit is the one who keeps me abreast of what’s next for us.
This way of life is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for everyone, and certainly not for those who feel more comfortable following “the crowd”, doing what most everyone else is doing. Child led learning can freak out such personality types, “How in the world will they ever learn to ______________!!!” There’s so many things one can insert in that blank, lol. We are never without options for freaking out, I suppose.
Anyway, something interesting happened to us within the last week. As I stopped to get water, not thinking of anything in particular, the Lord dropped 2 things in my spirit, my 2nd daughter Jenai (pronounced jen-ay) and a vocational-technical school nearby.
Here’s the thing. My children have never attended school and I don’t know very much about schools here in Jersey as I grew up in DC. When I received this download from my Abba, I said, “Ok, I’ll check it out.” Jenai, like both of her parents, is all over the place with regards to interests and talents. She sings, she draws, She makes video movies with dolls. She is very handy around the house and loves to put together whatever comes in the house. She makes doll furniture and accessories and designs the set for her doll videos. She builds things with cardboard boxes, like atm machines and vending machines that actually work. She cooks, she does animation, dabbles in contortionism, loves doing nails, writes penpals making them pocket letters… You get the picture. All over the place.
I talked with her about the school and explained that they offer a wide range of programs including green construction, animation, cosmetology, culinary arts and so much more. She would be able to go for 2 hours each day, for whatever program she is interested in as a share time student and still be technically homeschooled. I explained this to her, shared the website with her and let her know that she does not have to go if she isn’t interested. I just felt led to check it out as I told Abba I would.
What was interesting for us, was that the school was having an orientation for students interested in attending in September and it turns out that Jenai is the exact age that they are ideally searching for. Of course, Abba knew all this. I hurried and signed up for the orientation which was to be held days later. Interestingly enough, it was held on a day and at a time when we are typically not available, but that week, we were available. God was up to something. I told Jenai that we’d go and check it out. At the very least, I told her that she would get resources to help her further her education outside of the school (impromptu prophesy, lol). That happened and more.
While there, we did a 30 minute general information session, after which, we were given a folder that included a map of the building. Each program was listed with classrooms where students and parents could go and get more information about as many programs as they chose. I told Jenai to lead the way. I wanted her to check out every area that was of interest to her. I enjoyed following her lead and was happy that it was just the two of us. After attending 2 of them, we made our way to see the graphic design teacher. My heart jumped with excitement as the teacher spoke. I knew this particular program would speak to Jenai’s heart more than the others had.
Not only did Jenai get information about the program there, but after telling the teacher a little about Jenai, she told us that industrial design is something that sounds right up Jenai’s alley. She said that graphic design is a great foundation for industrial design. She also told us about a nearby college that would accept credits from Jenai’s time at the school and those credits could go towards a degree in industrial design if she chooses to attend college. She went on to invite Jenai to spend a day at the school next week to see what a day is like.
Between you and me, I am super excited. My spirit is really excited for Jenai about it all. I drove home to her that the Lord loves her so much that He would speak to me about her in this way. She seems to be really excited too but whether she goes in the end or not, I am very happy that she knows God singled her out like this. I am happy to have taken her somewhere, to look into things solely for her.
She’s funny, she said to me, “Man, the only drawback is that this is gonna mean I am no longer an unschooler, because I will technically go to school.” I laughed and said, “Girl, this will make you an unschooler times two!! You will be going to school 2 hours a day, yes, but, you will be going to do something that is of interest to you, only because you choose to.” That’s unschooling.