My nine-year-old has been in a traditional school setting only once. She doesn’t really know what grade she’s in. She may not know her multiplication tables or the history of US government right now. She may not have any clue what cafeteria food is. She may not have any concept of recess, but lives for free play she creates on a daily basis.
But my nine-year-old is a published author and illustrator. On October 11th, the book “What If It Were Possible” hits bookstores across the nation.
This girl didn’t start reading until age seven, and quite honestly, her spelling could still use some major work. She has many, many things she still needs to learn. And…she is a perfect example of delight-led learning leading us down a path we never would have anticipated.
Ever since she could hold a crayon, she has been hooked on drawing and creating art. We have seen her creativity explode with every artistic outlet she’s been exposed to. As a highly detailed and analytical child, it would have been easy to box her in to math and science – and focus on the numbers route. She loves them both and we’ve definitely explored it all.
This love for art and creativity – it has done so much for her. She’s learned all about perspective – both literal and figurative. She’s learned about flexibility and seeing vision and beauty even when things aren’t simply perfect. She’s been in an adult art class since she was four, and she’s come so far in her art and understanding of what creativity truly is. Her first business was at four, selling muffins, and then she moved to selling drawings, greeting cards, and now, her first published book.
I wanted to share a little about her story with you not to simply brag about how great my child is, but to show an example of unschooling that is completely and utterly unique to her. We haven’t paid a ton for enrichment classes, or put the pressure on to accomplish certain educational goals with her.
We’ve simply followed her passions and created
a community of support around it.
My incredible mother has mentored, taught, and taken on Clara as an apprentice to learn all about art, writing, and what it takes to publish a book. Another friend is teaching her all about photography and video editing. We look for the resources – the people, the websites, the books, movies and more – that feed into the interests she has, and we create a rich curriculum of life that is constantly changing and growing.
The poem is fun and light – but the message goes deeper than creative animal ideas. Think about the main theme of this book as you look at educating your children:
When you are stressing about school plans, curriculum, or how your kid will ever “catch up”, take a step back and really explore what they love. Look around in your community – your friends, family, neighbors and local stores. See what they can offer. It may be that an apprenticeship, interview or special 1-1 time really opens up some opportunities for your child to learn more and finesse their art in whatever subject that delights them.
Oftentimes we look at “homeschooling” (or any variation of that definition) as this beast we must tackle alone. My daughter is thriving – she has accomplished many things that kids her age have never imagined, and she also has many, many more things to learn. I’m excited about the process because I know it’s not all on me.
What if it were possible? What if, anything they wanted to learn, you could figure out how to teach them? What if the sky was the limit, and, with the help of others, the internet, and the plethora of other resources out there, you could explore anything and everything with your children? What would happen? How would your schooling transform?
Right now, we are focusing in on Clara’s book. This is a big deal for her and we are going to ride this adventure where it takes us. She’s available for book signings and readings in TN until mid October, and then we may open this up to other places across the country.
So today I’m asking you to share the excitement with what Clara and my mother Joanne have created, and ask yourself this question – What if it were possible?
I’d love to hear from you – what trails have you gone down in your own unschooling adventures?