"We are all wanderers on this earth...our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams." ~ Gypsy proverb

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The freedom to choose

Change. It's happening again. The freedom to live and explore, wander and discover, change and grow, have been the main engine behind much of my posts, with parenting and unschooling providing the fuel.  Now there is an unexpected twist in our evolution as unschoolers, one that goes a bit beyond my comfort zone.  I don't know if I am ready for this part of our journey, but maybe my children are.  To put it plainly, my kids are going to try going back to Montessori. 

E. and M. both had initiated this decision, which was further supported by hubs.  But, my fears cloud my faith and I wonder, have they really deschooled enough?  Will this set them back?  We have been to Montessori before when they were younger, what is different now?   It took me a couple days to think about this when the obvious finally hit me.  They weren't unschooled children back then.  We were a traditional family that didn't offer the choice of if or when to start school.  I didn't consider that they might not be ready.  We just went through the motions, putting them in school early to give them a "head start".  They were not ready then, which undoubtedly helped set our path to unschooling a few years later.

What has changed since is that there is freedom of choice.  They have had time to unravel my earlier mistakes, and kids deschool much faster than we do.  They aren't afraid of being who they are when we stop conducting, start listening, and start trusting.  They don't really know if Montessori will meet their needs, but, they want to try.  What is guaranteed is that they are going in with a different attitude, and may come out with a new perspective. They will certainly gain a greater knowledge of themselves, and hopefully a greater understanding of what they really want and need. 

Being able to live in a manner that honors freedom of choice empowers learning.  The problem with mainstream schooling is that kids aren't given that power.  Accolades, rewards, and praise may give an illusion of choice, but the joy to follow a whim, the internal need to satisfy a curiosity, and the power to choose what or how they want to learn, is replaced by standards, grades and scores.  Unschooling has given that power back to my children.  Unschooling means living with choice and command in your own learning, and letting your interests and needs guide those choices.  Montessori may not be the "perfect" choice, but it is their choice.  They are free to choose, and we will learn to live and grow with those choices.  

The simple fact is, if it doesn't work out, they will come home and things will shift again.  What will never change is my unconditional love, or my respect, or my trust for them.  I will go with it, and see where it leads.  This is just as much a part of our journey as any other choice, and it is this thought, that I will carry with me for the next two months.   Meanwhile, I will share my experiences here with you, as there is always something for me to learn :).


  1. What an amazing mama you are. I so wish I could deschool my children. Maybe one day. I don't have the courage and quite frankly, one child lives with autism so there are some definite benefits for him to be in school. He goes at his own pace anyway. I try deschooling them after school-trying to make sure they think and explore on their own and have confidence in their own thoughts and ideas. I think it might be working a tad.
    I would love to hear about your experience. I really appreciate the guidance and inspiration
    you provide.

  2. I really look forward to hearing how this next part of your family's journey unfolds. How beautiful that you're trusting your children with this choice - even if it's not the first choice you would make yourself.

  3. It sounds like you've made a very brave decision and thought long and hard about it. I have been fascinated by the idea of deschooling/unschooling for a while and although it's not that common in the UK, I would like to introduce some of the concepts when I teach. I think it's so important to give the child some control and choice as it sets the foundations for a balanced life as an adult. I'm sure Montessori will at least allow for more creativity than conventional schools.

    I really hope you'll tell us how things get on. x

  4. I hope you realize that you are a great momma who will still be there to guide your children no matter where they are schooled. Trust in yourself to know that you have done a wonderful job and your children will continue to grow as they should. My thoughts are with you as you go in a new and exciting adventure.

  5. Wow!! I'm really quite surprised. I can imagine there must be some sadness as well as some excitement about the unknown of what lies ahead for them. A new journey, a new adventure to embark upon. This time, armed with confidence and the freedom of choice. knowing you, you will find a way to create the best balance that will help them to thrive in any environment. You are a wonderful mom, MJ. It must be really nice to be able to look at going to school as something you WANT to do and not something that is forced. I think they are officially unschooled. So, when do they start?

  6. Wow -- I am feeling nervous and teary for you! Your blog is one that has really encouraged me to seriously consider a change to unschooling...

    So it is good to read and realize that the education part is always a journey for both the child and the parent.

    Best as you make this next move. I am anxious to read as it unfolds.


  7. I applaud you for respecting their choices--definitely not an easy thing to do!

  8. Scout went to a Montessori school for a while and we had only good experiences there...there was one bee sting on the playground that he vividly remembers...

    ...all the best to you and your family as you make this transition...

    ...Peace be with you...

  9. I'm excited to follow this new path in your journey! What a wonderful mama to allow your children to make this choice with respect and love every step of the way.

  10. Wow, I'm really interested to learn how this experience unfolds. I'm not yet a mother, but often times find myself wondering what type of schooling would be best for our future children. I really enjoy reading your blog and learning a little bit about motherhood from your posts. Best wishes. :)

  11. Your tales of education/learning inspire me. I am left in awe at how strong you are. Decisions can often lead down many paths and it's refreshing to see how you approach and thoughtfully decide what the next step in the journey will be. Wishing you all the best in the next step you all take together!

  12. It's all about choice isn't it? I'm excited to hear how this new adventure unfolds for your family and I'm sure whatever happens that it'll be great because you're obviously handling this new change with such grace!

  13. Aaaah. Been having a bit of excitement, have you? :)
    A bit like being tossed about and carried 'round by a tornado. How delightful.

    I'm sending love and peace.

  14. MJ, You've opened my eyes to unschooling and I like what I read more and more. And most of all I really dig how much I see it changing you. You make me wish I could have unschooled as a child. Being shy and quiet, in a schooled environment didn't do me any justice.

    You're a great mom!


  15. I'm just going to echo what Rural Revival has written above me. Thank you for sharing this experience, so that we can all learn with/from you. Your kids are so very blessed.


“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~ George Bernard Shaw