Now I know I go on and on about Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education (Read more here: What Is A Charlotte Mason Education) but I also mix it up. Yes, Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education is largely what I use to guide my children through learning. Yet, there have been times in our lives that we have relied on unschooling.
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My oldest has medical issues that exacerbate from time to time. When this happens, everything becomes very difficult for her and any type of formal lessons become impossible.
Thank God we homeschool.
Now, I don’t think this would be a form of education that we would switch to entirely (I’ll keep my mind open) but it is a way of learning that we have experienced, rely on during exacerbations, and have come to appreciate.
But what is Unschooling and how do you do it?
What is unschooling? If you haven’t heard of unschooling before or if you have seen the media’s version of extreme unschooling- It isn’t what it sounds like and it’s not what the media has made it seem like. In fact, I don’t really care for the word and prefer the term: desire led learning.
Unschooling is informal learning at its finest; where a child is discovering all of life and being led in that discovery by their own desires.
For example, my oldest has an interest in the solar system I make sure to have on hand Living Books about the solar system so she can pour over them when the interest strikes. When she asks questions that I don’t have the answer to then we research it together. We’ve hand crafted a solar system mobile and she brings it out from a small storage bin to play with from time to time. Nearly every box that comes from amazon has been converted into a rocket ship with turbo boosters. This is a small example of how desire led learning can internalize the knowledge which a child seeks to gain on his/her own.
I know this doesn’t look like much but this was one of the first pictorial narrations my oldest created. Which means while I was reading about the solar system to her-she was drawing the solar system. When she was done this is what she told me about her picture, “This is an asteroid, it is a rocky formation (pronounced fordation lol) that goes around the sun.” She was four at the time, since then she has desired to continue to learn about the solar system in her free time.
Now again, we don’t unschool all the time but we still do (from time to time) even though we have begun formal lessons and this is what it looks like when we do.
Unschooling All The Time
For those that unschool or chose desire led learning all the time simply turn all of life’s lessons into learning. It could be a lesson in math or building social skills at the grocery store. Unschooling is a mindset that respects children and believes they are capable of independently learning without the intrusion of curriculum or formal lessons. If your interested in learning more about unschooling and how to apply it, read books by John Holt. I Believe he is the first unschooler-aka the father of unschooling. He’s written several books, which you can purchase below.
Getting Started With Unschooling
If your wanting to give unschooling a try simply let your children discover through desire led learning. If your child has a particular interest-say engineering, then research that topic together or if they are old enough, encourage them to read about it all on their own. Search out field trips that offer a lesson or hands on experience that would teach to his/her desire. When my oldest is on a solar system kick, she learns all that she can and is so excited to share what she has learned with me. This also lets me know what she is processing, comprehending, and what she actually has learned. You would be surprised how many different subjects can be covered by simply letting a child lead in their learning.
How about you, would you ever unschool or do you allow desire led learning?
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