My son has recently begun hating his carseat. In particular, he hates getting into it. I quickly realized that if I just hold him down for enough time, he will soon stop fighting and shortly after will stop crying. This is a very common parental response – make them do what you want until they lose the will to fight. And, sometimes, it’s necessary (especially when their health or safety is involved).
But, I became dissatisfied with this method of securing my son into his seat. I didn’t want the car to become something he dreaded, or something he feared. He should enjoy his day. So, I came up with another process that includes taking a lot more time, playing with a few toys and slowly working into the seat. Surprise, surprise: It works! And, now he doesn’t throw very many fits if I do just skip straight to the seat and skip the toys.
What does this have to do with unschooling? Well, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you may realize that I often take lessons from infanthood and extend them across childhood – and this one is no different.
I came to realize that my son’s experience was as important as mine. Most parents do what they can to “make it” through the day. And, that can be a valid strategy occasionally. But, it should not be a way of life. Childhood is not for the parent – it is for the child. The child’s experience and perspective of the activities should be considered as important as the parent’s. In the case of belting my child into his carseat, I was thinking, “I have to go to the bank, the grocery store, and the post office. Let’s get this kid in here so we can get going.” But my son has no internal need to go to those places. He’s being dragged along to my errands – a very tedious thing to a child. So, the least I can do is make the experience a little more fun for him.
So it is with education. Our society is so focused on the adult’s perspective of education, dragging the kids along to the various subjects and curricula. But we forget that childhood is for the children. It is their experience and perspective that should be respected. Instead, we hold them down until they have lost the will to fight. And that is a tragedy.