Though this is not (like ever, in a million years) a path I expected to be on, I have fallen in love with the Unschooling life. We are still very much learning and I still have a long way to go.
Rather than talking about my mistakes and successes, or how much better life is now, today I want to share 5 (ish) reasons I love Unschooling. There are so many more than this- maybe I will share subsequent posts. For now, let’s start with the first 5 I think of:
1. When my kids need to tune out they can. Rather than being shuffled through a day that is beyond their control my kids can engage authentically and take time to sit on the couch and listen to music, read a book, or play video games- all with my arms available for snuggles when wanted or needed.
2. My kids can wake when they are rested instead of in time to be somewhere. There have been about 6 times in my daughter’s life that she’s been woken from sleep rather than waking when she is ready (all have involved either travel or an activity of her choosing. And everyday, when my kids emerge from their bedroom, rubbing their eyes, still in their jimmies, and snuggle me on the couch, I practice gratitude that this is the start to their day.
3. Bells and clocks do not stop projects. Whether it’s crafting, a science project, leveling up, or a dance party, our activities and projects stop because we want them to, not because a bell has rung, or the clock has reached a certain hour. Typically when we stop doing a project, we are either ready to move onto something else, or have made plans that (at least one of) the kids are excited about. This allows my children to fully explore and dig into whatever they are working on. This is an awesome way for kids to live and learn!
4. My kids can eat what they are in the mood for everyday. I loved getting notes in my lunchbox growing up. I also remember being tired and/or stressed at lunch, and wishing I’d chosen ham and cheese instead of PB&J. I also remember loving the days when I had a thermos full of hot soup lovingly made by my mom (often times this actually made me homesick). Sometimes, my stomach grumbled an hour before the next time I was allowed to eat.
With most meals, I think about how happy it makes me that my kids can eat what they want when they are hungry each day. When I put a monkey platter out mid-morning I think about how nice it must be to eat something prepared with love while working on a chosen project.
Pre 5. We have museum volunteers all to ourselves! The Museum Volunteers we know are passionate about their subject matter and are eager to share. They are so excited to answer questions and explain the topic. Visiting the museum on Tuesday at 2 means that field trips are gone, and everyone else is at work. We just about have the place to ourselves. My kids have the opportunity to ask as many questions as they would like, and have the undivided attention, of someone who knows the topic well.
5. My kids are living and learning in the real world. There comes a point when you get it. A point when you stop worrying about whether or not your kids are learning, looking for “teachable moments” and when the line between living and learning is no longer blurred because it does not even exist.
Living and learning this way means there is context to everything. Learning is authentic, desired, and natural. Learning happens all the time.
In any given day, my kids interact with: neighbors, grocery store clerks, attendants at; museums, movie theaters, and jump places, their friends, friends’ parents, maintenance personnel, co-workers, spouses co-workers, bell hops, mechanics, front desk clerks, life-guards, electricians, bankers, installation personnel, salespeople, activists, protestors, scientists, botanists, snowblowers, realtors, entrepreneurs, aunts, uncles, grandparents (okay, I have to stop, because I think I could easily go on for 3,000 more words).
These interactions are all out in the real world. Nothing is extracted or isolated away from the experiences that put learning into context. Everything connects.
My kids are learning about real life from real people. Whether that’s chemistry or science at museums/classes, or leveling up with friends, the conversations and learning that happens every day could never be replicated in a non real world setting.
There are so many things I love about the Unschooling life. It’s beautiful and so much more peaceful than I ever could have imagined. Instead of fighting about homework, we are watching a documentary about a man who escaped Vietnam and is now a Chief Engineer at Lockheed Martin (or watching Modern Family) and snuggling. Instead of shoving everyone off to bed so that they are slightly less sleep deprived, bedtime is peaceful (mostly) and everyone gets the sleep their body needs.
This is not to say our home is a picture of peace all the time- I am still learning how to live respectfully with my children and get over my own stuff… the stuff that makes me unkind to my kids.
There are so many wonderful things about Unschooling. My favorite is that I get to know my kids for who they truly are, instead of who I would have forced them to be- but I think that is a post for another time.
What do you love about Unschooling?
Wondering what Unschooling is? Here are a couple of resources: