To Unschool? So many questions…

During my pregnancy with Ellie I thought a whole lot about parenting, as any pregnant woman does. I thought about my parenting philosophies and how I wanted to raise my children. I was idealistic and had very strong opinions, but I have to admit that life hasn’t gone the way I envisaged in the months leading up to her birth and especially since Kahlei’s birth things have been even less how I had hoped.

In that time before I became a little bit disillusioned I thought about Homeschooling our children.

Lately, I have been trying to get back to the basics with the girls. Trying to find the ideals and passions from back then, trying to stress less about them getting dirty (with Kahlei it’s been harder to allow them to just play and get into things because I already have to change her clothes every time she does something). We’re enjoying getting back into painting and the other morning they played in a puddle in the pouring rain because they wanted to. They loved it and I loved watching them. Honestly, while I did that kind of thing with Ellie a whole lot, this is the first time we’ve done it since Kahlei was born. I feel horribly guilty.

As I try to get things back into perspective and focus on living a more free, less stressful lifestyle I have started to again think about homeschooling. There are many reasons I think homeschooling would benefit us, but there have also been things that scare me about the thought of it. I worry that the public school system wont give them all they need. I also worry that they might suffer from school phobia, as I did. On the other hand, I wonder how I would teach them all they needed to know through homeschooling, how would I address things I don’t remember or know. I would worry I wasn’t learning the theory comprehensively enough to then relay it to the children.

There has been much thought and debate in my head about the pros and cons, and with James anti-homeschooling, it has been more of a strange kind of internal thing for me. I guess I like to toy with the idea.

Recently, though I came across a blogger who described herself as an ‘Unschoolingmumma. At first I thought maybe I had read it wrong, or that she had meant to write ‘homeschooling’ because unschooling sounds a whole lot like… well, anti-school or even anti-learn. I read some of her blog and realised she had, in fact, meant to write ‘Unschooling‘ – fancy that. Intrigued, I looked it up and started to read. My first impression was a little sceptical, but since delving more into the philosophy, ideas and execution I decided my the first place I visited was maybe not the best place to have started.

So, I paid Wikipedia a visit and went from there. Wikipedia says: Unschooling refers to a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults.’

I’ve since been blog hopping, visiting forums and other websites to find out more. There is so much I love about the philosophy behind unschooling. I love the idea of children learning naturally, through play, experiences and life. I love the idea of not forcing them sit in a classroom for hours a day.The idea of extending how a child learns at this young age really appeals to me. In my previous life as an early childcare worker I developed a strong opinion that preschools and day cares should not be curriculum based, a child of that age learns through the everyday and I am coming to realise there is an option to further this type of learning.

I am starting to really want this, or something like this, to be our lifestyle. I still have questions and a big hurdle to jump over (ie James).

So, any unschoolers out there:

* What age do you start? My girls are almost three and 18 months.
* Ellie loves to read her counting books with me – I have read some blogs which suggest books like these are not ideal in an unschooling situation – why?
* Do you think it’s important to convert unschooling into ALL of our life. For example, does letting your child eat and sleep when they decide they need to an important part of this lifestyle? Or can we continue on a routine in these areas and not effect their learning?
* I read somewhere that a little boy learnt to read because his mother wouldn’t teach him and he learnt out of necessity – is there no amount of direction in things like this?

I know I have many more questions, but I can’t think of them right now. Anything you have to share with me about this subject would be greatly appreciated!!

2 Comments

  1. oh the places you'll go 🙂 I guess we unschool Kaydin, he's 3 now. Can count in two languages, says his colours in both as well, and recently he started saying whole sentences in English! How? well, he asked the questions and we replied. It's such a natural way to learn for a child, and it's easy to incorporate into every day life. Hun, go with your gut, don't over-think it. Counting books and alphabet books are JUST FINE, they will soon recognise the shapes anyway and how else are they supposed to learn how to read and write? Books are fantastic, you just need to relax about it. I have a TON and they're all over the place, seriously, we have books in the bedrooms, in the kitchen, in the living room, water-proof books in the swimming pool!!! I send you much love hun 🙂 marianne

  2. I would never consider home schooling my kids, and I dont know anything about unschooling as an approach- sorry. But we chose a reggio emillio school for my 6.5 year old. His teacher strongly believes in child lead learning, she sets up provocations that change every morning in the class room. It might be an empty log with a sign on it saying, is this a home? Then she lets the kids discuss it. She records what they say and asks them more questions. Next day a toy spider might have moved into the log with a web. She says she covers a huge variety of subjects just from one provocation. I think its awesome.
    Sir Kenneth Robinson got me really thinking about education styles and probably believes in a un-school type philiosophy. See him here
    http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
    Good Luck.

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