Unschooling and Home Schooling
Is it Legal?
I live in the UK where home-schooling is legal, making choices for how your child is educated, is a basic human right, and something I will always protect vehemently. Education is compulsory, but school is optional,
According the Education Act 1996 ( details from Education Otherwise.org )
7: Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—
a: to his age, ability and aptitude, and
b: to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
Home education and unschooling is legal in all 50 states.
Let your child follow their bliss
When most children are waking up at 6.a.m ready to start a day for school, my girls get up when they wish, without being bribed, cajoled, or threatened into doing so. My daughters wake at 6.30.am each morning, and they begin to play. It is such a humbling experience to watch your children guide themselves and follow their bliss...which of course is PLAY.
My role as a parent in my estimation- my very highest calling. The most fulfilling part of a not sending my children to school, is that they can really immerse themselves in a subject that they are super passionate about, and there is little interruption in this process ( other than toilet or food stops) By supporting your child's interests, you allow them to follow their bliss, and by doing so, you show them that you trust them.
An extension of authentic parenting
I see Unschooling as a natural extension of my parenting style. There is no right or wrong way to unschool because you will be responding to the natural idiosyncrasies of your child and your family's way of life. Generally speaking unschooling families have no dogma attached to education, and will not force their child to study one set religion, or one way of thinking. The aim of unschooling is to provide your child with the freedom to choose what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it.
One unschooling day is never the same as the next, sometimes plans are put on hold because you may have some errands to run, or your child may be inspired by a subject that you as a parent will instantly be needed to support.
Dayan Martin from ( daynamartin.com) has long been an advocate of Unschooling, and beautifully describes the individual parenting style that works best as; Authentic Parenting. In other words, your family has its own ebb and flow, and that everyone in the family deserves to be seen, and heard regardless of their age.
What is the difference between Home Education and Unschooling?
The difference generally speaking, is the use of a curriculum. Unschooling, doesn't require set education milestone that your child should meet. A curriculum tends to be very restrictive, and will and doesn't lend itself to to the individual needs of a child. Unschoolers enjoy tailoring learning experiences to their own child, and dislike the forced learning that a curriculum demands.
Many Home-schooled children in the US , follow religious curriculums that their parents feel school cannot provide, and other families do follow a set curriculaum as set by the educational authority in their area.
Despite the Unschooling movement being fairy new, I don't find that the term represents families who choose to have a more organic approach to learning. I have stared referring to the process as 'organic free flowing learning', and a schooless life.
In our family, Unschooling doesn't mean that I set the plan for the day, but neither do my children. They do have a bedtime routine that my husband and I have supported since they were little, and we aim to get up and dressed to start our days by 9 a.m. If my children wanted to lie in ( I wish) this would be fine too.
My children understand that jobs need to be done around the house, and that trip into town to buy supplies and pay bills, are part of our life. They are not excluded from the realities of running a home, and a business, and within reason my husband and I explain our commitments in a way that they can interpret, and it is always positive.
Whats the typical day in the life of an unschooled child like?
The answer is; no one day is the same as the next. My children aren't required to wake up at a certain time ( unless we have an activity or appointment to attend) and they choose what they want to do on that day. We have long family discussions about budgets, and what we can and can't afford this week, and the children understand at aged 5 and 7, that there are limitations sometimes with money.
I still have young children, so their main focus is arts and crafts, gardening, climbing trees and playing with their toys. They have absolutely no pressures to achieve academic as goals, we have no star charts or reward tables, they just learn as they go. I always provided them with a nice clear table every morning with all the pencils and art equipment that they need. They have an extensive library of 500 books, and laptop to use if they wish. My daughters know how to use indexes,dictionaries, and reference books to find the information that they need to. Anything they want to learn about is at their fingertips, my husband and I facilitate their learning, by actively providing them with the tools and experiences they need assist their journey.
How to become fearless
When you choose to embark on this magical and expansive world of unschooling, you may be met with negativity from well meaning friends and family Be understanding and patient of their fears for you, and don't be too quick to jump to your own defense. Remember for most people, the concept of trusting your child to learn without traditional schooling is completely incomprehensible. If you are 100% sure of what you are doing, then there is no need to seek approval from people.
You need to be fearless and let go of old paradigm of thoughts. Some great points to remember are these
- I am an individual, and my way does not have to be the same as the next person
- To let go of old thoughts that hinder you, is complete freedom
- My child has complete freedom to be who he/she is.
- I am raising an empowered highly authentic and mindful child of the future
- I am doing the best job ever as a parent, because I am not giving the job to someone else.
- I fully trust myself to give my child the most beautiful and free childhood ever
- I fully trust my child to learn what he.she needs to, and that this will be done without the intervention of school.
- I am allowed to make mistakes, because without them I would never know how to improve.
- I am allowed to 'let go' and chose the path of least resistance.
- I am a pioneer, and I am having fun!