Monday, September 26, 2011

Homeschool vs. Unschool

We are nothing if not eclectic. We most definately wouldn't be considered
 "traditional" schoolers- although, we do read the classics.

By my definition we aren't hardcore "unschoolers" - although we spend
as much time as possible learning while sitting around the campfire
 and walking in the woods.

The boys are thriving this way.
I smiled the other day as I listened to my 6 year old explain to my 5 year old
exactly how clouds work and what makes it rain.

They identify birds and bugs that I've never even heard of;
then they tell you what it eats & how it lives.

I think that's pretty exciting!
Don't get me wrong- I understand it isn't for everyone;
but it works for us.

We do sit down at the table and have writing assignments,
 and I do actually plan lessons-
but, I take the boys interests to heart when planning those lessons
because - well, "forcing" boys to sit still everyday for long periods
and do things they HATE is most
definately NOT my idea of a  happy family life.

I don't happen to believe that it makes for a very efficient learning
environment either!

Although I love the idea behind Unschooling - I am not willing to wait
until my 6 year old decides it's time to learn to read to teach him that skill.
He would be about 30.


There are many different levels of Unschooling -
Dr. Sandy Gluckman drew my attention to
  an interesting article (here) by on the topic -

 If their sited definition is correct:
"Unschooling is a subset of Homeschooling that is more eclectic,
child-led, and less structured than traditional Homeschooling or Public
schooling. The emphasis is on natural and perpetual learning and does not
focus on a fixed curriculum."
. . . then I'd have to say - We're all about it!

The article named author Patrick Farenga as the source for the definition
 and quoted him as saying,
 "I define it as allowing your children as much freedom to explore the
world as you can comfortably bear as a parent."

Personally, I just call that parenting.
After all, isn't that a big part of what we are here for; to teach our
children how to safely navigate their way around the world independently?

I think that by it's definition, Unschooling is open to a lot different interpretation.

When I first heard the term I immediately googled it and read
everything I could on the topic.

It was my understanding that true hardcore Unschoolers don't really
teach at all, but rather let their children do whatever they are interested in doing.

As crazy as it sounds, I read a lot of statements from parents swearing
that not only did their children eventually decide that they
wanted to read and write, but that they went on
to higher math & into college.

If a child loves video games, they eventually need to learn to read
in order to advance as a gamer. RIGHT?

I'm too much of a control freak to completely let them direct
their own education, but I was just interrupted by my 10 year old who asked
'how much longer until Christmas?'
In the true spirit of Unschooling- my answer was,
'Go look at the calendar'.
He's sitting beside me as I type, and has counted the months, the days,
and is currently calculating the weeks, hours, and minutes until Christmas!

We do this:

And we do this:

 I take each child's talents and interests
into consideration as I loosely lay out our plans for each week.

For instance:
My youngest child has struggled with learning his letters.
He's a smart boy; but we can make "G's" all day long and then he'll
turn around and tell you it's an "E"

He is also quite the budding artist:
(I happen to think a very good one at only 5 years of age!)

Instead of pulling my hair out when he makes pages of
nice little letters and then calls them the wrong name-
I use art to help him learn:

Yup, yellow and blue make Green.
"Gg" is for Green

The 6 year old couldn't be left out of this one-
We made G's with our fingers and also used the pencil eraser:

When that got old- we snipped the corner of the baggie and
drizzled Gg's onto art paper.

Although creative, this looks a lot like regular school to me.


. . . not so much.

But, writing a paper about
"The History of Surfing" works.

So does visiting the Sea Turtle rescue center & learning as much as
we can about the marine life around us.

Although learning to throw a cast net doesn't look much like
"curriculum" to most people:
An obsession (not an exaggeration) with fishing
and with art is exactly what it has taken to get this little guy to
start remembering his letters and the sounds they make.

In our house "Ff" is MOST definately for FISHING!

Are we traditional "Homeschool" or "Unschool"?
Yes, No, and Sometimes.

Ultimately (even though the boys have to do plenty of things they
don't particularly like - such as learn to write) it is my desire to instill a love
for learning and a passion for investigating the world around them.

I like to call it:


*Dr. Sandy Gluckman- is an advocate for
children and is asking parents and teachers to wake up and realize that
the behavior and learning problems we are seeing in children across the
country is largely (95%) due to and triggered by stress. Please take the
time to read the valuable information she has provided on her site.
You won't be sorry! 

*First and foremost before we make any decisions in our family or
family homeschool- we pray. Praying for our children has made all
the difference. Our adopted son, in particular has many things to
overcome & we find that God consistently brings us the information we need.

Linking with:

Sweet Shot Day    


Young Adventures... said...

Seems like a well-balanced school day to me. Good job on what works for your boys and your family as a whole!

Michelle said...

Sounds wonderful! And it definitely sounds like you have a good balance. I believe in OH, if kids don't go to a structured school, you have to submit your curriculum and the state has to approve it. So, I'm not sure Ohio would let us "unschool". The kids have to test at a certain level every year they're at home.

I'm a bit of a control freak, too. I think as women, in general, we always are!!!

Susan S said...

"Fun School"... I like it!

Pieces of Sunshine said...

Sounds like a good balance of structure and "life learning". What works for one season will often be changed and refined in another. The joy of flexibility.

Shiloh said...

I think the beauty of all the homeschooling resources available is that you can school like this. I know as we got further in school we were able to do things more to our specific interests. Partly because we were older and could do more on our own, and partly because more was available. My favorite thing was the history reading we had. There was some required books (some were not interesting) and then a bunch of electives. We could choose a certain number from the list. Obviously, my brother and I chose very different books from the list.:)

Project Life Blog Queen said...

Great article! We do things similarly. The main thing I have learned on our journey is that whether we are doing a lot of formal school or not I need to make sure it is what is best for my kids and our family. But watch out - those high school transcripts will give you a lot to think about, especially for those of your children who aren't exactly "into" traditional academic subjects. LOL

Hi! I'm Shanna. said...

I can totally relate to this although my oldest if 5 and my youngest is 3. I was so proud the day my then 4 year old surprised the educator at the aquarium when he was asked if he knew the other name for an orca whale and correctly stated "killer whale." Anyway, I'm teaching my 5 year old his letters and he too confuses e and g on a regular bases - an interesting similarity.

Mom2Desiree said...

I enjoyed reading this post! Even though Bug is only 3.5, I often wonder what type of homeschoolers we'll be. As of now, I like how you've put it. We're here, we're there, we're in, we're out. We sit for some lessons, and follow the interests of the little one.
Thanks for sharing!