Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'm an Unschooler, But I'm Not

Unschooling is so personal that every unschooler would have their own definition and list of what IS and ISN'T unschooling.  And then there's Radical Unschooling which generally means that the family not only doesn't do school at home, but that they also live democratically: the children primarily make their own decisions with regards to food, bedtimes, activities, socializing, etc.

Like attachment parenting, I would suggest that Unschooling is part of a spectrum of family lifestyles that range from Homeschooling on one side to Radical Unschooling on the other.  We are likely somewhere in the middle.

Here's why.

I'm an Unschooler, But I'm Not....

  • opposed to my children completing the work in little activity books.  They have a few books that include word searches, penmanship activities, math-type questions and matching and sorting.  They choose when they work in those books, what they want to do and for how long they want to do it.  Most of the books have been gifts, a few they have picked out and a few were purchased by me.  We never value the work completed in the activities as being more important than the drawing or printing that they do in their sketch pads. 
  • ever going to give my children access to the 1000s of online 'games' designed to 'teach' a particular skill or subject.  A couple of years ago, when Anna and Holly were 5yrs and 3yrs, I started showing them some online games on the NickJr website.  I was stunned at how they were instantly addicted. They were just being entertained.  I decided immediately that online games, video games, hand-held games and TV-related gaming systems would not become part of our lifestyle.
  • running my kids around the city trying to find other unschoolers to hang out with.  We've tried a couple of Homeschool/Unschool groups and we didn't feel very comfortable anywhere.  I can see that we might want to have a network of fellow unschoolers as the kids get older, but for now none of us seem to be craving a community of peers.
  • running my kids around the city to activities and clubs.  I've offered.  They refuse.  I'll offer again next year and see what happens.
  • abandoning my responsibilities as a parent.  Our unschooling life is guided by our Family Mission Statement.  I try to provide a stimulating, compassionate environment in which my children learn, grow, play, explore, connect and engage.  Sometimes there is fighting and discord and we learn from that, too.
  • saying that I always feel confident that I am doing the right thing.  It is hard to let go of the old authoritarian paradigm that would have me believe that I have to be in control of the children all the time.  But I am getting better and better at trusting my children, trusting my instinct and trusting our connection to each other.
What is your Unschooling style?  What IS and ISN'T Unschooling for you?

1 comment:

  1. That is identical to our life except the game thing, we all love games but they don't dominate our lives. All of our tangible games/game systems came from my mother and all of our work books were either hand me downs, gifts or things the kids and I picked out together.

    I'm just a beginner in all of this but I think we're all doing just fine.