The sweetest most well meaning thing that people say when they meet us travelling with our 2 and 4 year old is ‘aw…such a beautiful age’ & ‘great time to travel, get it all done before they have to start school!’
Depending on how interested we are in explaining our life style to the person in question, sometimes we nod, smile sweetly and walk on by.
Other times we mention that school isn’t the end game for us in terms of our children’s learning and path into adulthood.
We might even go on to talk about this crazy idea we have that life shouldn’t be something you just try to get out the way before school happens. Or willingly put it on the back burner till retirement age, when we are allowed to start it up again. In our heads learning is something that is part of life, weaving it’s way through every thread of experience that occurs in our lifetime.
Learning is not restricted to certain times of the week or years of our life. (Take note adults!) Above all we really value giving our children the freedom to follow their curiosity and find out as many answers to the many questions they hopefully will have about life.
What is Unschooling?
So it’s pretty standard you’ve guessed by now we love traveling with our family and are fans of the home school. Early on I began reading and researching many different takes on the home school approach. Before discovering this magical thing called unschooling.
It was the first time that something in the world of education spoke to me on a gut level of understanding about how we learn and grow as people.
It fitted in with every experience I had of working with children in nursery schools, every theory I had read about developmental psychology whilst working towards my degree.
Most importantly beyond any research or logic it just resonated with me completely on a human level. Reflecting on memories of my own upbringing and from watching my children explore the world around them. I was beyond excited to discover this label for learning that encompassed a way of child lead, curiosity driven, free, open, big world education. No curriculum, no targets, no tests, no pushy adults.
Unschooling basically means you trust the child to dictate what they want to learn, when they are ready to learn it and how much time they want to spend on it.
The role of the adult is to connect the child with the space and appropriate resources to provide an opportunity to learn.
Our ethos is mainly that we will encourage the children to read, write and some basic arithmetic (at their own pace!) to get by in this life. All other learning is completely of their choosing…they get to be the masters of their own curriculum.
Whether it be learning how to use ropes to climb trees, learning about the eco-systems in our oceans, what the moving parts in a car engine do, the history of each country in Europe, speaking different languages, how to build fires, use tools to build things, how to set up a bank account, how to stand up for themselves in the face of persecution, build a cob house, how to trust their instincts, surf, love nature, balance a cheque book, cook recipes they love, play an instrument, mediate a disagreement, listen to their emotions, be kind to others or learn every fact they can about penguins or ancient civilisations. We will be there to provide, if not with our own knowledge by putting them in touch with people or resources that can.
This is such a small list of possibilities, it could be anything, I’m sure if they had a passion for it, we would even help them get that book out of the library with a few hundred volumes on algebra and trigonometry.
The idea behind it all is that you are nurturing a whole person, not just teaching a child a set list of pre-determined facts about the world. It is not only an opportunity to develop knowledge and practical skills but also self-confidence, character and spirit. A knowing of oneself and their place in the world.
I have no idea where their interests will take our unschooling journey but whatever it is I’m excited to find out. I’m hoping we will learn lots along the way.