We’ve been homeschooling for 9 months now, well actually we started off with the plan to homeschool but then we found that the whole structure thing isn’t really for us and that unschooling is more up our Alley. It’s something that comes really naturally to kids, but us parents have to learn it. Or re-learn it after years of rigorous “there is only one way to learn” school brain programming.
So, we’ve survived! And I thought I’d share some things that unschooling has taught me…
• Sometimes the best thing a parent can do for a child is to be quiet and leave them alone. Cause usually if you’re like me you’ll want it perfect and that’s really not the point.
• The best lessons are never found in a classroom. Seriously. Even a drive to the waterfront has a good few lessons in it – road rules, adding up the numbers on the number plates, reading signs, socialising with strangers on the jungle gym etc.
• Children learn from EVERYTHING, including bad sit-coms, minecraft, grocery shopping and yup even the Wii.
• It’s nice to sleep until 9am. Let them! Sleep is good for them and the great thing about unschooling is you don’t have to sit in a classroom for 6 hours a day with a rigid schedule. And if they want to stay up a few minutes past bedtime to play a game of black jack with you just chalk it up to a late night lesson cause they’re learning from that as well.
• Preaching at your kid is always a useless endeavour. Seriously, you may as well record yourself cause that argument is going to be repeated constantly and it’s really frustrating and tiring.
• Saying ‘yes’ as much as possible is great, but you can’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Stand your ground but giving them freedom to make their own mistakes is good for them also.
• The only people who care at what age a child learns to read are the parents. (unless the child is in school, of course). Once a child is reading, nobody ever says ‘yes, but at what age did they learn?’ So really, don’t stress or push it. Just keep at it and eventually they WILL get it. This was my biggest lesson of all actually.
• The library is heaven unbeknownst to many a person and getting a card is free. Yes you get a few fees if you bring them back late but those fees are still less than having to buy all those books yourself and hey they go to a good cause.
• For the most part I have pretty much no idea where my kid learns half the things he knows. I’m chalking most of it up to YouTube videos. There is A LOT you can learn on there. It’s definitely not the TV cause that’s not hooked up to anything but the WII (and then only when the old girl decides she wants to actually switch on).
• There is honestly no such thing as the ‘right way’ when it comes to education. There is only what works and what doesn’t, and it differs for every child just like it does with adults. The way I study isn’t necessarily the way he studies. I make notes and draw pictures while I listen. Fysh has to talk about everything.
• Most people talk to children as though they are idiots. They really aren’t. Actually, my kid is a lot smarter than some people I know. Talk to them like you’d want to be talked to. Like I mentioned before… they learn from EVERYTHING.
• You are never too old to play snakes and ladders, monopoly, dominoes, snap, Cluedo or anything of the sort. Speaking of which… monopoly is a really great way to learn math.
• There are so many free educational apps available. Some you might need to upgrade or have in app purchases but there are some awesome ones that really are free. Find them, learning via games makes learning more fun and less stressful. And if you don’t have a tablet just google, there are SO many free resources out there for you to download and print :)
• Learning does not need to be complicated and that I am intelligent enough and fully capable of teaching my own child.
• There is no such thing as a ‘typical day’. And trying to plan one is going to fail horribly and make you have an anxiety attack trying to keep it going to plan. Learning happens constantly, not just Monday to Friday from the hours 9 to 3. If you have a bad day today there is always tomorrow. And Saturday also counts as a tomorrow. But if a bit of structure helps you settle then set simple weekly and monthly goals.