I thought I would write a post about a subject I am most passionate. It is a topic that I feel more and more strongly about as we immerse ourselves deeper into our unschooling way of life.
It is what I like to refer to as pushiness; the act of pushing ones children to do stuff/learn stuff before they are ready and able to do the stuff for themselves.
Today was a gorgeous sunny day, we headed out to the local lido for the afternoon and spent 5 hours in the pool. Yes you heard me correct a whole 5 hours – isn’t home education just the best! We then played on the park and ate fish and chips on the grass, what a marvellous way to spend the day! But I’m not writing this post to talk about how wonderful our day was. I’m going to emphasise the point that only 2 weeks ago Little Bean hated swimming and stayed in the pool for 5 minutes before moaning and getting out. Today she stayed in the pool the whole time and taught herself to swim.
So now I have two swimmers who were both self taught.
When they were 4 years old they started swim lessons at our local pool. They hated it. It was like a cattle market, children were herded in, did a length, then waited 10 minutes at the side shivering until their turn came around again. It was awful, I felt anxious, they screamed.
So we found a smaller group that had teachers in the pool, the pool was freezing and they still hated it.
So we quit. I refuse to force them to do something that distresses them, and ultimately wastes our time and money.
But here’s the thing. I saw so many kids forced into the pool. Parents and teachers saying things like “Stop being silly”
“If you don’t get in the pool you won’t get any sweets later”
You get the picture.
I also got lots of comments about how I should make them stick at it, they’ll eventually go without crying, all children need swimming lessons. I was pretty sure at the time that I was doing the right thing, quitting, and now I know for definite.
We went on holiday to Gran Canaria 2 years ago. Big Bean spent the whole 10 days in the pool and taught herself to swim. She now swims under water, does handstands, somersaults and is fairly confident. No swimming lessons needed.
Little Bean has always been worried about the water, and up until today a reluctant swimmer. But by the end of today she was swimming underwater and jumping in without me catching her. No armbands, no lessons. Completely self taught.
This doesn’t just apply to swimming, we have tried so many clubs/hobbies and have only just found something they are passionate enough about to stick at. Climbing for Big Bean and Horseriding for Little Bean. They both love dancing too, but have recently asked to quit lessons and make their own up at home.
And that’s fine by me. Imagine if another adult told you that you had to participate in an activity with a large group of other adults the same age as you. An activity you didn’t enjoy but had to do or you wouldn’t be allowed to watch TV for a week. You would tell them to get stuffed, or try the activity but feel sick with anxiety whilst doing it.
Don’t you think it’s unfair to put children through this.
I think the uncomfortable truth is that most adults only make their children do this or that club so they can brag about their child’s achievements to other parents. A truth that I feel sad about. My children are free to choose their own likes and dislikes, it is not for me to choose for them.
I guess the point of this post is to encourage people to have faith in their children. They will find their way, they will fail and that’s okay. They will try lots of things before finding the right thing.
There’s no need to teach; give them the freedom to teach themselves.