If you take your kids out of ‘normal’ society, how do you expect them to ever be able to get back into society?
I have never known what ‘normal’ society is, I don’t know that I have ever been in it, so in answering that question, I would ask another question. What is ‘normal society?’Aren’t we all just humans trying to live as best we can?
Are you worried that your kids will never be able to get into higher education?
I am not at all worried because I strongly believe that, if they want to get into higher education, they will. We will help them in every way possible to achieve that. For example, if one of our kids is determined to be a vet, he or she will figure out what is needed to get there. And we will do our best to help.
Do the kids lead the whole process?
On the whole, yes. They just do what they enjoy and the next thing we know they are learning things. It is not always possible to do everything they want such as, for example, plug the toaster in and pour water over it.
But if they are leading the process and making lots of mistakes as they go along, they could say they don’t want to be corrected, like with spelling for example. What do you do then?
I accept that in that moment they don’t want to be corrected but I make it clear that there are spelling mistakes. I also explain to them that by not putting in full stops, it is a little like driving the car without brakes. Sometimes you need to put your foot on the pedal and stop! But the overall objective is that they keep a love of learning and expressing what they need to express. They can fine-tune the technical skills in time. I think kids learn to write well and to spell correctly when they have a love for the written word, so I promote stories more than I would ever go on about how to spell or how to have perfect grammar. I think kids are clever and they figure out that with some things, like reading and writing, it is in their interest to learn. I have complete faith that the spelling and the technical things will naturally fall into place, through reading and wanting to get things right for themselves. I haven’t sat with them for hours and taught them the rules of grammar. I throw things in to help them, but the girls have started to figure it out for themselves. At the moment they have friends that they write stories with, who are in other countries and the great thing is that the kids inspire each other to write well and in this way it seems that the leaps in learning are huge. Also the computer is great because it can tell you privately that you have made a mistake and no one else has to know about it. I use spellcheck all the time! Also, our son has just made a huge leap through playing Minecraft as, in order to be good at Minecraft, he has to be able to read.
Do you follow a curriculum?
We don’t. If and when they decide that they want to head towards exams, then they will have to follow something to get themselves where they need to be. But right now they learn through living and playing. Maybe they will never want to take exams. Maybe they will do apprenticeships or learn on the job. Or invent their own jobs.
But, but, but…
I know, it is tricky are you still with me? Can I get you a glass of water?
But where is the proof that education is actually happening?
There are no statistics, charts, grades, exams. Nothing to prove. The kids are just themselves, dancing through life learning and, as Anthony says, “We are at their sides, doing our best to blow on the embers of their curiosity.”
And if you want to read further this is a great article as to How Unschoolers Turn Out
This is a snippet from our book. Click here if you would like to pre order a copy of Unschooling.
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so much resonation, hummmm. i love the image of the toaster plugged in, water poured over . . . in my minds eye ; ) found your son’s path to reading mirrors mine . . he learned off magic the gathering cards, well he learned first that he couldn’t memorize every single card and what it does, and then to play without showing his cards he’d have to read them himself otherwise he’d have shown his hand!! took him a while to figure that one but the glow in his eyes at the discovery was magic, after which he began ‘reading’ slowly but steadily . . . my 3rd is 9 now and has made the discovery that to use the computer like her older siblings sometimes do, well she has to be able to read, so she’s on the momentum of motivation . .. it’s interesting to see how they get there as their paths unfold . . . i’m finding that the longer it takes them to get to reading, the stronger the memory has become . ..
Those cards sound interesting, do you have a link for them? It is nice to read your words. I find that with reading and maths it is the same if there is a big need to learn they learn really quickly. What do you mean by your last line, that the later they read the more they remember it? It is curious, our son is learning to read and he really doesn’t want to read or write until he can do it, I know he can and will but he is a kind of private learner, sort of likes to feel he can do it before he actually does it, if that makes sense. Where as the girls learn kind of out loud…
Ha ha yes, the toaster!
well i’m still pondering this idea/fine tuning it a bit as it’s been tickling the edges of my mind but here’s where i’ve got to so far::: :
we’ve always read out loud to all the children, and what we’ve noticed (mate and i) is that they have incredible memories, all of them, which struck me as interestingly odd. so i looked for a commonality between them and one was they’ve all had/continue to have lots of book reading, looking at books, stories, stories, stories from in books and oral tales told, and then i made a linkage . . . .
. . . .in the absence of their own ability to read, they’d have to remember the stories in order to think or talk about them or retell them even to themselves/each other when we might be unable to read to them like when dishwashing quietly for instance :::so in a way Remembering a tale gives them a certain degree of independence from us for one, and also it lets them participate in the narrative actively, discuss it while we’re dishwashing 😉
. .. . i sense there’s more to this thought and i see that oral storytellers would embody this idea of memory being strengthened in the absence of the ability to just read whats written whenever they’d want to, if you can read you don’t Have to really remember it as it’s there to go back to, it doesn’t stick itself so to speak out . .. could be out of neccessity more than anything. .. .
. . .. sooooo to come back around, the later you start reading the longer you have to keep remembering therefore your brain/muscle/mind is being engaged *before* you learn letters/reading and in engaging it early, it is working working working the whole time . . .. by the time they get around to reading (my kids didn’t start really till about 8-9 +) they have an enormous capacity to recall just about anything . . . . hope this makes sense, translating intuitive threads is tricky!
my son was a very different learner than the girls too, sounds similar in that it wasn’t a shared out loud process, he had to master it for himself before bringing it out . . . . and the cards really drove him to it as he did NOT like revealing his hand at all; though overall he’s like this about everything, sort of driven to self mastery and following his own compass ::like with climbing a tree, he’d never ask us to put him up on a branch but would attempt to climb or drag over a chair or a ladder on his own or not, it had to be on his own terms . . .ok the girls also had to do things on their own terms but their terms are very different!!
my gut tells me that in unschooling/free learning we are raising a much more *human* Being than we imagine or are aware of, they are closer to themselves than we realize and often i catch myself going whoa, i’m watching and participating in the Act of evolution . . . another tickling the edge thought . . . . . .
Yes, that is interesting, it is hard to know how and what the kids are learning but they are learning for sure. I realize that the more I step away the more things spring up. I like the thought of them being closer to themselves, that is true, as they are not trying to please the system. Thanks for the link I shall have a look. The days are very very full but watching their lives unfold is a joy really…