Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler
It’s officially that time of year when planning for next year’s curriculum is more fun than completing this year’s. Every spring, it’s like clockwork. Allergies and the last-few-weeks-doldrums hit right about the same time.
Right along with those two annoying old friends, though, also come the predictable questions on homeschooling message boards and Facebook groups everywhere:
“Can I homeschool this year?” “What is unschooling? How exactly do I do it?”
So I thought I’d write a blog post about unschooling. I tackle this topic in great detail on my blog and have even written a book (afflink) on our family’s personal brand of unschooling, so I won’t go into details about us here.
Instead, I want to suggest ways you can unschool this upcoming summer, to dip your feet into a relaxed homeschooling style.
My hope is that if you are considering changing styles or even if you’re brand new to homeschooling, you will come away refreshed, excited and inspired. Let’s get right to it.
1. Plan a week or two of reading and conversations.
I prize conversations over curricula and I have a very good reason for doing so. Covering something once does not work. Just as in math, I find that we have to reiterate whatever it is we have already covered, even if it is something we did in our sitdown work.
“Didn’t we go over this in school work?” is a common refrain around these parts.
As such, I find our dinner table conversations to be more helpful in shaping the character and the knowledge of our children. This is especially true if they share something they have recently read or watched.
A week or two of reading and chatting about what has been read can set the stage for a fantastic unschooling summer.
2. Plan a cook off or a bake off.
I love when my daughter suggests cooking. Since she has a serious sweet tooth, she tends to want to bake things like cookies and cakes, and while I steel myself to only eat one (or two. Okay, okay, three!), I know it does wonders for her math skills.
Just like the conversations mentioned above help us to go over some of the material we studied and now use it in context, cooking and baking help us remember skills we learned in math and use them in real world situations.
This is especially helpful to my daughter who has an aversion to tests and online programs that score her material as she works on it. Baking takes the pressure off, improves her skills and there’s a delicious treat at the end.
What could be wrong with that?
3. Become a tourist in your own city.
As you can tell, I absolutely love “doing school without teaching.” Children are curious by nature and learn anyway. But it gets even more interesting if I get involved and start to learn with them. One of the ways to do this is to spend time traveling.
I know families that do this full time, but both my husband and I don’t travel well. We get homesick within two days of being away from home, and we love our little introvert nooks and books and our bed. So what’s a family to do?
Well, as it turns out, there’s still a lot of unexplored terrain right here in our backyard. No matter where you live, becoming a tourist in your own backyard will unearth interesting things to study.
If nothing else, it will lead to rabbit trails into other interesting details.
What I love about this way of approaching unschooling is that it gives you a vacation of sorts without having to schedule much. And it is hands-on fun, the kind where you are learning together and making memories, all at the same time.
4. Do something your kids want you to do.
All right, this can sometimes be a challenge, but trust me: Schedule a week where you do something the children want you to do.
If your kids are anything like mine, they probably have some deep desires to make you play their favorite video game or teach them to cook or maybe even create a video for a YouTube channel.
Why not take some time out this summer to do that with them?
It will make for some great memories and the best part? They will watch you learn and pick up things themselves at the same time. Isn’t that the essence of homeschooling anyway?
So there you have it. Use these four ideas to dip your feet into unschooling and pretty soon, you’ll see that homeschooling is your cup of tea after all!
And even if you don’t, at least you will have some wonderful memories to look back on.
You don’t need to be limited by these choices of course! What else would you add to the list?
If you enjoyed this post, check out Jamie’s upcoming book, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy. Preorder it before May 7th and receive four bonuses worth $75!