As many of you know our little family got 10 seconds of fame this week by being interviewed for the Good Housekeeping Magazine. I have to say I was a little excited and worried that this would be another piece on how awful unschooling can be. To my surprise, Caroline did an amazing job and was a very positive piece.
However, I wanted to clear a few things up. We have had a lot of positive and negative responses on Facebook and Twitter which I hate because people seem to say things they would never say to your face and can get pretty ugly. I always say if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
The article hit the nail on the head about Unschooling and describes how we do things. No, we are not radical Unschoolers and have never claimed to be. My research about radical Unschoolers (I have done a lot over the years) let kids do pretty much whatever they want. No punishment, no guidance, just let the kids run wild. Extreme at the core but that is not what I am about. I know this works for some families and I think that is awesome.
Negative and positive Comments
Some comments have said we are not true Unschoolers because we use Life of Fred and TTRS (touch-type read spell). I guess in some ways they are right, but we use them as tools because our kids asked for them. My youngest was having trouble reading and asked for a program that could help her. She was reading at a kindergarten level at age 10 and within a year was reading at her grade level. My oldest loves math and wanted to understand it better so we tried Khan and hated it. Don’t get me wrong it is a GREAT program but didn’t work for my kids so we tried something else. A book that didn’t need the internet and explained math by reading, which my kids actually like.
I honestly believe you don’t need math at the 6th-grade level which you can learn through life lessons. All you really need to know is how to balance your checkbook, add and subtract and know if someone is ripping you off. My oldest still has dreams of going to a brick-and-mortar school someday, she is a dreamer.
How we first started Unschooling
When we first moved to Florida I did work from home. I actually worked 30 hours a week for my old job and unschooled my kids. They were in 1st and 2nd grade and it was so easy. I started off by letting them pick what they wanted to do that day. I would give them a couple of ideas and they would pick something like:
- Learn about an animal and tell me 10 things, and write them down.
- Paint me a picture.
- Make a fort out of these items in the kitchen so you can watch tv.
The idea that would take them hours to accomplish and I could do my work. They learned early on that when mommy was working don’t bother her. My girls played a lot in the beginning or descaled and learned how to entertain themselves. I learned over the years that schooled kids have a really hard time with that.
Some Unschooling advice
My advice for everyone who is Unschooling or thinking about unschooling. Have fun, kids will only be little once. Trust me, when they get to be teens, like mine now, they don’t want to do anything. Kids learn the most by playing even teen years, mine still play with legos, make forts, play dress-up, etc. They would die if their friends ever knew but played a huge part in learning. The biggest challenge I faced and still do is trusting my kids. Now at ages 12 and 14, they wake up on their own, do their math and TTRS, and are ready for the day without being asked. I have to tell them not to do it some days so they can have a break.