Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Ivan Illich.
"I think I want to unschool. Where do I begin? What do I do?"
What do you do? That's easy. Pick up my new book. Joking. Not. But really, the first thing to do after the shivers of excitement have run their course and you're now filled with trepidation and self-doubt is --not do. Anything drastic, that is. But do remember to breathe. In. Out. Calm. Go for a walk. Take a long bath. Breathe some more. Go look out the window. Go outside.
The Weekend Attitude
To help you think about unschooling, take a regular weekend at home. How does it look like? What do you do with the kids? Do you wake up a little later? Do you read before having breakfast, go on youtube? Do the kids then pull out the rainbow loom, or do they get ready to go swimming, or visit family and friends, or go to chess club or soccer, or science club?
You check your 'local events' sources. What's going down at the market? Baking for kids? What about the museum? Half price tickets for the piano concert this afternoon? Or are we all going to just hang out at home in pajamas, cook an elaborate meal, clean up, get more work done?
It's what we do when we unschool. It's all good.
Unschooling older kids and teens
Many parents say that if you're starting out with older kids or teens who have been in the school system, there needs to be time to deschool (both yourself and the youth). It's like a detox. This period can last for months and months--even a year or two it seems.
The advice I'm picking up is that it takes a while to rid oneself of school mentality. It takes time to reconnect with oneself, before one can discover what one is interested in and passionate about.
Some youth already know what they want to pursue and so they go for it without hesitation.
Grace Llewellyn's classic Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education is must. Another hand book is the recent Stay Solid!: A Radical Handbook for Youth
Other helpful links on deschooling include my own posts with Ivan Illich .
Living Joyfully with Unschooling has a tonne of practical advice and Life Learning Magazine rocks it.
So new unschoolers need to be gentle and patient with themselves.
Put aside unrealistic expectations. Give yourself time.
Read about the philosophy of unschooling. Learn about how it's done and then gain confidence in the method by hearing from those who have grown up unschooled (oh! How convenient! Natural Born Learners has it all in one place!!).
While you are educating yourself, deschooling and expanding your understanding and knowledge about unschooling, your offspring will be getting into sewing and drawing and computer games and music composition and chemistry experiments, singing, sports, dancing, building and destroying and hiking and biking and on and on...
You will be doing your thing--as you keep an eye on their progress. You will be planting your garden, researching along side your children, earning money, cooking with the kids, painting, fixing things by yourself.....
You build these. You seek them out--join groups (common interest groups like eco-groups, soccer team, homeschool group), meet neighbours, start your own group.
What do other unschoolers say about starting out with unschooling?
I'd love to hear your comments so send on!
Also, if you are about to embark on the journey, what sort of questions do you have? What are you worried about?