Is it possible to do anything other than unschool (ie work) when you unschool your children?.

Lehla at comp

That is a question I ask myself a lot. Right now I am sitting the kitchen, I have a bowl of muesli to my left which my son made for me and my daughter is showing me the fact that our cat has dyed his three paws green. I say three as he is missing a leg.

I say to myself, ‘when I have free time I will finish that book, when I have a clear moment, I will get on with those illustrations.’ But in truth I don’t have many free moments, hardly ever, so I do the work like this at the kitchen table, whilst that cats are sneeking around silently on the surfaces and the sauce is burning and chaos is slightly taking over. In those moments, I create.  But then how do you school your kids Lehla if you are doing that? I don’t school them, they do it themselves and within the chaos I steer them as best I can. I notice the things that I think fire them up. I set up Mystery Skype Calls to far off lands. I see when their eyes come alive and I hunt down ideas that can inspire those great moments hoping I am doing my best for them. I connect up with a class in New Jersey and we share BIG QUESTIONS through our work on SOLE’S. The days are long and unschooling goes on forever, as I think unschooling really is just life. Sometimes the learning happens last thing at night. Or in the middle of a teary tantrum, a small voice will say, ‘Mum, do tears dry if you are crying in a really frozen place like what’s that place, The Arctic?’ life throws things at them and they run with those things or not.

This morning the girls lay in bed and both read one book, they are twins they do that kind of thing. I looked on and that scripted part of me was tempted to create order, to get them out of the bed and in to the day, then I saw the beauty of it, two sisters in one bed, reading, one book. They say it is really annoying, as they are at different speeds. I say ‘why do you do it then?’ And they say ‘because we like to. We do it all the time.’

‘Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum’ says my son, right now he is telling me about being in a team and how a secret handshake works and he says ‘you have to be cool to be in the team’ and he is eating his home made muesli.

I say ‘Please don’t lick your bowl’ and he says ‘What can I say? It is tasty’

Meanwhile I am thinking, I need to get on and write this blog…

There are days when I can focus when the kids throw themselves whole heartedly in to projects and they run with them with gusto, when they really are self directed learners. There are other days like this when they are all doing their different, seemingly disconnected things and using me as a constant point of reference. I am the kind of King’s Cross station to their various destinations, they need me to be there to help them with what they are doing.

But then I question how can I possibly get anything I need to do done?

I want to organise a book tour for the UK, I want to connect up with people, I want to finish the illustrations for the book. I want to focus on getting income in for this family. I manage it, in the quiet times, in the times when they don’t need me and sometimes I don’t manage my needs well at all.

As I feel like I do things on the hop and I am glad to think that I am not the only one who possibly writes a book at the same time as cooking dinner.

So I say to myself as an unschooling Mum, the time is now, to jump in, even if I have forgotten my bathing suit and I am not quite sure how deep the ocean is. Sometimes in my moments of doubt I put my hands on my hips like Amy Cuddy and I remember, we are all much more capable of doing amazing things that we think, even if everything seems chaotic. And I also know that these kids here in this house are doing just fine, learning from life, bouncing around and owning their childhood and seeing me do my work is part of their education. It is the stuff of life that will hopefully mold who they are and who they will become.

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About the Author

Lehla is an illustrator and an author of books, she has written for The Guardian. She trained as an actress at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She wrote The South African Illustrated Cookbook, The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women and she illustrated a kid's book by M.J. Amani called 'Excuse Me, I'm Trying to Read' and also 'I am Me, You, Us and We' by Caroline Trowbridge. Above all she is a mother to three fast growing kids, she juggles her time between them and working on new books and projects. She has recently co authored with Anthony 'Jump', Fall, Fly - from schooling, to homeschooling, to unschooling' Her art work can be seen at http://lehlaeldridge.wix.com/lehla-

4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Darcel says:

    It sure isn’t without it’s challenges, but I love it. I find myself working throughout the day right alone my kids, or at night after they are in bed.

  2. Nice to see your comment Darcel. I love it too and yes some days I struggle more than others but I like that they see me working and doing stuff.

  3. It is not the easiest path, that’s for sure, certainly not when we want to get on with things! Definitely a good path to take though – it’s good for our kids to see us at work – to even help us with it when they can – it’s good for them to see how we manage things, for better or for worse, they are all great life lessons. I think I’m trying to convince myself here as well as you 😀 xxx

  4. I know some days I am good at juggling and some days not. But I see them thrive, what ever way. Even with Mums who don’t unschool there is still alot of juggling to do, and Dads. But I guess the fact that they are always here means I have to work with what comes up. I am learning to set boundaries and I marvel at the Mums and Dads that work from home and manage to have a good income and can balance unschooling with work. We are getting there…slowly…

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