One of the most common questions / comments we get is, “So where do you kids go to school or it’s good to have this wee holiday now before your kids are due to start school” – along with various other comments.
I remember when Cindy and I first decided to make the change to our lives and head out on this adventure. One of the obvious discussions was schooling for the kids. Now so you understand I was an advocate as to why you should not home school your children. Like a lot of us I had preconceived ideas of what Home schooling was about and the “type of child” that was home schooled and yes I even used to banter on about the whole socialisation thing. They need to be with other kids to develop or they will be missing out. I truly believed that.
So I got to know some home schooling families and I spent time talking to their children I was almost embarrassed at my lack of knowledge and ability when spending time with them. These were clever kids. They were well spoken and could quite confidently hold an interesting conversation and this wasn’t a one off experience.
So I began to entertain the idea of home schooling and getting comfortable with it when Cindy drops a bombshell! “I think we should UN-SCHOOL our children”. What?, are you mad? Next we will be dancing under the moonlight singing kombiah and drinking kombucha (which I must add Cindy makes a very good brew).
Now when we mention that this is the way we have chosen to educate our children you could imagine some of the concerned responses we get from those who care for our children apparently more than us lol.
So why have we chosen this for our children? Well now that we are more educated ourselves, I can say quite confidently, for many reasons.
As some of you may notice from reading my blogs that I am not the worlds best writer and my grammar has a lot to be questioned, but hey you get what I am saying so that is important. I use the spell checker every 5 minutes and have to google the meaning of certain words before using them. Yes I am a state schooled child!
Now I have been told that I don’t lack intelligence but school just wasn’t quite the right fit for me. I am a very curious and creative type person but never found the ability to explore those areas while at school. I also remember losing a lot of confidence when told by a teacher that I didn’t know how to read properly and had a maths teacher say I was a mistake I was born because I was not understanding what he was teaching. Yes I know I am sure those are isolated cases yet they still affected my desire to not go to school. What I have come to realise is they just didn’t understand the way I learn. I have since gone on and self trained and managed to earn a 6 figure income and these days I am completely self taught for the skills I now have to feed my family. Mmmm does this mean we don’t stop learning after school?
Ok enough dribble about me. The reason I am now so convinced about the way we school our children is for the following reasons:
- We are naturally designed to learn
- Creativity allows our brain to develop
- There are several different ways people learn
- We can provide one on one time when our children have specific questions
- Instead of breezing over a topic we have unlimited time to investigate it in much detail.
- Self led learning allows our kids to find confidence and feel a sense of achievement
- Our children will be self initiators rather than instruction lead but still have the ability to follow instruction (most likely questioning if they believe there may be a better way though)
- They will be influenced by all ages and types of people rather than being peer led by someone who has the same understanding about life as them.
- They will learn to engage with all walks of of life and have a broad understanding of different cultures and socio economics
- They will think outside the square and develop the ability to be problem solvers
I could go on but you get the idea
So what is un-schooling?
Now I am certainly no expert on the matter as this is a whole new life for us but my understanding is the basic explanation is self led learning. You allow your child to decide what they are wanting to learn. Now to most that sounds like a scary irresponsible thing yet from what I have observed over the last year is not only is our 6 year old waking up in the morning and wanting to get his writing book out because it is considered play and his 4 year old sister will naturally follow suit.
I think the day that really summed it up for me was the day our 6 year old got to drive a full sized digger by himself (ok he had to sit on my knee to reach the controls, but he drove it). I was sitting in a digger on a Monday afternoon thinking, most kids right now may be reading the well known book A Bigger Digger while Judah is actually driving one. He has read the book as well.
Un-schooling removes the pressure to be at a certain stage in learning and gives the child the ability to express their own desire to learn at there own comfort level without having their confidence a little crushed by a well meaning teacher or other children doing better in standardized exams that don’t prove anything except your ability to memorize information. We also find it also creates a better understanding of collaboration vs competition.
Please don’t mis-understand me, this is not a rampage on teachers and an archaic schooling system that is creating followers rather than innovators and dreamers. I think teachers become teachers because they have a true desire to have input into seeing a child develop and create a successful future. The problem is I feel that the system has let them down by not providing the right tools and overloading classrooms.
I am starting to realise that play has a huge part in the development of a child and if we can create a fun learning environment for our children they will retain more and gain an understanding that school may not be able to provide. It seems to be creating a desire in our children to want to learn.
As far as socialization, our children have several good friends who they get to spend time with, but those children are of varied age which again has multiple advantages.
First off the older children feel responsible for the younger children and learn to develop natural leadership skills, The younger children gain confidence as they are encouraged by the older children to try new things. They learn to communicate at more than one level of understanding and a lot of adults have even found that communicating with our children can surprise them at times with the ability to interact with more than an uhuh response depending on what time they got to bed the night before lol.
There is so much more I could say but one thing I will say is if you have gone down this road or thinking about it you will understand that anytime you move away from tradition there comes the sense of need to justify why you are doing what you do, but at the end of the day you don’t. They are your children and your responsibility and most parents will know that any good parent will only want the best for their child. So stick to your guns.
I have done much research on this form of education and have found it is the most natural way to learn with some astounding positive effects as unschooled children develop and begin to pursue their own future. I myself have taken and passed the mensa exam but school just wasn’t quite sure how to take the way I learn and develop it.
I have included a video below that will help explain in more detail what self directed education is: