Enough of unschooling for now

by Marilia Di Cesare on September 5, 2012

I really like the unschooling path and I want to be there one day. But my reality shows it´s not the best option for now.

After 2 months being back home from Costa Rica, we didn´t make any new steady friends and I realized it was harder than I thought, since all kids are in school.

My 5-year old girl can play with 2 boys that are sons of two of my friends. But it´s not very frequent that we meet them and so Luísa was left without kids for many days in a row.

She seemed perfect fine with this. She never wants to leave my side and wasn´t keen on the idea of going to school.

We live in a house a bit far from downtown and we have no neighbors, so it´s a pity that she can´t go and find kids in our street. Playing with other kids involve my full commitment.

I want her to be with kids every day, or almost every day. So I had to decide fast if I wanted to give it a go at the local private school before the school year ends in December.

I also was having no time for myself, or for work. Before coming back to Brazil, I thought I´d hire someone to watch her a few days a week, but it just doesn´t make any sense to have a babysitter with no kids around.  Plus it would cost more than school. And since all kids are in school, she would be with another adult most of the time.

She was also watching way more videos at home. Too much for me to bear. And it´s always hard to turn it off. Even though I wrote about letting go of control around TV and sweets, I can´t watch her watching TV for hours. I prefer her going to school then.

School as a way to meet kids

She is back to school, with the main motivation of making friends. It will be only for 3 months this year before they have 2 months of summer vacation. And I thought that it´s best that she can hang out with the school kids before the break, so it´s more likely that she can make friends that she will be seeing during school break.

Back in Costa Rica, where we spent one year and half, we made lots of friends. All of them from school. I guess we wouldn´t have made so many friends so quikly if it wasn´t for school.

This is her second week there already. At first she didn´t want to go at all. She was refusing the idea with all her might.

I kept telling her that she was going to make friends and play and do stuff that could be very interesting for her. I said I needed her in school. I was firm about it and when the time came and I said: ¨Let´s go¨, she went straight to her shoes without resisting and her body made a happy move, like a dance. She was actually enjoying the idea and I felt much more relaxed about it all.

I know schools are not for socialization, even though parents love saying so. In the classroom, they are not supposed to be playing freely and talking to their friends, they are supposed to follow the activity. But for a kindergarten, there´s still room for playing.

She started writing the first day she got there

She told me she wrote her name down. The second day, she said she didn´t want to do letters anymore, because it made her tired.

After all that I read on Waldorf education about teaching kids to read and write before the age of 7 being bad and after all the freedom that I saw the kids had in her kinder in Costa Rica, I felt a bit anxious.

I asked the principal to not push this on her, and she talked to the teacher, so for now, Luísa is a bit more free when the class sits to do letters, unless she wants to join them.

The principal was very cool about it all, about me being uncomfortable with the writing and the different structure that Luísa would be in. She made me feel relaxed with the flexibility she offered me (like leaving Luísa for less hours in school, if I wanted).

Luísa still says she doesn´t want to go. But she puts her clothes on quite fast for someone not wanting to go. And she is pretty happy when I pick her up.

I still imagine her in the future staying home and doing what she likes and having friends come over or go to friend´s houses. But for now we are back in school and this is good.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen September 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Well said! We just did the same thing for similar reasons, even though we DO have a great group of kids that live nearby that they were playing with all afternoon. We’re about 3 weeks in and so far they are actually loving the structure. I think as with most things, there has to be room for ebb and flow… Good luck!


Marilia September 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Yes, and room for changing one´s mind too. Luísa is enjoying the school quite a lot.


Shara September 11, 2012 at 9:18 am

Awwww, I understand exactly what you are saying…. However, we live where there are kids all the time, and trust me that can get annoying too!! Some of them are not exactly the example that I would like my children to follow, they show up when you least want them too, and sometimes I just want my girls to learn how to play by themselves. Of course, I have twins, so that is different than a singleton….
Conventional school is so annoying but my girls are there now, 2nd grade. Do you have community schools in your area? That is always an option, opening your daughter up to “play” type atmospheres with children of different ages. Not just sitting, listening, “learning”.
I too, need the time “away” from the kids so I can work and focus and when they are around all the time that becomes difficult. You could try and have play dates or children engagement in the evening, the time when kids would be home from school…. creating almost an opposite feeling…. but what do kids know, as long as they are playing they don’t care what time of day it is 😉
Best wishes on this new school adventure!!! She will do great and when you are ready to change you both will! 🙂


Marilia September 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Thank you for yoru suggestions and also your comment made me feel more grateful for the hability that Luísa is getting which is to play alone. She has a lot of fun in her room and many times it´s hard to leave the house, because she doesn´t want to leave her space.


Margaret September 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

so great to here your progress. sending you both lots of love!


Marilia September 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Great, thank you!


Jenna September 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm

We all do what we need to for our children, it sounds like you’re doing what’s right for the two of you by sending her to school. 🙂 You don’t need to have regrets about that. I hope she has as much fun at school as I did!


Karina B April 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm

“Unschooling” can be just as big a mental trap as “Schooling,” or any other ardently held parenting philosophy. I am so glad you wrote about the down-side of home-schooling or unschooling.

There is the myth out there that no child would willingly choose schooling over unschooling, but that simply is not true. Many children, if not most, really love their school, and it is just not the social interactions that they like. My children, twins who are now 14 years-old, still really love school and would most definitely not prefer home-schooling, although for various reasons, we have home-schooled in the past and may do so again in the future. For them, school is really much more interesting and fun.


Marilia April 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Interesting to know about your boys preferring school, having had both experiences.

I think my daughter would say she wanted to not go to school given the choice, but she still gets ready to go quite fast and keeps coming home singing and telling me about things that happened there.


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