I was wondering whether it follows the unschooling principles to offer any direction to the child at all? Strange as it sounds, one of my favorite childhood memories is learning algebra as a young child on my father's lap. I realised that I have always had a dream of repeating this experience with my children, someday.
Also, one thing that my parents didn't do a lot of was talk to me about money. I've often thought that when my children are young I would like to sit with them and show them how budgets are made, how credit cards calculate interest, how to save for retirement, etc. This would somewhat resemble schooling, but I think it would be a big ommission if I didn't share this information with my kids too.
Any feedback? I guess I'm just trying to figure out what unschooling "looks" like in practical terms. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate any responses.
I see myself as a gracious tour guide to my kids who are newly arrived in my neck of the woods. They're quite curious about what it's like here. As a long-term resident, I'm familiar with my city and am a good resource. They might really appreciate me showing them around. I might say "in my opinion you won't really understand this place unless you go here and here." I might say "I have this favourite café gallery -- you really should see it!" Or "If you'd like I could make you up some suggestions for a walking tour that would get you to some of the places that are considered important in this city." They might love that sort of thing.
But if they said "No thanks, I'm just going to be lazy for a few days," I'd accept that. They might prefer to read some brochures and books, or to go on a packaged bus tour rather than picking my brains and relying on my help. They might say, "Sorry, I hate cafés," or "Actually, I just love to go out exploring on my own," and that would be fine too. Or if they said "I'm into photographing gargoyles. I'd like to I find some, and it would be great if you wanted to come along with me on a search," I'd certainly offer to help and keep them company.
So of course, parental direction is allowed. It's just that it can be declined by the child with no guilt and no worries about disappointing the parent or not living up to expectations.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Single mom to Rain (1/93) , grad student, and world traveler
Because I always was honest with them, they trusted me. Nearly every time, I was right in predicting what they would enjoy, but there were a few times where they shook their head and didn't want to continue with a discussion, or where we quietly walked out on a class or other activity. Of course, I understood the difference between a little uncertainty versus flat out refusal, and I never forced them when I knew their minds were already made up.
They are now 19 (studying music at college) and 13 (still unschooling), and I feel that the encouragement in their younger years gave them confidence to try new things, and also the ability to recognize what is worth pursing even when they're initially hesitant.
I'm quite actively involved in my children's learning, and will often suggest books, activities, classes, games, etc that I think they might be interested in based on what I know about their interests, in the same way a friend might suggest something to me b/c she knows what I'm into.
And some kids really like doing workbooks and stuff like that, so it doesn't mean you won't ever get to do that with your future children. So long as you respect them if they decide it's just not their thing, it's all unschooling.
Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)
And, yes, math, science, history, etc., all are encountered in life-learning. Just the other day we got into a discussion of decimals, percentages & estimating all because we wanted to figure out the tip at a restaurant! My daughter especially loved playing with manipulatives (Legos, Magnetix, etc.) which taught her loads about geometry just by playing.
The point is to let your kids have the final say on how & what they are exploring - but absolutely be there bringing the world to them!
What Dar said. :) (It's like old times...lol)
I share things with my kids because I think they will like it, find it useful or interesting, have mentioned something similar before, it made me laugh, really ticked me off, etc etc. Unschooling doesn't force a parent into any dark shadowy corners, but rather has them as a trusted resource.
Embrace the learning that is happening within the things that are actually happening!
I find the more we follow our kids' lead on what they're interested in learning, the more they'll come to us and ask for input. The more we foster their love of learning, the more they soak up learning like sponges. They come to us constantly and ask stuff like, "I learned on PBSKids that the pyramids were built using an inclined plane. What else uses an inclined plane, Mommy?" In fact the other day I had to tell my son, "Please STOP doing addition and get your coat on so we can go and not be late!" I then realized what I'd just said and burst out laughing! What a wonderful problem to have!
But yes, we have input in our children's learning, generally at their request. Our whole family delights in learning and the more we adults keep learning about what we're interested in, the more the kids do the same without any sort of pushing or coaxing. Hubby was all excited today over a thick theological tome by NT Wright that he got form Amazon and I have been going around in seventh heaven because I got my braille transcribing certificate from the Library of Congress. Hubby took a Jazz Theory class at the university just for fun. I've been writing fanfiction and studying calculus. The kids see this sort of activity and they don't think it's odd at all to want to learn how multiplication works. Since they know we know how it does, they come ask us.
We definitely don't see the children as the only unschoolers in our family. We're all at just a different level of learning. The 14-month-old is learning to climb stairs. The four-year-old is learning the names of the planets in the solar system. The six-year-old is practicing reading and preparing for her Book 1 recital on violin. Mommy is building a harp in her wood shop. Daddy is programming a web-based program to analyze Jazz chords. We're all learning things that interest us and we all ask one another for assistance all the time. I ask my daughter for help with the laundry because bending to get the clothes out of the dryer hurts my back. She asks me to teach her to multiply because she knows I know how to do it and she wants to know how.
I suppose this sounds somewhat idyllic... I don't mean to paint it with a rose-colored brush. I mean we really do all those things. But there are days when we sit and watch "How to Train Your Dragon" all day, lol. But we trust our kids' curiosity and we figure we'll eventually get around to everything they need to learn without all the angst of forcing them to follow an unnecessary, arbitrary schedule. Our parental input consists mostly in trying to keep up with the million of questions our little learning machines put forth!
Erin , Happy wife of Honey Bear , mom of Curly Miss (11/04), Little Mister (10/06), Princess Abi (3/08), and The Bean (9/09) <>< oh, and I blog.
Yes, we do have some "parental direction" in our family, we also have plenty of "offspring direction".