In my last two blogs I have covered the basics of what an unschooling philosophy is and I’ve also talked about our own experiences with our own son. But we are not really unschoolers by any stretch of the imagination. In this blog, I will look at some of the elements of successful and unsuccessful unschooling.
Children Deciding What to Learn When
The Jones are unschoolers that I know who live in Connecticut. At the beginning of every month they ask their kids what they want to learn about. They have four children and as a group they sit down and ask questions and agree on a topic to study together. They brainstorm questions to ask and then they spend the rest of the month exploring the information and finding out the answers to various questions.
Their mom does not do lesson plans but in her head she encourages certain things to happen. She says that she tries to do at least one ‘lab experiment’ per week and she encourages the kids to journal everything to improve their writing skills. (In fact, she often uses my ‘family journal’ idea as a means of teaching grammar and style to her younger children.)
They pick up workbooks or formal curriculum when the children discover that they need practice in a certain skill in order to continue their investigations. Consequently, she says she never has issues with kids not wanting to do the work. On a side note, her two high school children ages 14 and 16 are taking advanced math including trigonometry, and calculus respectively.
Lessons to Be Learned
The Jones kids love school. So they want to do it every day. Their mom told me that she often has to set up no schooling hours so that she can get house work done. She only has a few rules: there is no television during school hours and everyone has to do the same thing. Otherwise, the learning is completely child led. She believes that because they really love schooling, they soar and excel in subjects that other students traditionally struggle in.