When people begin to homeschool in a less-traditional way, they often worry if they are doing enough, providing enough, educating enough. Good parents worry about that all the time – in non-academic ways too:
"Are we connecting enough?"
Let’s face it, it would be a lot easier to follow a curriculum or just do what the teacher told you to do. But now you’re aspiring for more than that kind of mindless following. While you recognize that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for you, that does put a significant amount of responsibility on your shoulders. And that often leads to feeling pressure.
Sometimes we worry about whether we’re doing enough because we have been told so many times about the importance of “Structure!” So when we are stepping off the predesigned conventional path, it feels loose and lacking in purpose. Yes, it’s loose - in that the new structure is more flexible and fluid. We won’t need to get approval from some powers-that-be to make adjustments to our day! We are taking our cues from the here and now! And that may mean... it’s too gorgeous of a day to stay inside, or maybe one of the kids isn’t feeling so great, so staying home is exactly what needs to happen. It’s totally YOUR call.
But it’s not lacking in purpose! It’s just that the purpose has changed. The goals are different - but they aren’t non-existent.
Far from it!
Unschooling goals have more to do with understanding that learning comes when the learner is engaged. And the best way for that to happen is to see what they’re curious about and help them learn more about it.
Another goal is to strengthen the parent-child connection. And this is done over time with trust that learning is happening (without major orchestrations from us!) and with respect for what our children are valuing.
Creating this partnership is a deliberate goal in unschooling.
But still, a little voice in has doubts...
“Really? No Structure at all?”
Read more about The Myth of Structure... because it's not really NO Structure
A Bit About Learning
One of the major differences between how unschooled kids learn and how schools teach has to do with context and relevance.
Unschooled kids learn something because they want to know it - or they need to know it so they can do something they want to do. It's relevant to their life and it's in a contextual framework that makes sense to them.
Schools, on the other hand, operate as if a giant collection of random facts need to be memorized in case some day, you may need them. Because it's all disconnected from what's real in their lives, these pieces of information aren't easily stored. There's nothing to hook them to, no relevance, no context. That's why, as children, we could memorize for the test on Friday, but then not be able to recall the material a month later. (Sounds familiar, right?)
Read more about The Curriculum Crutch
And if that's not enough reason to ditch this method of teaching/learning, the technological reality of living in this day and age, is that random facts are easily searchable online. Gone are the days where we have to race over to the library before it closed or head home to look up something in an encyclopedia (that was often outdated.) Now, reaching into our pocket for our phones gives us handy access to more information than we ever could have memorized.
Unschooled children end up learning math and history and science because they're naturally curious about the world they live in. In these explorations, the learning will often be the byproduct or almost a side effect of their goal. It won't look like school subjects. And parents may not even notice it's happening.
- History will look like stories of interesting people and events from the past.
- Science will be discovery, and questions, and testing theories.
- Math will be the way to solve the problems that present themselves each day. It will be games, in art, in architectural patterns - or a myriad of other ways math intertwines throughout our daily activities.
So when we're worried about "doing enough," it's very likely we're just not looking in the right direction. We're looking for schoolish subjects and familiar hoops to jump through - instead of the real life learning that's happening all around us.
Worried You're Not Doing Enough?
Unschooling can stir up all kinds of feelings in parents - especially in the area of worrying they might be doing it wrong or not doing enough to meet their child's needs.
This Unschooling Guide will walk you through specific ideas to help you! You'll get practical tips and solutions, as well as thought-provoking journal prompts to help you unpack why you may feel what you're doing isn't enough. It's a great Guide - 25 full-color mini-magazine style format.
Ideas and topics discussed in this Unschooling Guide:
• Why You May Think This Way
• Changes You Could Make in Your Home
• What About Your Community?
• About Structure
• Practical Tips
• What Are Your Priorities?
• How to Live a Good Life
• Journal Prompts
• Worksheets for Keeping Track
• Inspiration: Quotes & Memes