Day 23 - unschooling thoughts - lâcher prise...

Hmm, so I posted the other day about learning to read, and how basically we took a step back and allowed Samuel the time and space he needed to learn to read at his own pace. I was feeling quite proud of myself, and so of course, the fall came.. It was funny to find it in a swimming pool - let me explain.


Although I may be quite relaxed about how and when my kids learn to read, it seems I am not at all relaxed about the fact that they don't know how to swim. One of my frustrations about living in France has been the fact that our children haven't had swimming lessons. This is partly because you don't have swimming lessons until you're 6 (my theory is that they don't want to bother being positive and encouraging with young children, they just wait until children have done 3 years of school and then they'll be submissive enough to be obedient. It's also about technicality - France seems to be about precision and science, so why give swimming lessons before children are old enough to co-ordinate their bodies and learn the official strokes).. It has also been difficult for them to have lessons because we chose for them to travel a fair distance instead of attending the local nursery and primary schools, and so we've not been back in time to get to the lessons, and various other administrative difficulties have got in the way. Both the boys did have the opportunity to have lessons through school, and at least for Samuel, this did help a bit.

In recent years we've made do with a few lessons here and there when we've been back in the UK - where we've found enthusiastic, encouraging teachers - including, by pure chance, an Italian teacher who knew that in France you learn to swim differently (head under water), and built on what Samuel already knew.

Anyway, back to child-led learning/unschooling. We went swimming yesterday and by chance there was a preschool swim session - a swimming teacher is in the pool and available to give parents and children a few tips. No matter how hard I tried to persuade her, Myriam was having none of it - didn't want to go anywhere near her. I was totally frustrated, and kept coming back to the idea of talking to the teacher, to no avail. So I left Myriam with James for a bit, and got the boys to do some swimming practice. 

It took me until late afternoon to realise that I am not prepared to let my children teach themselves to swim in their own time - that I want them to have the same experience as I did, of weekly lessons and getting badges for every extra few metres I could swim.

I think that child-led learning is definitely what I want for my children, but I realise I've got some way to go in my 'lacher-prise' - letting go...  Do you prompt your kids, suggest ideas for them, tell them to do things because as a parent you know best? What's the right balance here? Thoughts anyone?

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