unschooling vs homeschool

Unschooling | Why I Avoid Homeschooling and Public Schools

I always knew I would never send my children to public school. Schools have a way of making people lazy. And stupid.

Maybe that rubbed you the wrong way or maybe you agree whole heartedly. Let me start off again by saying this.

A child is already a natural learner. The entirety of their days are spent questioning, exploring, and learning how to interact in their environments.  They have a self propelled need to understand how to communicate with those around them and figure out what works, and what doesn’t.

The moment you send them off to school that will all fade away.

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For by putting someone else in charge of their learning you are telling them they are incapable of learning on their own. You are instilling a reverse effect of a great characteristic we all seek in others. To be self starters, to think for yourself.

What is the first thing children learn from school?

First, that learning is separate from living. “You come to school to learn,” we tell him, as if the child hadn’t been learning before, as if living were out there and learning were in here, and there were no connection between the two. Secondly, that he cannot be trusted to learn and is no good at it. Everything we teach about reading, a task far simpler than many that the child has already mastered, says to him, “If we don’t make you read, you won’t, and if you don’t do it exactly the way we tell you, you can’t”. In short, he comes to feel that learning is a passive process, something that someone else does to you, instead of something you do for yourself.

School is Bad for Children by John Holt

This is not what I intend for my children. I believe in them and I want them to believe in themselves.

Why Homeschooling Didn’t Work

I spent hours a day for months at a time figuring out curriculums. Researching all the websites, I was filled with passion and hope for our families learning endeavors.

But there was a big problem.

My kids weren’t interested in what I was teaching them. After a few minutes they were bored. And I was frustrated. There were growing conflicts in the family after just a few weeks of our miserable homeschooling experience.

The big flaw in this, I started to realize, was that I was just bringing school into my home. Didn’t I want better for my children? Didn’t I trust in their learning capability?

I wanted to validate their interest, not force my ingrained ways on them.

Hadn’t I myself, spent years unlearning self sabotaging habits from my childhood and early adulthood?

So why was I replacing their natural curiosity with a curriculum, their own beautiful creativity with an art lesson plan, and their own wired instinct to learn with memorization?!

So back to researching. And I found Unschooling. Instantly I was hooked. Enthralled, I couldn’t stop reading accounts of children who were in different stages and parents who had gone through it and were living in it. After, I felt a great pressure release from my chest.

I also found through my research that there were so many former teachers who were going down this path. It was amazing to hear their input and reasoning. I was especially inspired by Nicole from Unschoolers.org and her story.

So What Is Unschooling?

For us it is simple. It is interest-based learning. Child led interest with parental guidance on how to go about it in the most fun and successful way possible. I have found my children are already interested in most of the things other children “have” to learn.

By finding activities that activate this “learning mode” we spend most of our days playing, exploring, and learning their newfound interest together. On any given day I will encounter a storm of Why’s, How’s, What’s and Can I’s. How I approach and answer these questions leads us down amazing paths of discovery.

unschooling kids, playful learning, teach children at home
The kids cleaning their treasures from a beach exploration day. After cleaning them we identified them by searching on the phone and comparing pictures in Childrens Sea Life books. They even went on to create a multi medium painting of the ocean for me that included sand, shells, sea grass and paint. Talk about playful learning.

Let me make this clear. Unschooling is not Unparenting.

In fact, I would say it is more along the lines of hardcore parenting. Starting Unschooling is TOUGH. You don’t get to rely on courses to tell you what to do (though I do get guidance from quite a few), and it takes an immense amount of patience, trust, and dedication.

Now every single part of our day is a learning experience. I find teaching moments in every part of our day. And our days have become full of adventure and exploration.

You may like my post on How we use the beach to Unschool

Through this Unschooling Life, I have found hard rules now seem very limiting and encumbering. Especially when it comes to how we naturally learn. So instead, we are living by a new rule: Principles over Discipline. I love how Pam at LivingJoyfully describes it.

This was and still can be very challenging. At first it was a maze and quite uncomfortable. But that is all for a different blog post.

One thing I will say now is, it is a constant learning experience for everyone involved.

This way of Unschooling is teaching me to live intentionally and purposefully. To think about Why I am asking something of them, or for them to act a certain way. And most of the time when I take the time to answer all these Whys, I find that it is not something I need to be worried about or try to control at all.

And I love every time my children impose these “why moments”. For they force me to expand my mind and teach me something.

That’s right my children are teaching me.

Teaching me to live with wild abandon again.

To live without societies judgements holding me back from doing things that bring me joy. And thus enabling me to set out on a path of A Life I Believe In.

These children of mine are full of life and wonder. And all day they set out to share that light with others, and are learning how to make it fit in with the ways of the world.

My biggest hope for them is to stay this alive. Not to live as someone else (even me) has told them to. To live boldly, freely, with full hearts and minds.

Welcome to Our Unschooling Journey

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