Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’
Unschooling, the most relaxed of all homeschool philosophies, is about providing a rich environment in which children can develop and learn naturally. Like other homeschooling parents, an unschooling mother is involved in her children’s education, but the role she plays is that of facilitator rather than dictator.
Real World Experiences Instead of Skills in Isolation
Unschooling is simply a continuation of what parents naturally do to help their little ones learn as infants and toddlers. When babies are learning to walk, parents provide them with a hand to help them steady themselves and lots of reassurance. When toddlers are learning to speak, parents encourage their children and expose them to language, reading board books daily in addition to introducing them to songs and finger plays such as “This Little Piggy.” Parents watch their children’s cues and react to their interests and abilities, teaching their children about language, art, music, and more in the context of real life.
In many families, this changes around age three or four when the child enters an academic preschool. The child’s new job is to “get ready for school” rather than to continue learning naturally at his or her own pace. As a result of the pressure to do well in today’s kindergarten, lists of educational objectives become the focus for well-meaning teachers and parents. When formal academics are introduced too soon, the natural love for learning that all children are born with is often extinguished, sometimes resulting in learning problems and behavioral issues.
In contrast, parents who believe in self-directed learning allow children of all ages to continue learning naturally and at their own pace. For example, the parent of a child who is interested in birds might buy him a new pair of binoculars and a bird-watching guide. The parent may help the child construct a birdfeeder so there will be more opportunities to observe birds in the backyard. With help, the child may do research online about birds they’ve encountered in addition to picking up additional books on the topic at the local library. These activities may serve as a springboard for creating a book or project about what they’ve learned, and the parent will once again be there to support, encourage, and yes, teach. Traditionally schooled children typically play a more passive role in the learning process while unschoolers are actively engaged throughout the day.
Unschooling families all believe that children learn best through real-life experiences, but there’s still quite a deal of variation in the unschooling community. Some apply this philosophy to all aspects of parenting while others see unschooling as a homeschooling style rather than a total lifestyle choice. Unschooled children also vary based on their own interests and learning styles. What makes them unschoolers is not whether or not they use a workbook, but whether or not that completing that workbook is mandatory. Unschooling parents often take advantage of educational resources just as other homeschool parents do, but these resources are seen as tools made available to the child to enhance their understanding (rather than requirements).
Information about unschooling is readily available online and in print. Visit Life Without School, an online publication with excellent content, for a personal look at the lives of families who have chosen this path. Learn about the man who is considered the father of unschooling, John Holt, and see a list of recommended books on the topic at Growing Without School. Another good resource is Life Learning Magazine, an international publication about self-directed learning. Also visit the website of Laurie Chancey, a doctoral candidate who was unschooled as a child. Her mother, Valerie Fitzenreiter, wrote a book on unschooling entitled The Unprocessed Child.
See the FAQ section on Unschooling.com for answers to common questions about unschooling. I especially recommend the following articles for parents of young children:
Orlando Homeschool Links:
I’m doing a homeschooling seminar for Orlando area parents on April 29th at the UUU Society near UCF. We’ll start at 7pm. The program will last an hour. Here are the details:
Topics to be Discussed
Benefits of Homeschooling
The Portfolio Evaluation
The seminar will be geared towards parents who are new to homeschooling and those who are just considering it. I will talk about the portfolio evaluation as well as different approaches to homeschooling and tips for providing children with meaningful learning experiences. The seminar may also be of interest to experienced homeschooling parents who are hoping to learn more about incorporating hands-on learning into their daily schedule.
An eighty page collection of inspirational and informative homeschooling articles and forms will be distributed to attendees. Please bring a three ring binder for your handouts.
Want to homeschool but have a spouse who’s not so sure? Have a friend who is interested but afraid to take the plunge? Bring them to this event. The deadline for registration is Sunday, April 27. The cost is $15 per person or couple. Free childcare for kids 2 and up WILL be provided. Babies are certainly welcome to sit with parents in the audience!