Ten Things Unschooling Moms Know
If you’re unschooling, or even just homeschooling, you’ll get a lot of questions about your methods. Everyone will feel justified in asking you how you ensure your child is learning, how you assess him, or how you feel he will succeed in life without a ‘proper’ education.
Sometimes you’ll find these questions difficult to answer, because after unschooling for a while there will be a lot of stuff you just know. You won’t even know for sure how you know it. Here are some of the things unschooling moms learn along the way:
Kids learn on their own schedule.
Sometimes they read at four, sometimes at eight. Some kids start counting as soon as they can talk, some a little later. A child who doesn’t like reading when she first learns might discover Harry Potter at ten years old. Then she’ll rapidly read all seven books in the space of a few months.
Kids learn in their own way.
Some children learn by reading books or watching educational TV. Some learn by playing a game. Some learn by baking, or building, or writing a newsletter or producing a play.
Kids learn about things they need to know about.
If a skill is necessary for a functional life, kids will see the need (and find the motivation) to master it. Kids often learn skills (like reading, counting, cooking, or conversation) when they realize they’re going to need to know how to do that to live a full, functional life like mom, dad and other adults do.
Kids learn about stuff they love.
It doesn’t matter if they go through phases of loving earthworms, or Justin Bieber. They’ll also go through phases of loving Medieval History or Jane Austen.
Kids learn by example.
It’s amazing what kids learn by watching you. Not just manners and morality and how to have a grown-up conversation, but quite technical stuff like knitting and cooking and playing a musical instrument.
Kids learn by doing.
It’s great to teach a child how to read or how to play an instrument, but leave them alone with a good book or a keyboard and watch what happens!
Kids learn by applying what they know to different situations.
They apply fractions to baking a cake. Division to sharing the spoils of a yard sale with friends or siblings. Multiplication to working out how much money they’ll get from their baby sitting hours this month. Life is a great teacher.
Kids naturally ‘layer’ their learning to cement a concept.
When a child is interested in something he’ll read a book about it, write a story about it, watch a documentary on it, and take an online quiz on it. I’ve seen this happen over and over, whether the topic in question is the life of Albert Einstein or Star Trek.
Kids learn different things from different people.
Give them opportunities to hang out with grandparents, cousins, neighbors and friends. They’ll soon be teaching you the things they learned from other people.
Kids learn all the time.
From the moment they wake up until they fall asleep at night. Learning isn’t restricted to the time spent sitting in a classroom. Our homeschooling motto paraphrases a famous bumper sticker. “Learning Happens”.
Karen is a freelance writer and homeschooling mother of two. Originally from England, she has lived, worked and studied in Canada, Spain, The Netherlands and Australia. She loves the fact that freelancing and homeschooling allow her family to be (fairly) location independent. Her writing specialties include travel, lifestyle, parenting and natural living. She also blogs about writing, publishing and creativity at Change The World With Words.