Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be a Good Consumer!

It was yearly evaluation/testing time in New Hampshire for homeschoolers. In the past we went the testing route for Devin. We worked through the test with him, but I knew this sent a subtle message that he wasn't capable, or that somehow we weren't being honest. It caused me a lot of stress to think about another year coming up with two kids now who are school age. I knew that I needed to do something different this year, that was more in alignment with who we are as a family.

We decided to hire an evaluator. I learned a lot during the process of finding one that was right for our family. Just like shopping for anything, it's important to be a good consumer. I called 2 evaluators and asked them each how they felt about Unschooling. Neither of them were very familiar with the philosophy and evaluated from a traditional homeschooling standpoint, meaning they wanted to see workbook pages, and completed "schoolwork" as part of their evaluation process.

I finally found one that was willing and excited to work with an Unschooling family. She seemed very open to learning about the concept. I could tell right away that I had found a match for us. I gave her my blog address for her to learn more and to see how we live our lives. This alone was our portfolio.

I was very upfront on the phone in how I believe children learn and that we do not keep traditional portfolios in the way that most homeschoolers do. I did however share that we would love to have her over to share how our kids do learn. I truly believed in my heart that if she came over and spent some time with us that she would "get it". She would see them reading, writing, communicating, using math, sharing about history, science geography. She would have no doubt that Unschooling is a valid and wonderful, way of life, without me having to translate things into "school-ese", or somehow have to twist what our kids learn into a box of "acceptable" catagories on a schools terms.

I believe in this life from the bottom of my heart. I believe in the way my kids learn as being the most natural, pure, loving and authentic path for them. I was sick of jumping through hoops on someone else's terms and definitions of "education".

In the same way I encourage couples to be good consumers in a hospital setting when striving for a natural birth, I now encourage others to be good consumers when shopping for an evaluator for their Unschooled kids. You do not have to ever lie, or be nervous about what you are doing and how your kids learn. As this way of life grows and spreads, which it is, like wildfire, the more options there will be for us when looking for evaluators. The market will get competitive and our options will open and we will be able to model honesty, clarity and the validity of this life to our children and others.

In the end, the evaluator was very impressed with how our kids learn. She became the student and my children were the teacher, as she spent time with us and walked around our home in awe of how hands-on and full of resources our home really way. She was a pioneer in her own right being willing to open her mind to see the learning in all that our kids do, in non-traditional ways.

I encourage others to shop around! Find the evaluator that is right for you and never settle for anything less than being strong, confident advocates for your children and rock on with the confidence and intensity of pioneers on the forefront of change.

Unschooling is valid. Unschooling is real learning, Unschooling is Freedom...
Unschooling is Here to Stay! Let's Pave the Way!


Frogcreek said...

Spectacular! I always wondered how I would fare in the eyes of the traditional educator if I had to try and explain what goes on in our days and how i would attempt categorize them. Glad to know that there are evaluators that can be open minded and see unschooling for what it really is, real life education. How awesome!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dayna! In other unschooling things I've read, the connotation was to "lie", or, "do" the tests for your children. I'm so glad you toughed it out to straighten that out with your own family. Btw, when you get to Texas, all that legal stuff will be so much easier.

Susan Burke said...

w00t! I have some latent fears about reporting and portfolios. I still have some time, but am working through my concerns. So good to read about your experiences.
Thanks for posting them!
I'd better brush off my dusty non published blog!

Unknown said...

Hello, What a wonderful web page! Where in Nh are you located? We are new to unschooling/homeschooling. I am a NH certified teacher (in music). I used to teach in public schools, but now am happily at "home" with my kids, 11, 8, and 3. I just evaluated my two oldest (myself), and friend's kids. What a great experience! I agree with everything you said. Karina, Manchester, NH

Unknown said...

Thank you for this. It was beautifully written, and spoke DIRECTLY to my situation. Again, we thank you :)