I’ve been reading a lot about “unschooling” lately. Unschooling is a form of homeschooling where you don’t follow a curriculum; you expose your children to different opportunities to where they will want to explore and learn more about a subject. It sounds fascinating. I’ve always wanted to homeschool my children, and this just seems like it would be so great. I’m still trying to convince The Man about homeschooling and I haven’t even mentioned unschooling, yet…
For most people, unschooling is an absurd idea. The child’s knowledge is limited, so why put her in charge of her own education? It seems like setting a barricade to the child’s life away from the rest of other kids who are obligated to attend classes regularly. She’s not only foreign to the core subjects like science and mathematics, but she’s a world away from interaction. It’s not conductive to life preparations, which is what schools are all about.
But unlike school, the child’s curiosity chooses the direction in unschooling. She decides what she wanted to learn based on her interests. She doesn’t have teachers, but she has parents, relatives, museums, internet, field workers and boundless resources to teach her. Every minute of the day in every corner of the house could be a learning session. There’s no classroom and homeworks; and as Leo Babauta, a parent who unschooled his children, puts it, “there is no division between learning and life”.
Inspired by this, I’ve been purposely letting the Bundle lead me in our play. Child-led play. This is the account of a beautiful afternoon we spent together.
After dinner, I started doing dishes and the Bundle said she wanted to go outside. So I opened the kitchen door that leads outside and we sat down on the steps. It wasn’t long before her wheels began turning. She picked up a rock and exclaimed “I ppffound it, Mama, dook!” She showed it to me and I tell her how pretty it is and describe the rock to her, and put it down on the step. She quickly “pinds” another one and hands it to me. Soon, we have a nice line of rocks going. She picks them all up and decides she wants to line them up, so she does, counting “One, four, five..”
A light bulb goes off and she runs inside, screaming “boll, boll”, and comes back with a green ball. (I think she got the pronunciation of ball from Nana’s accented English).
She throws it to me and I throw it back and she laughs hysterically when I have to go get it. Every. Single. Time. “Go get it,” she tells me. My heart swells up and bursts with love! She is talking so much lately, with sentences!
Later, she runs inside yet again to find another toy to play with. While I wait for her, I look into the distance at the sunset and I feel overwhelmed. I’m a sucker for sunsets. The rays of sunshine stabbing their way through the clouds. Beautiful.
In that moment, I feel the presence of God. In the breathtaking sunset, in warm breeze blowing, in my daughter’s laughter. I worship God through it all.
She comes back and has another ball with her, this time a much bigger and softer ball. We enjoy some more time throwing it back and forth to each other. I take in her laughter, I’m in awe of how much joy a simple ball game brings her and I’m in love. As simple as that.
Yes, I think free learning suits us very well. What are your thoughts about unschooling?