This is a guest post from former contributor Amy Schuff of AmySchuff.com.
Unschooling Isn’t Mysterious
So maybe unschooling is a bit intriguing to you, maybe a little bit interesting, a little bit mysterious. You’re conjuring up images in your mind of children who never get bathed, walk barefoot all the time, and eat out of dog bowls (well, maybe just two out of three are true!).
You like the idea of not pulling out workbooks every day, of having less structured days, or at least seeing your structure change into flexibility. If that is you, I want to say that there’s nothing mysterious about unschooling. Traditional schooling at home is mysterious! How do they get it all done? They must know about more hours in the day…I wonder where I can get some?!
A mom recently told me that she just started homeschooling and it is “SO HARD” (her words, capitalized and everything!). I immediately typed back to her (because no one holds real phone conversations anymore), “Why so hard?” I’m not being patronizing; I’m genuinely asking…why is homeschooling so hard?
I’m not asking why having three young children at home, and the house work, and making dinner and wiping noses is hard. That is HARD. But the schoolwork, the actual learning part, how is that hard? Is it because you have a child who doesn’t want to cooperate? I can relate. Is it because you have a special needs child? If so, I want to direct you to the other lovely women on this blog who have experience in that area.
Is it hard because your 7-year-old just won’t learn his vowel sounds? Vowel sounds are hard. Give him some time. He’s still a baby.
Is it hard because your 11 year old hates worksheets of multiplication? I’m no help, cause I despise them too.
Unschooling isn’t about letting your child run rampant and not teaching them anything. There is a movement of unschoolers who are completely hands off, allowing their children to 100% learn by osmosis. That type of unschooling is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about taking the idea of a traditional school method, throwing that out the window and experiencing life with your kids. Unschooling to me is about fostering a love of learning in your children. No, our kids may never love learning math, but what about the WAY they are learning? No one ever said you have to do a worksheet of math every single day. No one is telling you how to teach. Even if you are part of a charter school or have a strict district, you can still do things the way you want to.
I may sound so simplistic! “You don’t know what you’re talking about Amy. We HAVE to do things a certain way here!” Who said? Public schools have to do things a certain way. Not us. If you want to throw the black and white geography textbook out the window and actually GO to visit far away places, you can do that. You don’t have the money to go to far away places? Open up the computer, research your little hearts about it. Watch videos, borrow books, “buy” pretend plane tickets, take a virtual tour.
It’s ok to take a leap and experience learning in a way that isn’t always how everyone else learns.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty. Besides, they’re already a mess from eating out of that dog bowl 🙂