The more I relax and observe, instead of worrying and leading, the more I embrace unschooling.
Here's just one example of why:
My oldest son joined the Air Force, and his graduation from Basic Military Training in San Antonio, Texas was at the end of June.
My husband couldn't get time off from work, but I wanted to be there, and make sure Sean was there for it as well. So after a couple of months of trying to decide if we should fly or drive, I settled on a road trip.
It's been years since I've driven that far as the only driver. I admit I was a little nervous about being overly tired, but I have driven all the way across the country before.
Sean was apprehensive. He didn't like the idea of being gone so long.
I convinced him I needed company, and a navigator. The trip was pretty big. It took us six days to get to San Antonio, and longer to get home because I wanted to stop and see as much as possible. We were gone for 22 days. We enjoyed seeing David graduate, and spending time with him while we could due to the restrictions they have for trainees. We saw a lot of San Antonio, visited the Alamo, did the River Walk cruise. We also had fun at our hotel swimming pool, but without Dave. He wasn't allowed to swim.
And here's the unschooling part.
Sean learned so much just by being my co-pilot. Along our way, after I determined our next stop, I would tell him where we were going, I would plug it into my phone navigator, and then I would have him keep track of where we were and how much farther to our next stop.
Although this was completely different from the old days when I used a huge Atlas to help me, it worked great. We stayed on two-lane highways most of the trip, and even traveled on Route 66 for a while. The scenery was breathtaking, and the traffic was minimal for the most part.
We drove through Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico on our way to San Antonio, Texas. We experienced extreme heat, and then extreme heat and humidity. Some of the places we drove through had our car thermometer reading 101 F or more.
We took a different route to get home. We drove through a different part of Texas, then into New Mexico, visiting the Carlsbad Caverns area, White Sands, and we saw the continental divide, and Four Corners. We cut over into Utah, visiting a town called Bluff, learning a little bit about the Mormon history in Utah, and climbing Wilson's Arch near Moab. Then we took a highway in Idaho, and avoided Eastern Washington because of wildfires there, and instead headed back to Portland, Oregon, and then home.
He learned a lot about geography, and the variety of landscapes, and he shared some of his knowledge with a friend as I was driving through part of New Mexico on our way to Utah. His friend didn't seem to know where New Mexico was, or Utah or Idaho for that matter. The friend will be starting high school, and is in public school. Sean tried to describe where New Mexico was on the map, and sharing and teaching is the best way to solidify knowledge.
Could Sean have learned all of this in school? Maybe. But after listening to his friend on the phone I have my doubts. Could he have learned this from me through a homeschool geography curriculum? Yes. But would he have really learned it? Would he have internalized it, and been excited about these new places? I doubt it.
We were blessed to have the opportunity to visit these places and experience the different climates, the landscapes, and the people. I handed him my camera while I drove, and he got some beautiful pictures of the monuments in Utah, and the adobe homes in New Mexico.
He asked me why the Native Americans seemed to be so poor, and it sparked a great conversation about disenfranchised people, and the effects of what has been happening for many years. And we stopped at some interesting places, like the Living Desert Zoo in New Mexico, and he took pictures of animals, bugs and spiders, lol.
By interacting with a variety of people, including Navajo, I can now introduce him to information about Navajo and it will mean something completely different to him.
I can only hope that he will remember this trip as fondly as I will. It was so much fun to experience all of the things we did, plus we had some wonderful conversations. We spend pretty much every day together, but the time in the car was very focused with no opportunity for distractions.
This is the kind of guiding/teaching and learning that I like best.