Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Thursday, October 1, 2015


"We are only actively involved in their education for a very short amount of time in their life," a friend said to me the other day.

This Fall has really put that into perspective for me. She is right. "Short amount of time" to me, means, about 10 years. After that, we are still involved with our children, but they really do most of the leading (I'm specifically referring to homeschooling.) I have seen friends whose kids work on their own schoolwork with minimal help around age 10. I have seen lots of unschooling and even regular homeschooling families whose kids pretty much initiate their own projects and keep the ball rolling. And I am seeing S in the very beginning stages of doing that....

I close my eyes and I think back to the infant days. 

"Water. Water." I say. "W...?" "Yes. Wa-ter," I feel the excitement rising in my throat. "Wa-der." "Yes! Water! Water! You said it! Water! Now...say, wet." 

Funny how now my 7 year old has an active vocabulary possibly more expansive than mine-thanks to Martha Speaks, but I take it for granted. I don't dote over her every syllable like I did when she was 1. Back then eating with a spoon was a major feat. 

And then there were the toddler years.

"One Two." "Wun. T-oooo." "Yes. Good. Now we have TWO gummy bears." 

I remember recording S the very first time she rote counted to 10. And the first time I heard her recite her A,B,Cs which was little more than a song to her. We spent many of our days sorting counting bears, listening to music and dancing, finger painting, collecting nature materials outside...napping. That's educational, right? ....zzzzzzz....

Three and four were interesting because we entered a whole new world I had never experienced before. She knew what learning was and she wanted to do it. Our very first project was raising butterflies. I will never forget that. The wonder in her eyes as she sat on the kitchen floor for hours just staring at these tiny little creatures so intently. Watching them grow before her eyes. Wondering how on Earth they would turn into a butterfly. 

"Mommy! Mommy! Come look! They are THIS BIG! They eated the WHOLE leaf!" 

We started unit studies the year she hit 3. As a sort of "preschool." I compiled a list of topics along with a cute-sy activity for each day of the week. Usually an art project, baking/cooking project, movie, hands on project, and book. I think it was something I partly did to "practice" for homeschooling. And partly something I did to keep me on my toes throughout the week. Couldn't be getting lazy. (Things were different back then. Learning was done totally for the sake of learning. Not because she was compulsory and had to. We are still trying to get back to that point.)

I remember picking trash up outside for our "Healthy Earth" unit. I remember making these little cut, paste, and color ladybugs for our "Animals" unit. Oh and reading, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" for our "Cause and Effect" unit. Another activity during that unit was to color on that Crayola music toy. When you colored on your paper, it played music and the tempo would change as your coloring speed changed. And one of my very favorite things we did together was our "Anti-Winter" protest. Where we dressed up in white dresses and spent the day inside doing Summer-like activities like eating popsicles and playing with the outdoor toys. I remember blowing bubbles in the bedroom. It was a silly day, but a Beautiful memory. 

Those days are gone now though. Replaced by the 5, 6, and 7 age. The age where she picks her own interests, because, you know, she is old enough for that now. And we spend the days doing meaningful and in depth activities like reading living chapter books, researching online, and applying the knowledge. Doing "non Pinterest" experiments as S puts it. And practicing to be something she thinks she might want to be when she grows up. 

It almost feels like those days are slipping away too. S is spending increasingly more time researching her own stuff. And she has a list of interests a mile long that she can partake in on her own. Listening to music. Drawing. Computer skills....

I'm trying to be hands on while knowing how to be hands off when I need to. We work together a LOT still. But there have been days here and there were the house seems so quiet. S is in her room working away on something. I can hear the A/C running and the dogs snoring as the minutes slowly pass by and I try to find some housework. A puzzle. Anything to keep these hands busy. My life has revolved around her for so long....I'm not sure what to do when I am alone. 

I'm trying to keep my mind busy too, praying to God that he would Bless me with the ability to experience it all again. The new walker. The new talker. The child who drawing a circle with four lines protruding from it and calls it a person. A child who doesn't know their alphabet. One that I can read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom too 100 times and they will never get bored. A toddler who doesn't grasp what a number is but will happily repeat as you count jellybeans into their little hands. 

"We're going on a bear hunt..." "We going on a bear hunt!" She echos. "We're gonna catch a big one!" She squeals with delight....

We have approximately 6,570 days with our children between birth and the age of 18. Doesn't seem like much. 

I shut my eyes and just remember. Bask in what we have had. And live for what we will have. It doesn't last forever.

Playing PlayDoh-She didn't even know how to use scissors back then! Oh the things she has learned!

Playing Music

Sorting Bears

Making Lemonade for Summer Studies

Back Before Art Was an Actual Talent of Hers That She Practiced

Shaving Cream Letters (Before she could read!)

Nursery Rhyme Study (Back when we did calendar also.)

Observing for Hours-In Her Underwear.

Seeing Our Babies Turn Into Butterflies
Sensory Activities

Digestive System Demonstration

Ocean Studies

Weather Unit Sensory Bath

SENSORY BATHS! Glow in the Dark-Space Study

Learning to Sew

Making Doll Furniture

You Tube Channel

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