Most weeks, we talk about unschooling. Me, my kids, my friends.
We talk about what how and why unschooling works.
And what we need to make it work.
Or what we did to make it work.
I think we are education nerds.
What is it that makes unschooling work?
I have talked elsewhere about time….how time is often the biggest factor in unschooling. Time for at least one parent to be with the children, to take less demanding career positions, to work part time, so that they can just simply be there for the children. You can’t both work in demanding positions that require long hours. One parent has to have time for the children and may choose a less demanding position or part time work or a home business. Many single parents testify to the fact that this is possible. It may not make you rich but it is possible. (See Sequencing)
Time for the children to play, to read, to explore, to not always live a hurried and harried lifestyle. (The Hurried Child)
Time for the children to grow and mature at their own pace and in their own way.
But what else do you need to unschool?
MacBeth came up with an interesting post on her unschooling “must-haves”.
I second the duct (masking) tape!
For me, for us, our must-haves included:
A library card – where would we be without our public libraries? Games, books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, toys in some libraries, journals. Computers and free internet access. A place to go and hang out. Perusing a shelf has sparked many an interest here.
Attitude – what? Yes, attitude. A parent’s attitude. A learning attitude, an enthusiastic attitude, an attitude that enjoys life and is curious and interested, that enjoys children. For the most part. Because none of us are perfect and we all have our days or seasons of sorrow or despair or irritability. I am talking, however, of the big picture, folks!
Parks – time for kids to explore and parents to explore or read or talk. Time to practice masterly inactivity. And nature study. In all weather conditions.
When I started my unschooling journey, I began on a budget. (What else is new?). I bought a scrapbook for each child ( yes, even the toddler), for their journal or main lesson book or record or portfolio …whatever it is that you like to call it. I bought a scrapbook for me, for a homeschool journal or log (we kept this online for awhile). I bought your basic stationery supplies…textas, some water colours, coloured pencils, glue, sticky tape, plasticene (or made playdough or salt dough) …and yes that masking tape! I saved boxes and wood scraps and material scraps. We cooked. We did chores together. We went to the grocery store together. We talked. We went to libraries and to parks. We wrote. We drew. We made stuff. We listened to music and played music (recorders).We went to free museums and art galleries.We organized get-togethers with other homeschoolers and friends from church or other groups.
My only main purchases were some maths books from a local educational supply store and some unschooling books for me. To educate me.
And now with the internet, you could get these for free. Or do some printing at your local library. And I don’t even know if I’d bother with the maths books now. But they were there. As a guide.
And I would definitely second and third and fourth the resources and support and unschooling education for the parent.
Minimal must-haves. I think, I guess, because in unschooling, as is often the case in life and in education and in mothering, less is more.
“When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that proceeding from the mouth. “- Saint Bonaventure
I seem to have spent my whole life trying to make sense of the balance between heart and mind, soul and intellect.
There doesn’t have to be a dichotomy of course, yet I have tried to seek a balance, to see where the distinction is between the two.
It has been the writing of Saint Bonaventure that has helped me see the importance of heart, of love, whereas my natural tendency has been to rely solely on intellect and reason.
To take the safe route.
Yet in unschooling I chose what may seem to be seen as the unsafe route, a way of educating without school methods, a way of melding life and learning.
And as the youngest Unschooler begins study at university, I ponder what unschooling and St Bonaventure have taught me.
To allow for love, for passions, in our lives. Yes, even in the daily life of lists and chores and work. And most especially in the big picture, of goals and dreams.
In talking with our Unschoolers about life and goals, I have learned that it is the questions that are important. Like Socrates, we can ask questions and leave the thought for pondering.
And in doing so, we can help our Unschoolers use their reason and listen to their hearts.
What is your passion?
What do you love?
If everything else in your life was not a consideration, if you didn’t need to be practical, what would you do? Where would you live? How?
What book or movie makes you sigh with love and longing?
What saint and saint’s writing most appeals to you? Why?
Deep inside, what do you want? And if you don’t know forever, what about now? What is fun? What is intellectually stimulating?
And what does God want? Have you prayed? Have you asked? Have you given this to Our Lady, and asked for her intercession?
The last is a clincher for me.
These are not your typical career counselling questions. But then unschooling is not your typical means of education or, indeed, of life.
And in asking these questions I, too, have sought answers. For me.
That’s how unschooling works, isn’t it?