Monday, January 09, 2006

Unschooling

Unschooling
Such a mysterious word. No one can really understand it unless they actually try it. And I mean a good, healthy shot. Not leave a kid to their own for a few weeks and decide it doesn't work. And not when a parent says they unschool, um, except for math and writing. That's like saying you're a vegan except when it comes to your mama's fried pork chops. Unschooling is not exactly a homeschooling method as it is a homeschooling philosophy. You have to have so much trust that your child will learn what they need to learn. It's extremely difficult, especially since just about all of us parents were brought up in school - with rules, a curriculum, expectations and demands, and a "linear-ness" to our learning (well, to our teaching, anyway). I'll admit, I'm not there yet. I'd like to be. I believe that unschooling is the best way to bring up a child. I know unschoolers IRL and spend lots of time reading about unschooling families and I envy their confidence. There is such a big difference between homeschooled children and public/private schooled children. But unschooled children (from what I see) seem to have a greater sense of self, greater self-esteem, greater goal-setting ability, better time managing, and better ideas of where they want to be in the future than anyone else. This is what I want for my kids.

So I was reading more of The Teenage Liberation handbook (man, that's a great book and yes I got it from the car) and I came to a paragraph by an unschooled teen who listed things she does with her time. This prompted me to think of what J does with hers. I ended up with a bigger list than I anticipated. Here is a list of what J does (almost everything was over the course of this week except most of the outside stuff due to cold weather):
- Reading a book (alone, with me, to W)
- Creating new themes/pictures/icons/music/etc on her website with HTML
- Playing a computer game (educational or fun or both)
- IM'ing friends
- Writing a celeb fan letter
- Playing with her American Girl dolls
- Playing a board or card game
- Cooking lunch or helping with dinner
- Going over a friend's house
- Going to dance class/workshops/competitions
- Visiting a museum
- Doing a puzzle book
- Doing a math, language arts, geography, science or history workbook
- Watching a cartoon
- Watching a documentary
- Drawing or making art/craft projects
- Trying a science experiment
- Going to the playground
- Walking around the neighborhood or Manhattan with mom
- Helping with chores
- Creating scrapbook pages on the computer
- Listening to music
- Researching music, TV, and movie celebs online
- Asking hundreds of questions (a few of this weeks questions were about: A directional compass, energy, weather, the water cycle, magnets, the sun, food chains, MSG and other food ingredients, alcohol, creating city streets, and driving rules)
- Using the computer and books to answer some of those questions
- Visiting a library
- helping with errands (supermarket, post office, clothes shopping, laundromat, dry cleaners)
- Going on a nature walk and looking up all we find in the field guide
- Taking photographs
- Watching old family videos
- Emailing family and friends
- Gardening (weeding, raking, planting)
- Playing with, feeding, and caring for pet bird
- Riding bike, scooter, pogo stick, skates outside
- Calling friends and family on the phone
- Going to Sunday School
- Going to Musical Theater class

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can remember right now. Lately, I'm finding that it's easier to see all the connections being made throughout the day. One activity or idea somehow tends to lead to another. Anything can trigger a question and we just take it from there together. One simple question about the compass in the car led to dozens of different discussions the other day. It was so awesome to be a part of that. It's been almost a year that J has been home and I feel we have both come a long way. She is finally able to "just be" and not have the need for constant attention and stimulation like she did when she spent the majority of her time on school drudgery. I never hear her say she's bored anymore either. And I certainly have a very different mindset than when we first started this journey. J has never been happier and I have never been more excited about the future. What a great way to live.

Link of the day:
http://www.unschooling.org/fun12_unschooling.htm

{{{the "unschooled and proud" tote bag can be found at cafepress.com!}}}

6 comments:

Peach said...

Once again, you inspire me and give me hope. Love all the links and info. from your site. I am contemplating unschooling as well. I need to get the book you mentioned. Thanks again for your insight. I feel like you've been one step ahead of me this whole journey, and that is comforting.

NYCitymomx3 said...

Thanks! Before you read The Teenage Liberation Handbook, read The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith. It will give you a better sense of what unschooling is all about and can really be. Then the other book is just icing on the cake, lol.

Patrice said...

Darnit, I had a whole book here about our days and it disappeared. I hate that. But to sum it up, it's so fun and exciting learning alongside the kids. I can't actually stand saying we unschool. I prefer to say we're unschoolers. You can't actually unschool can you? LOL! Anyways, now I want that bag! LOL!

Patrice said...

Holy cow, the girl on that site looks like an ex friend of my sister's. I sent her an e-mail--how weird.

NYCitymomx3 said...

I think it's great having a journal about our days. I think it's time you started a blog, Patrice!! You can't lose that! I say we're unschoolers, too. Well, I say we're homeschoolers, actually. Nobody gets "unschooing". LOL

Patrice said...

I know, I really should. I'm so slow about this. LOL! I'll let you know when I finally start one. :)