Our UNschooling Adventure!
Over the past 4 years I’ve explored home schooling with our two daughters. We’ve gone from tons of structure and rules about our education to almost no structure and little rules on what we do during our days of learning.
When I first heard of Unschooling I felt intrigued by it but unsure of how it would play out if we really applied it to our lives. Over the past year I toyed around with idea but felt almost scared to give up that much control over my child’s daily education. I wondered how my girls would learn what is necessary for their lives if no one was sitting down with a text book to coach them and instructed them every day. How could I trust that they would have a natural curiosity for knowledge that would lead them to learning how to read, write, understand mathematics, and so on.
Two months ago I had a long conversation with my mom about my worries and challenges that were coming up with our home schooling, I felt like the path we were taking wasn’t working. Don’t get me wrong, we were making progress but at what cost? Every time I sat down to do school with the girls and much of the time they resisted it, my daughter Kayleen would fight me and the experience felt forced and totally un natural. My mom mentioned that I should give Un schooling a real try for the next 4 months and see what happens, and that is just what we are doing now. So it’s been two months and here is what I notice.
1. Kayleen LOVES computers and she plays them a lot. I used to worry that she was playing too much but now that I’ve stopped putting restrictions on her she takes breaks to do other things too. Also I am very aware of what she is doing on the web, she searches for things that interest her, she is still learning to read but some how she figures out what she needs to type in and types it in herself, she loves the educational games and is learning a lot of skills. She also leaned how to use print shop last week, she crops pictures, she copies and pastes them, she makes cards, she makes calendars, she does special effects, and much more. Who am I to stand in the way of her interest, who knows this may be apart of her profession some day.
2. So much more harmony in the home. I swear we barely ever argue now, I can tell they feel uplifted from mommy being so excited about the things they love to do. I no longer have to force them to do things they don’t enjoy and that is a huge relief.
3. Each day the kids help around the house. Mayleena loves to organize things, clean things, she decorates things. I used to tell her she couldn’t set up her room the way she wanted because many times it led to a big mess. I’ve stepped out of her way and let her organize the way she wants and I can see how proud of herself she is. Who cares if she has clothes folded on her book shelf, books in her dwars, pieces of fabric hanging from her bunk bed for decoration, hangers across her window for decoration and much more. She has a great eye for different styles and art. Yesterday she organized the bathroom and I won’t touch a thing, I vow to leave the bathroom the way she wants it because I know she put so much effort into it. Also Kayleen empties the dish washer every day and she doesn’t fight me on that anymore either, and a few days ago she went in her room, locked the door and totally cleaned her room, and believe me when I say she never did anything like that until now.
4. I feel so happy to be available for them. One misconception about Unschooling is the idea that the kids run the show and the parents to nothing. I understand now that Unschooling means you are there for them when they need you. If they have questions, if they need help, if they want my support they know I’m here for them. So each day I go about my day, I spend some time playing with them, doing some things I need to get done and I make sure they know I’m available if they need help with anything or want to play. Every day is different, some days they need me a lot and some days they are so content doing things on their own.
5. I haven’t felt fearful in a few weeks when it comes to my daughter Kayleen. She is 8 and reading just a little, if she was in public school they would put her in special ed just for the fact that she is 8 and not at the so called reading level for her age. I truly feel that by me not forcing the subject on her she will gain her natural curiosity to understand all the words that she sees daily. I can’t believe I put so much energy into worrying over this when she is so bright and intelligent, she just learns reading at a different pace than other kids. I’ve stopped the constant flash cards, and forceful daily lessons that drover her bonkers. Believe me we have tried almost every approach to teaching her how to read, now I see it’s time to step back, give her some space, and let her come to it when she is ready.
I know I’ve learned much more but this is just a bight out of what we’ve discovered.
Albert Einstein- “A real education begins when a person forgets all that they learned at school.”
Here’s Articles on allowing kids to read when they are ready… http://sandradodd.com/reading
Here’s a video on what Unschooling is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4GyDc8SInw