Homeschooling and a Food Analogy

Sneaking Up On A Theory of Homeschooling (edit: link removed, blog no longer active) from Sierra at ChildWild resonated with me. She talks about how in a short time their homeschooling pattern has already changed to be less about textbooks and more about being self-directed.

I understand the allure of textbooks, but I want more freedom for Dylan. I can imagine my future unschooling self (and anxious self) in a constant mental vacillation between more and less structure.

As Sierra seeks a foundational theory for their homeschooling, she lands on this:

What if I approached schooling like I approach food?

Here’s how I feed my kids: I put healthy food on the table for them at regular meals that we sit down and eat together as a family. I trust them to decide what to put on their plates, and how much to eat. Snacks are similar: I prompt them to eat a few healthy snacks a day, but I let them choose what they want and how much. I restrict sweets to a degree, and try to model the kind of healthy eating habits I hope they’ll have as adults.

Sometimes they eat great food! Other times they eat peanut butter & honey sandwiches at every meal for a week straight. I have absolute faith that this will sort itself out over time, and that what matters most is the good food habits their dad and I model, not the details of what they eat this Thursday.

As I’m reading I’m thinking, yes! This is great! Just like I provide healthy food and creative food and model good eating habits, with unschooling I can provide good learning materials and inspirations for learning, model passionate learning myself and then let Dylan freely flow within that framework.

But then, wait. Uh. That’s not really how we do food around here. Sometimes I forget to feed Dylan entirely, a luxury of extended breastfeeding that I kind of lean on. There’s certainly not much of a schedule. Dylan eats a lot of whole foods, mostly fruit and meat, but I’m not sure I’d call what we’re doing “modeling healthy eating habits”.

Frankly, it’s probably unrealistic to think our unschooling days are going to have much form, either. We’re flexible on bedtimes, nap times, showers… very flexible. All those sorts of things that people put into schedules and routines, we just kind of dance around.

As Dylan gets older, I know our meal patterns and eating habits will change with him. But at least for now, if I’m seeking out a compatible analogy for educational aspirations food is probably not going to cut it.