Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is Unschooling For You?


So you've heard about unschooling, read about, read some more about it and now you're wondering if unschooling can work for you and your family. There is only one way to find out. Do it. Take the plunge and start unschooling.  Don't get hung up on the word 'unschooling' though, if it makes you feel anxious. You need to simply not do school.

That means to begin with, you will not be giving your kids a curriculum to follow. You may have workbooks lying around for them to scribble over or paste in- or even do the work in them if they wish to do so. But insisting that they complete the content from A to B-or even in any form at all- is out.

Let there be tools: paper, paint, measuring cups and spoons, shovels, spades, brushes. Let there be music and dance and song, and nature, plenty of nature. Let there be lots of reading or reading to. Let there be lots of cooking and baking and raking,and sewing and growing, and pouring and digging, and building and taking apart and organizing and reorganizing. Let there be outings, and let there be staying at home, and let there be jumping and twirling around and let them be sitting staring at the wall. Let there be. let them be.
Instead, focus on unschooling yourself. It can take years -depending on how you've been schooled.
You're worried about income? I hear you. But that is the price you have to pay. You will have to do with less because you can't have your cake and eat it.

But you can still earn money. You can have a small business, or work part time, or work in the evening or in the morning. The key is flexibility.
Be flexible in your thinking and in getting your goals met.
Remember, you only have them for a little while. All too soon, they are off and away.
If you've considered all this and still do not feel sure about unschooling- then you can still adopt the unschooling philosophy to how you educate your children. Simply encourage their interests, give them lots of time to think and be alone ( avoid over-scheduling them).
Don't think twice about taking them out of school for a day or two to go on an exciting outing or to simply stay in bed that morning. The school will not burn to the ground because your child was absent.

Check out Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver's Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Child a Read Education With or Without School. I reviewed it on this blog a few years ago and I still think it's one of the best books on education around.

6 comments:

Ann Duncan said...

Unschooling certainly was for us! So very grateful I learned of this in time to bless my youngest with it.

She now could be a 'poster child' for unschooling and is such a delight to just about anyone she meets.

I invite you to take a peek at her current project - TirzahDuncan.com

Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog and want to say that this post has given me the courage to follow my heart and unschool my kids and myself. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Emily van Lidth de Jeude said...

Thank you for this! I love it so much that I'm going to link to it from my own blog (I rarely do that!). It's simple, heartfelt, and true. I wish I'd had this clarity of thought on the many occasions I've been asked about Unschooling -- maybe now, with your beautiful post in mind, I will!
Thank you thank you thank you for your wonderful writing!

rfs said...

@anon
@Emily
Thank you for the kind words. I am so glad that you found them useful!

Liz said...

Hi! Wom here again. Thanks for this post. It puts some of my fears to rest and highlights others. My own feelings have surprised me: it's clear that I still have work to do. I'm much less capable of idleness, leisure, and enjoyment of things for their own sake than I thought I was.

when my daughter baulked & then screamed on her first day of JK, I choose to take her home instead of forcing or manipulating her in. Afterwards, I felt the pain of my own feeling of loss & shame & in the reaction of at least one teacher. It was, in my father-the-educator's words, "the system coming down on me".

What I see is that we will be unschooling parents, with or without school, and I have to fight my own inclination to be a joiner when it comes to all of the extracurriculars. I want the life of the unschooler, and I am realizing that I will have to fight against myself, dismantle my own schooling, and figure out how to be bold in the face of the pressure to fit in amongst other parents. You're right. I just have to try it.

Another long comment! Thanks again.

rfs said...

@Liz- thanks for coming back.
The way I see it, it's not so much "idleness, leisure and enjoyment of things for their own sake," as it is being moved to discipline by your own interest. This does not translate into idleness. On the contrary-it is a driver of learning as you will find. To a child, play is their work. They don't make a distinction. They don't go around saying, "I'm going to lie around doing nothing." No. ... Heck this is going to be a post. I have much to add ...

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