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What is Unschooling exactly?

     I am sure many of my readers are wondering just what "Unschooling" is, so I will explain for a minute. 

     Unschooling is a method of homeschooling where a majority of the education is self taught through experiences and real decisions. For example a child may learn counting by earning money and having to find out how much they received. A child may develop strength by doing practical chores around the home. Their opinions matter and their thoughts can change the way things happen in the home. 

     The children's ideas are valuable especially when directing their education. Last year my kids were heavily studying the aerodynamics of paper airplanes and why they fly. They discovered that there were differences very similar to the differences between jets and propeller planes. The education I saw occurring here was such fun to see! 

     Since some skills are easier to teach without books than others are, we do use some textbooks but we keep their use to a minimum useage. I make sure that my kids are skilled at their appropriate grade levels and we use the textbooks to make sure of that. 

     When a child asks a question, you have a teachable moment. When you learn to drop everything and teach the child in that moment they will remember what they learned much better than it being taught on your terms instead. I found that my strong-willed child learned best when she had some kind of control over what is happening. She has now discovered that it is ok to ask for help or to say that you don't understand something. 

     Along the same lines, it takes discipline to be able to drop whatever you are doing in order to teach something at that moment. It has been a hard lesson for me to learn. As the kids & I get used to how this works for everyone I have been able to give the kids a time (in minutes) for when I can help them. For the most part they are ok with this, and understand that I need the time to finish projects that I am in the midst of. 

     A huge part of education is reading, so that is encouraged heavily here. At night the kids have bedtimes (which only means they must be quiet and in their beds at that point) but are allowed to lay in bed and read for a specified amount of time if they choose. This quiets them down and gives them time away from their siblings, at the
same time it also gives them practice in reading, allowing them to choose interesting materials from off the family bookshelves. Traveling by car is a very peaceful thing now as both kids are frequently seen with their noses buried in their books. I find I have no one to converse with because of the books. This is a wonderful thing for our family.

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