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Sunday, April 14, 2013

What I’ve Learned…

I’ve learned quite a bit along our deschool/unschooling journey.  Granted, we’ve only spent about 6 weeks on this journey, but it has been a very eye-opening experience.  We still have a few more weeks left, but I thought I’d go ahead and share what I’ve learned.

  1. My son NEEDS boundaries and guidelines when it comes to screen time.  I know there are many unschoolers out there who will say that your child will learn to self-regulate and won’t want to watch TV or play games ALL day.  However, I just don’t think that’s true with EVERY my child.  He has proven to us on numerous occasions that he will sit and play Animal Jam (insert another PC game or Wii game) for hours on end.  So, for his sake and mine, there has to be guidelines in place to monitor his screen time.
  2. I can’t completely let all control go when it comes to math and language arts.  Again, I know there are unschoolers who will tell me that if I’m still breaking stuff down into subjects, then I’m not truly unschooling.  I, however, believe differently.  In my heart of hearts, I think there are many rungs on the unschool ladder.  I don’t think you have to unschool every subject or even ALL of life.  For us – it’s just not what is best.  I’m not saying I have to use a set curriculum, but Caleb needs to do some sort of math and language arts each day.  I’m perfectly content letting HIM choose what he does, but he will have to do something.  It’s my job to provide all sorts of materials and experiences for him, and I’ve been building up our home library and homeschool supplies with math and language arts choices.  I’ll share more about these in another post…I’m hoping Caleb finds them useful and intriguing.
  3. My son is quite capable of unschooling himself when it comes to science and social studies.  Caleb LOVES these two subjects, and when left to his own vices he will usually gravitate towards an informational text.  He will also choose a science or history show on Netflix or on TV the majority of the time.  So, I’m completely comfortable not having control of these two areas…he has proven he knows where to find information for these topics, and he does it without my assistance.
  4. This goes back to number 2, but I’ve found out by visiting various unschool groups on Facebook, that not all unschoolers agree with my philosophy on the matter.  Like I mentioned, I think it’s perfectly fine to have some sort of structure to your day regarding some school subjects, but then release that structure for other areas.  However, most unschoolers will tell you that this is not unschooling.  It goes back to my thinking of “you have to do what is best for YOUR family.”  I don’t think there’s a wrong way to unschool…however, unschoolers will certainly disagree with me.  That’s okay…I’m fine with that.  They will say that what I’m doing is relaxed schooling…not unschooling.  While that may be true to them, I don’t think it really matters what the label is.  If I want to call what we’re doing for everything minus math and language arts “UNSCHOOLING”, then that’s what it’ll be called.  The main thing I learned from all of the books that I read is you have to make UNSCHOOLING work for YOUR family in the way that is best.  Unschooling in my house doesn’t have to look like unschooling in your house for it to be called the same thing.
  5.  There are advantages to making notes of what my son reads, watches, plays, and accomplishes along the way.  While this isn’t necessary for all folks and some would think it’s tedious, I have enjoyed being able to mark down what Caleb does in a week.  It allows me to see where his interests are, and it also works as an accountability system if you live in a state where that matters.  It’s also nice for folks like me who enjoy blogging about their homeschool weeks.  Smile 
  6. You need to stop and take time to assess how what you’re doing is working, and get your child involved.  I think this is true in all areas of life, but it’s especially true when it comes to homeschooling.  If you are schooling a certain way and things aren’t working, then it’s okay to change them.  If your child isn’t happy or is frustrated with the current method, then TALK with them.  Get their opinion and ask them what their goals are when it comes to their education.  This is obviously easier with an older child, but I feel that you can ask a Kindergartener what they’d like to learn each day.  Ask your child how they think they’d best learn math, language, or whatever else.  Give them the opportunity to make decisions and then give them a chance.  You’ll eventually know if it’s going to work or not…then you can always continue or tweak the system again.  We’ve changed our method of schooling many times, but I’ve learned that Caleb needs to be involved in the decisions just as much as I am.  He has a voice, and I need to listen to his opinion. 
So, there you have it…that’s what I’ve learned.  I’m sure I may learn more over the next few weeks, and if so, then I’ll come back with Part 2.  We’ve got 13 more days left of 4th grade, and then we’re going to take a break.  We’ll start back with 5th grade in June, and there will be some changes.  I’ll share those later…I may learn more by then and change my mind again.  Smile


Lin said...

I don't know about "unschooling" or any of that, but I always found that my kids did best with a schedule and set expectations. But that worked for us--and not for everyone else. I think it's important to know what works and what doesn't for each individual.

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