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Unschooling Young Children – Natural Learning

by admin on February 23, 2010

Not that long ago, I probably would have mocked someone who thought like I do now.  I can hardly fathom how much I’ve changed over the past couple of years.  It’s unbelievable.

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Another thing that blows my mind is that Patrick and I both desire to unschool.  I’m so excited that we are on the same page on most of the big issues concerning Axel.  Fighting about these things would not be fun.

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I’ve been stressing out lately about how exactly I’m going to go about teaching our little boy important things.  The problem with my thinking, though, is that I have no idea what “important” is yet, because Axel is ultimately the one who will decide that.  Sure, I think reading and writing is crucial, but why does it have to be taught to every child at age 5?  Why not 7, or 3?  What if reading is something that Axel simply isn’t interested in?  Am I supposed to shove literature down his throat?  Shouldn’t I teach my child whenever he is ready and willing?  I just don’t get why every kid has to fit into the same little cookie cutter mold.  It’s frustrating.

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When we first started considering unschooling, I was completely freaked out because I thought it meant that books were outlawed, or any other “training” materials.  After researching more, I found that the whole point of unschooling is that you are basically letting your child lead his own education.  In other words, if Axel wants to play outside for 6 hours straight, that’s okay.  Or, if Axel is interested in flash card drills, we have the freedom to do them.  It’s not about what you do, or even how you do it, it’s simply about believing in your child.

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From a Christian perspective, I think it’s all about trusting that God knew what He was doing when he created your child.  We as parents don’t have to force our interests, hobbies, talents, or anything our government says must be “learned,” on our kids. My son has been blessed with special gifts, and I feel like it’s my job to nurture those gifts, and to love him as much as possible along the way.  This is the best path for our family.

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Funny thing is, Axel is already showing me that natural learning is the best route for us.  I frequently find myself trying to force Axel to do something, only to realize half way through it that he is already doing something of his own.  For instance, the other day I was trying to “teach” him how to use his toy hammer.  I was chanting, “see Axel, you hold the hammer right here, and hit it on the ground… hold it here, hit it on the ground… see how mommy does it?… now you try.”  Well, after awhile I gave up, because all he wanted to do was pick up the hammer, switch it from hand to hand, and examine the different sides.  Once I realized that he was learning something important (without my help mind you), I was able to take a step back and happily observe.  He didn’t need me to teach him to do anything.  All he needed was my love, and a smile from me every now and then when he looked up, wondering if he was making me proud.  And, I can honestly say, he was. 

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Ironically, when I stopped trying to teach him how to play, and just played, he started picking up on what I was doing.  Shortly after I let go, and just had fun, he picked up the hammer, pounded it on the ground, and smiled, like it was no big thing.  And, you know what?  To him, it really wasn’t.  He looked at me as if to say, “mom, I’ve got this, don’t worry about me.” 

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It’s hard, if not impossible, not to worry about our children.  They are so precious.  We desire them to have great lives, and the only way we know how to teach them that is to attempt to force them to act like we do, and to learn to do things the way we learned to do them.  We must remember, though, that our purpose is not to make them into miniatures of ourselves, but instead to help them turn into the people they were created to be. 

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This is gonna be a tough one.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Leonie February 24, 2010 at 7:29 am

I find unschooling to be rearding..just living, really.. together.Great post!

admin February 24, 2010 at 4:24 am

I feel the same way. It makes sense, but is it realistic? We shall see. Thanks for commenting. :)

Melodie February 24, 2010 at 3:35 am

Reading this post makes me realize that unschooling is just one more way to live and parent by using our instincts, just the way nature intended really. I don’t know if this means it is “best” based on the culture we live in and the world around us but it certainly makes sense.

admin February 23, 2010 at 9:05 pm

It’s crazy how love works, eh?

Sara February 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I’m also surprised that my husband and I both agree on unschooling and basically everything about parenting despite coming from very different backgrounds.

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