How a certified teacher chose unschooling for her kids

How a certified teacher chose unschooling for her kids
Written by Marla Taviano

“Remember, girls,” I say to my daughters, looking them each in the eye (I actually have to look up at two of the three now—when did this happen??), “we do not say THAT WORD here in Cambodia. Got it?”

They nod.

Got it, Mom.

The next day, we’re out and about, and yet another stranger asks, “Wait, so … do they go to school …?”

The girls smile sweetly, turn their angelic faces to me as one, and let me answer.

“I used to be a teacher, so I teach them at home.”

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This new line of mine seems to be working. Awkward situation averted. Moving on.

“Is it fine that you’re not really telling the truth?” my youngest (10) wants to know.

“Which part of that statement isn’t true?” I say, eyebrows raised.

“Mom, we’re unschooled. You don’t really teach us.”

“Excuse me. I teach you a lot of things. They just aren’t normal school things. Am I right?”

She shrugs her shoulders, presumably thinking of all the things she’s taught me today about Harry Potter and French (learning one new language at a time wasn’t enough, I guess) and peeling/cutting mangos just so.

“The Cambodians just don’t get the whole unschooling thing,” I say. “It’s way too complicated to try to explain.”

“Mom,” my 15-year-old says, “Americans don’t get it either. Nobody really gets it.”

“Nobody gets our family anyway,” says my 13-year-old, with a wave of her hand, “so it’s all good.”

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How to get your interest-led learners back on track

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Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins.

Some seasons, our interest-led learners are interested in everything. They read, they ask questions, they conduct experiments and plan projects.

But what do you during those other times, the times when inspiration has left the building? What do you do when no one seems interested in much of anything? What if it turns into all pajamas, all Legos, all day? You know what I’m talking about.

Well, first, you don’t panic. You remember that just like a field needs seasons to grow and seasons to rest, so do our kids. So do we all.

Maybe they’re just in a healthy resting period, or maybe they’re learning something through the pajama-and-Lego routine.

Or maybe our days need adjusting. In that case, I try to step back and spend some time in observation mode. I don’t try to change things right away, I just take note of what is actually happening throughout the day.

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And then they hated math: My journey into unschooling

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Written by contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

remember the first time I called myself an unschooler. I had just read John Holt’s Teach Your Own and was impressed with his vision of an alternative educational style in which children were encouraged to learn outside of school.

He saw children as scientists, eager and capable of exploring and experimenting with the world around them. Yes, I thought, that is exactly what I wanted my children to experience.

I had visions of them spending their days wandering through nature, collecting and identifying leaves, filling notepads with their amazingly original stories, learning math, engineering, civics, and science through a year-long project of designing and building a cardboard, solar-powered city.

It was learning at its fantastical best — fun, natural, and meaningful.
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Infusing child-led opportunities into a traditional approach

Infusing Child-Led Opportunities into a Traditional Approach

The following is a post by contributor Angie Kauffman of Real Life at Home.

While I have always been extremely interested in child-led learning, it’s been one of those things that just doesn’t seem to flow in our home. Despite my desires for it to be otherwise, it seems that a primarily child-led approach just isn’t going to happen.

I finally had to evaluate why it doesn’t work for us, and if there was anything I could do about it.

I have found two reasons that it doesn’t work out well in my house.

The first is that I like to plan our studies. In this way, I have often wondered if my two education degrees have been more of a hindrance than a help to our home education.

The second, and more important issue, is that my kids and I have something in common: they also like it when I come up with a plan of study for them.

If you’ve found yourself in the same situation, don’t give up on a child-led style of learning quite yet. These options might not look like what you had originally envisioned, but they just might be the perfect fit for your family.

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Real summer learning

Amida1picmo

Contributor Amida writes for Journey into Unschooling.

I had big plans this summer. Big Plans. This summer, I decided, we were going to catch up, tie up a few loose ends, and get ahead.

My preschooler would learn her letters while my grade-schooler memorized her times tables and conquered those reading comprehension exercises. My middle-schooler was going to master Latin, guitar, and algebra. And finally, my high-schooler was going to read volumes of summer reading books, write reviews for them, and complete his geometry requirement at the local community college.

All this (and more!) was to be completed by August. No problem.

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