How do I unschool my child and just let my kids learn?
And by the way, that’s the reason to talk about unschooling: it helps us let go of the control of our child’s education and just let them learn already.
So how do I unschool my child?
Unschooling: let them learn on their own terms, learn what they want to learn, how they want to learn, and why they want to learn it.
There’s this notion out there, that if you set up a system, organize it, with a lot of people to officiate it, and administer a grade and a class, a lecture, a lesson plan, and an exam, then children will learn (and have received an education.)
(But straight up, there have been two seasons in our homeschool.)
Yes, kids will still learn stuff. In spite of our rigid expectations and approaches, children learn. It’s what they do.
Interested teachers increase the chance of someone wanting to learn. Of getting kids interested. Of engaging. But the motivation to learn is on the kids.
They don’t receive an education, they engage in an education (if they’re invested).
Kids want to learn. Unless they’ve been seriously neglected or abused, children will grow and learn.
Kids aren’t necessarily eager to learn what you want them to learn, when you want them to learn, in the way you want them to learn though.
Occupy their time in meaningful ways, or let them occupy themselves.
- Give them lots of space to be quiet, pursue new interests, and discover themselves past boredom. Let them discover their interests in solitude.
- Allow for a balance between prescribed and exploratory time.
- Give them opportunities to be exposed to new concepts, new places, and new ideas.
- Give them meaningful work that contributes to the well-being of their family and community through housework, childcare, farm work, volunteer work, or whatever interests them.
- Then let them play. No learning plans are hidden behind their play, just easy, entertaining play.
ps Did you know there have usually been two seasons in our homeschool: formal studies or unschooling?
Consider what you want them to learn.
You’re their parent, so you get to determine what you want them to learn too.
You don’t have to assume that because the neighbor kids are learning about plate tectonics your kids must be learning that too. But it might be a prompt.
A federal election might compel a discussion on the major political parties. What are the reasons one might vote for different party platforms? This, and other current affairs, often grace our dinner table since my husband passionately engages in discussions in politics, history, and economics.
Me, I like reading. I move through quite a few books for a mama of four. So I read with my kids. I Am Malala, To Set A Watchman and Trevor Noah’s youth memoir was our recent readalouds. I get to share my passion through books.
This is your chance to share your passions with your kiddos.
(Hey, and have you ever wondered How to Encourage Independence in your Homeschool?)
Deschool your Homeschool Journaling Workbook
Deschool your homeschool journaling workbook that aids in your self-exploration, to get clear on how you can bring freedom & individualization into your homeschool.
Observe and listen to who your children are.
What are they about? Listen to them. They are developing and coming into their own, but you can take cues from their lives, even as young children.
Do they like earning money? Encourage them to start a lemonade stand. As they get older, they might want to market their baking capabilities. Another might do yardwork for neighbours, or childcare for their mom’s friend.
- A Pinterest board might give them ideas.
- Learn to knit?
- Tie-dye t-shirts?
- Create their own decorative bed cushions?
Observe and listen to who your children are and you will help them learn more about themselves.
Don’t educate out of fear.
There will always be gaps. Imperfect educations. My favourite term for this is ‘lopsided education’. Yup, that.
We’ve all had those gaps. Whether we’re homeschooled or conventionally schooled.
When someone suggests, “I don’t know if you should homeschool, because you might miss something,” they’re probably right. Your kids might not learn something.
After twelve years of academics, are you hoping your kiddo can outwit Google or God?
Then don’t educate in fear.
Because what is an education anyway?
Enjoy the process.
Yes, educating your children is a big responsibility. (Especially daunting when you know people are looking over your shoulder or questioning you directly.)
But your kids were put on this earth for a special purpose.
They are growing up right before your eyes, growing independent and capable, and eventually growing right out of your home. You had these little kids for a reason, so enjoy them while you have them.
And though you discovered parenting was a lot of work (yup, you were right there), you didn’t have them so you could check another box off the list, another makework project, like homeschooling them.
Don’t make home education an unreachable makework project. They already want to learn, they were hardwired for it. So have fun with it.
There! That’s unschooling in a nutshell: not so daunting after all.
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You warm the cockles of my heart – perfectly said – onward unschooling friend! I tend not to think of myself as an unschooler, because I provide some loose structure, but when I read this I can’t agree more – so unschooler it is from now on.
As a long-time unschooler, I’ve felt that the kernel at the centre of the nutshell is trust: trust that children raised with freedom and autonomy in a reasonably rich environment with access to caring adults will learn what they need to become who they want to be. And trust that when included in the real world of family and community life, what is necessary and useful knowledge and skills will be self-evident, and their drive for competence will motivate them to master it. So I would substitute trust for your #1 and #2. I would say 1. Trust them to occupy *themselves* in meaningful ways and 2. Trust that they will know better than you what and when it is important for them to learn.
Wonderful article! And I so agree with moominmamma that it is about trust. Your kids are lucky with a educator mom who almost outwits Google and God. 🙂
Haha Well those are big shoes–outwitting Google & God–I will always have things to learn about myself;)
you’ve given me a good understanding of what you consider unschooling. Good read. Some of your sentences made me smile. I wish that more people could articulate their unschooling philosophy as well. 🙂
Thank you. This is my way of defining unschooling in my home. I’m certain many unschoolers wouldn’t necessarily see it that way. There is, emerging recently, a form of radical unschooling, which I have tried, and eventually moved away from too. The different seasons of learning how best to homeschool in my home I guess.