Friday, 30 December 2016


Domenik has been asking to do some school work! This is the child who only 4 weeks ago, at the mere mention of "school, would curl up into a ball in the corner of his bedroom repeatedly banging his head on the wall until he was bruised and the wall as dented, or would thrashing around so much he put his foot through the wall. This child who had a meltdown at the suggestion to pick up a pencil at his OT assessment was actually BEGGING to do some school work! He had been seeing all the beautiful new science and life skills bits and pieces I have been collecting and was anxious to get in and start using them.

Unschooling, it would appear, is all about being child lead and allowing them to learn in their own way. Domenik is a very smart little boy, however, up until now he has been forced to learn in a particular manner. It was not the right way for him to learn. Domenik fights conformity and being told what to do. Even being asked to make a decision is a tough thing for him, because it is not something he has chosen to do. That sounds odd when written down. Let me explain.

When needing to make a decision, who actually decided that a decision needed to be made? Was it Domenik or whoever was supervising him? Additionally, how was it put to him that he needed to make the decision and who stipulated what the choices are? I know offering a child a decision seems pretty straight forward, and as though we are providing them the option, however when you have a child who is resistant to this kind of conditioning it's wise to take a step back and looking at the situation. Was there ever really a decision in that scenario or was it a situation where the child was to simply comply with either or and need to put up with the resulting consequences? In which case it really wasn't a decision was it, it was being told what to do.

So, what should i do? tough one, but i think even though we are early on in our journey I am seeing that providing options to Domenik in a blunt and "normal" manner is not going to work. I need to still control the situation, however make it appear to Domenik that he is in control and he has complete power over what the decisions need to be. So if it's a case of what to do, instead of straightforward telling him he needs to do maths or science now, I put the tools out where he can come across them during the day and let him pick up whatever he wishes and let him come to me with the choice. So it would appear to him that he is simply discovering and naturally questioning, where as I am in around about ways still structuring his day and his education (knowing that he is interested, curious and a questioning character) and in complete control.

I know this is not entirely a concrete way to go about learning. It certainly does not suit a regular and mainstream classroom, however I have faith that with some forward planning and trusting in my knowledge of all things Domenik that using this method we can start building on his learnings and incorporate learning into his every day life. In time, I hope that as he "de-schools" he will trust that I am not going to force him into a situation which triggers his fight or flight instinct which results in his anxious reactions and meltdowns. One day he may even pick up a pencil again!!!

Oh and as for yesterdays learning... Domenik discovered a magnifying glass. Upon examining a light globe he noticed the letters V and A on there which lead to a discussion on volts and amps (science) and what electricity can do for us. He then moved on to examine the skin on his arms and hands. Ne noted how there were lots of lines and creases and the texture was different on the palms of his hands to his arms and then again on the soft inside of his arms. This lead to a discussion on what skin does, how it is made up of little bits called cells and that these little cells are what all living things are made of. These early steps in exploring his world will lead to future learnings and build a curriculum which is entirely child led. Not a bad days learning for a child who resists school and is currently on "school holidays" ;)

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