Our “Back to Un-School”

While looking through all my friends and family’s “back to school” photos of their kids on Facebook and Instagram come early/mid August, I felt a bit “rebellious” and “wild” that we are no longer a part of that tradition. It felt strangely odd, yet liberating.

As summer came to an end, I’ve been asked over and over again whether or not we’ll be continuing with our unschooling for Bridgette. I always chuckle to myself at the fact that so many people seem to think this is just a “phase” for us, that we will “get over it” soon. My own parents haven’t had much opinions on our new lifestyle, though I’m sure they’re somewhat bewildered by it. My parent in laws have had a harder time understanding this choice that we’ve made, but at least they haven’t interfered with it. This is the new normal for our family and God’s grace has really prevailed over the anxieties that I faced this year over the enormous changes in my life.

So, to rebel a bit more against conformity, I did our own version of “back to school” which should accurately be called “back to un-school.” 🙂

Bridge and I kicked off our shoes and spent a leisurely afternoon exploring a creek in Saratoga. We read together, had a simple picnic lunch, and then went to fed the koi fishes at Hakone Gardens. It was the perfect “back to un-school” day for us. 🙂

With so much going on during the summer months, we hardly got to see our homeschooling friends, so there was a lot of catching up to do on the social arena once Fall rolled around.

Free, unstructured play is a huge part of our unschooling and it continues to amaze me how imaginative and creative kids can get in that type of environment. I know many education reformers are pushing hard for schools (and parents) to provide more unstructured play time for kids, and I can now understand first hand why that is the case. Through the process of unstructured play, kids are naturally taught to think outside the box, to push their own limits, and to find creative solutions to their problems. The irony is that we tend to use so many methodical ways to teach our children these things when what we really need to do more is to step back and let them free play.

One new experience that Bridgette really enjoyed this Fall was getting to help her friend Karina sell origamis at our local farmer’s market. Karina is a master at origami and she wanted to sell some of her work to raise money for her robotic club. Always up for trying new things, Bridgette jumped at the opportunity to help. The girls set up a small table right outside the farmer’s market and was stationed there for several hours! Bridgette seemed to enjoy the selling part most, as she loves striking conversations with random strangers. Karina was excellent at explaining her art work to potential customers and handling the money transactions. Together, the pair made a pretty good team and we were really proud of their efforts. In the end, I think they made around $40 or so but what they were most excited about was the $5 tip that they got from one generous customer. 🙂

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