Posted by: whimsigal | May 1, 2007

Continuing the story

Well, it sure has been a while since anything was posted here! I guess it doesn’t really matter because I’m the only one who reads this anyway! This morning a post came into my mind and I jotted it down on paper to post here later. Here is what I wrote:

At first blush, unschooling to many people seems like the lazy person’s homeschool method. People think that because you don’t sit down with textbooks and worksheets every day then your children aren’t learning anything. Honestly I didn’t believe it could happen outside of those circumstances either until I saw it firsthand. Unschooling has afforded us a tremendous opportunity to have more time together as a family and, while it’s certainly not for everyone, I wish more people would investigate the possibility that it could work for them.

As I sit here writing this entry my kids are in their playroom, sitting at their computers playing games. They can do that all day if they want to, we have no limits in our house on TV, computer, or video game time. We used to and it was a real battle to get them to think about doing anything else. Once the limitations were removed though, their interests in other activities actually grew. Once they saw that the computer, tv, etc, were not going anywhere they felt free to come and go with it as they pleased. Their interests ebb and flow.

Unschooling is not the easy choice. If anything it requires much more involvement on the parent’s part. Learning opportunities present themselves at any time and usually it’s not at the most convenient moment. You have to be ready to drop what you’re doing in order to focus on your child’s interest at that time. You have to accept that you will only follow that interest as long as your child wants and not to some end that YOU forsee when your child comes to you with a question. It’s extraordinarily difficult to separate yourself from the equation and for us personally it’s a daily struggle to reconcile this new way of life with the way we were raised.

Unschooling works. Evidence of that pops up everyday. The other night our oldest read a book to us that he had never read before. We were stunned at some of the words that he knew as well as the ones that gave him pause. In one sentence he would read the word “technology” without a stutter and in the next he would struggle to read a word like “sign”. He’s obviously a sight reader and just doesn’t understand phonics and that’s okay! He’s made such incredible progress since we decided to homeschool almost a year ago. Our youngest is constantly illustrating the benefits of unschooling. He’s five years old and can effectively navigate through his favorites list on his computer, change his wallpaper, and read several words, all without me sitting down to teach him a thing. He has a thirst for knowledge that has not been squelched by being forced to learn on someone else’s schedule and it’s just amazing to be here to see it. Ever since he could talk he’s been my “I want to do it myself” kid and it carries itself over to his learning style. The other day he had requested a peanut butter-only sandwich for lunch and was standing with me while I made it. He looked at the jar and said, “Momma, where are the words that say peanut butter? Does it start with an “s”?” He asked in a way that said he knew it didn’t begin with an “s” but the biggest word on the jar was Skippy so he needed clarification. Once he was shown the words peanut butter, he ran his finger underneath them and repeated them to himself. I have no doubt he’ll remember them when we get out the jar again.

We have moments like these every day. They’re not glamourous. My kids are not the homeschoolers you see on TV who can tell you the name of every country in the world, all the states and their capitals, or explain Einstein’s theory of relativity. But my kids are happy and they are learning and moments like these help me remember why we made the decision to homeschool in the first place.

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