When we began our homeschool journey, we began with a single idea of what learning should look like. A desk, worksheets, crafts in which there is one way to complete it and one way only, and finally, curriculum. We also started at age three, you know, because that’s when all of the kids start preparing for Kindergarten. One day, we would discover unschooling.
Needless to say, learning was not fun and exciting in the beginning. Instead, it was rigid and boring for my daughter. Honestly, it was boring and frustrating for me as well. All I wanted to do was prove myself to the adults watching. All my child wanted to do was play. So, I began to think about what I learned in graduate school about other styles of learning and developmentally appropriated practices for young children. The importance of play in the earlier years. The examples of education in places like Finland, where children do not start any formal education until age 7.
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Slowly, I began letting go of what I felt was expected of myself as a homeschooling mom and what was expected of my child.
You might think unschooling came into play right away, but it didn’t. I looked into the Montessori style of learning since that is what I studied during one of my graduate school courses. It was the first time I realized that our traditional American way of education was not the end-all-be-all of learning.
After realizing Montessori wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, I began learning more about Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, and Reggio Emilia’s philosophies. I eventually landed on the idea of unschooling. I felt that based on the vision and values we had for our child didn’t fit in a box. We, after some serious deschooling, we’re eclectic unschoolers. A melting pot of different styles and methods all with one purpose, supporting the child. Learning through life and adventure, without curriculums and pre-determined deadlines unless requested by said child.
If the curriculum you have chosen is no longer serving your vision, do you actually need it?
Philosophy of Unschooling
Whether you are completely tossing the curriculums and standards or simply wanting more creative ways to home educate with the curriculum you are using, here are a few websites that might help.
What is Unschooling– a brief explanation by Mama’s Coffee Shop.
Radical Unschooling– explained by Ben Hewitt.
The Curriculum Free Child– my first blog post explaining my first thoughts of unschooling.
Unschooling as a Lifestyle
A Simple Day in Life of Unschooling– connecting the “subject” to the experience by Slices of Life blog.
Eclectic Unschooling Explained– by Racheous, whose blog I totally relate to and feel gives such a respectful and non-confrontational explanation of living an unschooled lifestyle.
Unschooling and Learning All of the Subjects– Weed ’em and Reap shares a really great way of looking at how natural interest leads to covering all traditional subject areas. This is not a guide, but an inspirational piece to encourage you to step out on faith and trust the process.
Resources for Unschooling
Getting your hands on a few great books can help you think about your idea of what true learning looks like, or doesn’t look like. You can look at one of my previous booklists for recommendations, along with the books listed below.
What is the biggest misconception you’ve had about unschooling? I’m curious, share them below.