Please introduce yourself.
My name is Sheri. I am married to a very hard-working husband & awesome daddy. My kids are a 5-year-old boy and twin 2-year-old girls.
What does your typical day look like?
Typically, the kids have woken me up entirely too early. We all do our bathroom routine, get ready (or maybe stay in PJs all day) and the play begins! They love Legos, marble race tracks, reading books with me, going outside, coloring, crafts, and puzzles. My oldest also likes some computer games and his Leappad. Sometimes we’ll read a book and do a craft that goes along with it. We watch educational Youtube videos. Sometimes we do kitchen science experiments. It really just depends on what they want to do. My favorite is cuddling on the couch and just reading to my son while the girls sleep – a relaxing thing for him (and me!!), since he no longer takes naps. In the evening, dad comes home from work and does the kinds of things mom isn’t always too good at. Being a kid alongside them. They enjoy the goofy things they do with their dad. I get a little evening break.
What does the term “unschool” mean to you?
It means freedom. It means nurturing the kids’ innate sense of wonder and curiosity. It means that God’s creation is our curriculum. It means that play is school and school is play. It means that they don’t have to grow up too fast, sitting at desks or cubicles working all day long, like mini-adults. It also means that I answer a thousand questions a day from inquiring little minds.
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?
I bought a curriculum at first, and we liked it enough, I suppose. Recently, however, I began to think about my grandfather who passed away when I was a teenager. It really just hit me that he was the ultimate unschooler. He had all kinds of reference books around, fun little artifacts to play with, a microscope. I spent so many hours on that microscope. He had a typewriter back then. I learned to type. He taught me about internet before it was even really a “thing.” We played on the HAM radio, where I talked to all sorts of people in different countries. I learned to make things. We made our own stained glass once. We read books. I learned more in my days visiting over at his house than I ever did at any school. It was also significantly more enjoyable. He is no longer alive, but I decided that I want that for my kids, too.
What are some of the benefits of unschooling that you have seen?
To be honest, I can only talk about the benefits in my own home, as I do not know of any other unschoolers. I find that the sibling relationships seem to be really developing into something much deeper than I ever expected. I also see how excited my kids are to learn about things. The best thing is probably seeing what my kids’ God-given inclinations are. I don’t think their path to the future starts at 18. I think it starts now. Their interests, personalities, and natural curiosities will play into who/what they ultimately become. I want them to walk their own paths and march to their own beats, starting now.
What are some of the negatives?
Probably the fact that people wonder if the kids are not learning the right things at the right time (public school calendar, ya know!) or even if they are learning at all.
Tell us about your best day (or your worst).
I would say a bad day is one where I didn’t hear my kids laugh enough. If I’m grouchy or tired, sometimes that can have an effect on the whole house. Yelling is usually a sign of a not-so-good day. A good day is one where everyone is excited to tell dad about the day when he gets home. They want to share something they made, learned, or did. A good day is one where I feel closer to the kids than the day before.
Favorite definition of unschooling?
Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller’s teacher/mentor): “I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less “showily”. Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself… Teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences.”
Thank you, Sheri, for sharing this Unschooling Portrait with us!