Wednesday 10 February 2010

Life learning

Although we haven't "officially" begun homeschooling yet, I find myself increasingly convinced that unschooling is the path we will follow. I'm still reading about all the various options - the boy hasn't even turned three yet - but unschooling already feels like such a natural extension of our life that it's hard to imagine taking a more formal approach to his education.

One of the things I most love about the idea of homeschooling is the opportunity for learning to be a joy rather than a chore. Learning should be organic, living, one question leading to the next, not the formulaic teaching I remember from my days in public school. Unschooling lends itself so well to instilling both a hunger to learn and an ability to seek answers to one's questions.

There is so much to learn and life itself provides endless opportunities to discover new things. I am amazed at the sheer number of things the boy and I discuss from even the most basic of experiences. Going outside to throw a ball yesterday resulted in a chain of questions and answers that explored terrain, gravity, force, and how cars work. Simply baking a batch of cookies covers, at increasingly complex intervals, counting, sorting, comparing, measuring, sensing (touch, feel, smell), fractions, reactions, experimentation, and more. This week's trip to the library has us reading about apples, pigs, horses, maps, counting, and the alphabet. Placing some bulk purchases into glass jars had us identifying various nuts and seeds, and closing the jars provided a natural exercise in physical manipulation. Opening and closing the domino set requires learning to use a latch, while playing with the dominoes themselves is an amazingly rich natural learning experience.

And then there's reading! There is so much to be gained from good children's fiction. Even at this young age, the difference I've found when reading him quality literature versus “twaddle” has led me to agree with C.S. Lewis: “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty.”

I won't entirely rule out a more classical approach at this time, and most likely we will end up being rather eclectic, taking bits and pieces from various homeschooling methods and philosophies. But I think that our early years, at least, will simply allow life to be the teacher.


  1. Amen!!!!! There are many things I like about many methods, but life (with encouragement for exploration from mom and dad) is the BEST teacher!

  2. I've come to a very similar conclusion, especially after reading about how boys in particular are not well-suited for the conventional school experience. My guy is only 17 months, but I plan to unschool (can one plan to unschool?!) the first few years at least and then gradually move towards something structured. I was a (partially) homeschooled kid myself, and I am really looking forward to the experience!

  3. It's amazing how much children can learn by just by exploring.

  4. I'm so interested in the unschooling philosophy. If I ever have kids I'd love to go that route - I'm just a little unsure of how long I will do it - as at the moment I'm kind of thinking that I'll want to take the more classical approach in the later years - when life isn't really going to show them EVERY important thing from history or science, math, literature, or whatever. But hopefully the unschooling will provide a solid foundation, thirst, and appreciation for a well rounded and meaningful/applicable education.

  5. In my philosophy of education class, we learned about unschooling vs traditional education and found myself falling in love with the idea of LIFE being our best teacher. I believe that education is about learning HOW to learn, not about just regurgitating information.

    "The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives." - Robert M. Hutchins


  6. Can you share some of your favorite books you read with your son?

  7. Hey there dear friend of mine.

    It's been a while since I stopped by for a 'visit'... it's always such a joy to read your blog. And this post really made me smile.

    Thank you for your comment today on my blog.... means a lot! :)

    And I'm so terribly behind on everything these days (its been a difficult few months) but I wanted to say thank you so much for the Christmas card, stickers and photos. Luke ADORED the stickers... and he STILL remembers little Jacob. Why did you have to up and move?!! LOL!!
    I'm afraid my cards never got sent out... :( Let's just say it was a mixy-doodle of a Christmas...

    Hugs and blessings to you and your family. Let's keep in touch.


  8. I've always had a huge problem with homeschooling. Even when I was in HS I said "I will NEVER homeschool my children". Well that was before I learned about the rules that God has with the word "never".
    My husband and I have both separately been called to the mission field sense we were young (we met in Mexico while working at a deaf boarding school), but didn't think that would be a problem with schooling. "we'll just send them to the nearest public school. that way they will have their own ministry and learn the language of the country". No problem right? Well... we now feel called to having a Sailboat ministry so there will be no permanent place for us we will be afloat.
    I felt annoyed that I was going to have to homeschool because in my opinion it wasn't the best option... and... I'm not into teaching (or school for that matter) so it was just going to be a big chore (very unfun). I was kicking myself for saying the "never" word!
    and then... I started researching and reading about unschooling and fell in love! This speaks to my right brainedness... and the creative unscheduled being that I am and that did not thrive in traditional education. It even spoke to my overly smart an logical Left brained husband who did do well in school. We're starting to feel the warmness of the light at the end of the tunnel... what a comforting feeling!