by Angie Lewis -- Heaven Ministries Press
Copyright©2005

Forget About The Labels
LET THE SUNSHINE IN

Unschooling

I admire Parents today who have chosen not to entertain a childís senses by the books of society, no pun intended, and unschool their children. It takes an incredible person to be able to unleash the traditions of society and culture and allow the positive freedom of the creative mind to go to work for itself. 

For those of you who do not know what unschooling is, it is my belief it is allowing the child complete freedom to choose what they will study and when they will study it. It is used in the regard that "when the child is ready," they will do it and study it. In other words, "do not push the child."

Unschooling needs to be challenged, tested and applied for its fresh unique approach and for its unritual, unpublic, attitude and contention it is arousing amongst the closed minded. With the right foundational support this tactic can be an extraordinary method of allowing the sunshine in, even when itís raining.

When I was growing up my mind worked in mandatory mode, because the teacher told me I had to do the work, whether it interested me or not. My option was to flunk if I did not do the work.  What a choice! 

The unschooling approach is just the opposite of how it was for me and for my own three boys who are home educated.  I don't think that I am any smarter than unschooled children because I had to put my nose to the grindstone, but I think it taught me discipline and patience. 

When we were children, our lives were filled with arduous schedules, a slow ticking clock on a school wall, and homework we obstinately completed because it was required. When the sun was shinning, we diligently sought refuge through the crack of the school blinds, drearily escaping our studies, fading out the teacher, and dreaming of places weíd rather be. When we felt the sting on our hand, or the whack on the head we awoke instantly to jeers and laughter from our classmates, and honest reprimand from the harsh teacher, at least I thought she was harsh.

Oh Yes! Good ole school days. Always watching our backs, and always in a hurry to spend time outside in the sun.

But what about our grandparents? After all, how many seasoned elders have you talked to that didnít work hard, study like a dog, and have some sort of spiritual guidance? They had to walk miles to school, cook for the rest of the family, chop wood all day, clean the house, milk the cows, study a dozen books by candle light..... and now look at our children, they only have to crawl out of bed and eat breakfast.

My grandparents seemed to have a wisdom and common sense that this and the previous generation has lost sight of. I try to practice my grandparents philosophy in life, and yet my mind is open to all the opportunities available for training children in the way they should go with the foundation of Christ, so they will not depart from it. For to live with a peaceful heart in this world one must take the blinders off their eyes, let the sunshine in, and live and let live or else die from, contempt, hardening of the heart and withering of the soul.

Since moral standards and values of our lives are unique in every home, and situations and circumstances vary along with these ethical codes, unschooling may not be for everybody. Every child possesses different traits and characteristics that makeup his nature through his home environment and surroundings. Distinct methods of training for these specific qualifying factors differ tremendously in each home. 

I find my approach works best in my home, considering I have three rambunctious boys, who are highly creative, inquisitive, self willed, independent, and playful in a prankish sort of way, yet do relish a balance of structure and organization throughout the day. If I were to practice the no-nonsense unschooling approach, Iím afraid Iíd be whipped by my three frisky guys. In other words, manipulated, or mother-handled.

I have something in common with unschoolers though, I thoroughly believe children should be allowed to have their own mind and experience life to its fullest using that mind, on their own level and capacity of understanding. But above all to respect and be kind to others, for a child can grow up being all he set out to be, but miss the most important element, having a heart filled with love and regard to others and their feelings. 
A sincere and loving heart is what makes the difference between happiness and disease, life and death. 

Unschooling, as well as other forms of schooling lack one very important component. Foundational support to reach its purpose.

When I started a home education routine with my three boys six years ago, (I donít use the term homeschool), I never had the option of unschooling, deschooling, eclectric schooling, no-schooling, formal schooling, and what is that other one called? Oh yah, classic schooling. Wow! Actually, I didnít have any options, except to do the best I could in the only way I knew how. 

My method began on Faith, and on the conviction I was doing the right thing. For one thing, teaching is a form of telling. Anyone can sit behind a desk and tell kids what to do. Telling doesnít help the child to apply what he has learned, rather by showing the child through example, you are actually giving him a path to follow. The child must trust in following your path and want to follow that path for himself, not just to make you happy. After that initial phase is mastered, than youíre not just a parent or teacher anymore, but their friend. Once appreciation is gained, the ball is in your park and you can start pitching to the willing batter. 

A childís willingness comes from having confidence in your decisions and full trust that what you say and do is what is best for them. Because young and inexperienced minds can not fully appreciate the long term effect of decisions, their decisions might not always be the best ones. Such as study time, and this is where we come in for guidance, sometimes guidance might turn into a loving push. Yes! thatís right a push. 
My willingness to have faith in Jesus, stemmed from learning about him and putting my trust in Him and his decisions for me and my life. That is, I had to push myself to ask Him for guidance. I had to go to Him. Once He saw that I was willing and ready to follow the guidance came. 

We are the role models our children will follow! My husband and I show our children to do what is right for themselves as well as what is right for all our neighbors. And everyone in the world is our neighbor. We show them not to stereotype and label people, places and things and we explain how everyone, no matter what race or color has the same chance of going to heaven and are equal in the sight of God.  We explain to the children that it is through Jesus that we are guided in all that we do so that we may enter into His paradise in heaven with Him. 

To give Love to those who thirst is a far better gift, than any other. We show, it is through Love that the blind will see, for it is through love that the unseeing will find and seek the truth. And it is through love, the discontented and weary of heart will find wisdom and truth. We show we must take the big heavy log out of our own eye before we take the splinter out of our neighbors eye. We show them that doing good deeds, described above will keep their spirit alive in the body while they are living on earth, but will not save them. It is only steadfast faith in Jesus Christ which allows our spiritual selves to ascend up into heavenly paradise.

I can say with much elation our three boys are free and alive through Jesus Christ, the creator of all and the end of all. Those who walk in His ways with a loving and sincere heart will delight in the everlasting love and joy manifested in Him and His kingdom.

Regardless how you teach your kids, or unteach your kids, or how others teach their kids, we are the mirror and what is shown in that mirror will reflect back on to your children and their behavior toward how they will live in the world with others and their attitudes toward themselves. I believe that if their little feet our planted on a solid and consistent foundation so will be their hearts in the world.

As for me, I donít think Iím perfect enough to go the unschooling approach, I would probably be way out in left field when Iím supposed to be on home plate. I would have an extremely wobbly and rootless equilibrium which could upset the batters, and cause rebellion, mostly my own. 

Through experience, I have found that first I need to have a solid foundation to work off of , so I can produce structure, balance, and organization in my own life, than, only after I have taken care of myself can I begin to show my children the surprises, twists and turns that life will bring, and to do it in a way that comes naturally for me in that given circumstance and occasion. 

Such as reading hour. This is an easy one for me since in my spare time all I do is read or write, so what am I doing? Iím showing how enjoyable reading is to those around me. My fourteen year-old son is working on his own book on his own computer he bought with his own hard earned money, on how to build furniture that he built himself using free wood. He has seen that I have written an article on his wood building projects, and in turn has decided to do the same for teenagers. Do you think I guided him on to this venture, or was he just going to write a book anyway? I didnít tell him to write a book, I showed him how much fun it is to let your own freedom of style and character out on paper, he liked what he saw and has followed my example. How about my ten year old who is making his own web page showing others how to make homemade bows and arrows, or my eight year old who gets up in the morning and says, ďMom, all I want to do for school today is spelling and reading, but no math, is that OK?Ē

Iím proud of my boys. To watch them everyday endeavoring on a new path of creativity is pure satisfaction and complete comfort for the senses. I see happiness in their faces, willingness in their studies, steadfast faith and love in Jesus, and growing boys who have hearts of gold that appreciate life to its full potential, as they know it. But it is all balanced out with study time and good old fashioned brain work.

Our brains are a muscle just like any other part of the body, and to think by working out math problems, or taking a spelling test, or dissecting a frog, flexes and tightens the brain muscle to prepare it for proper thought patterns and good study habits. If you pamper this muscle, laziness and rebellion take forth, and all they want to do is play, play, play. 

Playing, like walking, talking and sleeping is what children do best, it is not something they learn to do, it is an instinct of life. Play time is great, but still needs to be balance out with crafts, thought time, study time, quiet time, or physical work, like chores.

So you get the idea? We all want our children to be givers rather then takers and peacemakers rather then fighters, achievers rather than underachievers, and producers rather than nonproducers, we want them to be better than us. And upright sound principles indoctrinated throughout the journey of self promotion will undoubtedly be exhibited in our children no matter what it is they do in life.

Being free and independent is one thing in itself, but the end to that means is another matter, such as where does this freedom stem from? Where did it originate? These questions can and will be established through your child as he expands his energies into a mature adult. 

The no-nonsense unschooling attitude and jovial approach may work, no doubt about it, the concept is a good, but needs with it a sound, undivided foundational platform to be supported by.  

In other words, the whole family must agree upon and nurture the setting. The setting or environment comes from everyone in the family working together as a team, but it is ultimately, we as parents who influence that setting and what your child actually does from what he sees when he looks in that mirror. 

Jesus was made in the image of man, and our example to follow. We as parents are made to be images for our children. Our children belong to God, just as you and I belong to God, our job is to bring them up in a loving environment by using scripture as our guide. God wants all His children to be with him.

Those of us who stay home with our children do it for the end result, Right? We want to see our kids be productive, honest, and hardworking people. But I feel there is more to that end, I would like to know my child is saved through the blood of Jesus Christ so that he may live again in heaven. How about you? 
This I call, letting the sunshine in!

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