Please introduce yourself.
My name is Melinda Crown. I am wife to one and mama to 3. My crazy dependable hubby works long to make us comfortable. The kiddos are 9, 7, and 3. Our dog Ranger is the size of Clifford and we truly adore our turtle Steve. We live a simple but exciting mid-western life. Our family has climbed many mountains with health issues. We have learned to embrace the moment and share as a family every aspect of life. I love to write and keep account of family drama at lovelylittleladybug.blogspot.com.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different. We rarely have a schedule. I have learned my kids flourish when they have the freedom to explore their environment on their own terms. My kids love books! So every day we have time to sneak away and read together. They also love history. We have started focusing in on a certain topic each month. This way we have plenty of time to learn about it, and we never feel rushed. February has been all about the presidents. I am even embracing this by reading about them and watching documentaries. I am learning things I never ever learned in school.
We love food in our home. One of the kids is always finding something to create in the kitchen. They have free access with supplies. (of course they have help with stove and oven) I love how they come up with new foods to try together. Some work out and others do not. Their imagination truly does guide them.
We try to plan some outings. We all love to be out and about. I try to avoid guided tours as they are still young and find these uninteresting. We love to visit the park district in our area. They offer great programs for families. We also spend a lot of time at the library.
What does the term “unschool” mean to you?
Embracing peace through learning as a family in a freedom enhanced environment.
Have you always unschooled or did you, like many, gradually move from traditional homeschooling (or public school) towards unschooling? If so, where are you in the process and how did you get there?
This has been a gradual process. I was homeschooled through high school. I wanted it for my children but I have always worked. When kiddo 1 was ready for school we sent him off to kindergarten. I was working part time and pregnant with kiddo 3. My heart ached, missing him. He also was just wanting to be home. So in January, a month before I was due, we started homeschooling.
I am not much of a curriculum person but I tried. Then last year (kiddo 1 in second and kiddo 2 in K) I chucked the curriculum out the window. Every day consisted of melt downs from everyone, me included. We hated homeschool! It was so sad. Then I heard about this “unschooling” idea. I thought, “Huh that is how I thought learning should be.” We have full-heartedly embraced it. We took off several months to just heal and re-group. We have been on this road for almost a year now! Hooray!
What interests do your kids have that you never would have guessed they would develop?
They surprise me every day! And the cool part is I have to keep learning to keep up with them. Kiddo 1 is very into animals, biology, history, economics, cooking, math, building, and just general question asking. He keeps me talking and researching all the time! I love it! Kiddo 2 is into cooking, reading, animals, fashion design, and art. She loves things to flow and move. She teaches us to take pause and look around. Kiddo 3 has a passion for things that go! And rightfully so he never stops.
What are some of the benefits of unschooling that you have seen?
I love seeing my kids be themselves! The peace we have found in just living is wonderful. The kiddos do not feel drug down by the weight of what they are “supposed” to learn. In this realization, they embrace learning with fervor. They seek out ways to learn more. Learning is not always conventional. It can be dirty, digging up worms and watching insects in natural habitat. It can be breath taking, studying the constellations on a starry night. It can be humbling, realizing your kids have learned something you did not learn until that very moment. For our fam it is just plain comforting! We can learn together in God’s creation.
What are some of the negatives?
The negatives are definitely the outside influences. Hearing people say “unschooling” is lazy. To this I would say “complete nonsense!” I work harder now to learn then ever before. The questions fly daily and I try to stay prepared and ready for the exploration. Also the voices that say, “Are they really learning?” I would say to this, “Yes!” Before, the word school invoked fear and tears. My kids would crumble thinking of the daunting task of worksheets and endless drills. Now they look for ways to learn.
Tell us about your best day (or your worst).
I read in another mom’s post about a bad day being when she was in a bad mood. I agree! This happens… believe it or not we all get tired and grouchy. But I see the shift in my children when I am nasty. The great thing about this is with unschooling we can turn our day around by taking a rest, regrouping, cuddling or whatever helps cure the grouchies.
A good day is a day when my kiddos discover the beautiful wonderful talents that lay inside them. Days when they see who God is molding them into. I love the days when I hear them talking about concepts and ideas with one another, completing the full circle of learning.
Favorite definitions of unschooling:
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” – Albert Einstein
“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.” – Abigail Adams
Thank you, Melinda, for sharing this unschooling portrait with us! If you’d like to share YOUR family’s story, find out how here!