It’s time to spice things up. We’re at the halfway mark in our school year, and Zach needs an infusion of creativity to get us through to spring.

It’s time to spice things up. We’re at the halfway mark in our school year, and Zach needs an infusion of creativity to get us through to spring.

What I offered to him this fall has become flat and near-drudgery. In order to revive his spark for learning, I’ve drummed-up a deviation from our lesson plans. We’ll devote one day each week to unschooling.

Scary as that word is to me, I’m making a leap of faith hoping it may offer Zach a chance to find his own way, something he has knowingly and unknowingly communicated to me for weeks now. His resistance to our usual home-school process is, as far as I can ascertain, developmental and environmental. It’s time to switch gears.

Unschooling, for all you conventional schoolers, is child-led learning. I allow him to tell me what he’s stoked about, and we set forth to learn as much as we can about it. And believe me, there is an endless list. If I simply scan the recesses of my memory, I’ll come up with all the questions he throws out to me throughout the day -- over breakfast, from the back seat or behind the shower curtain.

“Mom, what’s the world population? Do you know anything about the aurora borealis? How did cats become domesticated? How do I compose a music piece that I keep hearing in my head? What makes the alarm sound inside an alarm clock? Who came up with the idea of numbers and money?”

These sometimes obscure and esoteric inquiries about the world around him get shoved to the backburner as I hammer away at basic reading, writing, history, science and math skills. But really, what makes them any less important? All that rudimentary skill-building can get intertwined into our quest to find Zach’s answers. That way, his own curiosities are the springboard that hopefully revives his love of learning.

If I really listen and act on his interests instead of shelving them as less pertinent and for later consumption, then we may just re-energize our home-school practice. And maybe we’ll discover that pearl, the reason we decided to shun the mainstream; to really nurture our child to a place where he is truly happy and at peace with many and varied innate passions.
                   
Deb Adamson, who lives in Connecticut, is a home-school mom who writes about the joys, trials and adventures of days teaching and learning with her 7-year-old son. She can be reached at debadamson@comcast.net.