Learning Alongside My Daughter

Our first semester of unschooling was a huge learning curve for me. I was up burning the midnight oil quite often, scouring the internet for as much information as I could find on the topic. I read through studies, interviews, personal blogs, and joined every local homeschooling/unschooling group I could access. Bridgette and I went to as many park days as possible to meet new friends, signed up for a variety of classes through outschool.com, and eagerly RSVP’d yes to a number of group activities with other homeschoolers.

By the time May rolled around, I was thoroughly exhausted. I took some down time to reflect, and realized that I needed to slow down and let both Bridgette and myself enjoy the journey. I needed to stop frantically signing up for activities for the sake of filling our calendars up. Rick Warren says it so well in his bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life:

“Change your autopilot–the way you think. Change always starts first in your mind. The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel influences the way you act.”

And so, as I worked hard to shift my thinking, I began to feel a lot more relaxed in my new role as a homeschooling parent. I began to use the term homeschooling/unschooling simultaneously because I learned that our comfort level was somewhere in the middle. We love the flexibility and freedom of unschooling, but also appreciate a bit of structure for certain topics. For the most part, I still let Bridgette take the lead on what and how she wants to learn, but I support her by providing guidance along the way and in turn, I actually get to learn quite a bit alongside her!

As an example, she recently took a heavy interest in animation, and a fellow homeschooling mom recommended JAM to us. We signed up for their “Animate with Cartoon Network” class and Bridgette has been patiently going through each step of the class while I remained available for questions. At times when she was asked to film things, I would assist her with the filming and together, we’d discuss the angles to film, the voice over opportunities, and other details. Yes, it’s a super time consuming process, but I have learned to accept and to enjoy this new role that I have.

Below are my iphone photos to share some of the activities we did in the Spring with our homeschooling friends:

Putting together Easter baskets for families living in homeless shelters in San Jose
Putting together Easter baskets for families living in homeless shelters in San Jose
Performing her favorite "This Land Is Your Land" song at an elderly home in Sunnyvale
Performing her favorite “This Land Is Your Land” song at an elderly home in Sunnyvale
Passing out Easter candies to the elderlies
Passing out Easter candies to the elderlies
Joined the Tribal Wisdom Academy in Los Gatos to learn wilderness survival skills
Joined the Tribal Wisdom Academy in Los Gatos to learn wilderness survival skills

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Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Hammering away!
Hammering away!

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Being a pet-less family, we love it when our friends bring their pets to park days!
Being a pet-less family, we love it when our friends bring their pets to park days!
Our membership at the Academy of Sciences allow us to spend plenty of our afternoons there, when the crowd is minimal on weekdays.
Our membership at the Academy of Sciences allow us to spend plenty of our afternoons there, when the crowd is minimal on weekdays.
Tree climbing is always a favorite on play dates
Tree climbing is always a favorite on play dates
Building with marshmallows and toothpicks
Building with marshmallows and toothpicks
On warm days, the beach is our favorite "classroom"!
On warm days, the beach is our favorite “classroom”!
Kids can really spend countless hours in the sand!
Kids can really spend countless hours in the sand!

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Best part of digging a hole...getting to jump into it! :)
Best part of digging a hole…getting to jump into it! 🙂
Since becoming an unschooling family, we have definitely spent a lot more time outside enjoying all that nature has to offer
Since becoming an unschooling family, we have definitely spent a lot more time outside enjoying all that nature has to offer
Discovering new hiking trails all over the Bay Area!
Discovering new hiking trails all over the Bay Area!
Our P.E. time as unschoolers can be so diversed...from beach days to yoga at the park days.
Our P.E. time as unschoolers can be so diversed…from beach days to yoga at the park days.

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Class on Gold Rush in the Presidio, through Outschool.com
Class on Gold Rush in the Presidio, through Outschool.com

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Hanging with our friends in the Presidio after class.
Hanging with our friends in the Presidio after class.
Found a great hiking trail in the Presidio!
Found a great hiking trail in the Presidio!
Resting at Inspiration Point, with an amazing view in the background!
Resting at Inspiration Point, with an amazing view in the background!
Discovered this little gem of a park by the Presidio
Discovered this little gem of a park by the Presidio
Best discovery of all--this cool trail next to Lover's Lane in the Presidio
Best discovery of all–this cool zigzag trail next to Lover’s Lane in the Presidio

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As we progress into our second semester of homeschooling, our friends and family are constantly asking if we will continue this journey. The answer is yes, we are continuing! “Until when?” they would ask. We definitely don’t have an answer to that question. As a family, we have discussed this, and we want to keep an open mind, so whenever Bridgette feels the desire to go back to a traditional school setting, Alan and I would be open to exploring that path again with her. Right now, she really enjoys homeschooling, though she misses her school friends tremendously. She recognizes that she misses the silly, camaraderie aspects of school. The note-passing, the collective hurrahs at the dismissal bell, and the joy of seeing her best friends on a daily basis. We’ve talked about it at length, as I want to make sure she knows she can always choose to go back to her school. But after discussing the trade offs (a regular routine, homework, tests, etc.) that are a mandatory part of traditional schooling, she is choosing to continue our journey of homeschooling/unschooling.

As for me, it’s been a tough learning curve the first few months, on so many levels, but I am grateful to be at the place that I am now. I get to learn an immense amount of things alongside Bridgette every single day. This type of learning is so much more fulfilling than any other type of learning I experienced in my life. I’ve just never thought I could be a full time mom the way I am now with Bridgette. And yet, God has put me in this role to build my character, as he does with all hardships in our lives. Some days, by 6pm, I am just dying for some personal time and space. Fortunately, my hubby is very supportive in that aspect and really tries his best to take over the household once he’s home from work. I get an hour to take a walk in our beautiful, serene neighborhood. I get to read, catch up with my work, or to just “be”.

“God wants us to grow up…like Christ in everything” — Ephesians 4:15a

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