May 11, 2016
This week, I want to take a little bit of time to talk about Unschooling.
We are now in our 2nd week of Unschooled Preschool.
If our daughter (3.5) would be in Iowa, we would have been expected to have just finished enrolling her to begin 3 Year Old Preschool for this coming fall.
Where we now live in Ecuador, there is no formal acknowledgement of Preschool. Not for 3 year olds, not for 4 year olds…not at all. In addition, most kids don’t enter Kindergarten until after they turn 6.
IF and that is a very big IF our daughter is to enter Kindergarten here, she will need to be fluent in Spanish.
We decided to begin our lesson “plans” now rather than in the fall, because it makes sense that our kids will recognize the same calendar year as the locals. Here, the beginning of a new school year began last week with the start of May.
Our son (2), will also be included for age appropriate activities with our lesson plans.
So what is Unschooling?
Unschooling is undefined by any type of regulations or formal requirements. In fact, that is largely the point. It is a rebellion of sorts, against institutionalized, standardized,regulated, competitive education. Children who are unschooled, therefore, do not attend brick and mortar schools.
It is essentially being educated at home, however it is NOT homeschooling. Homescholing typically utilizes the same type of curriculum and standardized testing that are used in brick and mortar schools, but it is taught by parents in a home setting.
The best way to explain Unschooling is to call it “Interest Based Learning”. It not a new concept, it has been around since the 1970s. There has been a recent increase in families who choose to educate this way. They state many different reasons for choosing this method, but among the largest reasons are the continually increasing demands for homework and testing that are being implemented into USA schools. Another big contributor, is the recess variable. Each year, recess time is cut more and at earlier grades…claiming that more time is needed in classroom teaching for the kids to keep up with the curriculum guidelines. This results in less play time, which has been proven… again and again… to be the single most important learning platform for children under the age of 8.
Unschooling does not mean that our children will not be educated. It means that our children will be taught according to what interests them, when it interests them, for as long as it interests them. Their learning will have no specified hours, days, or grade levels. Since, our children are so young… most of our lesson planning is purely experimental. I am not a teacher, I have no background in child education or development. I will be learning as I go, and I expect to learn a lot WITH our children as they learn. I expect that some weeks will be total failures and others mildly successful, possibly even very successful. This is how we will learn what does and doesn’t work. What interests them, what bores them, etc. We do have specific goals about what we think they should & need to know at this age. But, we will not limit them or their weekly plans by their age or grade level. We will continually introduce a variety of topics that they would probably not be exposed to otherwise, at this age.
We will spend a lot of time doing family based learning… where we do projects and experiments together, allowing for questions and variables to happen naturally. In the beginning, the topics of these sessions will be presented by us, the parents. The hope is that eventually the children will come up with their own ideas and interests, and therefore control the direction of their education towards what interests THEM.
Once the preschool years have come to an end, we will asess as a family.. how to move forward with the education of our children. We will at that time, evaluate if we feel Unschooling has been successful for us thus far and if we are capable of continuing this way as they advance. The kids will always have a say as well, if they don’t like staying home or wish to attend a formal school… we will look into the options available in our location.
With all of that being explained, below are photos of the lesson plans and of the kids “learning in action” in our first weeks.