We’ve come a long way since last year with Hayden. If I try to think of the top of my head what exactly Hayden has learned I’d probably just say, “I’m not sure,” because we don’t keep records or have set lessons anymore. I guess that’s one thing that’s changed since last year. I think for Hayden’s age right now the most significant change is the amount of freedom we allow him.
He’s allowed to go walking to the pond and beyond alone. He can fish, swim, (with a friend, it’s usually one of my brothers) and he can do as he pleases throughout the day with the exception that his chores for the day are finished, and he’s read in a book. Hayden is NOT a reader. He’s incredibly bright and witty, so it honestly hurts my heart that reading isn’t something that interests him. There’s so much fun to be had in a good book, and I just don’t understand why he dislikes it so much. I’ve been tempted to introduce him to audible, but I’m worried he’d never read another word if I did.
Right now his big interests are Minecraft…. and Minecraft. If he could play all day, he would. I know this because there have been times that either the littles are super sick, or I was sick, that the T.V. and his computer are my friends and that’s what he did with his day. He also enjoys watching Youtube tutorials on how to do new things…. on Minecraft. Ha!
So, what has worked for Hayden? This new laid-back unschooling we’ve been testing out for less than a year now is working wonders. Hayden is not self-motivated at all and is easily discouraged. He feels like if he can’t do it perfectly, then it’s just not worth it. One day he called me into his room to show me something he’d done on Minecraft. (Yay, me…) I was prepared for another show-and-tell of something he’d recently built, but instead, he read me a book he’d written inside of Minecraft. That opened up a whole new world for me. He hardly writes a few sentences when I ask him to write on paper. It’s sloppy and hard to read despite the years of print and cursive practice with the A Beka program (if you don’t know what that is, the curricula is well known for their all-in-cursive writing lessons, and rigorous grading scale on handwriting– he never did well.) but on the computer he wrote what would be a good page one paper. I was impressed. The words he didn’t know how to spell, he sounded them out on his own, which is also something perfectionist Hayden would NEVER do if he were sitting down to write a paper. I was impressed with the depths of Minecraft and Hayden’s ability to get words out of his head when typing on the computer.
There haven’t been any big firework-worthy things going on with Hayden in the past year. He’s still sweet and kind-hearted. Easy on others but hard on himself. What didn’t work though, is the unlimited amount of screen time we allowed right after he got his computer. Per-usual unschooling “rules” I decided limiting screen time wasn’t necessary and might even hinder his interests. Unschooling is about allowing the kids to find their own interest and sink deep into them. Hayden has always been tech-centered, and the no limit found me in his room time and again telling him he needed to get up and find something else to do which usually led to a bad attitude from him. Now there are limits though they’re not set in stone. If we’re having a busy day, then that’s a no-tech day. If things are slow, he’s finished his chores, and maybe it’s raining out, he can play for much longer than if it’s nice out and there’s fun to be had outdoors. Now, there are many days a week he doesn’t play at all, and his attitude is better for it. He has quite the addictive personality when it comes to electronics, so I put space between him and the computer or phone often. Since coding is something he wants to get good at and make a career out of, I don’t cut him entirely because that would go against what I believe as an unschooling parent.
Unschooling doesn’t mean limitless. Unschooling is the ability to follow your dreams and passions at a young age regardless of school bells or workbook directions. Unschooling does not lack discipline or rules but focuses on life’s rules that apply in the real world and not on a color-coded behavior chart.”
So, it’s safe to say what we do now is much different than a year ago. He’s not just floating through life, he does have interests he follows. Right now he’s completely into The Fig Street Kids books, and chemical reactions, and volcanos. He’s building a miniature landscape complete with a clay volcano that he will “erupt” with baking soda and vinegar once it’s dry. So much to learn through child-led play.