The biggest obstacle to the unschooling process is in shedding old ways of thinking. Learning can take place any time or anywhere. We’ve all seen it happen. However, most of us have been trained to think that certain environments or activities are more “educational.” I heard a neighbor allude to this over the summer, when someone asked where her daughter was. She said that she was at summer school because they have activities for the kids to do and they make it fun for the summer. Many subconsciously believe that they can’t provide the best environment for their own child to learn.
I’m here to tell you that if you provide interesting materials, varied experiences, books and get out of your child’s way, you’ll be amazed at what they can do. If you are attentive and available they’ll ask questions or enlist your help as needed. You don’t have to sit over them and instruct. This is actually the quickest way to quell interest.
When my son doesn’t seem like he’s “doing anything,” I know it’s time for me to evaluate my own thinking. It’s hard not to doubt that he’s learning, if I’m looking at his days through a schoolish lens. The process isn’t going to look the same. Most days I’ll have no product to look at or show off. This is just as true for my own days. It’s not an indicator of how much I learned or accomplished. That’s LIFE.
If I do get nervous that I’m raising B all wrong (yes we all have those days,) I try to relax and focus on what I can see. Right now, I see B asking me daily how to spell words. I catch him reading signs or titles of YouTube videos, and I know he’s making progress. When we go to a store, he can count his money and make change, remembering to include tax. He knows wild foods to eat and to watch out for poison ivy. These are all valuable skills and he is doing stuff.
I feel proud when I think of it that way and remind myself that none of it came to him by force or worksheets or hours at a school desk. This journey may be vastly different from schooled children, but it’s working!