Saturday, March 26, 2016

U is for Unexpected Unschooling ~ Blogging through the Alphabet

When I first started researching homeschool, I found out quickly that there are many different methods to it. You've got traditional, classical, Charlotte Mason, eclectic, Montessori, and unschooling to name a few. This had me so overwhelmed after I began that I almost gave up! I read through most of the methods and a few sounded like they could be good fit for us, and I definitely wanted to do some further research on them. Out of all the methods listed, unschooling was the furthest from my mind. It just sounded crazy to a person like me who knew nothing but public school my entire life.

We started off doing traditional style school, and I realized pretty quick that all I was doing was recreating a public school atmosphere at home. The kids weren't happy, I wasn't happy, so we just decided that it wasn't working for us. I mean why would I want to recreate the school I had taken them out of. In my opinion, for MY kids, public school completely stifled their love of learning. This may not happen for all kids, but for mine it was just the truth. So in trying to really figure this homeschool thing out, I just decided to try different methods and curriculum until I found something that worked for us. Some things stuck and some didn't. I decided that we would just be eclectic homeschoolers.

Through all of my research, I would always find myself back to researching John Holt and his methods of unschooling, or unschooling families who already live this lifestyle of learning. In the beginning what I thought was such a wild way of learning was now seeming to make so much more sense to me. This unschooling or child led, organic, natural, self directed learning was sounding better and better. My kids are born natural learners and they are born with a passion to learn, but no books? No worksheets?  No TESTS? I was slowly getting out of my public school mindset but to just let my kids take charge of what they wanted to learn? That's absurd!

Unschooling by definition is "an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner chosen activities as a primary means for learning." The question was, how could I incorporate this into our "school". I decided that we would ease into this method of learning because it was so new to me.  I also wanted to see what would happen if I let them learn a little more organically rather than try to shove so much information down their throat at one time. As eclectic homeschoolers, we did math the traditional way,'s math and I just couldn't let go of it. Language Arts is a mix of traditional and Charlotte Mason (they actually really enjoy copy work so why mess with it.) We also use the Charlotte Mason method for history and science, and they love learning it that way.  As I started letting them take some direction on their learning, a funny thing happened. It made me realize that they do know themselves better than I thought. We started having discussions about the history or science we were learning, and I could see where their interests were peaking. I let them start directing me on what they wanted to learn in science, and before you knew it, we were learning about weather, climates, and the human body. They wanted to learn these things and were actually retaining the information that they learned. It was like a breath of fresh air really. They read about different subjects, watched documentaries on it, and learned.

As we continued our schooling as eclectic homeschoolers, we started to have some unschooling tendencies. I realized that I wanted our structured learning to be done quickly, so that the kids could play, and work on things that they wanted to learn. Read books that they wanted to read.  They get excited about the things they want to learn and tell everyone about it. My son wanted to learn cursive, and begged me to teach him. I did, and he loves it. This was completely unschooling. He asked to learn cursive, and I made that happen. I became a facilitator and gave him what he needed to learn it.

Edyn taught herself to loom knit. She wanted to try it and I bought her the supplies. She watched YouTube videos and taught herself everything she needed to know. She even made hats to sell and also for gifts. So, her loom knitting turned into a small business for her. She learned about taking special orders, profits and also overhead. She learned that her time was valuable. All of this because she wanted to learn how to loom knit.

Edyn's loom knitted owl

My favorite thing about our unexpected unschooling has been that Edyn has taught herself how to do  make-up well enough that she could be a make-up artist at 14. Again, through YouTube videos she has taught herself techniques and practices everyday. Now she even has her own YouTube channel for her own tutorials. (It's called GardenofEdyn in case you want to check it out!) We realized that through this natural, self directed learning that she has a God given talent! She has even had a professional make-up artist tell her that she does indeed have a gift!

Edyn doing her Adele inspired make-up tutorial..and yes they look a lot alike!

She also has a passion for photography. She has taught herself how to use her DSLR camera, and learned how to work it so that it's not just on auto. With her YouTube videos, she has learned to film herself, but she's also taught herself how to edit her videos on the computer. She amazes me with her knowledge of these things and especially since they are all self-taught!

I know that we can't officially call ourselves unschoolers because we do still use books to learn also, but I will say that we are eclectic homeschoolers with unschooling tendencies. I wish I was the type of person that could just let go and let them unschool it all....but right now I can't. I really enjoy watching them teach themselves and mastering different tasks. I feel like they do still want to learn, and letting them take the lead with some things is giving them the confidence they need to know that they CAN teach themselves without me standing over them all of the time.

I really have so much respect for true unschooling families. Unschooling is definitely not un-parenting! If anything it's even harder because you basically follow your child's lead, and we all know children's interests can change from day to day!

I am super excited about what some unschooling "tendencies" has done for us. I really hope that we can go down that road a little more and more as time goes on. Do you have unschooling tendencies or are you an unschooling family? I would love to hear from you so that I can learn more about it, and what it has done for your children!

To read other Blogging Through the Alphabet posts click the link below!

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