Unschooling…..What is this? Who does it? Is it right for me?
These are some of the questions that most people ask when they hear about this form of homeschooling. Honestly, there are different answers to these questions but most of us can agree that unschooling is a type of homeschool where our kids are mostly in charge.
What Is Unschooling?
What do I mean by “in charge”? Well what I mean is we let our son decide the topics that he wants to learn. Yes we still work on teaching him to read and do math. But for example, he loves dinosaurs, so we do all we can to make sure he has learning materials on dinosaurs. He can dive as deep into dinosaurs as he chooses. Not just covering the surface of the subject like they do in a public/private school setting. Basically, as parents/educators, we make sure our son has all the resources he needs to get as prepared for life as possible. This is something we don’t believe the school system does.
Currently our son is learning how to read. He is dyslexic so this does cause some challenges. While we don’t use a set curriculum, we do use lots of tools to get him to where he needs to be. Right now I’m in love with Teachers Pay Teachers! There are so many wonderful resources to help him learn with his learning style but not be stuck in an all day school setting. We make trips to the library and he attends the summer reading program.
Children are natural learners and are curious about everything. Our experience with school, they don’t feed that curiosity. They have a set curriculum and the child is expected to learn it. When they can’t or they struggle, problems begin. We have experienced this first hand. So for these reasons, we keep our son home and let his talents flourish while working with his struggles.
Who Does This?
Unschoolers are people who live and think outside of the box. What do I mean by that? Well, we don’t follow or fit into a mold. While my husband does have a job and a very good job, I am a stay at home mom. Our lifestyle isn’t the average for our country. We love modern conveniences but embrace the old way of life. We raise our child to think for himself and learn the things he is interested in, not what society thinks he should have to learn.
How Does He Learn?
In a society where we are told what to learn, when to learn, and how to learn, it can be difficult to do your own thing. Now this does not mean that we don’t teach him things that are a necessity to life, such as reading, writing, math, etc. We do those things but we do them in nontraditional ways. Most kids are in school by the time they are 5 years old (Indiana just passed a law saying that a 4 year old can start Kindergarten as long as they are 5 by September 1st 😮). Whoa, now what? We believe that 5 is too young but now you can enroll when they are 4!!!! Kids are being robbed of their childhood! I have very strong feelings on letting a child be a child but most parents these days feel differently. Anyways, a perfect example of what I mean by our son chooses what he wants to learn is his interest in dinosaurs. He loves dinosaurs so we encourage him to learn as much or as little as he wants. For a 7 year old, he actually knows quite a bit about them. We provide the resources that he needs and they are all on the level that he’s learning. I design arts and crafts for him to make items for whatever it is he’s interested in at that point in time. So when it comes to the things he needs to know, we do things like Teachers pay Teachers, ABC Mouse, Time 4 Learning, All About Reading, and various other items I find to squeeze in there. With all of these items, he’s the “have to” subjects but in a very nontraditional way. We also do loads of other things too that teaches him life skills. This is something that today’s society is lacking. With P.E., Home Ec., and Wood Shop having been removed from most schools, kids are not learning a lot of life skills that they truly do need. Sadly a lot of them are not learning it at home either.
A Day in the Life of an Unschooler
Now you may be wondering that a typical day for us looks like. We have “school” only 4 days a week, Mon-Thurs, so that means we have a year round calendar which works great for us. We also get all of our scheduled things done before lunch. This leaves the afternoon for anything. So we start at 9 a.m. after having a nice, relaxed morning. Our morning usually involved some X-box time while I’m doing some morning chores and getting myself cleaned up. The first subject of the day is Phonics/Reading. This is something that used to be a huge struggle which takes me back to kids need to be kids. Our son simply wasn’t ready which made every single day a stressful crying meltdown. He is Dyslexic plus has ADHD, these affect our day greatly. I have done a lot of reading and learning about how to make his learning time the least stressful and the most enjoyable. We work on this for 30 min., more if he’s just really into what he’s doing. Then we have Center’s time which can vary from several different things. He can color, draw, play legos, get out his learning binders, etc. It’s really up to him. By 10 we are onto Science. This is where his dinosaurs can come into play. So far this year, we start in July, he’s really been into different kinds of animal families. We’ve learned about reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and birds. Out of those he love mammals. So we’ve been spending some time learning about different mammals. I use Teachers Pay Teachers, ABC Mouse, and various other resources. Our library and Amazon Kindle Unlimited have been awesome for this. At 10:30 we move on to Math. For Math we use Teachers Pay Teachers, ABC Mouse, and Time 4 Learning. Plus we use things like Play-Doh, cookie cutters, and other items to give him a variety of mutisensory learning options. That brings us to 11 a.m. and we are done with “school”. Now of course, things change and our days are not set in stone. But that’s pretty typical! After we are done we watch some educational shows while preparing lunch or he’ll sit down with some of his learning binders where I’ve laminated loads of stuff so they can be reused. By noon we are finished with lunch and chores are started. He cleans his room, helps me with laundry, and helps clean the kitchen. Then we’ll have story time and usually a nap or at least some quiet time.
Because of his learning differences, he isn’t where society says he should be but that’s perfectly ok. That’s the great thing about homeschooling, there is no “being behind”. We make our own rules and have our own pace. Our son gets to be a kid and doesn’t have the stress of mainstream kids. If there’s one thing that we have learned in this life it’s that life is too short to be stressed out. It’s our opinions that kids are put through far to much anymore which as led to a large and wide variety of health problems. It’s a known fact that our kids have a shorter life expectancy then we do……that is just sad! With the advances in technology, our lives should be improving but they simply are not. Chemicals are in our food and our environment, our kids are sitting around eating horrible foods and playing video games. They are stressed out at school and struggling to keep up. Why in the world would anyone want that for their child? We are supposed to be teaching by example and unfortunately, some kids don’t have the best examples. Now you may question our lives and wonder why we feel the way we do. Let me just say that we have had our experiences with the public school system and want no part of it. What we were put through was a nightmare and we will never allow our son to experience the serious lack of education or caring that happens in our district.
So if you are wondering if homsechooling is right for you, I’m here to tell you to trust your gut! There’s loads of types of homeschooling, just find the one that fits your personality and needs.
Love and Light,