I want to share about our transition into Unschooling, or what I call self directed learning.
Short History of how we came to unschooling or self directed:
Over the past several years, my husband has been laid off several times (he works in the construction field) and money has been on very short supply off and on through those years. I have applied for help through a grant foundation to no avail. I just got so tired of researching curriculum to buy when we had money, or try to write my own, printing out pages to have my girls tell me its boring, they have already studied it at some point, it was too easy, it was beneath their level, blah blah… Maybe we should just take a break from schooling for a year, I have heard of people doing that.
Then I had come across the word unschooling again. I had heard of it in the past, read a book about it from a very liberal person and thought “wow you have to be liberal to unschool”. So wrong, you CAN be a Christian and Unschool, I know this now! So I basically read some more about this interesting idea. Then I just had to convince my hubby that this was worth trying. He is very skeptical still. He believes so strongly that the girls should do math everyday because you will use it in everyday life. So funny he says that, because yes, they do use it everyday in life, while reading a recipe, shopping and figuring out what is 20% off that shirt or dress they want. Trust me, a shopping girl knows how to figure her math out. I wont mention here how my girls actually like doing math now that they are not forced into learning math they don’t want to learn yet or will ever use (like Algebra, though D did want to learn it and she studied it for while till she realized “when am I ever gonna use this crap”. Probably never in what she wants to do as an adult, but if she does, there is opportunity to learn it later when needed)
So basically, we were forced financially into Unschooling. I am so glad we were. It was a Godsend for us. We are more relaxed now, I don’t worry and stress (and yell all the time) that they are keeping up with other kids their age or with public school or what ever. We test them every year and guess what… they always preform average to above average depending on the year. Since this is our first year of officially unschooling, we will see how the tests turn out. And I will mention, my kids don’t get test anxiety any more over the state testing. They take it “with a grain of salt” and they know its nothing to stress over any more, which makes them do much better because they are able to think clearer while testing instead of freaking out the whole time thinking on if they are going to pass it.
I am getting on a roll so I better move on…
I think when people here you say “unschooling”, they think you just let your kids run wild and do what ever they want. That simply isn’t true. Every family is different and have different things they do.
We still have chores each child must accomplish, mom likes a clean and organized house after all.
We still use our manners and treat others with respect, or atleast try to.
Yes we watch tv or have days we just sit around and veg.
But most of our days are spent doing the following things:
- reading, all kinds of reading from non-fiction to fiction. Yesterday, D was reading about new home building brochure which included information on warranties, construction process, scope of work, walk throughs, and more. She will also read contracts.
- D wants to own her own bakery company so a lot of her learning focuses on that. Right now she is taking an on line Accounting class. Both girls want to take on line math classes, and they work on it on their own because they want to, not because they have been told to. They just know math is important to be able to function in life, like shopping which they love.
- Both girls love music, and having Irish Ancestors, they have developed a love of the Irish Tin Whistle and they are teaching them selves how to play AND read music. D also has taught her self Piano, while K is excited to learn Bagpipes.
- I wouldn’t say they love history, but they sure love learning about it right now through unconventional ways like the History Channel, which has been know to spark a new interest and then they go and read more about what they want to know. They don’t sit around all day and watch TV, but when they do they get a new topic they want to learn about. K had a spell where she read everything she could about George Washington and would tell us all about it. Or how about her love for the human body where she will sit and read books for hours on the human body and come tell us all about that.
- I don’t expect my girls to remember tons of facts, every child, no matter where schooled, will never learn all the same facts as another child. My girls just retain a lot more because I am not forcing them to do it. They are doing it on their own.
- The TV they mostly watch are all educational channels. They love watching shows like Whale Wars and American Pickers. We all have learned some things about history you won’t learn in a textbook, the real stories about history, not just facts your forced to memorize. This make learning more enjoyable and you actually want to learn things.We usually DVR shows and then they watch them when they want and skip through the commercials so they don’t spend a lot of time staring at the TV. They funny thing is, they will so lunges while watching, or practice their Tin Whistles through commercials if they are watching a live show.
- On of their biggest things, since D wants to be a bakery owner and K wants to be a Chef, they do a lot of cooking and baking on their own, from scratch. At 15 and 12, they can go in the kitchen and I don’t have to worry, they will follow a recipe or try things on their own, and they use their own math skills to figure out measurements or what ever. If they need help they either look it up them selves or I help them along by having them use their logic skills to figure it out. I don’t just tell them the answers.