Unschooling is a free-flowing experience. It takes trust on several levels, but in one way it means to truly believe the idea that learning and life are not separate. It is knowing that your children will learn “the basics”, through living a life with many resources and unwavering parental support, love and involvement.
Last night the kids really wanted to go out to dinner to Friendly’s. It is their favorite place to go for dinner and they always get the same thing. I shared with them that we only had half of the spending money of what it normally costs us to eat out there. I offered a few options to make it possible. I jumped online and found a coupon. It was “buy one adult dinner and get a kid’s meal free”. Cool! There is one meal free! I also thought that Joe and I could share a meal. I asked the girls if they minded giving Orion one quarter of their meals each.
I showed the girls what I meant by one quarter by drawing graphs and explaining how much of their meal they would be sharing with Orion. Tiff then drew a graph herself and exclaimed that Orion would have half of a meal if they each shared a quarter of theirs and half was perfect for for him! The graphs were helpful tools to her in that moment and I was there to share useful information with her. Unschooled kids do learn math, but in a way that isn’t linear. It is in bits and pieces when needed. My kids have learned math when they have actually needed it in their lives. These bits and pieces are like drops in a puddle that slowly grow to form a very broad and balanced education throughout the childhood years. We are here as parents offering tools and resources and our kids are receptive and truly desire the support and information that we share with them.
It turned out that buying only three meals (with a fourth meal being the free kids meal) was plenty for our family of six. We were able to meet the needs of everyone in the family through discussion and figuring a way out together to make it work. When money is an issue most people tend to think in an either/or mentality when they think they can’t afford something. I’ve learned that by shifting to possibility, options are created.
When a child uses math as a tool to understand the world around them, it is learned easily and precisely. When learned in context with their own real life experiences, it goes from being something that is “hard” to learn, to a cool way to figure something out. My children never have to memorize the “times tables”. They do however understand and use multiplication and fractions as a tool to get more of what they want in life. Internal motivation is the key to true learning.
Memorization is not learning. In fact it takes up the precious space of thoughts and desire of the person being forced to memorize. Think of the unique, rich tapestry of the uncontrolled mind! This to me is a level of freedom and respect that all humans deserve, but rarely get to experience.
A traditional education is like handing a child a paint by numbers project, while standing over their shoulder commenting on their work. It feels safe, and you think you know how it will turn out. An Unschooling life is like handing a child a blank canvas while you both create together with the sound of beautiful music in the background. It feels connected, peaceful, creative, unique and it is perfectly individualized. With Unschooling, true human potential thrives.