When we first start to think about unschooling, it’s scary for most of us. We’re so used to relying on “experts” to handle everything. The idea of taking responsibility for ourselves usually doesn’t sit that well with us. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we’re not really capable and we NEED those experts.
But that’s simply not true.
Your children learned to walk and talk without formal instruction. They can learn so much with you as a partner and a guide. An awesome aspect of unschooling is that kids won’t just learn a collection of facts they may or may not ever need. They will amass a collection of knowledge that’s unique for them. That’s what a TRULY individualized learning plan is.
Take all cues from your child – they will tell/show you what their interests are and then you will know what the next step is. Don’t be swayed by the marketing powers of curriculum! You don’t need THEM to tell you what your child is interested in learning more about. Curriculum seems "right" because it's familiar. But little humans learned to walk and talk - and so many other things before they stepped a foot into a school. And after the school years were over, grown-up humans continued to learn and discover all sorts of things - with no lesson plans, agendas, or Friday quizzes.
When we stop trying to orchestrate all the learning, we're able to observe and see what our kids' interests are. Move in that direction - even if it doesn't look "academic" at all. Often, the more kids want to pursue something, the more they'll need some skill to do it. That will be the catalyst to learn something they had no interest in before. And, the good news is that because it's in context and relevant to their lives, they'll remember it! Without any power struggles at all!
Play a lot of games – whatever interests them. This will also give you a lot of clues about their preferences for any future purchase decisions. Don't buy games just because the box says it's for a particular age group or because some other family loved it. Those pieces of information might be good starting places, but tune into your child and see what kinds of games they enjoy.
While you're gathering data on the specifics of various games they like to play, you'll also be strengthening the connection between the two of you. Kids will love that you're interested in the details of their lives and that you're valuing their opinions.
Connection matters most. Connecting with your child is the most important thing you can do. When they can turn to you for help and advice – without worrying that you’re trying to manipulate or mold them – then they really get to thrive with unschooling.
Remember that learning happens all the time. In all kinds of ways. And sometimes we don't even get to know what's happening in someone else's brain. They may not have even put it all together yet... but down the road, they'll suddenly mention something really brilliant. And you'll be left thinking (and may even say it out loud)
"How did you know that??"
They may not even remember where they learned about it... but they did. Because LEARNING is what humans do! Pause when this moment happens and remind yourself that you didn't have to make this happen or teach it to them. They did it on their own. Nice, right?
Ready to strengthen that Unschooling foundation? Take this course:
Jumping Into Unschooling
More Coaching Options at