If you choose not to send your kids to school, one aspect of your success as an unschooling family will be to find a community.
In big cities this isn’t a problem. There are tons of homeschooling and unschooling families. But I live in a small town, and while there are a number of homeschooling families in my town and nearby, the community is always in flux due to a process I call “dropping in”.
When you’re in school and you quit it’s called dropping out. When you’re homeschooling and you quit, I call it dropping in. Dropping into the system.
Many people have their “drop in” planned from the get go. A lot of folks only plan to homeschool until high school. Many others get overwhelmed with homeschooling and give up. Sometimes the kids ask to go to school and the parents acquiesce. There are as many reasons for putting kids back into the system as there are for pulling them out. The result for me as a diehard unschooler is that my community ebbs and flows like the tides.
Today my only unschooling friend (among my homeschooling friends) texted me that she’s meeting with the principal of the local school to discuss enrolling her children. Her reasons for doing that are valid and fine, but the effects on my life are going to suck and I’m sad.
This is a situation we deal with over and over again as our kids’ friends disappear from their lives by “dropping in”. New friends will appear eventually but often there can be a lag period where there is a distinct lack of buddies. And the loss of a friend is very sad for a child.
When a homeschooled/unschooled friend drops in, there are always promises that they’ll continue to see each other on weekends and after school, but it’s not so easy. Life is busy on weekends and after school, and whereas we used to hang out as families for many hours a week, now it’s reduced to an occasional visit once in a month or less. Not enough to sustain a real relationship.
So once again I’m in the position of having to inform my kids that some of their best friends are no longer going to be available for spontaneous trips to the library or park, or for all day Tuesday hang outs. My kids are going to be really sad. This sucks.
Does this lessen my resolve that unschooling is the best lifestyle for raising life long learners who are free of spirit and happy as adults? No.
Does it tempt me to just throw my kids into school because it’s too discouraging to do this without a community? Yeah. To be honest, yeah.
I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow when I come up with a new plan.