Have you ever been told that you are unschooling wrong? I have been a couple of times. So, what is unschooling then and how do you do it wrong?
Well, let's see, unschooling is following your child's lead, right? It's allowing your child to make decisions about their own education. It's about trusting that your child is going to learn everything they need to know.
How can you do unschooling wrong? The only way I see that happening is if you are forcing your kids to do something with their education that they don't want to do. I think we've all been there from time to time. We all have our preconceived notions of the timeline in which our kids should learn certain things. Or perhaps it's that we have just been conditioned to think that way after going to public school for 13 years. Those are things that can oftentimes be hard to let go of and even if we think that we have fully moved into this unschooling way of thinking our past education issues will still sneak in to bite us in the ass from time to time.
If you have committed to unschooling, should there be perfection in your method? Perfection is such a strong word. I always tell my kids that I just want them to do their best. I never expect perfection from them because I know that I will fail in my own life on a regular basis. However, each time we fail we can use that as a learning opportunity to grow. When we feel like we are failing at unschooling then we can reevaluate and decide what the term means for our own family and how it fits into our lives.
I have 5 kids and they are each so uniquely different. I have felt like I was failing at unschooling many many times. My most difficult challenge is trying to manage each of their own interests and giving them each enough of my time.
Let's pose an interesting question....Can you be unschooling if your kids are going to public school? It is my belief that you absolutely can. I know others will disagree. However, what if the kids choose to go? What if the kids know they can come home anytime they like? If unschooling is all about giving your children control of their own education then why would you tell them they aren't allowed to go? Not allowing them to go would be going against the unschooling philosophy, would it not?
I said in a previous post that all adults are unschoolers. I say that because the only reason we do things is because we have a desire to do it or we feel a need to do it. Adults will sometimes go to college or take other classes to gain new skills. Are they being forced to do those things? No. Can they quite at any time? Yes.
My kids have all tried some type of school from time to time, whether that's public school, an unschooling type school and their latest venture is a charter school. The reason a couple of them tried a public school is because their neighborhood friends all went so they got curious. We were in a good school district so I let them try it out. It only lasted a couple months but I'm glad they got to have the experience. Unfortunately, the unschooling school wasn't quite what we expected and the cost was just too much so that didn't last. This year I was looking into this charter school for my oldest. He's 13 and has had a hard time finding a group of consistent friends. We looked into the school just as a back up for several months down the road after trying some other things first. Crazy enough, he was ready to sign up right then and there at the orientation and my other kids begged to go as well. We had many long and serious talks about what it would mean but they were all still eager to give it a try. So why not? Now, they are forced to do work at school that they may not be interested in which certainly is not unschooling. However, they have chosen to be there and they are choosing to keep up with the work load and that most definitely is unschooling. Let's go back to adults for a moment; if you choose to go to college because you want to be a vet you will be forced to take some classes that you don't want to do, right? You'll do them, though, because you want to be a vet. Unschooling.
My kids are getting to experience different types of education. They are all still going because that's what they have chosen. I do think they'll all be back to homeschooling before long, though. But, for now, this is the season they are in.
If someone ever tells you that you are unschooling wrong ask yourself 1 question: Are my kids doing what THEY want to do for their education? If your answer is yes then you are unschooling.