Saturday, June 13, 2009

Radical Unschooling Be Damned

I'm having a Jonah Day.
Actually more like a Jonah Ten Minutes.

It kinda started on Thursday. Paul has Thursdays off and I try (at his request) to keep those days empty so that we can spontaneously do things together as a family. But what often happens (and did on this Thursday past) is: everybody but me wants to camp on the computer. Paul was actually on the computer for seven hours straight before my stomping around the house and sighing persuaded him to get off. But he was back on again a few hours later.

The kids see this and emulate it. Duh. It's a no-brainer. Easy. Brain-dead.

It affects everybody in the house. No one connects. Paul tunes out, Aubrey grunts (in her oh so lovely goatish cow rendition: "Mah!"), Robert has been asking for hugs every time he sees me, is weepy, and says he feels lonely. He's mad and has been throwing things and yelling. Today he even cried. But I'm getting ahead of myself perhaps.

So Thursday was a computer day (by default), though I did manage to drag them to the park for a couple of hours in the afternoon. And Friday was a product of my new Summer Schedule.

I have Fridays alloted for detailed house cleaning in the morning and free choice in the afternoon. Well, the detailed cleaning was a bust because the kids had dentist appointments in the morning and then when free choice came around -- you can guess what they chose to do. (For the record, I chose to work on cleaning my room and watching Anne of Green Gables, with Meagan Follows, while going through boxes of papers and such that have cluttered my room for almost a year.) So another day of computer games.

And then Saturday mornings are always cartoons for the kids and a soak in the tub with a book for mama. Then we clean or do SpiralScouts or go on a field trip somewhere. So this morning, Saturday, I do a few chores (vacuum my room, change the chicks bedding and feed the dog) and check Facebook and my email. I made coffee and got in the tub a little late (11 a.m.). I noticed on my way that Aubrey, who doesn't get into the cartoons as much anymore, was playing on the computer. Sigh.

I informed the kids that all screens would be turned off at noon and they could take baths and we'd go on a bike ride to the library to pick up a book we had on hold. They seemed fine with this, until it was actually noon and I asked them to get off.

Aubrey went to take a bath but Robert started in on his stomping, yelling and throwing. You see, it was time for him to take his laundry upstairs and put it away. (Sometimes I yell when I have to do that, too.) :)

Anyway, the morning just seemed to get away from me and I checked in on why that might be. And my answer seemed to be the computer gaming. Three days in a row of gaming has created mutiny.

It's time to take some control back. I try to allow my kids the autonomy to make their own decisions about certain things and I want to have the patience and also the trust to know that they will follow their curiosities and lead themselves into a world of learning that excites them. If computer games actually do that for them, then I'm willing to take a back seat and allow them to learn through their games. But frankly, when their behavior changes and communication breaks down, I just can't take the back seat anymore. So much for radical unschooling. I guess I'm not the radical I thought I was.

But I still unschool. ;)

It's time for lunch to be made, and a little boy to fish out of the bathtub, and then we are going on our bike ride. Then, I promised my housemate I'd help him in the garden this afternoon. I'm going to plant my apple tree finally and we have pumpkin plants and other starts to get in the ground. I also want to plant some flower seeds and get some color in the garden! (Oh yeah, I should probably weed, too.)

Just so you know, I failed to take a picture of yesterday's harvest. I had it all laid out on the kitchen counter super pretty, and then promptly forgot to find the camera and we ate it. The harvest, not the camera.

There was a head of lettuce, some chard, a bunch of sugar snap peas (slurp!) and a big bowl full of strawberries. Sorry you missed it!


Kristin said...

Are you sure didn't see my 4 kids in a crystal ball? The exact same thing happens with us as well. All's quiet on the western front until I tell them that computer time is over then it's always, "let me finish this level" or "I'm almost done" or "I didn't get as much time as everyone else " or a temper tantrum. I really want to unschool, but the computer thing kills me. I'm actually trying to have them out of the house as much as I can to avoid this. Good luck to you.

Valerie said...

Thanks. I can use the luck. ;) I'm doing the same thing: getting them out of the house as often as I can with park days and field trips; bike rides, stuff like that.

Also, we try and do the hour on (set your timer) and then do a chore, or feed the chicks, or whatever, and then you can get back on if you want. It just breaks it up a bit.