To be honest, I am still toying on the idea of unschooling our teenager. Unlike most parents, I guess, our journey in homeschooling was born out of a need more than of an intention to take her out of the regular school system. In my last post I mentioned that we decided to homeschool our now 14-year-old last year to unburden her of pressures from regular school. After being in and out of the hospital, not to mention the countless outpatient treatments, we thought it would be best for her to rest. Initially, we agreed with our teenager that we would finish her curriculum from the regular school. The administrators were kind enough to give us a special arrangement — our girl would study at home and she would only go to school to take the tri-mestral exams when she was ready.
But home study didn’t work for us. We were struggling in our new journey. She had issues brought about by her medical condition on top of the usual teenage issues. She was constantly not feeling well. Indeed, it was a tough time for her. So we allowed her to take her time and decide when she was ready to go back to opening her books.
One day, a friend who stayed with us for a few weeks brought her to a baking class. At the end of the workshop, our girl got so into baking that she convinced me and her dad to enroll her in the next workshop. Seeing her enjoying the new learning experience, we decided to forego her curriculum. Thus started our unschooling adventure.
For the rest of the year, she took several baking workshops. She became good at baking and we helped her sell her products. By Christmas time, she made quite a fortune (for her age, of course) that she was able to afford a VIP ticket of P11,500 (around US$270) to her favorite KPop group’s concert!
Baking became both a passion and motivation for our teenager. We could see she enjoyed baking. She researched new recipes, tried them and look for new ones again. On top of it, she realized she could make money! On the other hand, I realized that she was learning life skills that she would not have learned had she continued in the regular school. For example, she has become skillful in choosing the right ingredients for her products. She does not compromise at all no matter how much I convince her. (Me, for economic reasons.) She now knows how to do the grocery and compute the costs of her products.
There had been ups and downs, of course. In fact, I was at the verge of giving up on the idea of homeschooling or unschooling. But our girl enjoyed her new learning method and promised to be more focused this year. We enrolled her in a homeschool curriculum and so far, she’s doing good. She attends a weekly meet-up. I promised her that once she’s done with her academics, she could enroll in baking workshops again.
But the downside to the homeschool curriculum is that you won’t really know if it fits your child’s needs until you have actually started it. Sometimes she finds the program boring. It might be too early to say for sure since we’re only on the first month. We’ll see how it goes in the next few months and decide if we want to proceed with homeschooling or go back to unschooling. One thing’s for sure — we won’t go back to regular school. ***