Sunday, April 14, 2013

Almost Unschooling

It's been a month since my last post about dropping our curriculum.  It's been a very fun month of exploring new and old ideas about education for me.  I have been reading many blogs, websites and books. Here are a few of the resources I have been devouring
Books -
Christian Unschooling by Teri J Brown
The Joyful Home Schooler by Mary Hood, Ph.D.
Wisdom's Way of Learning 4 Booklet Set by Marilyn Howshall

Websites-  and their Facebook Page and their Facebook Page

Through all of this I have come to some conclusions.

  • I have no desire to reproduce any methods of learning used in schools!  None of these methods are based on active, interest lead learning. I have no interests in text books or teacher directed lessons or projects.  These methods do not produce real learning.  Things forced are never remembered long term.  
  • My role as a homeschool mom can be described as mentor, resource manager, and cheer-leader - not as a teacher.  
  • The only way to approach this kind of education is through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Without the Lord in the center, this type of education becomes self-centered.
  • A relaxed approach to education is the best fit for my daughter's learning style and personality.

I have also learned much about my daughter the last few weeks.  
  • Her main ways of learning are through creative pursuits and taking in visual information through books and videos
  • Without the stress of forced lessons, we get along MUCH better.  We have had very few disagreements and she had been much more conversational.  
  • She is even more creatively bent that I realized! She seems to almost always be creating something - nail art, an outfit, drawing, rearranging her room, etc...  She also spends a lot of time looking at things other people have created on Youtube and Pinterest.  This is one of her major gifting.
  • She has a great memory!
La's Original Nail Art
I titled this post Almost Unschooling because there are some aspects of Unschooling I do not agree with.  As I have read, I learned that most Unschoolers do not limit TV & video games.  The rational is that kids will eventually self-regulate these mediums when they are not "forbidden fruit" and that these are actually valuable learning tools.  While I agree with these two points somewhat, I am not willing to let my child binge on TV for 9 months while I wait for her to self-regulate.  I believe that yes, TV & videos games have learning value, but they take up the time that could be spent on active learning that has even more value.  Also, I do not think all TV programs and all video games have equal value.  Secondly, many Unschoolers seem to subscribe to a democratic parenting process where parents do not have authority over their children.  This does not work for my husband or myself.  I do believe in letting children of all ages express their opinions and feelings in a respectful manner. I do believe that their opinions and feelings need to validated. I also believe that parents have the final word on decisions for the family.  A four year old may not be able to reason that he has eaten enough sugar and needs to stop.  That's what his parents are for.  I believe in Authoritative Parenting, not Authoritarian or Permissive.  Clear boundaries, logical and natural consequences, love, affection, and respect.  

There are still a lot of things I am questioning.  Whenever I want to say no to La, I am questioning why I want to say no.  I am saying yes more often and we are having fun.  Every time the word "should" pops into my head with regards to schoolish things I ask myself why I am "shoulding on myself" ;).  Usually it's my years of school programming talking.  I know I will be adding some sort of structure to our educational efforts.  I am just not sure what that will look like yet.  It may just be some guided goal setting ...

I have been journalling what we have been doing every week.  Below is this week's summary.  I write it up in narrative form and then on the right I put the school subjects that go along with each paragraph.  I need to do an evaluation at the end of the school year, so I am doing this to help in that.  This week I found it harder to think in school subjects.  In real-life learning, the lines between school subjects gets blurry very fast!  All subjects in life are so inter-connected it is hard to separate them.  Take archery for example.  I put Physical Education for archery but it is also Science, Math, Social Development Opportunity, Survival Skills and History.  

As you can see there is so much learning happening all the time! This is just a sampling of what we did. There was more. When you think about, I am only guessing at what she actually has learned.  I know what she knows from conversation, but I am not in her head.  I truly believe you can never know exactly what your kids are learning, because you are not them.  

I have a lot more to learn and sort out, but I am truly enjoying this journey!