Unschooling… Have you heard of it? Have you wondered what it really looks like? Has it piqued your interest from time to time? If you answered yes, you are in luck. Today we are getting an up close look at un-schooling. Believe me letting go of the “norm” and putting trust in your kids interests to guide you is HUGE. However, I’m a firm believer that sometimes this is exactly what you might need. Whether you adapt this style occasionally as a break from your normal homeschool routine or un-schooling is your everyday life. I am sure you’ll enjoy a look into how un-schooling can work in the real world.
Erin is an un-schooling mom of two nature loving kids and here is a peek into her homeschooling life.
Hello all, I’m Erin… drinker of coffee, knitter of knits, and keeper of our home. I’m also a homeschooler! I home-school our 8 year old son and have done so for the past 3 years. We also have a 3 year old daughter who, although too young to actually “homeschool”, still wants to do everything that her brother does. Our style of homeschool is probably best described as eclectic and un-schooling. I, however, see our homeschool as simply following our children’s interests, while keeping their curiosity sparked and their love of learning alive and bright. Our homeschool is filled with nature walks, music, and books! That’s my romanticized version of our home-school at any rate. The reality is that most days I’m just trying to keep up with our children as they bounce from one subject to another with 1,000,000,001 questions that need answering, combustible energy that needs burning, and endless books and experiments strewn all over our home.
Why does our homeschool look like this? Because this is what works best for our son. I began our homeschool journey thinking the Waldorf method was the way to go. I also love the philosophies of Charlotte Mason and the Montessori methods. For our son none of these home-school philosophies worked. He is incredibly asynchronous. He can tell you about the vertebrae of dinosaurs and the fenestras in their skulls and has even taken an online Paleobiology course through the University of Alberta….but he still can not tie his shoes, has terrible anxiety and struggles with completing tasks. He is easily bored with subjects and I find that planning out our homeschool is a complete waste of time. I try not to plan out (and always with his input) more than a week in advance because what interests him this week, what works for him this month, may not be the case next month.
We make weekly library visits, and each time we come home loaded down with 30-40 books of his choice. Last week it was Greek Myths and Grammar. This week it is Robotics and the Magic School Bus Series. Watching different documentaries or reading encyclopedias creates new interests for him. For example, an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy got our son excited about the Earth’s crust, mantle, and core. This led him to choosing all of the library books he could find on Earth science. We then made a visit to his favorite museum that has a huge section on rocks and minerals. He even bought a chunk of Selenite (Gypsum) with his allowance to add to his rock collection.
Our son loves books, be they in hand or audio. His favorites include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It’s hard keeping him in books.
We try to go outside daily. We all feel rejuvenated after a nature walk and there is always something to discover. We learn something new as we observe the seasons, the weather, and the animals in our community. The children build forts, play in a nearby creek or play pretend.
Our son learns math through real world application and by playing math games either on the computer or on his iPad. He is extremely visual. He learned about multiplication 1-9’s one afternoon with an app called math slicer. He asked me what the “X” symbol meant. I explained that it stood for multiplication and was a form of groupings. His eyes lit up and he exclaimed, “I get it!” and off he went. He beat the game that night.Some of his other interests include Herpetology, learning Spanish, learning to play guitar, learning cursive writing (quill and ink required), knitting, and LEGO’s. He has eclectic interests for sure.
I believe our son’s ability to play and use his imagination is of utmost importance. He is always dressing up and pretending. Always painting his and his sisters faces or wearing masks. They are both always defeating a dragon, evil wizard, or winning a battle. They even get their friends in on the play. When his public school friends get home from school one of the first things they do is raid the costume trunk. Then, outside they run for epic adventures and quests. Einstein once said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Imagination is something I strive to encourage and foster in our homeschool. By letting our son be himself, explore his interests and nurture his love of learning, I hope to set him up for success…whatever that looks like for him.
I’m Erin, an eclectic homeschooling/unschooling mom to two very intense kids. Everyday I try to find what works best for myself and my family. You can find me blogging at Nourishing my Scholar. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.