I recently answered a comment on my blog post How Do I Start Unschooling? (Free Chapter) from a mother who had just started unschooling her children and had some concerns as to whether she would know if they were doing anything educational.
I realised that in giving my rather long reply, I had actually written what could be a blog post on the subject. So, here is my original comment with some extra thoughts on whether we will know if our children are learning anything if we decide to unschool.
“I am a former teacher and come from a family of school teachers. When we first started home schooling 8 years ago, I had an idea of what education should look like and we did “School at home” for a while. Then, our children got bored and so did I. As time passed, I started to see that our children were learning every day in ways I hadn’t considered before. Here is an example:
A few weeks ago my father came to visit. He is a retired state school Maths teacher, he believes in the school curriculum. Our 9 yr old son wanted to show his grandad his Minecraft world. He was very proud of his model of the Titanic, which had taken him many days to complete (he had to use some maths to get it right). This sparked a conversation about the Titanic and to my amazement our son started to tell his grandad all about “How and Why” the Titanic sank. I could see my father was taken back and impressed by our son’s knowledge. The conversation continued with them both chatting and sharing information about submarines, boats, tanks, airplanes and WWI.
I had no idea our son knew all this stuff and later I asked him, “Where did you learn about the Titanic?”, he replied, “From Youtube while I was researching how to build my Minecraft project”.
This happens often. Both our children will have conversations with adult friends, family or even the shop assistant about things I had no idea they knew. They seem to be learning all the time through they own interests and by just being in the real world rather than being a classroom all day.
Rather than being their teacher, I now see my role as a facilitator of their learning. Meaning, I will seek out and offer exhibitions, museums, books, documentaries and even find people who will support them in their interests.”