I unschool for a multitude of reasons.
I think unschooling works best for academics – unschooling encourages kids to follow passions and not to learn just to pass tests.
I think unschooling is better for relationships – we really get to know each other and spend time together and question paradigms and seek joy.
I think I unschool because unschooling works!
How does unschooling work?
Schooling works by pouring expertly selected bits of the world into a child. (Or trying to, anyway!)
Unschooling works by the child pulling in what he wants and needs. It works best by noticing what the child is asking for and helping him get it. It works best by running the world through their lives so they know what it’s possible to be interested in.
Noticing what a child is interested in. Asking for. Or needs.
This works with adults, too, you know. Young adults. With the men in my life.
One son has been in a bit of a questioning mode. Looking for answers. Looking for structure. He shared his dilemma with me and with one of his brothers. We brainstormed a bit about possible paths to try. About running the world through his life. And I have been praying…Now, many young adults and teens go through this search. This angst. But, from my experience, not that many choose to share this with their mums.
And this is where unschooling has helped. He needs structure. He is unhappy-ish. But he pulls in what he wants and needs from a parental relationship of love and trust.
My sins as a mother are covered by the fact that we have spent years together, years when kids would have been at school and consumed by homework but for us years of hanging out and going places and reading and working together. Unschooling has helped, has worked, in spite of my many failings. My imperfections.
That is why I unschool. And why unschooling works.
That’s how unschooling works. Kids build up knowledge about what interests them. They have a vested interest in understanding what interests them.
Unfortunately for new unschooling moms, what interests them usually doesn’t look academic. It looks a lot like playing. (Play is how kids are created to learn!) Learning looks like video games and Harry Potter and making videos and reading and watching TV and playing with friends and pretend and chatting on line. It’s really only after kids are grown and following their interests into college and jobs that we can see how what they did led to where they got. But the ongoing process doesn’t look at all like school. From the link above.
No, it doesn’t look a lot like school. But the learning is still there.
For the mother, too. Unschooling mums learn a lot, alongside their kids.
Academic subjects, yes. I am attempting to learn French with my kids in our little homeschool French class ( the kids are better than I..). We are starting a Latin Breakfast Club fortnightly with some other families, sharing breakfast and Latin learning together.
However, we mothers also learn more than academics. We learn about our kids, our families, our husbands, ourselves.
We include our kids in our own daily life – we live a more open-book life than the norm. This is hard, you don’t get to pretend to be better or different. You get to be real, to admit to the shortcomings, to work on habits and attitudes in yourself, to share your joys. To say sorry. To smile.
As we work on that noticing mentioned above, that noticing what a child needs, so we mothers can develop a habit of noticing. Noticing not just what our kids need but what our husbands need. Or noticing our friends and where they are at.
Unschooling makes me face my childhood demons and work on being a better mother, true. But it also makes me work on being a better wife. And a better friend.
A better person.
We may start unschooling for academic reasons. But unschooling affects more than that.
It is truly learning through life. It is our life.
Unschooling isn’t just about knowing our kids well and facilitating their interests until they move out. It’s a lifestyle for all ages….
Living in a respectful relationship means respecting yourself too. It means really, really looking at day-to-day interactions with your family members and being willing to examine whether everyone is being treated fairly….
It takes time, patience… and even a lot of “tongue biting” because it is not just about what you say, but about what you actively choose not to say….