Saturday, May 24, 2008

...for unschooling - Unschooling, Homeschooling and Joyful Living Resources and Blog is tops for finding resources for unschooling. Unschooling, you say? Have you ever heard of this term? I had not heard of it myself until we started looking at all the many options there were for schooling your kids at home. We are blessed, in a sense, as this was not the case not too many years ago.

Here are some various definitions for 'unschooling' that I found:

Have you ever described 'red' to a person who is color blind? Sometimes, trying to define unschooling is like trying to define red. Ask 30 unschoolers to define the word and you'll get thirty shades of red. They'll all be red, but they'll all be different. Generally, unschoolers are concerned with learning or becoming educated, not with 'doing school.' The focus is upon the choices made by each individual learner, and those choices can vary according to learning style and personality type. There is no one way to unschool.

Unschooling is primarily about process not content. The process of learning, the process of knowing yourself, openness, confidence, self-determination, independent thinking, critical thinking....none of which one gets when following other people's agenda. Making one's own agenda is what it is all about. Again this is done not in isolation but in the context of ones family and community. -Joel Hawthorne
Unschooling isn't a method of instruction, it's a different way of looking at learning. -Linda Wyatt

An unschooling moment of realization (one of those things that you know, but have a moment of knowing it even more): Learning is learning whether or not it's planned or recorded or officially on the menu. Calories are calories whether or not the eating is planned or recorded or officially on the menu.- Pam Sorooshian

Unschooling is like the old Open Classroom research and theories. If kids are given an interesting and rich environment they will learn. (All kids learn anyway, all the time.) -Sandra Dodd

Unschooling doesn't mean not learning - it means learning without the trappings of school. Its not unlearning or uneducating. Its only unschooling - it points out a contrast in approaches to learning. My unschooled kids are learning as much or more than their schooled friends (and that includes home schooled or institution schooled).- Pam Sorooshian

I think John Holt's ending in the book "How Children Learn" is a great definition of unschooling. "Birds fly, fish swim, man thinks and learns. Therefore, we do not need to motivate children into learning by wheedling, bribing or bullying. We do not need to keep picking away at their minds to make sure they are learning. What we need to do, and all we need to do, is bring as much of the world as we can into the school and classroom (in our case, into their lives); give children as much help and guidance as they ask for; listen respectfully when they feel like talking; and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest." - Lisa Wood

There was a debate about whether someone could use schedules and textbooks and still be considered unschooling. The consensus was that textbooks and unschooling are not mutually exclusive. Most unschoolers have textbooks in the house - sometimes lots of textbooks. The schedule part is less cut-and-dried. You see, there's the coercion part of the equation, too. There's the trusting your child's innate ability and interest in learning. I think the strongest and truest statement was something along the lines of, 'Until you completely trust in your children and unschooling you won't get the full benefit.' I didn't believe it at the time, and I don't think most people do until they try it. I believe it now, because I see it working in my own family.-Lisa Caryl

In response to the question, "Wouldn't the term 'natural learning' be more affirming than the use of the negative in the term 'unschooling'?" Suzanne Carter, a poet and homeschooling mom, wrote:

"Lots of people make this point, but I never see the negation as negative in a value-judgment sense when I use the word--to me unschooling is as positive as unchaining, unbinding, unleashing, unfolding, unfurling, unlimiting...."
"All mean freedom and growth and vast possibilities to me."

Unschooling is trusting in a child's natural curiosity to teach them what they need to know. The parent is there to answer questions, talk, infect the kids by their own curiosity about life! (though curious about what you're interested rather in what you think would be good for the kids to be interested in!), bring in cool resources (that the kids can feel free to ignore if it just isn't the right moment for their interest to ignite).

The hard parts are:

trusting natural curiosity to draw your child to what they need to learn when. (Math is fascinating. Kids only get turned off to it by the boring way school approaches it.)
trusting a child's natural schedule rather than the school imposed one (eg, that the child will read eventually even if they aren't doing so at 7 because reading is always a pleasurable activity not an imposed tedious one, they will multiply even if they aren't doing it at 9)

trusting that it's okay for kids to learn things out of order! It doesn't bother kids at all to pick up interesting tidbits about Thomas Jefferson, knightly armor, Egyptian mummies, WW2 combat planes. They make their own connections as they get more and more things in place. (Later, an orderly approach will be fascinating to them as they can make even more connections.)

seeing real learning that is right there all around you, for example, the things that need sorted, the cookies to divide, the planning for a party that are all real live math. And it's especially tough to trust that those few minutes of real engaged figuring are worth 20 pages of worksheet practice. -Joyce Fetteroll

Sound interesting?? I think so. Although we are not 'true' unschoolers, I think we do have a bit of 'unschooling' going on at our house. I bet you did, too. Even those of you who don't homeschool! I know all of my children knew how to count, how to do simple math, knew their colors, knew about patterns, etc. just from living life. I didn't sit them down and say, "Okay, today we are going to learn about the color blue." They learned that 'blue' was blue from the flowers outside, to the clothes they put on, or from a character in a book we were reading.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating approach to helping your child learn, you will want to head over to - Unschooling, Homeschooling and Joyful Living Resources and Blog. There you will find a wealth of information from this Best of Homeschooling Site Award winner!

Here is a just a partial list of what you will find on their site:

Video Game Recommendations
Books on Homeschooling and Unschooling
Homeschool Support Groups
Cool Homeschool and Attachment Parenting Gear
Favourite Recipes
Free Worksheets, Printables and Lesson Plans for Homeschooling
Homeschooling and French and Homeschooling French Lessons Online
Homeschooling Blogs and Unschooling Blogs
Homeschooling Math Worksheets- Science Worksheets - Printables and Downloads
Homeschooling: The Arts, Music and Reading Sites and Resources
Most Popular Board Games
Homeschool Supplies and Resources

In essence, we truly are 'unschooled' all our life. Just today, I put some beans and carrots in the garden. This is the first time I have done this on my own. I went out to the garden spot, eyeballed the situation and went to work. I'll see in a few weeks if things went well. If not, I'll chalk it up to experience, and use the knowledge I gained in next year's garden!

I'm going over to - Unschooling, Homeschooling and Joyful Living Resources and Blog to learn more about unschooling from the best of the best. Summer is almost here...the perfect opportunity for me to hone my 'unschooling skills'.