Welcome to my new blog, “Wanderlearning”. You may be wondering what this blog is all about and what does the name mean. The term, “wanderlust” is defined as a strong desire to travel. And being that our family “unschools” and we enjoy learning through travel and exploration of the world, I put the two words together and so was born this site.
In this first post, I thought I’d introduce why we decided to homeschool our two boys and how we ended up as “Unschoolers” – which is a whole post in and of itself. Five years ago we decided to pull my oldest son out of school six weeks before the end of his second-grade year. To the outside onlooker, it may have seemed a rash decision, but it had been a long time coming. My son has autism and though he is verbal, he didn’t really talk until he was five years old which means he began kindergarten hardly able to talk. We tried two different schools, first a charter school with a high rating, but they didn’t want to help him and since they were a small school, didn’t have the resources he needed. They also weren’t shy about letting us know they didn’t want their high rating tarnished by kids they couldn’t help, so we moved him to an “ASD cluster” school which was designated a school with special resources for kids with autism.
He began at the new school in his second-grade year and we felt revealed to have a team of PTs and OTs and STs to help us find the best way to teach him. And for a while, it seemed he was doing well. Then he began to cry and beg not to go to school. He would throw up each morning before class, so full of anxiety and fear. Since he had a hard time articulating why he was so upset and didn’t want to go to school, it took a while for us to figure out the reasons. We learned that the school, being four times, the size of his previous charter school was too overwhelming for him. He was paralyzed by the loud cafeteria and car loop pick-up line. The thousands of kids screaming and laughing all around was a nightmare for him. We had found a good school for him, but we realized school was not a good fit.
I had wanted to homeschool since the day he was born. Maybe even before then. I did not have a good experience as a public school student. Only third grade comes to mind as a pleasant year. I was bored most of the time and rather than seeing my lack of interest as a trait of giftedness, I was seen as below-average and treated as so. It was not until college that I took an IQ test for a leadership class and discovered my score was well above average. I had been the product of a broken system that was too poor and too under-staffed to help kids like me.
I could see my son going down a similar path, and I could not bear to repeat history. So I pulled him out of second grade and brought him home without any plan or any prep, just the hazy idea of what homeschool meant. For the next year, we would practice, unknowingly, what we come to learn as “de-schooling. We played together and healed from the trauma of 3 years in the public school system. We did nothing that resembled formal education like worksheets or textbooks. We went to a lot of museums and parks, watched a ton of fun and educational shows, we laughed a lot along the way. And an amazing thing happened, he began to bloom. He even began to talk more and he began to love to learn new things.
That is where our unschooling journey began. Now, both my sons are home to learn. Our approach to learning is all about experiences be it through travel or simply a visit to the local park. This blog will chronicle our journey in child-led learning as we enter the middle years and beyond.
Up Next on WanderLearning: “Roadschooling Summer Trip 2018: Charleston, SC”
Thank you for joining us on this adventure!