Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Path to Unschooling Goals

Every now and then I like to write about examples that show up in my kids' lives that address those nagging unschooling questions and doubts. Things like "What if all they do is play video games all day?" or "How will they ever learn anything?", or, a biggie: "How will kids ever work toward a goal if you don't make them?". None of these things are serious concerns of mine after seeing the way our kids go after the things in life that interest them, but this week is a really shining example of how they work towards their own goals.

Miss A. (seven and a half years old now she tells me since this last week) loves animals. Perhaps loves is not a strong enough term. She adores them, pets them, cares for them, tames them, she could probably meet a wild rhinoceros and have it follow her home for tea. She is also a really caring kind of person, and one of the things she loves to do is give massages. Even with her tiny hands, she's pretty darned strong and can do a good job of it (which I have really appreciated at times!) When our dog Sabre was alive, she would massage his back and legs and you could tell that he really appreciated it, and it helped him be less stiff and relieved some of the joint pain as he got older.

So our neighbor is an acupuncturist, chiropactor, and specializes in sports medicine, among other things. He also has a very cute dog named Rocky. Although Rocky is a very vocal dog, which might be intimidating to some, Miss A. isn't fazed by that at all and is always loving on him if he's around. So our neighbor mentioned off-hand one day that he could show Miss A. how to do acupressure on animals, and A. got very excited about that. So excited that she waited patiently the next morning until the polite hour of 9:00 am to run across the street and talk to him about it. He was busy that day, but they ended up setting a time of 4:30 on Monday to meet up.

All weekend she would say things like "Only two days and 3 1/2 hours."
"Until what?" I'd ask.
"Until my meeting with Nathan."

It was obviously a very big deal for her, and she was not going to miss it. When Monday finally arrived, she set an alarm, then the timer on the stove. She was going to be there right at 4:30 (as a former businessperson, I would only wish that all adults were so conscientious and prompt!). As the appointed hour arrived, she donned her shoes and marched across the street to knock on his door. She came home totally excited about all she had learned (he demonstrated the pressure points on Rocky) and the happy effect it had on Rocky ("he just melted to the floor, mom!").

As always, I am grateful for the wonderful adults that our kids manage to encounter. Certainly our luck in having such a giving neighbor is great. It's awesome when adults who have special skills or talents are willing to take the time to share them, especially with such a young kid. And as always, our kids amaze me with their tenacity, their drive to learn, their desire to follow their passions and interests until they are satisfied that they have all the information that they need. Our neighbor's business card is now one of Miss A.'s prized possessions. A business card! I did have to stop her from calling his office number to enquire about the next time they could meet up (enthusiasm does have its boundaries), and suggested she wait until he was not busy with clients and such. I'm sure she will return for more information and practice, and maybe someday she will make her career in the same field (I wouldn't be surprised), or maybe it will just be information she files away and uses on her own pet some day (or her entire farm full of animals, more likely). Either way, it's wonderful to see her following her dreams.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Thanks for sharing that story. I've been homeschooling for 2 years now and started with a full classical curriculum (which did not sit well with my very relaxed family). I'm much more relaxed and eclectic in my approach now. I'm slowly leaning toward unschooling...but not there yet. I am learning to trust myself and my children and to let go a little. It's helpful to read the adventures of those who have embraced what to me is just an attractive idea.