When Kids Want to Try School

Every homeschooler or unschooler parent has it happen to them. Their child wants to try out this mystery thing called “school.”

My daughter wanted to try school in grades 3, 7, 9, 10 and 12. She went. I had to fight to get her in, but she registered. For a certain amount of time, she loved it. At 8 years old, she wanted to go to school so bad, that she got up on her own alarm, got dressed, made her sandwich, packed her backpack and came to my bedside (I was still sleeping) to nag me to drive her to school. What 8 year old does THAT?

At the end of the period, or even partway through, school had lost its shine. She decided to come home and unschool again…until the next time she decided that she wanted to try it again…

But knowing she had the decision to go to school or return to unschooling was a game-changer. She got to see first hand the things she hated about school (waiting, waiting, waiting, group punishments, having to ask to go to the bathroom, no choice in what to read, waiting, waiting,….waiting…) and decide if she wanted to continue unschooling at home. She stayed anywhere from 2 days to 2 months in those grades.

She loved the social aspect but the free time trade off was just not worth it. She discovered that kids were friends in order to cling together for survival, not because they liked each other or had common interests, and for her, that was not friendship – it was peer-survival.

She didn’t like the classroom pace and liked the individual rate that she could go at home. In the end, she always chose homeschooling. But the key was she discovered that herself. Some things kids just need to sort out for themselves rather than parents warning them.

Yes, I worried if she would not have the staying power for university if she was “allowed” to drop out of school grades so many times – but it was so different and so much more like adult-school. She loved it and graduated. She even went on to do a Masters.

So let them go to school and experience it for themselves. The fact that they always have the option to go or not changes their experience unlike any of their peers. School is optional. That in itself changes how one views it – much more critically rather as some institution that needs to be survived.

About Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE

BA, DTM, CCFE, Certified child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. Keynote speaker and best-selling author of "Discipline Without Distress", "Parenting With Patience", "Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers to Teens", and "Unschooling To University."
This entry was posted in Democratic Parenting, Elementary-Primary Children Ages 5-12, High School Children Ages 15-18, Homeschooling, How to Unschool, Junior High School Children Ages 12-15, What is Unschooling?, Why Unschool? and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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