Letting Go: Our Journey to Unschooling

Autumn is slowly coming into itself here while most of the country is welcoming the chill and stillness of Winter.  Days are only reaching high 60′s and early mornings are met with blue orange glow of fire in white stone fireplace.  We spend these days deep in exploration and learning.  It seems fitting to me that as we really find freedom and settle into who we have been becoming, we are in the season of freedom, of shedding away of the old and preparing for the renewal of life. Continue Reading

Inside the Lines (Part 2): An Unschooling Conversation

The first half of this discussion appears here.

JEN: Oh, that brings back memories! I don’t remember how my son got graded on coloring, but he HATED coloring. If he decided to go along with the assignment, he would color the picture somewhat with colors that “made sense” and then he finished it by scribbling black all over the top of it not caring where the lines were. I was certain they were going to think he was depressed and refer us to a psychologist. LOL Continue Reading

Inside the Lines (Part 1): An Unschooling Conversation

This discussion appeared recently on the Christian Unschooling Facebook Group:

MARI: One of my public school teacher friends repinned this on Pinterest and it made me so sad I had to share. “Colors make sense”??? Green cows with purple teeth make perfect sense to ME – who are you to judge my artistic sensibilities? It makes me wonder about Salvador Dali’s first grade teacher or Pablo Picasso’s kindergarten teacher. Sorry, Seurat, no smiley face for you – too much white space in pointillism. Too bad, Andy Warhol, your colors don’t make sense.

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Unschooling Portraits: Bonnie

unschooling portraits

Please introduce yourself.

I am Bonnie. I married my high school sweetheart Stephen and live in NM. I have three wonderful daughters 12, 8, 3 and we unschool!! I also am a foster parent so unschooling works very well with all the changes that take place in our home. We can take the time to get to know each kid that comes to us and fit them into our family pretty easily.

bonnie-family

What does your typical day look like?

There is such a thing as typical??? My days are as different as each kid and we love it! We let life lead us and my kids know they are free to ask any question about what is going on and I will answer it to the best of my ability or find someone who can!

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.

What does the term “unschool” mean to you?

Unschool means that we do not do what people think of as typical school. There are no workbooks that have to be done on a schedule or testing to “see” what my kids know. I spend time with my kids doing the things each family member is interested in doing and sometimes things we have to do, LOL.

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?

It took us years to get to the idea of unschooling, but none of my kids have ever attended public school; we started homeschooling when my oldest was ready to start school because of issues with our public schools here. Over the years we moved away from traditional schooling and have just kept right on going!!

What interests do your kids have that you never would have guessed they would develop?

My oldest loves to draw and she is good at it; not sure where she got that talent at but we give her the support and guidance she needs to go after whatever God has called her to do!

My 8 year old is very sensitive, a whole new ball game from my oldest, and is really into dance! We watch lots of musicals and take her to shows whenever possible. Money is tight as I am sure lots of you can agree with so dance lessons are on hold right now.

My little one loves to learn and will try anything once, yes that means lots of booboos and cuddle time but she will be strong! She loves for here sisters to read to her and enjoys being outside.

bonnie-girls

What are some of the benefits of unschooling that you have seen?

Everything, I know you want specifics but really everything is a benefit! With our journey to unschooling we have been called to help others and are doing foster care. It is a challenge but well worth it, my kids are learning that not everyone has parents that are dedicated to them and willing to spend time with them.

What are some of the negatives?

I would have to say the number one thing for me is pressure from others to keep up with what someone has decided is the normal. My kids are learning and growing with God every day. What someone thinks they should know is not really my concern.

bonnie-colorful-experiments

Tell us about your best day (or your worst).

OK, I am going to have to go with the BEST!!! The day my oldest finally decided she could read!!! We struggled with reading and she would not even try one day she just jumped right in and did it!! That celebration was a blast (just so you know she was almost 9 and in the 3rd grade).

Favorite definitions of unschooling:

Deuteronomy 11:19: Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing this unschooling portrait with us! 

If you’d like to share YOUR family’s story, find out how here!

Almost Anything is Better Than a Workbook

I know that unschoolers don’t use curriculum, but what if your child is asking for it? Is it wrong to give them a workbook and let them go through it?

This questioned is posed a lot in our Facebook group. It will pop up every so often and I always try to answer in specific terms to the discussion and person asking.

My personal response usually goes something like this:

Yes – but with caveats. It’s not “wrong” to give your child a workbook, textbook, or curriculum as a resource to use. Unschoolers are not against those things. In general, we disagree with requiring a child to learn or complete a curricula. If a child is interested in physics there is no reason to deny him any resource that would help him learn it – including schoolish ones.

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Not Meeting Expectations: An Unschooling Conversation

This discussion appeared recently on the Christian Unschooling Facebook Group:

How do you explain your educational approach to people who expect your child to be at a place academically that they aren’t? For example, I started my daughter reading at six. There was a lot of stress and frustration. I decided to let it go because she obviously wasn’t ready. So we just started up again; she’s seven now, and I always hear from a few certain people in my family “She’s seven! She should be reading!” I tell them we use a child-led approach and find greater accomplishment waiting till they are ready. I always get treated like I’m making excuses for not “schooling” my children properly. How do you handle these type of situations?

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Don’t Pressure Your Kids To Read

Why you shouldn't pressure your kids to read.

We shouldn’t pressure kids to read so young. That’s what I believe, at least. I’m afraid I failed at this with my first child (oh, the poor guinea pig). I had never heard about unschooling back then and when we began “homeschooling” kindergarten I was too forceful and frustrated with her reading lessons. The tears. Oh, the tears. Thank God (literally) she still turned out to be a voracious reader and wasn’t too scarred by the process.

When my second child became “of age” he was in public school for kindergarten. So he received a certain amount of foundational reading training there, though I’m not sure exactly to what extent. The next year for first grade we brought him back home and the process of reading and tears that I was all too familiar with started again. So I stopped teaching him to read. Continue Reading

Unschooling Portraits: Melinda

unschooling portraits

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. Continue Reading