Friday, September 19, 2008

Unschooling... what the heck?!?

When I decided to homeschool I did a lot of research. I talked with other parents. I talked with teachers. I looked at tons of different curriculum. I planned and I organized and I bought books, workbooks, paper, manipulatives, art supplies, and chairs for the classroom. Yes, I was ready for the school year to begin.

During my time researching I came across a disturbing trend called "unschooling." Unschoolers believe that by immersing their children in a rich and diverse environment they will magically absorb everything they need to know... because children are curious. What the heck? What sort of education is that? Don't these people understand that we need more structure than that?

So we officially started school on Sept. 2nd. It's been great. Really. We're enjoying the freedom of staying home or going out. Chris is excelling because he can work at his own pace. The housework gets a bit behind but then every so often we take a day off and clean house. That's a lesson too, right?

Want to know a secret? The only curriculum we're following anymore is for math. We do math first thing in the morning and then spend the rest of the day doing whatever strikes our fancy. Really. Today we researched ship building. Chris finished his math during breakfast. The manipulatives for math were great to build pretend ships with. He and Sam built ships for about an hour. Then we looked up ships online. Now I think they're in the kitchen drawing ships. I think we're going to learn more about the time period when the great naval explorers like Columbus and Magellan lived. None of that was in my carefully planned lessons at the beginning of the year. None of it.

I think we may be unschoolers. How did this happen? What do I do? Do I admit it, or do I continue wondering about the sanity of these unschooling parents? Hmmm... perhaps I can just say my child has Aspergers and this is his current fascination. I don't have to admit it doesn't fit into the first grade curriculum do I? There we go... we aren't unschoolers. It's simply that my son's unique abilities and challenges force us in this direction. Or maybe... just maybe... there's something to that belief that a child's curiousity will cause them to learn everything they need if you just give them a little direction and support.

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Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room