My son is only 6, and he's asking when we are going to home school and can he have a desk. Lol, I don't know where he got the idea, probably a show. He creates schedules. He draws pictures of his "to do" list. Himself singing, reading, eating lunch. You get the idea. I should just go with it for now right? It's his schedule that he came up with and I'm just the friendly facilitator. Does unschooling have to mean unstructured if it's the child that seems to want a bit of structure? I have a need for structure, and my worry is that I'm pushing it off on my son even though I have never tried to schedule his day in any way.
My boys do that all the time. They even have homework through our co-op. It is their choice though. My son makes up his own math "tests". He raises his hand to speak. It is all his doing. He makes up his own book of spelling words and multiplication and division facts. He loves playing with numbers. Some kids do better with some structure. No matter what when I child doesn't like doing something you will know it. Just keep listening to what he is telling you and you will do great.
by jessradtkeAugust 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM
I agree. If the child is "asking" for structure, go with it. Just don't go gung ho. It's easy for parents who like/need structure to go too far with it. I know from experience. I'm a very go-with-the-flow kind of person for most things, but I've found that having routines in certain areas makes my life a little easier and actually allows me be more spontaneous and free, not less. When my son expressed the need for structure (around your son's age) I was very supportive...a little TOO supportive as it turns out. It took me some time to find the right balance between my son's idea of a routine and mine. He needs structure and routine, but NOT a schedule. He likes his lists in chronological order, but having set times for the items on his list makes him anxious. He needs to have a general idea of what to expect, not a detailed plan. He doesn't like surprises, so he needs to know the general "flow" of his day so that he knows what to expect. I need to know exact times and specific details so that I can plan ahead and fit everything in. We had two very different reasons for needing structure. Before I figured out the specific details of *his* needs, it caused some friction between us, primarily because I was "hearing" his requests incorrectly and trying to "help" him in ways that have worked for me but didn't always work for him. I had to find that fine line between sharing my experiences with different routines with him and pushing my particular style of structure off on him. It was a much finer line than I thought! So, if your son starts to express any frustration, irritation, etc. when you try to help him, just step back and make sure you are helping and not hindering his developing routine. Try to gain an understanding of why he needs the structure rather than assuming you know (like I did). Be the student and let him "teach" you his style of structure as he develops it.
I'd agree that just going with it (until he drops it, and then letting that pass without comment, too) is the best bet. He may keep it up for his lifetime, it may pass within 4 days. He may pick it up from time to time, or never again.
I believe that your need for structure is actually a much more basic need, that you became familiar with not getting, so structure took it's place. That would be 'security.' Feeling like everything is happening at us, with no way to predict what's coming is not a place where little kids can easily feel safe and secure... so the school (a harrowing place of overwhelm at the best of times for most kids) presents a rigid schedule, and in that children find predictability amid the chaos. Which they understandably grasp firmly with both hands and will not let go.
They walk out of school, having conceded that they'll never get any real sense of security, and will hold onto the schedule for dear life. It's maladaptive --to the extent that it impedes an adult brain's ability to find security within, and to the extent that it is absolutely false security. It's not true that 'nothing bad can happen because I eat breakfast at the same time every day' ... but it feels like it, so people have no impetus to figure out how to make their own security within, regardless of the chaos.
Sooooo.... long story. Short answer: don't get hung up on it, and it's no big deal. Kids 'play out' a lot of the ideas they encounter, to see what they feel like, and what kind of reaction they get from the adult brains around them. It's not deeply meaningful.
Thank you very much ladies. I have always loved a schedule, even when I was little. It drove my mother crazy. I was only in school from September to January, and then my mother and I would leave the country. She usually knew about where she wanted to go and what she wanted to see, but it was all very "play it by ear". Remember the Muppet Janice? That's kind of what my mother was like. She hated it when I wanted (needed, really) to know what, where, when, how, who. I'm better at going with the flow now, but once a scheduled person, always a scheduled person.