Lately I've gotten a few questions about unschooling kindergarten. It seems that people are under the impression that unschooling means letting your kids watch TV all day while I do what I want. Add to that the idea so many people have that the only way kids can learn is to sit in a room surrounded by their peers and instructed by a professional educator who knows what they need to learn right then. No wonder there is confusion!
Unschooling recognizes that children have an innate thirst for knowledge and that they will learn as long as the well of experience is full. For as many unschoolers as there are, there are methods to unschool. We bounce between radical and a more structured learning with topics chosen by the girls. (More on this balancing act here.)
In my opinion, the most critical part in unschooling is communication with your child. I'm always asking the girls what they want to do, what they want to see, what they want to learn more about. When we head to the zoo we talk about what animals we want to see and what questions we have about them. On the way home we talk about what we observed and what questions were unanswered. One of these trips resulted in us watching Meerkat Manor and for a time we acted out meerkat homelife. Most recently we decided we need to learn more about space and gravity.
What about reading writing and math? Those can't be left to the kids to decide to do!
I say they can. The girls know the alphabet, recognize their name and know how to spell it. They've been busy playwriting for years and recently Thing 1 started copying down things she sees. Finally they asked me to help them write their names so that they can sign artwork. Now instead of asking me to write things for them, they ask me to help them write things. My role in this? Providing paper, pencils, correcting grips and reminding them to "start at the top." Reading and math have been following a similar path.
Its actually very simple to do yet difficult to describe to the skeptic or uncertain. I know because I was once asking how in the world I could unschool math! So I've decided to take on a little project called "30 Days of Unschooling" showing what we do over the course of a month and share some tips and resources.
What's up for our week? More writing, reading and abacus work, playgroup, a trip to San Diego, chess, art and a trip to the library.