2015 has been a year of change. Anytime this much change occurs in such a short amount of time there will be effects that could last a lifetime, but that’s not a bad thing either. Sometimes things that we love or things that used to work for us just stop working positively in our lives and in those moments we need to take charge and change the story.
Over the past few years we have created a lovely learning environment that was child led, interest led, and very much passion driven. It was (and still is for three of my four children) the perfect introduction to lifelong learning. We had just enough structure to get us from curiosity to exploration, just enough balance between masterly inactivity and living books all while staying true to our child led and interest led passions. For our family it was perfection, but perfection is momentary and does not last, nor should it last because as we grow so too do our needs, and that is where we find ourselves right now.
We have, for a very long time combined our favorite philosophies (as noted here) while leaning most heavily on the unschooling side of things, because that is what worked for us. Lately however, Little Man has begun struggling. He struggles with executive functioning, focus, and attentiveness in a manor that can be best described as being “an absent minded professor.” With him now at 8 years old and in what would be 3rd grade at the public school, we feel like we need to address these habits before they get any worse. We are also well aware that if he were in a more traditional setting, his behavior might be flagged as either a disorder or a disruption. We have no plans of going down the path of diagnosis unless he himself tells us that the issues are hindering him, but both his father and I feel as though we do need to do something to help him learn how to cope.
So here we are, in the midst of a major lifestyle change once again. The philosophies which we have still hold true, but right now we are experimenting with how much of each method is needed to best help him while also experimenting with diet, to see if that helps. All while trying to keep things as similar as possible for the younger three who do very well in the current environment. It may work for us to become a little more CM based as he gets older, or it may work better for us to regiment our time more often, rather than the subjects within them. I can’t say where we will be in a week, let alone months down the line or years but I trust that we will find a way that works for us and so we head into the unknown…again.
If anything, I have learned through all of this, that the first step to changing the status quo is recognizing that it doesn’t work. In this age of blogs, pinterest and youtube tutorials it is easy to see that there are a million ways to do the same thing but so often we get stuck in our pride or the ease of that which is familiar and we don’t want to admit to ourselves that things no longer work under that paradigm. We do it all the time, especially when it comes to education.
I’ve seen it first hand on a large scale, when a failing public school system refuses to allow a new option in, even if the new option will help the students.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to start a Charter school in some states?
After years of planing out a vigorous curriculum using all of the newest information about how students learn best, after months of recruiting the best teachers (who you can’t actually hire until the school has been accepted by the multiple school boards), creating a budget based on possible figures and estimates that will be scrutinized down to the penny by multiple boards, finding a building thats just right but you can’t yet lease, choosing all of the needed furniture or supplies but being unable to buy anything without funding… only to put years worth of work and collaboration before a school board, that is possibly corrupt or at the least doesn’t want to lose money from their own budgets (not every state works this way but some do) but has been labeled as a failure by the DOE. Let’s just say there is a reason why there is a lack of choice when it comes to schools in many districts. The bureaucracy is maddening and often reminds me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Even when change is needed, even when change is the only option, we stare it in the face and ward it off as if it is some superstitious evil.
The status quo makes things comfortable, I get that, but comfortable people never affect real change in the world. Recognizing that something does not or no longer works is a positive thing. It is proof of growth. It is proof of a life being lived. Worn out shoes mean the owner is well traveled. Pants that are too short mean that a child is healthy. New jobs, new homes, new cities…new adventures… all are a part of growth. Without growth a story is boring to read.
Change the story. Add a plot twist. Take charge as the author of your life and change that which no longer works, even if you don’t know what is going to replace it.