We unschool our kids. Many people might not know what this means. I didn't know what it meant either. I knew that when my kids were toddlers, I could not stand the thought of sending them to school. I did not want to be away from them, nor did I feel it was an idea that they would be happy about. We had so much fun being together, that my husband and I asked ourselves, “Why should we send them if we don't have to?” We wanted them to keep their sense of curiosity, and to always feel that learning is fun.
When our kids were babies, we parented them with attachment style parenting. This helped pave the road to unschooling. Some people have asked me if unschooling means un-parenting. It does not mean to just let your kids go without being a partner to them. It means helping them find the things that interest them, and it means journeying with them down many different paths. It does not mean to be submissive and just basically ignore your kids. It means to "BE" with them, be present with them, help them find things that they are interested in, do things with them, be very involved with them, but follow their lead, help them find and follow their passions. It is very involved, but a blast! It is like being on summer vacation all year!
My husband and I follow our kids' lead. We try to expose them to as many things as we can, and then we follow them. We are partners with them. We help them follow things they love until they don't want to do those things anymore. If they are passionate about one thing for a year, then we help them follow that passion for a year. We help them find out everything they possibly can about that passion. We don't treat them like we are in control or that we know what is best for them just because we happen to be older.
I have no "agenda" for my kids. We live each day exactly how we want to. If they want to watch movies all day, they do that. I know that humans are born knowing how to learn, so there is learning in everything we do. Remembering this allows me to trust this process. Children do not need to "learn" how to learn. There is no way that they can go through a day without learning something new, if we as parents, are active partners. Try to go through one day without learning something new, it is nearly impossible to do!
Some people assume that kids will just go wild and do really dangerous things if they are able to make choices for themselves. This is simply not true. If a child learns to think for themselves, and make choices for themselves, they live more authentically, they learn to live from their heart. Unschooling gives kids the freedom and the space to really find out what they love. They are able to stay with their passions rather than being told it is time to move on to some other arbitrary subject. They get to decide what they find interesting and follow it. They will learn exactly what they need when they need it.
Our “curriculum” looks very different than what a school curriculum might look like. At the top of my list is JOY, followed by happiness and compassion. Empathy is in there as well. I honestly don't care if they learn the "subjects" that someone else has decided they should learn. Will they really retain those things anyway? If they decide to learn those things, I know they will. When they choose to learn something, they retain it. I want them to know what joy feels like, and I want them to be passionate about life in a way that their true self shines through. What more could I ask for really?
It comes down to trust. I trust 100% that they will learn everything they need to learn when they need to learn it. I see it happen on a daily basis. This fills my heart with joy.
For more on unschooling and on nurturing ourselves, please stop by my website at benurtured.com. Also, if you are interested in reading about unschooling and natural learning, pick up any book by John Holt, especially How Children Learn, and Learning All The Time.