Monday, October 8, 2012

A month into our homeschooling year, we're settling nicely into our routines.  I'm daydreaming about this Spring, when the back porch will be fully repaired and I can just walk right through to our backyard every morning, to sit out there with a cup of tea, dawdling in among our plants.

We still haven't managed to put the finishing touches on our family zine, from this summer.  It's mostly technical difficulties -- getting the photos of our illustrations off the camera and onto the computer, fussing with them, then getting them where we want them on the PDF.  We also stalled about halfway through Sarah's museum goals.  I hope to complete that with her by the end of the fall.

This afternoon I met with three friends, all of whom are interested in starting a democratic free school in NJ.  This is the first time since TMcAFS closed that I feel more of a sense of excitement and hope than dread at the thought of being involved with a free school again.  There's always been some excitement, which is why I've kept coming back to the idea again and again, but the stress has always been so much greater.

This time, though...  There are 4 of us, all invested in noncoercive education in a respectful, compassionate community.  And all with some experience with free schools or intentional communities or consensus process or running businesses.  And even better, all of us interested in how to build the strongest *community* we can, within and surrounding the school.  Nurturing an atmosphere of personal responsibility and mutual respect.

It's challenging in a different way, though.  I like our current homeschool routines.  Sarah likes our current homeschool approach.  But she's also very interested in a free school.  When I talk to her about what she would want out  of a freeschool, she talks about spending time with her friends, and taking classes like acting and fighting and fencing.  And I find myself thinking "okay, that all sounds great, and I fully support all those ways of spending your time.  But when are you planning to get in your academics?"   Which was not at *all* what I was expecting to find myself thinking.

It's so easy to be in favor of child-led education when we're at home together and she consistently chooses a very bookish, Charlotte Mason-y approach.   Do I want to shift our lives to ones in which we're out most days of the week socializing (which is what it sounds as if she mostly wants from the freeschool) instead of being home most days with our books?  (or, really, at the library most days, most recently)

I asked her about how she saw our current homeschool approach and the possibility of being part of a freeschool working together.  How many days a week would she want to be at the school, how would she want to spend her time there, how would she want to spend our homeschool days...  We talked about her goals for the future, her goals for her education, what she wants more of and less of in her days.  And I breathe and breathe and try to trust that the process of learning to make your own decisions and to shape your own life is, in fact, more important than whether you learn to write a three paragraph compare-and-contrast essay at the age of 10 or 20 or ever at all.