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Posted by Julie on March 18, 2009 at 1:14 PM

The moderator of a NL/AP message board asked me to share a little about unschooling and I thought I would share it here, as well.


 My girls are still very young, 2 and almost 4, so we are not yet obligated to officially begin any type of education yet but we have already decided this is the route that is most aligned with our beliefs and "child rearing" philosophies.

Unschooling, descibed simply, is child-directed learning. It is built on the belief that children truly do love to learn and given time and space will come about it in their own way. We hear so much that no two children learn alike. This is something people like to say when talking about children with mental handicaps and learning disabilities and yet they still try to fit children into a learning mold of curriculums and tests and "must learn" subjects. Unschooling is about trusting your child's innate desire to grow and learn, to soak up as much of the world around them as possible. I hear alot "how are they suppose to learn math?". But honestly, if it weren't something that we have to deal with on a regular basis and had no practical application then why would we teach it? I am a big knitter and I love designing new knits. I use math to do this. I use math when I cook, pay for groceries. I point out math and numbers to my girls all the time, just because. Numbers are all around us and so are learning opportunities. The one thing about unscooling is that you can't be lazy and uninvolved about it. This is very "hands on" parenting. You also have to be willing to let go of the fear that they won't ever pick it up, they won't learn at the rate our society has deemed "age appropiate". A really excellent unschooling resource is Dayna Leigh Martin's youtube channel. I'll link it at the bottom. I watched her on Dr. Phil. He was doing a show about home/unschooling and he talked about how much he hated history as a child, hating having to learn it in school but now, as an adult he saw that it was valuable because we see how history repeats itself. Her husband pointed out that this was a prime example of learning at your own pace, even though that may mean you learn it as an adult. That you don't necessarily have to pack it all in as a child. This point was, of course, lost on Dr. Phil. But the thought process in our society seems to be that we have to learn it all right away and then be plunged into adulthood (knowing everything) asap.
I try to let my girls learn and live in an unhindered way. We would be described as "radical unschooolers" in that we extend this philosophy to just living. We let them make discisions, choose for themselves. We don't punish or coerce. We simply let them be and live and learn for themselves, without trying to control and dictate to them who they should be, what they should feel, learn, do, etc. We are here to protect them and provide an environment conducive to learning and discovery of their authentic selves. We try to introduce them to a wide variety of things and above all we focus on their emotional well being because we feel that insecurities and emotional stumbling bocks tend to hinder growth of any kind. Radical unschooling is also referred to as consensual living. I'll link it, as well.
Unschooling does go against the standard, "acceptable" form of education and so I feel it's very important to maintain some sort of support. While, so far, I don't know any other unschooling families, I am part of several unschooling, consensual living yahoo groups and I really benefit from hearing from other unschoolers on a daily basis. They are really a wealth of support and knowledge. If you are considering unschooling I would highly recommend that you make some sort of contact w/others. It's so hard to stand alone when others (and they will) question and condemn what you're doing. Which is, I guess, what brings us here to this group, too.

Categories: Education

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