I haven't had the notion to write about unschooling much lately. But just the other day I was thinking about interests... and how my family has them. A lot of them. We are often told that we are interesting people. But we are also interested people. Then I read this post by my friend Stephanie at Ordinary Life Magic and I felt inspired and affirmed. "Here's the thing-- when life is interesting, we have lots of interesting options. And we have lots of interests." Yes, ma'am. Exactly what I had been thinking (only she can say it so much prettier than I can ;)).
My husband and I have always had numerous interests. Now the children seem to be following in our footsteps.
-Hunter, age 7, is interested in wrestling, hockey, robots, engineering, helping the elderly and sick children, cooking, physics, dogs, guitar, skateboarding, comic books, math, horseback riding, theater/acting, money.
-Ronin, age 5, is interested in childbirth, homebirth, breastfeeding, makeup artistry, cooking/baking, gymnastics, theater/acting, horseback riding, cheerleading, soccer, dance.
-Even Drayken, age 2, has a few interests already... the outdoors/nature, shooting bad guys, dancing, trains, cars, any large type of automobile.
They have many interests. More than we can currently afford to pursue.
But what I was thinking was how my kids' interests is why unschooling works for them. I know that when I was a small child I didn't have a lot of interests. What few I had I was certainly not encouraged to pursue. I don't ever remember my parents asking me if I'd like to take lessons for this or that. I was enrolled in a dance class that I despised and I sucked at and that was that. Nothing else was an option.
Almost daily I find myself in a conversation with one of my children about their interests... showing them videos or television shows (which lead to more videos or television shows) or checking out books in the library. I want to always be up-to-date and in the know regarding what my children find interesting so that I can help them develop those interests.
This week Ronin had her second horseback riding lesson. While she was brushing her horse, I said to her, "This is a great skill to have. You could grow up to use horseback riding lessons as a way to earn money from home to help support your family." Her teacher looked at me funny and I explained, "I always try to encourage my children to consider skills they can attain as opposed to degrees they can earn. I have a degree and I graduated top of my class but I have very few skills that I can use in order to earn money." And this is so true. As a stay-at-home mom it would be so nice to have several skills upon which I could fall back in order to contribute to our income. At 34, I'm trying to develop some new skills so that I don't feel like such a burden.
A term I hear tossed around in reference to the type of citizen we are supposed to be trying to produce and send out in to the world is " well-rounded". I feel that the first step toward raising well-rounded children is to encourage a number of interests. The next step is to hand them as many resources as is feasible that will help them develop those interests into skills. The third step, I believe, is to then step back and let them do the rest. As long as they are interested in something, they will find their way if they are given enough space, enough free/down time, and the freedom to follow their dreams, no matter how "impractical" they may seem by society's standards.
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