Saturday, 8 September 2012

letting go

This week might have been the hardest of my parenting life.

This week, I decided to let go.

Let go of my plan, let go of my ideas, of my goals, let go of my preconceptions of things, let go of my idea of education as different as it is from the mainstream ideology of education,
...and transferred this to the rightful person:  X himself.

Did I tell you it had been the hardest week of my life?

Truly, it was.

I have had a different conception of learning and education for a while now, and I thought that I was free from the current paradigm in education, and was able to truly make decisions not being affected or influenced by my own experience of education.
Turns out, I was WRONG.  Turns out, I am still biased by the education I received.

I had never realized how truly and deeply brainwashed we are.

Seeing X reacting to education the way he was, I started to make other plans, to find other ways, to try something else, something new.  Of course, all of these changes were motivated by the same ideas, the same goals.  Ones that I had set for me and X: to make sure that we'd cover what we have to cover this year.  So in the end, it was always the same, just dressed up in different ways.  I guess X say through this better then I even did.

That is when I realized that I was barking up the wrong tree.

 It is not the the mean that I need to change, it is my perception.

And truthfully, this is harder said then done.

It is easy to say that we let the child choose, but we set the environment for him.  We let the child decide, but we give a certain restriction to the choice, based on out values, our beliefs, and our goals.

So in the end, the choice is not entirely the child's, it is the child's in what we made available to him. The real challenge was to free him of all this.

So I had to let go of the perception I had of myself regarding X, and about learning in general.  And that was HARD.

I had a long conversation with him where I stated my fears and my hopes, and he talked about his relationship with school, and how unmotivated he was to do any type of schoolwork.  And we came to the conclusion that no academic work was going to be done until X asks for it.  I am determined to follow that agreement we made together, and not try to sneak things under.  So, we spent many days just being.  Just living.  There are so many moments when my mind was running around, reminding me that X was not "advancing" like other kids. But I had to override this thought, and try to see things differently.

I am getting there, slowly, but surely.

I tried to keep busy, and lead an interesting life in which X could participate or get inspired by.
I read, we finished projects (including the bird house pictured up there), and started new ones.

I read aloud, cooked, cleaned, played with E and looked at X doing what he felt like doing, which was completely not what I would have wanted/hoped/planed, but I had to let go...remember?

We are following the slow process of "déscolarisation" as we say on french: getting the school out of children.  I honestly think both the child and the parent need this time.  The child to heal from the experience, and the parent to reevaluate their believes, even the more rooted ones...

And after a week of just living and waiting (on my part) to see what would happen, when his drive for learning, his mojo would be back,  I saw a sign.  Hiding in the garage, made without us parent being aware.

He is sure learning.

Not the things I had planned, nor the things the school has decided a 7 yo should know.  But he is learning the things that truly matters to him, the things he needs to learn, in the order HE needs to learn them.
Message is clear.  Nobody will make that kid learn.  He will have to want to learn all by himself, and no external factor, forces or other means will make him do the things he does not want to.  It will have to come from inside.  And that is something he and only him has control over.

Point taken.


  1. So amazing.. It is so very hard to Ier go and ignore what our society tells us we and our children should be doing, and when.. My baby is only 7 months old and it's a struggle, I can only imagine what I will be feeling when school age time arrives. You are being so respectful of him ad his needs as not just your child but as a person :)

  2. It is a tough job to be a mother ;-)
    X is a lucky child to have a mom who is smart and sensitive enough to be able to take a break and reconsider things.
    Wish you good luck and happy to hear about his recovering

  3. You are such a wonderful mother. Thank you for sharing your wise thoughts with us - it's so inspiring for me...

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and for being so sincere. X is very lucky for being respected by his amily and for not surrendering to the presure of adults, teachers, etc who think that they know best. He seems able to listen to himself and to stand up for what he thinks is right and, personally, I think that is very valuable. He will sure need time so I encourage you to trust him and you.

  5. What a lucky lucky boy

  6. This has got to be the most eloquent post on this topic I have ever read. Right from your heart. Love it. Printed it out and stuck it on my fridge. Even I need to remind myself of these things sometimes!

    Email heading your way shortly...:)

  7. What a beautiful post! What courage you have to re-evaluate your ideals for the good of your little one. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

  8. I just found your blog and so needed to read this post. I've been experimenting with letting go and letting learn come from wherever my 4 year old wants. It's been messy - with lots of disposable products being turned into wonderful things - and like you said, very hard too. Curious - could you recommend reading for beginning the deschooling/unschooling process? I love how you write about it. Good luck and congrats - you've made such a brave decision.

  9. I can totally understand! One conflict I have always had with our Montessori school is the idea that the teacher still decides what the child will learn based on what she puts in the environment. With a class of 30 students, The teachers cannot truly follow each child. She has to put work in the room that appeals to most of the children, but also, that appeals to what the expectations of the parents are (they are paying after all...) the administration (they like to brag about how many 4 year olds are reading) and the teacher (who likes to have proof her methods are working). Is this really freedom? Feels scary to me. But, still I love Montessori, and do believe it works, and creates children who will take ownership of their education, and love school. It is a conflict, and it does take time to unravel all the pros and cons, and biases we still have. Have strength, and follow your heart.