May 3, 2014
by Cole Chartier
Unschooling: what it is and how we do it
Dictionary.com defines unschooling as: a home-school education with the child taking the primary responsibility instead of a parent or teacher; also called child-directed learning, self-learning
Example: Under unschooling education, parents may act as “facilitators” and may provide a wide-range of resources to their children.
While we do still believe in good ol’ book work for a lot of our subjects. There are just somethings that need to be seen, felt, heard and touched! Think of a sunset, you can be told time and time again how beautiful it, how bright and vibrant the colour can be, what the cold morning dew will feel like on your toes and what the sun will feel like as it warms your skin. You can even see pictures or watch a youtube video watching it happen…but you don’t REALLY get it, until you experience it…that in part is what unschooling is. It’s experiencing the world around you and learning all about it!
Unschooling my children? Are you crazy?!
Never in a million years did I think I would unschool my children in anyway. Boy was I wrong! Even just everday activities can be seen as “unschooling”. Playing with legos teaches various math skills all while being child led. Letting the kids mess around with various kitchen staples just to see what will happen makes for a great science lesson!
As an intergral part of our “unschooling”, we become members of the Royal Botanical Gardens and Ontario Science Centre. While Larry and I do decide when we will go to these places, the kiddos really do have free reign once we get there to decide what they want to see and what they want to get out of it. If they want to spend an hour in the “human body” exhibit great! 10 minutes in the simple machines exhibit? Sounds good to me!
body exhibit at the science centre
How I’ve benfitted from ‘unschooling’
One surprising outcome of embracing the unschooling approach is that I’ve had to “unclench” if you will. I’ve had to learn that my chlidren’s learning really isn’t up to me. While I can provide workbooks, dvd’s, field trips and all the books in the world, at the end of the day, it’s up to THEM to decide if they are going to learn what i’m teaching or not. No, this doesn’t mean I’ve just thrown my hands up un the air and said “GOOD LUCK!” but it has made me not sweat the small stuff so much. OK so my kiddo might not know the capital of France, or the square root of 64 but you know what? I’m ok with that. There is so much that they ARE learning and I’m choosing to see that.
checking out the natural playground
How the boys have benefitted from ‘unschooling’
On the days when I give them the most freedom, the seem the most calm. They do things at their pace, on their terms. Yes limits are set and guidelines are given, but we try and foster their love and independnce when it comes to their education.
Many times i’ve caught Liam, sitting in our reading cornor reading out “Look Inside The Human Body” book….very fascinated to learn what happens to our food after we eat it (yes, he’s ALL boy!) or exploring to see what happens to our trash after the garbage truck takes it away.
Noah loves to be in the kitchen or create with Lego. He could sit for an hour just fiddling away with legos and seeing what he can create. He’s constantly in the kitchen with me wanting to mix, dump and scoop all while learning volumes, and measurments without really knowing it. It’s so much more fun to learn while doing then just midless drill work in a workbook.
My prayer for my chlidren is that by allowing them this freedom with certain parts of their education, is that they’ll will forever crave knowledge and not be afraid to seek out answers to their questions. I pray that they will be life long learners and not assume that they stop learning once the formative school years are over. I guess only time will tell and until then I’ll hold on tight with a lot of faith.
checking out the donkey