The very word use to send my educated sensibilities into a spin. I imagined wild-eyed kids running through the house. I saw the mom asleep on the couch as the kids did anything they wanted to. Total chaos.
But unschooling isn’t anarchy. It isn’t anti-schooling. Unschooling is true, inspired learning.
In a practical sense it means that we approach learning through our children’s interests each and every day. We have no agenda, no curriculum, no grades. We have no testing (hooray!), no educational milestones, no list of what our kids must know/do/experience/master by a certain age.
Learning happens everyday at the pace of each child. Unschooling means trusting your child and facilitating their learning.
Yesterday Sage wanted to play a game, but I was painting the kitchen. I told him I would play after Lupine’s nap. That gave him a good two hours to work with first. He milled around the house looking for something fun. He painted with me for a while, but after two days in the kitchen, the novelty of Smoked Oyster and Late Afternoon had already worn off for him.
He was bored.
And so he got busy.
With no guidance or direction, Sage decided to build a birdhouse. His design, his hammer, his ideas. He needed grown-up help with cutting the boards, determining the roof angle, and twice to hold a tricky piece while hammering. But the rest was all him.
He sat on the concrete in total bliss and worked the afternoon through. For an almost six year old, that project contained a great deal of planning, focus, patience, and follow-through. Right there on our garage floor there was learning going on. Biology. Ecology. Math. Geometry. Physics.
With no curriculum required.
We wrapped the day up with a cultural lesson on Paraguay from Denise (past Peace Corps volunteer) as we sipped mate, and an entomology lesson as we watched a queen Leaf Cutter Bee roll tender leaves into tubes and pull them into a hole in our house.
(Sage thinks she is a fairy and it was her wallpaper, so maybe the entomology lesson was more for me.)