Aug 29, 2011

Unschooling, Homeschooling, Eclectic Homeschooling!

     I have been spending a lot of time learning about unschooling lately. I really like a lot of the philosophy around unschooling. For those of you who don't know to much about it, here is the basics. Unschooling is a type of homeschooling/home education. It is focused around child lead education. Children will learn to love learning more when they are in control of it. No standard curriculum is used and no testing, it is not school! Unschool children choose what they want to learn, not some state, or parents even.

I want to tell you how I feel about unschooling. First a little about our home education. My kids have never been to school or day care. We have been homeschooling through a public home based charter program for many years now and we unschooled prior to that, new born to age 5. We started officially homeschooling with the Charter because we wanted to be a part of a homeschool community and have access to many fun activities with other homeshooled children. Every year we go to the science class once a month at our local natural history museum and the kids enjoy meeting others when we get a chance to attend other activity.

We do use standard curriculum, consisting of workbooks and text books. To be honest we don't spend a whole lot of time on workbooks, but we get done what is appropriate at the time. Learning can consist of many different fun things, with  a fair amount of basic studies and intentional learning.

I like to call our style Eclectic Homeschooling! That is, I  learn about all the different methods of home education and take what I feel will work best for my family and create a unique experience for my children's education. Not something any school can do! When my kids reach the age for high school we will fit more into the standard unschool method. Our Charter goes to 8th grade and we will probably not be using any other programs after that.

With unschooling parents trust that their kids will learn on their own, I think this is great, with a fair amount of intentional time spent on reading, writing, and math. I have been told that, that is not real unschooling, and typically unschoolers do not have intentional learning time unless it is child lead. I feel a concept of unschooling is to do your own thing and not try to fit into someone elses mold? Unschoolers believe in freedom and not doing things the way others want.

My definition of  unschooling is NOT to teach your children, but to provide an environment conducive to learning, and learning with them and on your own, leading by example! Unshcooling will not work for children who have parents that don't like to read or learn, and just wants to watch TV all day! Parents must get kids involved in daily activity and yes, contribute to the House hold in one way or another, family values and team work principles. Children need to be lead to a love of learning by those around them for unschooling or homeschooling to be effective and more!! Kids are a product of their environment and individuals, unschool philosophy gets this!

I do feel however that there is so much room for children to learn what they want, when they want to. I had a private school education and a public school education, until I home schooled my self in high school and graduated one year early! I learned how to read, write do basic math and know basic history stuff. My real education started when I got out of school to home school my self. All the years in school and I hated learning and gave my mom and teachers a hard time! At the age of 16 I started Independent study, went to school one hour a week to turn in sample work. I did use curriculum and didn't mind it, It was about 3 days of work and I would get it done in that time and have the rest of the week to hang out with my friends. Not only did I do my work I started reading books not school related.

I think that to unschool effectively, parents should have lots of educational material around and not only encourage your children to use them but to learn with your children. Parents need to pay attention to their kids, that way when an interest is expressed you are right their to assist them in finding the information they seek. Children are natural learners, but getting into a habit of watching TV all day is not a positive thing. In our home we do not have Television, we do have a TV and the kids use it for movies. We also spend a lot of time watching movies as a family!. 

Unschoolers also don't participate in state standardized testing. This isn't a big deal to me and I don't really see how these tests help kids anyway. I do believe that a basic knowledge is a good and positive thing, but it does not have to come from curriculum. I don't care if my kids learn exactly what the state thinks they should. We learn what we are interested in at the time, but my kids ask some great questions and we find the answers.

We also love video games and my kids have been using some great tools for creating their own games and my son says he like creating his own game better than playing video games. Some days that is all we do, while other days they may do art all day.

Learning about unschooling has helped me relax in our home schooling life, I know more about how children learn and agree with most of it. I don't stress over getting workbooks done, because I see how they are learning anyway. We have a lot of board games and other activities for them to do and we spend time doing out doors activities as family. A Win Win!

I will continue to learn about homeschooling methods like unschooling and keep incorporating what is best for my children and family! 

If you are already an unschooler you may not agree with everything I said or my opinion of what unschooling is to me. I am just stating my opinion of the degree I feel appropriate to take with my own children.

To Your Success!

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Unschooled Children Learn Because They Love Life And Learning!

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