Unschooling

by Elizabeth Goddard

I’m going to piggyback off Tara Randel’s Back to School At Any Age post. After all, it’s that time of year. Kids are heading back to school or getting ready. Shopping for clothes on the no-sales tax weekend, buying school supplies. And the list goes on.

But I’ve always home schooled my children. So our list is a bit different. I start searching for the best curriculum for each of my children–they’re all different–and that could mean online classes, co-ops, or textbooks with a variety of focuses or teaching styles. That could also include dual college/high school credit courses at the local community colleges or universities. I drive myself nuts–and everyone else–while I search for what we’ll use in the coming year.

Fortunately these days, more parents are choosing to home school their children and as a result there are more choices. There’s seemingly no end to the possibilities and opportunities. Public schools even offer online home schooling opportunities through Connections Academy or other similar venues. It’s public school only at home.

This coming school year I’m looking into something completely new to me. It’s called “unschooling.” A few year ago I would shudder to think of it. But here’s the thing. I suddenly find myself with a “special needs” child. Yes. Suddenly. He doesn’t fit into any specific diagnosis yet, but we do know that right now, academics aren’t important. Any kind of school subject, textbook or teaching could cause him to meltdown. Stress out. Or a psychotic break. Yes. It’s that serious. It’s not an act. Believe me, I almost wish it was. But what’s a mom to do? School is now supposed to be about sitting and focusing on one thing for fifteen minutes at a time.

Guess who is stressing out now? I’m terrified because I hold my son’s future in my hands–what will his life be like if he doesn’t learn anything? Well, I’m the one who has learned something new. Learning occurs naturally, and before textbooks and learning to test well and all that. . learning was actually something to enjoy and look forward to. I’m not going to bash school or teachers because that’s how most of us learn!–and that’s not what this post is about. But there are some who need to learn differently. For me, discovering there is another way for my son to get an education that doesn’t include sitting and doing a workbook for hours out of every day. . .is such a relief!

And I’m still “learning” about unschooling myself. For starters we are going to take the subjects he loves and wants to know about and let him learn everything he can and wants to learn. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be all things vikings and castles and medieval history. I have to reintroduce the love of learning and for him, let it happen naturally.

Though I dreaded the coming school year with this new burden of helping my son get through, I’m now excited! The sky is the limit on what we can learn!

As Tara said in her post, we never stop learning. I’m glad we have so many educational choices.

Many blessings!

Elizabeth Goddard

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