Almost everyday someone asks me this question. So I’m writing a post so that I can just send you this link – save us both time and help you understand my reasoning.
Are you putting him back in school?
No, I’m not.
Oh cool, yes I hear a lot of people are doing this homeschool thing for 2021.
It’s not homeschool, that would require me to teach him and follow a curriculum.
Oh, so are you getting a tutor?
No, maybe an au-pair though.
Oh will she teach him?
Well no, he just needs someone to hang out with, make food etc. I’m just going to let him live his life, like adults do.
So, literally no school? For how long?
Not sure. Maybe 1 year, maybe his whole life. No long term plans. *Update: turned out it was 3 years, he joined school again, in the grade he was meant to be in 2023, without a hitch.
So will you just teach him stuff like reading, maths and that.
No. I won’t teach him anything. If he asks me a question I will answer it. If he asks me to help him to learn something new, I will help him. I won’t seek out things to actively teach him. It’s like if someone comes up to you and goes, hey Jack, do you want to learn about frogs? And you really aren’t interested in the slightest but then your friends like “come Jack, it will be fun, I promise, come sit here and listen and I’ll tell you all about them.” If you don’t have a keen interest in frogs, you’re in for a rather un-stimulating half an hour.
Ummm okay well kids can’t just teach themselves to read! It’s a little different to frogs!
Really, how? *Update: turns out he did teach himself to read, through him gaming and me reading 1 book to him every night. And funny thing, he could read before he could write or even knew the names of all the letters.
Well they have to learn letters and correct grammar, there are certain things you just can’t teach yourself!
Well I disagree. I didn’t teach him to talk and there he is talking. Actually he doesn’t stop, from 7am-9pm, you should see him go. And I didn’t teach him to count either, but he knows that on Fridays he gets R100 pocket money (ya ya I know so much) and if adds that to the R1 coin he has managed to save from the R100 he got last week, he has only R101 and that’s not enough for the mod on Minecraft that he wants to download already. Driving 20kms with him in the car is like having a policeman in the back seat because if I go 1km over the speed limit he lets me know, he’s always got his eye on the speedometer and speed limit! I never taught him any of this stuff.
Well what about his social life?
What about it?
Well friends? How will he make friends?
Why do you believe he has to be in a school environment to make friends? He has lots of friends, we have weekly playdates with my friends who have kids around his age and quite honestly some of his best friends are adults. One thing I’ve also noticed is that playdates with kids that are all the same age, often have way more altercations than playdates that have kids of all different ages – when there’s vertical age grouping, the older ones lead the younger ones and sometimes visa versa, it’s so cute to watch. If we go hang out at the Blue Peter for a sundown drink, there’s almost guaranteed to be other kids there, and it’s almost guaranteed that there’ll be sad eyes when it’s time to say goodbye, because kids can have the most fun together, just running around on the grass and not even knowing each others names.
Well I’m just saying school isn’t a waste of time, you know there are other aspects other than learning.
Sure, I never said school was a waste of time. I just don’t believe in having to pay R6k a month for my 6 year old to have to get up earlier than his natural body clock, scoff breakfast down as fast as possible and then go and hang out all day and live his life hour by hour defined on what the system believes he should be interested in at this age, and hanging out with children only from his suburb of his exact age group, while wearing a mask to cover his face and not being allowed to touch his friends.
I have a different belief system as to what this planet is needing from humans right now, and at the moment I don’t believe that school is providing any solutions, in fact I believe it’s taking away, by making young children wear masks at an age where they’re meant to be developing empathy for one another and understanding facial expressions and emotions. I’m worried for the longterm affects of these safety precautions.
So I’m choosing to use those school fees for other purposes, towards other passions of Leo’s and we’ll just see what happens. I’m excited for all the possibilities ahead of us and the freedom to explore where our curiosity leads us.
I acknowledge that it’s a privilege for us to be able to live our lives this way, this is something I want my son to understand and appreciate. I understand that this way may not make sense for everyone, but in this present moment, it makes sense for us.
* Update 3 years later: He’s back in school now and I’m so grateful we had those 3 years of unschooling together. Absolutely no regrets.