100 Days of #RadiCoolUnschooling – Day 36


When we began this #HomeEd journey seven years ago with PanKwake, these words resonated with me.

I was not new to #HomeEd. My adult offspring had been homeschooled in the US some fifteen years earlier. But for different reasons (religion). Our methods were highly structured and the words home-school most definitely applied as would…school at home. I was a different person.

This time I was going to do better. I was going to foster PanKwake’s creativity, her spirit, her imagination.

Just as soon as she could read…

I was going to let her go. To learn whatever, whenever, however she wanted.

Just as soon as she could read…

I was going to honor and welcome new ideas, free thinking, and even rebellion.

Just as soon as she could read…

Except when I tried those school at home methods of handouts, writing, and reading, it resulted in massive meltdowns. PanKwake did not want to focus on all the things that she was not good at (who does?). In a safe place…with a mother whom she knew she could be herself with…without bullying/peer pressure to do things ‘their’ way, she was not going to.

So I relaxed. At first, I simply embraced the idea of de-schooling, a break to allow the child to recover from the emotional trauma of school. Then it was focusing on ‘diagnosis’. As the Home Ed Officer…once we ‘knew’ what was at work/happening, then I could address the underlying issues. That took over two years.

Once again, I tried ‘their’ ways. And once again, PanKwake’s anxiety and distress increased as did the frequency and violence of her meltdowns. So I backed off again.

And the whole time…PanKwake was learning, growing, and developing.

In her way and her time.

The best example was ordering and sequencing. We spent six weeks with in-home Speech and Language Therapy (SALT). Once a week, the therapist would come into our home. She would attempt to impose her activities upon PanKwake. I would spend the whole time trying to cajole PanKwake into doing what was expected of her. All the while being judged by the therapist. At the end, the therapist would talk at me and give me exercises to do with PanKwake every day until the next week.

Don’t get me wrong…the therapist did all that she could to make it fun. We sandwiched the ‘lessons’ between activities that PanKwake choose…to the point that by the end we were only getting a couple of minutes of ‘work’ out of her. The activities themselves were much more fun than the SALT that I had once had in school…sitting across a desk and repeating things after the therapist.

But it did not work. No progress. Frustration and anger for the therapist. Judgement for me…blamed by the ‘experts’ for not making my child compliant. And anxiety, distress, and meltdowns for PanKwake. A disaster all around.

And this was not even the ‘age’ appropriate letters and reading. This was still pre-reading skills like ‘on’, ‘under’, ‘next to’, ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘first’, ‘next’, and ‘then’.

Then PanKwake became interested in the TV cartoon Ninjago and the YouTube storyteller Aphmau. Both of these were series. Before, after, first, next, and then had meaning. PanKwake needed to know those things in order to find her favorite episodes. In the space of three days, she had the basics down. In weeks, she had mastered the concept. Because it was important to her.

So too has it been with learning all the letters of the alphabet…and the few sight words that she knows. It has taken longer…much longer. But PanKwake is making progress.

But more importantly, her ability to learn other things that interest her has not been impeded. She is at or beyond age level for science. And logic, reasoning, vocabulary, and rhetoric? Most college students cannot hold a candle to PanKwake.

She and we have found other ways of learning and communicating. I saw this meme the other day and it inspired this blog…


That is so incredibly true. Before YouTube had a voice-to-text feature for leaving feedback, PanKwake would write reviews for her favorite or least YouTubers…using emojis.

For her birthday one year, we all went to Aquarium. She and her adult sister went on the London Eye. PanKwake sent me a text message. Of emojis. A broken heart because I would have a heart attack on it. One turning green because I would be sick. And several others. She was using a form of written language that made perfect sense to her. To communicate with me and others.

Will she ever read? I still believe that like sequencing…it will happen. In her time…and her way…because it is important to her. But even if she never reads, we live in a world where thanks to technology she can still learn.


Published by Tara Cox

Writer of Literary Erotica Real-life, hot sex, deep meaning... In my day job, I am homemaker, home educator, urban farmer, and homesteader at our @HomeCrazzyHome.

2 thoughts on “100 Days of #RadiCoolUnschooling – Day 36

  1. Hi Tara, This resonates with Me so much, M is 8 next week and we cannot TEACH him to read and in the past yes we have tried with similar results. Huge meltdowns and resistance and shutdown from learning anything. However since home edding with have backed off a lot except subtly practicing words through play, on days he is able to handle it. Mostly this is only a few minutes at a time, any signs of anxiety then we back off. But like Pankwake he can read words he see’s on his games online, eg play, next, open, exit etc, which he has learned himself and from us reading them for him, when HE asks. Its a slow process and yes I do worry about it, but decided to look at his learning as a process rather than with any time scales (like school) that would destroy his confidence completely. Like Pankwake he is also far ahead with STEM subjects. I think its great she’s using emoj to communicate, M hasn’t used them as yet but I imagine it would be easier for him to communicate that way, as he is very visual. The key for me is patience, faith and gentle exposure to words.

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