[Discuss-sudbury-model] New to Sudbury-Cottage Grove, OR

From: R FAYE BYREM <fbyrem_at_msn.com>
Date: Thu May 29 08:48:00 2003

Dear Everybody ;0)

I'm fairly new to the whole Sudbury thing, but knew from the very beginning of reading about it, that it was right for our family.

Steven, who is 7 years old, joined us in our journey in our later years, when he was just 18 months old, and we were pushing past 50.

When our (4) older children were growing up, homeschooling wasn't even in my vocabulary, but I eventually began to hear more about it, and became very interested.

I knew from the very beginning of our journey with Steven, that he would be homeschooled. The more I read about it, the more unschooling just seem to fit in with everything I believed about learning, living, and just enjoying the journey.

There have been some drawbacks, though. One being that at our age, most of our friends don't have children Steven's age, and trying to find social opportunities for him has been disheartening in a way, because his interests just don't fit into what's available. We try different things, but he usually gets bored of it (whatever 'it' happens to be at the time) fairly quickly. When he senses 'expectations' creeping in, from any direction, he bows out.

When he was younger, there were lots of things that interested him, and I loved being involved alongside him in those things. Now, he's more interested in being with the family, doing family things, and nature walks. When he's not involved in family things or our nature adventures, he's either in front of the t.v. or playstation or computer. He loves most anything with an electrical plug on it ;0) Also, he loves using power tools..not to worry..he has been taught how to use them properly ;0)

I have also felt somewhat isolated in our 'road less traveled'. There is only one other family we know who share most of our beliefs about children, learning, spirituality, and all the things that make us feel 'connected'.

We don't attend any institutional church. Although we are of the Christian faith, we have some major differences in our beliefs with conventional Christianity. Not that we wouldn't like to fellowship with more Christians, but we don't want our child to be indoctrinated in things from the pulpit or the Sunday School class, that we believe would be harmful to him spiritually. We visited a few churches here when Steven was younger, but didn't find that special church that we could call 'home'.

We also have strong leanings toward TCS philosophy in raising children, and are 'trying it on for size', so to speak. That in itself, is reason enough for most people to be 'wary' of our direction in life.

Not that we would ever find a 'perfect' place for us to 'fit' anyway, but our choices and beliefs and direction, seem always so unconventional that it causes people to wonder about us. Most of our family and friends are just aghast at how we have changed since Steven joined our journey. And they seem appalled that we could be so 'lenient' with him, and they seem to believe that treating him as an equal is somehow very damaging to him. Especially when it comes to his education choices.

I went through a long period of time questioning whether or not we were on the 'right' path, and thinking 'maybe we ARE 'weirdos'. And our child is the one who suffered most when those times of intense scrutiny and self-examination prevailed over our own rational thoughts and beliefs. Because it was during those times that I lost touch with my 'delight' in my child. And we all 'lost'.

I began an agonizing process of trying to fit this little soul into a 'box' that others would accept. I tried the 'school at home' approach. I tried to limit his freedoms to what was 'normal' for a child his age. I tried to 'teach' him how to behave 'properly'. I resorted to things that go against my very own convictions. All for the sake of 'appearing' to be 'just like everyone else'. I didn't want him to be tagged a 'weirdo'.

But gratefully, his spirit was stronger than my (or anyone else's!) efforts to subdue! He is who he is, and I am who I am, and my husband is who he is, and we were born to be 'us'! Not some 'moldy' replica of what 'they' consider 'normal'!

And I continue to cling to the biblical promise that "He will restore ALL that the locusts have eaten away"!

I have learned to pretty much keep my mouth shut regarding our beliefs with most people, because I've seen too many eyebrows go flying off of saucer-eyed faces, and have been challenged to 'justify' our beliefs, 'especially' in light of our Christian faith.

When I began hearing about Sudbury, my ears were wide open! And then I discovered there was one right here in our little town ;0) THAT was a wonderful feeling!

I visited the Blue Mountain School in Cottage Grove, Oregon last week, and was so delighted to see firsthand a school such as this. It was amazing to me that children were involved in all sorts of different activities, and that the children just had an air of freedom about them that was so refreshing to see in a school environment.

The appointment was really for Steven, but he changed his mind the morning of the appointment, so I went by myself. Once I was there, I didn't want to leave. Although I was a bit overwhelmed with the 'freedom' that was in the same place as 'school', ('am I in the twilight zone?'..) I didn't want to leave!

As soon as I walked in the door at home, after my appointment, Steven began quizzing me...'what was it like?'...'what did they have there?'...'were there lots of kids?'...on and on and on the questions came.

He asked me if we could go back to the school so he could get a look at it. We made another appointment, and he missed that one too...

Now, he's fluctuating between going to school or to continue homeschooling.

It seems he's 'testing' to see if this is just one more 'box' that I'm trying to cram him into. I'm leaving the decision entirely up to him. I'm 'hoping' he will choose to go, because he wants more interaction with other children, and I believe he will eventually choose to go, because he is a very sociable person, but if he chooses not to, that's perfectly okay too.

The simple fact of there being such a school is such validation for me in my personal journey! Whether or not Steven chooses to attend Blue Mountain, I feel more freedom than ever before in living my convictions, and with more peace and enthusiasm than ever before!

Thank you, Sudbury! And thank you, Blue Mountain!

Living my dream,
Faye Byrem
Received on Thu May 29 2003 - 08:47:50 EDT

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