I am pleased to introduce you to Meaghan Jackson, a fellow homeschooling mom I met recently as part of an online blogging challenge. She has a wonderful blog that I encourage you to check out – Joyful Mud Puddles. Today she gives us an inside look at unschooling. Thanks, Meaghan!
I am really excited to share with you about what homeschooling looks like for our family. Let me start off by saying that every family is different and every family’s journey is different too. I am very passionate about encouraging each family to find out what style or method works best for their children and not to worry about what others will say.
We didn’t start off unschooling. In fact I never planned to homeschool my children. I was a teacher at a private school before having children. I fell madly in love with my first child, now almost eight years old, and could not imagine having someone else spend all day with him while I taught someone else’s kids. So I stayed home.
It was through our church that I met other homeschooling families. My husband agreed that our highly sensitive son would benefit from being home for Kindergarten. Of course that was years ago and we have never sent the boys to school. We have three little boys (almost 8, almost 6, and an 8 month old). Over the years and in different seasons of our life, I researched and tried out different methods of homeschooling. I honestly never knew there were so many options when I began. Some methods resonated well with me, and others I knew would not work for us. Feel free to ask me all about Waldorf Education, Unschooling, and Project-based homeschooling.
So what does unschooling mean to us? It is so hard to define. I guess it means living life without school. Imagine a week full of Saturdays. Sure we have appointments, and activities scheduled, but we do not have set school hours, workbooks and lessons. Some families benefit from having a weekly or daily rhythm. I know my boys enjoy knowing what is coming up during the week. We talk about their plans and what we’d all like to do. I’m a partner in this and a guide. Ultimately though, the learning belongs to the boys. I cannot force it, I can only hope to encourage a life-long love of learning.
So how do they learn? Just as a baby learns to crawl and walk on their own, so older children will naturally learn to read and write. I also don’t ignore my children and do nothing. Unschoolers are not lazy! If my boys have questions, we research the answers. We go to the library and load up on topics they are interested in. Real learning happens when children are interested in the topic. Our home is rich with interesting games, projects and things to do. We learn from living life. Sounds airy-fairy, but it really does work!
Sounds great, but I don’t think I could do it. And that is okay. This way of life isn’t for everyone. Some families are on a different path, others are at different points on a similar journey. The biggest key to unschooling is trust. You need to trust in the curiosity of your children. It is hard. I journal a lot so that I can see the progress we are making (keeps me from worrying).
Don’t you worry you kids will miss something important? No. Not really. As an adult, I am fully capable of learning something new that I need to in order to complete a task at hand. The key is learning how to learn. My boys are learning to research, ask questions, seek out professionals to help them. If they want to take a class they will, if they want to learn something we do it. If I am in a panic (oh yes it happens to all of us, that worry that we aren’t doing enough), then I offer an opportunity to see if they are interested. I have discovered that my boys don’t like being told what to learn or how to learn it unless they ask.
The key is learning how to learn.
Aren’t there laws/rules you need to follow? Yes and no. I happen to live in Ontario where there are no specific guidelines for homeschoolers. I send in a letter of intent each year to let my local school board know that my boys will not be attending their schools. At the moment, that is all that is required for us. Now this unsettles lots of people. But, for the most part, homeschoolers are well-intentioned and want to do what is best for their children’s education, so we try hard. I do know that in many states and provinces there are lots of forms to fill out. For a season, you may need to do some required work, but that won’t take up all day. Unschoolers are very good at wording and journaling what is done. Math is learned by doing baking, for example. You wouldn’t tell the kids that – just keep it to yourself and make note of it for reporting.
Life can get busy with three active boys. They are learning valuable life lessons on being patient for mommy’s attention, caring for a baby, helping around the house. We are focusing on character building, as we spend lots of time together as a family. And honestly, the thing I am most passionate about at this age is for them to play and thoroughly get the most out of childhood as they can. This time is so short, yet so important.
I am a Christian; a mom with wonderful young boys and a fabulous husband. I love all crafts, baking, and blogging. We are a homeschooling family and look forward to sharing this journey with you. http://joyfulmudpuddles.blogspot.ca