Unschooling Part 4 – How to Start Unschooling
When learning how to start unschooling, it can take a while to find out what works for you and for your children, to get into your own groove, to create a routine that works for everyone, and, more importantly, to understand that learning happens naturally through life experiences. When figuring out how to start unschooling, know that unschoolers learn in a hands-on, real-world kind of way, absorbing from the vast world surrounding them. They learn through natural life experiences that include playtime, household responsibilities and chores, personal curiosities and interests, work experiences and internships, books, extra curriculars, elective classes, traveling, mentors, family members, and many other social interactions. Honestly, I could just keep going on and on when it comes to learning opportunities, and further, when it comes to socialization opportunities. Learning how to start unschooling is knowing that the simplest daily tasks can be opportunities filled with more than enough learning.
For example, when children help cook in the kitchen, they’re learning reading and comprehension skills from reading the recipes, then being able to follow them. They’re learning math skills like fractions while measuring ingredients, especially if they have to double a recipe, or half it. They even learn chemistry by understanding the changes that different foods go through when mixed, or when heat is applied such as baking.
The homes of unschooling families are typically filled with art supplies, musical instruments, books, games, and many other items that are conducive to learning. Additionally, travel can offer a phenomenal educational experience to anyone. Travelers can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding history, cultures, languages, people, and much more from the destinations that they visit.
So, how to start unschooling? The first step is to ditch the curriculum. Heavily taking into consideration that every child is different, one-size-fits-all curriculums are not what unschooling is about. The goal is to let our children discover things on their own time just as we learn things at all stages of our own lives.
Don’t value one subject or one skill more highly than you would another. Children are very capable of leading the way in their education and they should be the ones doing so. You will be given a new perspective when you see just how capable they actually are.
They choose what interests them and how they want to learn about it. They’re in control of their lives with guidance and support from their parents. They will learn when they’re interested, and when they’re ready to, and sometimes, that means it’s on a different timeline than other students.
The job of an unschooling parent is to get out of the way and to act less as a teacher and, instead, more as a facilitator. You keep track of what the children are interested in, then you provide the resources, opportunities, and the means for them to further pursue that interest.
Let them learn on their own schedule as they wonder through the different interests that take refuge in their young minds. Allow them to be free to learn, and to grow according to their individual personalities, learning styles, and the interests that are unique to them. Parents have to trust that the child knows what they’re doing and that they know how to, or that they will figure out how to do it.
Children may not be as large as you are, however, they can most definitely be as smart as you are. It’s much easier said than done, but the parent has to trust that the student will learn everything that they need to from each subject. It’s sometimes difficult for a parent to see the progress that’s being made because unlike watching the progress of a lawn being mowed or a wall being painted, it can be more like watching a garden grow or a pot boil. No matter how closely you watch either, you can’t always see what’s happening, but you know something’s going on. Then, after a little bit of time, we can see that a lot has actually happened, quietly and naturally.
Children generally learn best when they’re around their parents, furthermore so, when they’re engaged in activities of everyday life. They learn from their environment and from the circumstances surrounding them. Enlist the community. Find mentors who can show them how to learn, build and create what you might not be able to.
When children become interested in a subject, they learn from others in their community, from extended family members, by taking classes in the community, and by participating in extra curriculars that are hosted by the county, or the school district. They find textbooks, websites, educational software or apps to achieve their goals. Through these natural processes children will acquire the knowledge and the skills that they need when they need them.
Unschooling parents don’t ignore the need for vital skills, they simply allow their children to focus on their strengths, while at the same time helping their children discover tools to overcome their weaknesses. Again, unschooling is not a lack in parenting, it’s actually quite the opposite. Since unschooling parents are not relying on a set curriculum, they really have to be both present and attentive in order to pick up on what their children are learning so that they can best support them and guide them along the way.
Unschooling parents are actually highly involved in order to be aware of their child’s progress and they must be able to provide the opportunities and resources necessary whenever the student’s interests and needs change. If you’ve spent your entire life only learning from a teacher, then you might need a teacher for the rest of your life to teach you along the way. Teach a man to fish, right? Comparatively, if you know how to learn, and you know how to teach yourself, you’re more prepared for all that the future might throw at you.
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