You know what a typical day during summer recess looks like? Or a normal Saturday or Sunday morning? Now, imagine that all year long, every day. That’s unschooling.
What does this look like in our house? You’ll see mom and dad puttering around the house, tidying here and there, fixing this and that, chatting, giggling, maybe making kissy-faces at each other. Yeah, dad has to go to work at some point, but the fun continues while I’m gone.
You’ll see children about, all five of our children. Some will be making crafts (I mean, a big mess). Some will be playing nicely (I mean, wrestling on the floor). Some will be outside, convening with mother nature (I mean, covering themselves in mud). Some will be watching educational programming on the television (I mean, watching cartoons). In other words, they’re playing. That’s what children do.
But are they learning anything? Of course. All of the things I listed above are learning activities (with the possible exception of the cartoon-watching, though we could argue that one). And there are other things. They ask a million questions during the day. Okay, two million.
They hear their mother and me talking. They become interested in the conversation and join in. We talk about politics, canning tomatoes, future plans, how babies learn, books we’ve read, articles that caught our eye, and most anything else imaginable.
One child wants to count his change, so we learn a little about math. Another child wants to purchase an item, so we learn about saving money and conquer more math. Our four year old wants to sew, so my wife shows him how the sewing machine works. Our oldest son wants to learn computer code, so we find an appropriate YouTube video.
Our job, as their parents, is not to “force” them to learn, but to guide them in their journey.
They learn how baby rabbits are born. They learn how to make salsa. They ask how human babies are made and we tell them. They find a cool bug in the garden, so we look it up in a book. They learn how to repair a refrigerator. They learn how to bake and decorate cakes. They learn how to make household cleaner from orange peels and vinegar.
Unschooling – It looks like Life.
They learn all day long, simply through living and enjoying themselves. The modern idea that children must attend school in order to learn is false.
This is what unschooling looks like. It looks like life. It really is that easy.
D.S. Markel is the proud father of five happy, unschooled children. He writes about unschooling, gentle parenting, anarchism, and whatever else strikes his fancy at facebook.com/freeyourkids and www.freeyourkidsblog.com.