If you’re not an unschooler or even a homeschooler in the know, you may be wondering what exactly is “unschooling?” I can only explain what it is for us, since unschooling varies as much by family as any other method of homeschooling. We certainly can’t be lumped in with the image most people have of homeschoolers sitting and doing school at home. So, what do we do?
We live our lives as if school doesn’t exist and B learns naturally as the day unfolds. There are no workbooks, required reading, math timed tests, handwriting lessons or pre-packaged curriculum. Some of you may be cringing and picturing my child running feral at this point. (For those that have met him, he has his moments. hehe) Learning can and has taken place without all of these things for most of human history and for the seven years of B’s life.
If B finds an interest or has a question, we pursue it. We read about it, watch videos and find events related to it. I facilitate with as much help or materials are needed to delve into it. We have maps and a globe for anytime a location is discussed. Math often finds its way into our day in the form of game play or spending cash in real life.
B has learned to read by being read to from day one and from living in a language rich environment. I’m not ashamed to admit that his love of video games has spurred the majority of his reading acquisition. He read because he wanted or even needed to.
He writes when he has a purpose to do so; a list of materials, a note for me to find or an explanation of a drawing. He learns what he needs when he needs it.
I don’t worry that there will be gaps or that he’ll miss a bit of history or that he won’t have a math fact memorized. We all have these, regardless of how we acquired knowledge. What he will have are problem solving skills and the strategies to learn what is necessary in his life. This is the most meaningful learning and what will stick with him.
From my life experience, I know that what was interesting to me and that I pursued because I wanted to, stuck with me my whole life. I learned the names of all the plants that grew in my area and I still know them. I know, really know, a lot about insects and animals because of an insatiable need as a child. Can I tell you what year something happened in history? No. I may have “learned” it for a test in school but it held no interest or purpose so it didn’t stick.
This authentic, interest led learning is the most meaningful. No, he won’t keep up with his peers or be taught all the things they are. He’ll know more on some subjects and less on others. Though he will know how to think for himself, to question everything and to listen to his own heart. Think about it. If instead of being taught, in mass, to conform to outside standards, we were all listening to our own heart, what a very different world this would be.