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Thursday, March 23, 2017

How we 'kind of' Unschool ........

I need a Disclaimer right off the bat here before you read on.  These are just my opinions and this concept is NOT for everyone.  Although it is legal to homeschool in all 50 states, each state has their own homeschooling laws that must be followed.  Make sure you are up to date with those laws!  You can find out what laws your state has by going to HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Assoc.) website. 
With that out of the way, let's begin.

There are several different ways to "unschool" and I am not an expert.  However, I have learned a few things in my 13 years of homeschooling my 3 sons.

First, let's take a look at the definition of unschooling.  

Unschooling:   is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means of learning.

You are probably thinking right now.... What? What the heck does that mean?  

It means that my child's interests come first and we use that as a guide to educate.  Now, I only have one son homeschooling right now.  (The older two have graduated already.)  My youngest is going to be 14 years old next week and right now the only thing he is interested in is video games.  lol.  Needless to say, we don't play video games all day.  But I knew that I didn't want to teach him the traditional way.  

Let's back up a bit and take a look at the definition of homeschooling.

Homeschooling:  the education of children at home by their parents.

Let's not confuse this with "schooling at home".  Some say that doing the online K-12 program is homeschooling.  I disagree.  To me, that is just doing public school at home, in a different environment maybe, but not homeschooling.  I feel that homeschooling is led and taught by the parent or guardian at home.

After years of homeschooling, I decided to try unschooling (in at least what my opinion of unschooling is).  I was thinking to myself one day "what is my goal for my son"? (Remember, the other 2 graduated already so I just have the one son left at home.)  So this is what I came up with......... #1 being the most important.

#1  Raise a God loving man & follower of Christ
#2  Raise a man who can support himself & his family
#3  Raise a man who enjoys life & is happy doing what he is doing

Now, if any of my boys decide to be a plumber, electrician, state road worker or even a manager at Walmart, as long as he is achieving these 3 goals above, I have succeeded as an educating parent.

So using these 3 goals I tried to figure out what needs to be taught in order to achieve these goals.  So this is what I came up with.

8'th grade (this current schoolyear) but these are the things to achieve from now through high school.

Math - 
Know how to keep & balance a checkbook.
Know how to budget & pay bills on time.
Know what you can and cannot afford.
Know how to pay tithes.
Know how to shop for himself.
Know how credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc work.
Know how to figure out dimensions to build, add on, replace or repair your home. (plumbing, electrical & automotive included)

Language Arts / Writing -
Know how to write a business letter, email or basic letter.
Know how to spell check a document.  
Know basic sentence structure for writing short papers or documents.
Know how to address an adult or stranger.
Know how to fill out important paperwork.
Know how to prepare & conduct a job interview.

Science -
Know basic Anatomy, Reproductive Cycle and how Life begins.
Know the scientific method.
Know how to raise an animal for food.
Know how to grow and maintain a garden for food.
Know basic canning techniques, food preservation and storage.

History -
Know our Constitution & Amendments.
Know the history of our country / forefathers. 
Know how history came about (Biblical).
Know how the electoral system works & why.

There are other things I'm sure I'm forgetting, but these are the basics.  I do ask my son what he is interested in and we do try to use those interests as a guide to learning.  (I also teach Logic & Geography.)

(Something to oldest son went to our local public school for his high school years and he did NOT learn how to balance a checkbook, he did NOT learn how interest works or how to budget, etc.  This doesn't make any sense to me at all.  But that is for another blog post.  Needless to say if I had it to do over again, he would not have attended public high school.)

So this is how a basic unschooling day goes in our home:

Wake up:  Happens whenever he wakes up naturally.  He needs his sleep, he is a growing boy. ;)  Usually he is up by 9am.

Eat Breakfast and watches some Netflix while 'waking up'.

10:00 am we start our 'school'.  I usually read to him (we just finished 'The Hiding Place' by:  Corrie ten Boom).

Then we do some EIW (Excellent in Writing).  He gets to be creative and write about a certain topic while using instructed strong verbs, clauses, etc.

Sometimes I will ask him to spell a few words orally.  If he doesn't get them correct, I have him write them down and see why they were wrong.  But let's face it, everything now a days has spell check.  I practiced spelling all through public school and I am a terrible speller.  Thank God for spell check!!

Around 11'ish we will go to the kitchen and eat a snack or brunch (depending what he ate earlier).  Then we will do our Math exercise.  I may ask him to prepare a grocery list for me.  He has to take inventory and write down what we may need.  I may give him a math worksheet (I created) that has a few things that need to be deducted from a 'fake' checking register.  You get the picture.

He has an unschooling journal he works in as well.  This journal consists of drawing, figuring out puzzles, researching a country and answering questions, etc.  
You can find many unschooling journals here:

We use Netflix a lot in our education.  There are tons of great documentaries, educational movies, etc on Netflix.  We are still studying the 'Nazi era' right now so we are watching the series on Netflix called "Auschwitz".  Wow, all I can say is wow.  If you are studying this, or going to be covering this, you need to watch it.  

We are usually done with our unschooling day between 12 - 1pm depending what we did that day.  Some days we will do a science experiment so those days we end closer to 1:00pm.

Yes, our 'schooling' only consists of less than 3 hours per day.  Why does it need to be more?  If we accomplished what we needed to, to achieve our goals, why drag it out?

I know the one question on your mind is "what about college"? How is he going to survive college if he doesn't learn Algebra, Trig or how to write a 2,000 word report?  The answer is easy.  If HE decides to go to college, then we will learn it.  If he doesn't, then he won't.  The basic Algebra that you and I use daily is what he will know, why bore him with anything that will not benefit him later?  I think back to all the stuff I learned in high school and honestly, I don't use probably 90% of it.  I would say the 10% I do use is how to address people and write basic letters, email, etc.  Seriously, do I need to teach him the square root of 625?  Whatever he comes across that he needs to know and doesn't, he will know where to find it.  Let's face another fact.......Google is what most of us adults use to find out the answer to just about anything now a days. Before Google, we had our local library.  We use the library quite a bit in our unschooling by the way.

So this is our 'unschooling', well kind of unschooling approach.  I hope that if you decide to educate your children at home that you will do it in the style or manner that you want your child to grow in and accomplish his/her goals and not the way the world feels your child should be educated.  If you are currently homeschooling, kudos to you!  :)  I hope all is going well and you decide to venture outside of the box now and then.  I did.........and I'll never go back inside that box again!  Can everyone say education freedom?  :)

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