• Charlotte

How we unschool

We are a family of three, with one boy aged 2 years old, about to become a family of four sometimes in February 2020. And we decided to unschool.

When I first talked about unschooling to my husband, he was very hesitant. When I talk about unschooling to our families, they are not really convinced and understanding. And when I talk to people about unschooling my children, it's always the same questions or comments: "How will you know what to teach them?", "I don't feel confident enough to teach some subjects to my kids.", "I'm not smart enough.", "Aren't you afraid they won't learn as much as in school?", or "How are you going to manage the schedule?", "Aren't you worried about their social abilities?". Overall, there are legitimate comments or questions. I pretty much had the same reflexions at some point in my decision.

Here are my thoughts so far:

  • There is one thing from my own experience that always comes back to mind: most kids do not learn if it does not come from a natural process. By "natural process", I mean a true wish to learn, something that comes from them and not from a system. I am a strong believer that if a kid is interested in a subject, no matter his age, he will learn efficiently. Which also means I am not very keen on a strict schedule. I planned on a walk in the forest but my kid is currently absorbed in a construction game with his blocks? No problem! I will suggest a walk later or even the next day. Unless we really need to go on a walk for a good reason other than enjoying the outside -like picking up groceries, visiting a friend, or attending a class at the local library- I am not going to disturb his activity. I want to teach my kids in a free unstructured way, but I also want them to know things don't always go their way.

  • Another thing I do not like to do is to categorize the learning into different subjects. If you ask me "Do you teach maths to your kid?", I would answer "Yes." even though my kid is only 2 years old. If you ask me "Do you sit him down and teach him about maths?", my answer is a strong "No." But we count when we go up the stairs, when we read books, when we watch for school buses by the window; we talk measures when we bake together, and so on so forth. Maths, as much as science or literacy are part of our everyday life and it will naturally evolve with time.

  • I am not worried my kids won't learn the social skills they will need throughout their life. Unschooling doesn't mean I will lock them up from the outside world. We do go to the park or the library quite often and I am planning on enrolling him in some classes along the way, with other kids and a teacher/mentor. My toddler is a very social butterfly, he has a lot of empathy and is a good sharer, he loves to help and get involved in whatever we are doing... so far, social skills aren't an issue.

  • Chores are only chores if there are forced upon. My toddler loves to set the table, unload the dishwasher, put away the clean laundry, wipe up messes, etc. I never have to ask him. And if he doesn't do it by himself, I carry on my chores on my own, as I used to before he was part of our life. But it doesn't mean I do not ask him to clean after himselft, to tidy up his toys, etc.

  • Last but not least, we keep learning throughout our lives and there are many things I do not know myself. While my kids are learning, I will also be learning. That is the fun part of unschooling: we will do research in books or online, together, as a family. And we will all learn from each other.

We are only at the beginning of our unschooling journey and I am pretty sure we have lots to discover but I am confident in our choice. And, if along the way we feel we made the wrong choice, nothing is set in stone, we can always decide to homeschool or send him to traditional school if it is his wish. ;)