So here I’ve been the past several weeks, happily typing away about the freedom of unschooling. Imagine my surprise today, then, when Dillon approached me and said, “Mom, I want to start doing unit studies again.” Huh?? I was shocked, and I did a poor job of hiding it when I blurted out, “Why???” Apparently, he’s bored. Bored. I immediately pointed out all the cool stuff I bought in lieu of curriculum this year. I did my speech about how he’s so lucky to have the freedom to learn about what he wants to learn when he wants to learn it. Still no change. I told him that if he’s absolutely sure that he wants to do unit studies, we’ll do that. His reply? “I’m not sure. I’m just bored.”
Okay…I know that I need to get to the bottom of this- and fast.. First of all, I’m hesitant to pick up where we left off because I know that as soon as the weather warms up, he’ll want to be outside all the time studying creepy crawlies like he always does, and the unit studies will be forgotten. I know firsthand that the cold weather can make me feel like a total slug, so I’m guessing it’s taking its toll on him.
One thing that I know is going to have to change for now is our screen-free period. As it stands now, the kids aren’t allowed to do anything involving electronics- at all- during this time. I thought it was a good idea, but I’m seeing now that it’s a little too strict. My kids love to research. And how do they research the most? While we do go to the library quite a bit, the majority of their research happens on the computer using either search engines or YouTube videos. As good as my intentions were, I think this rule has been hindering their creativity and motivation because, while they may get tons of ideas during the screen-free time, they have no access to the computer. My answer, up until now, has always been, “That’s a good idea. You’ll have to look that up after 4,” after which, the idea is completely forgotten, and instead I see a lot of glum faces trying to come up with something else.
So, for now, I’m going to compromise. Instead of this time of day being an all-encompassing ban on electronics, I am going to allow these devices to be used for research purposes. In the best of circumstances, when the weather gets warmer, this won’t even be an issue at all. In the worst of circumstances, this will continue through the spring and summer, but my kids will still be learning, and that’s not such a bad thing.
And if Dillon or another of the kids is still bored after this change? Then I’ll do the unit studies. Part of unschooling is giving children the freedom to learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it and how they want to learn. As another blogging friend once said- homeschoolers are freedom scholars. And we’ll use that freedom to the best of our ability.