There is no rule book or “particular way of unschooling.” So, if you are looking for that, you are going to be very disappointed. That doesn’t mean there is no order, rhyme or reason, or way for you to unschool. It simply means there is no set in stone way to make it work for your family.
That is the beauty of it: if you are willing to go with the flow, unschooling is fantastic.
If you are a strict schedule keeper, very organized and complete control type person, I need to talk to you about your decision to unschool: I was you. I am still you. I understand completely. I really do. Doesn’t our day run smoothly when we write everything out, pre-plan and strategically work out a specific schedule for the following day? (Yeah. I didn’t think so . . .)
As hard as we work at trying to maintain complete order, we are not being realistic. I had schedules. I had plans. I will be completely honest and say that I would freak out when something didn’t go exactly as I had planned in homeschooling. It messed up the rest of my perfectly planned schedule. If a science experiment went longer than planned, we were working diligently to catch up on English. If my daughter needed to take a break due to sickness, we spent days catching up on missed work. I was miserable. She was miserable.
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Unschooling versus Homeschooling
I am an accidental unschooling parent. I didn’t set out planning on using this form of homeschooling. As I mentioned, I like schedules, routines, stability. I thought unschool meant to toss all those things that helped me keep my life in order to the wind. But you know what?
It doesn’t mean that at all!
Each morning my daughter and I look over workbooks, fiction novels, and the calendar. We browse news articles and biographies online. Some days she pulls a lesson from each subject, sits in a comfy chair or on her bed, and completes each one by one. She can call on me for help. We can read stories together, discuss what she is working on, and what she is learning.
Sounds a lot like your typical day of homeschool, right?
Now, this is where the “go with the flow” mantra comes in handy.
We may wake up tomorrow and I open my email and I read about a fabulous woman in history that I think my daughter may find interesting. As a matter of fact, we did one this week! I was scrolling on social media and found an article about a female reporter in the 1800s who had read the book Around the World in Eighty Days and wanted to try this journey herself. I loved it so I read it to my girl, who also loved it.
We then found a biography on the same reporter. Then, we found our copy of Around the World in 80 Days and read a few chapters. We found the wording in the original book a bit difficult, so we found some videos online of the story chapter by chapter. My daughter read along with these and found that at the end of each video were facts about the places the character traveled. This little tidbit of information led to hanging a world map (which we had to dig out of storage), finding dry erase markers, and plotting out where the character in the book has traveled thus far. We looked up facts about each place and spent a little time dreaming of our own journey around the world.
I bet it still sounds a lot like a typical day in your homeschool house, doesn’t it?
Specialists call that interest led learning. We found something that interested my daughter and we followed a natural process of discovery to learn–no lesson plans, no format, but learning just the same. We are finding that by allowing my daughter to lead in her choices of learning each day, she has an innate quest to learn.
That is what still amazes me about this process of unschooling.
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As adults, we continue to learn and grow; or we should. We find things we never knew interested us and we follow through until we learn more about it. We learn new ways to cook, learn new languages, learn new skills for our jobs. We are constantly evolving without prompting from a person in higher authority telling us a certain way we need to do it. We want to learn and we do.
Don’t be scared to allow a little freedom in your homeschool day. Talk to your child. Find what interests them. Watch them. What are they drawn to? What intrigues them? Just like life; the possibilities are endless. Go with the flow and see how it goes. You might find yourself liking the ride.
This is a post by contributor Karen McLain
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