Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Best Advice I Ever Received on Unschooling

Five years ago, I went looking to learn about homeschooling after my son had endured extreme bullying in school. I knew nothing more then there's no way I could do worse for my son then the current 'system' was doing. At first, I thought 'homeschooling' equaled setting up a 'schoolroom' in ones house and doing a smaller version of the classical one room schoolhouse image.

I bought posters and charts and filled the house with all sorts of scholarly things. Looking back to the beginning of our first full year of official homeschooling makes me smile. (We pulled George out of school when he was in second grade but didn't seriously push 'homeschooling' till what would have been considered the beginning of his third grade year.) He seemed to take to learning so naturally, that I soon learned to relax, which shortly after, slid more comfortably into unschooling.

As with many new homeschoolers, I worried. As I kept finding myself more and more drawn to unschooling, I worried more! What if? As a mom, I now know I'm not alone in this concern for just how will my child learn? Will I teach him all that he will need, to go to college, to get a successful and happy life? So to help me learn more, I joined a bunch of groups. I joined local homeschooling groups. I joined national homeschooling groups. I researched and I read then I researched some more. I shared the highlights with my spouse who now is enjoying life as an unschooling father! Yes, unschooling just as with parenting, can be a family affair.

My son is soon to be thirteen. By age requirements, he would be in seventh grade this year had he opted to return to school. He did not but the choice shall always remain his to decide. He has officially been unschooling now for four years plus one year of deschooling. He is still an avid reader and is always learning. There have been a few times he has been concerned that he might not be as smart as his same age peers, but at those times, we help him to explore just what his peers are learning and so far, he has been unimpressed. It seems that my son has a deeper knowledge base as he doesn't have to stop something he is into because he must switch to a different class or subject. He learns things because he is interested so the information sticks.

The best advise I recall ever receiving on education, or on how kids learn, or how to teach, was this; If you read, your children will read. If you write, your children will write. If you love life, so will your children. Instead of looking to engage your children in something, go find something to engage yourself into. They will come to see what you are doing and if you make room for them to join you, they will. Love learning and they will, too. No force will ever be required.

Oh, and most importantly, be willing to do the same in reverse! Be open and willing to learn what they have to teach YOU! You may just find yourself pleasantly surprised!!


jugglingpaynes said...

Am I dreaming, or did Vicki update her blog? Go you!!!

Half way through reading this, all I could think of was my MIL, wondering whether Marina was "getting enough" when I was breastfeeding. It's a similar feeling of letting the child lead. :o)

Love the advice. I still have to stop myself from insisting that Sierra learn something because I'm afraid about how she'll do in testing.

Peace and Laughter!

Vicki said...

Lol, Cristina! That's a very good connection and if you want to take it a wee bit further, you can't overfeed a breast fed baby same as you can't over educate an unschooler! No real mom would ever underfeed their baby, and no unschooling mom would under educate their child, either.

Being an unschooler doesn't mean one doesn't have a clue as to what the local laws and requirements are. It just means we are more creative in how we meet those standards, looking for ways to prepare our child while respecting the child's own way of learning and growing.

For George, PC Games ruled! Timez Attack, Civilizations, Runescape...
Currently,he is working on story writing and such via another gaming forum. Where we live is much easier to unschool, but I still keep informed of what George WOULD be covering IF he was in school so I can make sure we do introduce him to the topics. So far, keeping him informed and ahead has been easy.

Lately, I've been making sure he is aware of what he will be required to know when he enters college as he does truly wish to go.

The beautiful part of this all is George KNOWS he can learn anything he wants to learn! That is not an attitude we have seen in many other kids. George knows that should he find himself lacking in any particular knowledge, that he is more then capable to go obtain it. That is the blessing of unschooling.

jugglingpaynes said...

The freedom to learn! It is a wonderful thing!

Dawn said...

I really enjoyed your entry. It is very encouraging.