Let me begin by saying we each choose our own perfect path. This is mine. If your kids go to public school or private school or you "do school" at home, no judgement here. This is my answer to the many emails asking "What is unschooling? Just how do you learn?" Love, Rachel
Today our regular schedule of homeschooling resumes with the return of our last school friends to their classrooms. The rhythm of summer, comprised of learning at home along with much play with school friends, will give way to our fall rhythm today where we pull more closely in as a family, find the new tempo of our days, and dig into this life.
Unschooling means we don't follow a curriculum or "do school" at home. You won't find my kids at desks, me teaching them from a book or stranding at a blackboard. Sure, books are a big part of our learning, but not like you or I experienced in school years back. It means we learn everywhere and with everything: in the kitchen, the woods, the park, the garage, the garden, the city, the river, the farm, the library, the coop. We learn with measuring spoons, caterpillars, woodchucks, rocks, a microscope, scissors and tape, tennis balls, seeds, straws, and salt. (Thought not at the same time, thought that would be interesting…)
Our 3-R's come through everyday experiences – learning to read together snuggled under the afghan on the couch with a captivating book or by following the instructions for putting together a solar robot; learning division and fractions by determing how many pieces of watermelon we each get if it was cut into 11 pieces and there are 4 of us; learning to write by jotting down recipes for plant medicine. And not because it was my idea. Because it is theirs. Because they – like anyone who has not learned otherwise through the intervention of well-meaning adults – are hungry for knowledge.
Unschooling is built on trust. We trust that our kids will learn – in their own time and way – everything they need and want to know. Everything. We're not cramming them with facts. Instead we're helping guide our children and facilitate their learning. We are helping them keep their passion for knowledge alive.
For those who don't unschool or know any unschoolers it sounds too easy to be true. Live and learn, literally? Well, yes. We love it. We believe in it. We see it work each and every day. And we can't imagine it any other way.
Some favorite books on the subject include:
and Teach Your Own
I'll leave you with a John Holt quote (author of Teach Your Own and the "father" of the unschooling movement):
"Of course, a child may not know what he may need to know in ten years (who does?), but he knows, and much better than anyone else, what he wants and needs to know right now, what his mind is ready and hungry for. If we help him, or just allow him, to learn that, he will remember it, use it, build on it. If we try to make him learn something else, that we think is more important, the chances are that he won't learn it, or will learn very little of it, that he will soon forget most of what he learned, and what is worst of all, will before long lose most of his appetite for learning anything." ~John Holt
Happy learning everyone!