Posted by 3homeschoolers | Posted in Life-based Learning, Theory Thursday, Unschooling | Posted on February 19, 2009
I will admit upfront that I hate the term “unschooling.” To me, it connotes a “free-range, no-learning-here” stance. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
Unschooling, the end of the homeschooling continuum that I lean closest to, should more rightly be termed “life-based learning” or “practical homeschooling”. Learning does not merely occur between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Life-based learning is where activities one engages in as part of daily living provide experiential opportunities for children to learn.
For example, when my oldest was learning to read, we would go to the market with a list. He would draw pictures of what we needed, and I would write the words. He would take the list, and find the things we needed based on the pictures he drew, and learned to associate that object with the letters I used to spell the word.
I labeled bins in my children’s rooms with words and pictures to promote independence. The bins for toys, and bins for types of clothing were labeled so that my children could choose, and put away with minimal assistance from me, all the while learning to associate the picture with the word listed on the bin, a pre-reading skill.
Sounds like a lotta learnin’ goin’ on!
Much of what I learned in school, I don’t ever use anymore. Much of what I learned in school I don’t even remember anymore.
My oldest learned about counting money by going to the store with coins. He learned 10% long before his public school counterparts (he was maybe, six??), because we rounded up the sales tax to an easier increment to calculate. Thus, when he expressed interest in purchasing something with his allowance, he had to compute the cost of the item + 10% for tax to see if he had enough money. This is real-world math, that he will use time and time again throughout his life.
My youngest is learning to read by looking at the signs he sees out of our car window as we travel daily to our various activities. He sees words and pictures, and can fill in the words he may not know based on the picture. He is learning to spell in this way, too.
My children have days where they want to build with Legos from sun-up to sun-down. They build elaborate structures that incorporate engineering (sound, weight-bearing structures), math (base 10 and manipulatives (how many white squares equal a red one?)), and reading, if they are following set instructions (which they do as often as not). I can’t say this isn’t learning, and I can’t say they don’t learn as much from this free-form activity as they do with more “structured” activities we engage in (and there are some!). They have more interest in it, and a stake in making it happen, thus, get more from it.
I am not anti-learning, but I do question if a “traditional” school setting is the only “legitimate” way in which “true” learning occurs. I am not anti-unschooling, but I dislike the term because it leaves the impression that “those zany homeschoolers let their kids run around all day without teaching them a thing” when nothing could be further from the truth. Our family is a practical, life-based learning homeschooling family….and loving it!
© 2009, Marie Stroughter; All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission.