By Amber Wild

Amber Wild bio picture

Hello everyone! I’m back after a short summer break! And I am so excited for this coming school year. We are going to try something a little less conventional. I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t homeschooling already a little less conventional?” And while I would agree with you, our new path is actually even less frequented. It’s somewhat grown over, so to speak. Yet beloved by those who travel it. We are unschooling. There. I said it. Now it’s officially official. 

First of all, HOW does one decide what’s happening year to year? I have seen quite a few moms over the past couple of years who have felt the pull or the call to homeschool. Some people call it being guided by the Holy Ghost, others just call it their intuition or a gut feeling. Whatever you call it, most parents need to really feel it to know they are supposed to go against the norm and school their child or children at home.

unschooling
“…our new path is actually even less frequented. It’s somewhat grown over, so to speak. Yet beloved by those who travel it. We are unschooling.”

It’s not easy doing that because often most of us parents went to public school and did fine, and that’s what is normal for us, so jumping off the conveyor belt method of schooling feels scary! How could they possibly learn if it’s not the same way we learned, or the same way everyone else is learning? Won’t they turn out weird? What about socialization? How do we even begin answering all of our questions?

Make Some Lists

Start by muddling through the mess in your head. Make some lists. Why would you consider sending your child to public school? Why would you consider homeschooling? What other methods of schooling at home are there? What worked last year? What didn’t? What would you change and how?

In a perfect world, what would a school day look like to you? Same question, but ask your child! Are you a spiritual person? Maybe prayer falls into the mix for you. If you are so inclined, invite God into your planning session.

So now what are you left with? Will you be sending them to public school? Great! There are lots of lessons they will learn there. Some children thrive in that environment. Will you be keeping them home? Great! There are lots of lessons they will learn there. Most children thrive in the home environment. There are many reasons, after all, that your child was sent to you.

What Is Deschooling?

So if you’re keeping them home, now you are tasked with figuring out how to teach them. Or better stated, figuring out how they learn best. If they have attended public school you and they may need to spend some time deschooling.

“Deschooling involves a period where you do very little formal school work in order to re-calibrate your child’s natural love of learning. During the deschooling process you’ll adjust your understanding of, and approach to how a child learns.”

Time4Learning

Sounds like heaven doesn’t it? The interesting thing is, it not only recalibrates your child, it helps you as the parent as well. The length of time for deschooling varies depending on the child. Some use the formula of one month of deschooling for every year the child was in public school. You know your child. When learning doesn’t make them want to gag anymore but they actually start enjoying it, then you’re probably good to move on.

What next? Oh my friend, the possibilities are endless! How does your child learn best? What are their interests? Do they need more structure? Do they prefer worksheets? Online lessons? Games? Are they stronger in one subject than another? How will you measure their progress? What does a successful homeschool look like to you? What’s your main goal during your time with them?

Oh my friend, the possibilities are endless! How does your child learn best?

Unschooling is NOT Not-Schooling

OK, back to our new path. This is our seventh year homeschooling. Since we started I tried to stick with so many different curricula. I have spent quite a sum on all of it. And in my head we would have a school day where each subject has a scheduled time slot, each child knows what work to do, they happily sit down and do it, and life is good. Only my kids hate learning like that. And every year I have tried to manipulate that idea to make it work somehow, but it just doesn’t.

The term unschooling is a little misleading, I think. I believe the name alone deters people. But when you actually find out what is IS, it is so exciting. 

Unschooling is an informal learning that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Often considered a lesson- and curriculum-free implementation of homeschooling, unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. 

Wikipedia

Check out my previous article which explains more about our experience with both deschooling and unschooling.

Favorite Resources

I know many families who, when asked what they do for school say that they do a mix of homeschooling and unschooling. Let me give you some direction as to where to go to find out more about a few things. My three favorite homeschool resources are: 

  • Called to Homeschool with Meg Thomas. You can find her at coachmegthomas.com.
  • Kim Sorgius at Not Consumed ministries. She’s at notconsumed.com.
  • Isaac and Angie Tolpin at courageousparenting.com.
  • My favorite unschooling resource is Sue Patterson at suepatterson.com. Sue’s children are grown now and she has a lot of experience and helps to offer and share. 
  • My favorite place for game schooling info is here: Gameschool Academy with Meg found at homeschoolgameschool.com. Meg also has a FaceBook group where she posts game reviews and deals on games. 

Those are great starting places. If you have other favorites, let me know where you go for inspiration. I know some of the people listed above have their own favorite resources to offer as well. There’s so much to learn, and it should be an adventure! Good luck starting your new school year. Remember to come back each month and check out Our Joyful, Wild Mess on our Strong Moms Facebook group or our blog strongmomsblog.com.

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