I’m starting to learn just how much the idea of unschooling is misunderstood. I think it is the word that turns people off. Unschooling does not mean unparenting or unteaching….a better word for it would be child led learning. It is about listening to your child. Seeing what excites them and equally important what doesn’t excite them. Then you take that topic of interest and hit the ground running. It’s the parents job to facilitate the learning and to think of new and exciting ways to get deeper into a subject. It is also crucial to trust your child and to trust yourself. I know that Lan wants to learn, I trust him to have infinite curiosity, and I am learning to trust that I am capable of helping him.
Lately, our learning has revolved heavily around fantasy books. I read The Secret Land of Og to Lan (his very first novel!) and he really got into it! This had us drawing little green men and discussing the possibilities of secret worlds. Since he did so well with that book I thought I would try him on the Narnia books. I borrowed the audio CD’s from the library and just put one in while he was playing Lego. I was completely amazed when he sat and listened to the entire novel and then asked for the next one in the series to be put on. On the first day we listened to Narnia books for five hours straight! This has started a spin off into animals, particularly lions. We have been drawing lions, I borrowed a How to Draw Animals book from the library, we’ve watched Animal Planet shows about lions, and of course read books about them.
Our days are not about structured learning, we just find ways to integrate learning into what we already do. We learn literacy from books, magazines, signs, cereal boxes, grocery lists, etc. We learn math from board games, computer games, lego, baking, counting, etc. Geography comes in the form of a giant world map, books, and conversations. Science comes to us by exploring our neighborhood, reading books, doing experiments, and making observations.
Are we learning all the things that other kids in Kindergarten are learning. Probably not. Does that worry me? Nope. We are learning at our own pace in our own way. Somethings he is learning my not be on any school curriculum or not in the curriculum for his grade level. But he is learning at lighting speed!
I recently read a post about a mother and child who are traveling the world together. Read it here. In it she describes all of the amazing things her child has learned through a year of travel. There were no lesson plans, no coercion, no rote learning, no textbooks, and no schedules. Basically his learning was unschooling with the world as his classroom. It really warmed my heart, especially because this mother and child are not life long unschoolers but found the courage to let go of a curriculum and immerse themselves in the learning opportunities that surrounded them. And the list of lessons learned on the road was truly astounding!