How we became unschoolers

We just got back from a homeschool conference, and, according to one seminar I attended, we are unschoolers. I'm still digesting this new label for two reasons: I hate labels and now I have one, and I was pretty judgmental about unschoolers when I first learned about them.

In short, unschooling is "allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear" (Pat Farenga). 

When we left the school system, our daughter was in tears after school, in tears in school, acting out at home, frustrated she couldn't play to learn things, and mad that she was told to be quiet all the time. The way information was presented to her did not match her learning style or personality and it caused her lots of stress.

We began our homeschooling journey with a period of de-schooling. Basically, we replicated school at home with a learning routine. By February, she was sick of it, and I was sick of it! We scratched the learning routine and began unit studies. Unit studies worked for her and for me, but they were pretty time intensive to plan.

During all this time, I was faithfully shopping at our local thrift store to pick up books, games, puzzles, etc. that would help her learn things without her knowing she was learning things. I incorporated the games into the unit studies, had a list of activities and games posted in the kitchen for each unit study, and had a start/end timeline posted for the study.

(with Atticus, our friends' dog, while playing Sleeping Queens)

Come to find out, this was still a little too much for us to maintain. And that's how we became an unschooling family.

Now our days look very little like school. We start each morning laying in bed together with her reading to me and me reading to her. That's our reading time. We usually move to breakfast where we play some sort of math game or read Life of Fred. By then, she wants a break so she plays while I exercise. After that, we might do another school something: handwriting (only because she's determined to learn cursive), play another game that's more strategy based, pick an activity out of the "black box" I created with school games in it.

The rest of the day is spent with me facilitating her interests. For example, she's really into electricity right now so we've been playing with electricity, reading about electricity, going to classes about electricty, and watching shows about electricity. Of course, electricity flows (ha!) into the topic of energy so we cover energy, too.

So, this is how we've become unschoolers. She's happier for it. My husband still comes home from work and asks if we did any school work sometimes. I like the freedom we have to manage our own learning, but a lot of times I do wish we had a set schedule with set curriculum in a dedicated schooling room....but, then again, I hate rules not created by me so that probably wouldn't work!

1 comment:

Welcome said...

The old issues of Growing Without Schooling are here