When we started out with our unschooling journey, we felt a little like knights in shining armor freeing ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles. Hence the name of the blog.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Alternate Paths that Rock

I posted most of the following to my PuneHomeschoolers group recently.

Been meaning to share some news with you. For the past 2 years since we moved to India i had been struggling to find friends and classes for my children. Friends, who's parents were relaxed and not on a school schedule. (Slowly this is working out thru our steadily growing punehomeschoolers group.) And teachers who are more like facilitators than rigid teachers. I have yet to find a class that Raghu loves here. Even the so called gymnastics class that we tried out at Orchid was idiotic. The instructor was making 4-7 year olds do 20 minutes of warm up, calisthenic type nonsense. I mean which young child needs a warm up? My kids and i kept waiting for the fun part... but there was none.

Anyway... a while ago Divya connected me with Anandee (Prithvi's daughter) who wanted to make some money via a flexible schedule. I offered to pay her by the hour if she could baby-sit my chidlren. By baby-sit i meant to hang out, play, follow my children all over the house kind of thing. She was awesome. Raghu especially loved talking to her about many things and would play lego with her. In a few months she had to return to her work/study elsewhere and could not continue.

This first experience made me realize that it is possible to find alternate solutions to my problem.

A few months later we moved into a different complex in Baner itself. And a neighbor here said that her 16 year old daughter was looking to tutor children over her summer vacations and in spare time. I requested her to drop the tutoring idea and just hang out with my 7 and 4 year old. Play lego, takes walks etc. Baby sitting in many ways. She agreed and the kids loved her from day one.

Now the interesting part: This family had just returned from the US and it turned out that this young lady was a proficient swimmer who had come up to Life-guard level. Therefore she was confident about handling 2 children in the pool. So another lovely summer time activity... both my kids liked being in the pool with her. I can swim and care for one child without floats.. but 2 is hard... so i used to ask one of my chidlren to have a float on. Now they could both be without floats if they wanted. Within 5-6 sessions with her.... Raghu who was the more diffident one in the pool, started dunking his head in the water! And a week ago Raghu started to swim! No floats, nice long leg flapping, forward hands etc. Beautiful to watch how much he loved it.

Now even more interesting... at some point, prior to the swimming sessions, while skating with Raghu on our terrace (Raghu held the rails) the young lady noticed that instead of telling him to do this and that and giving him pointers... it was better to just skate. Raghu had asked for the skating, he was obviously very keen on it. He simply watched her and learned. He is not skating yet.. but he progressed in his confidence that day. And the young lady learned about how he learns.

And thats how the swimming sort of happened too. He watched her do simple strokes and he followed along. and she did not try and make it a 'class' or a carrot and stick thing or anything that conventional teaching does. She knew that i was not concerned with what Raghu achieved. So she was relaxed, friendly, having a great time with the kids and voila... my kids are enjoying and actually picked up a skill.

Now wrt to video gaming. Reena's daughter (this family is also a neighbour) likes video gaming in general... and Reena seeing Raghu's video game interest asked me if i'd like her daughter to hang out with Raghu. So the young lady came and played on the Wii with Raghu. For 2 hours there was laughter, loud yells, and intermittent conversation emanating from the room. As i'm not intuitive in gaming... i tend to ask too many questions or i don't play competently and tend to bore Raghu. Ravi is better at gaming but has little time. So this young lady was perfect.

I miss the well-established, pervasive homeschooling/unschooling communities in the US besides the convenient urban parks, playgrounds and other amazing child-oriented options.... so i'm desperate for more solutions, unschooly options, open-ended, one-on-one facilitators like myself, groups that work around a child's needs without condescension etc.
As necessity is the mother of invention etc.. hooray for alternate paths.


Sandra Dodd said...

Sounds wonderful! I'd kind of like to see it for myself... :-)

Hema A Bharadwaj said...

Now that would really rock :-) to have you and kids and Kieth here would be something.

I'm going to write to you about that soon.