Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Hardly doing anything."

I keep seeing phrases similar to these tossed around:

"We're not doing much for preschool since we're unschooling for now."
"I hardly did anything with him till he was 7.  We unschool during the younger years."

I know what these people mean.  They mean they didn't do any formal curriculum, and they didn't structure their child's day around "preschool learning activities."

But they usually go on to say that they read books, played games, played outside, let their kid help with things around the house, went for walks, talked about the world around them...

In other words, they WERE doing things with their child.  To say "we hardly did anything because we unschool" implies that unschooling isn't doing anything.  I remember saying something similar with E was 2 or 3.  I was trying to explain my excitement about what I was reading about unschooling and I said I was looking forward to "sitting back and watching her learn."

Sometimes it happens that way.  Sometimes I can just sit and watch while my kids play a game or discover something new and see that they are learning.  But "hardly doing anything" or "sitting back and watching," doesn't convey the importance of parents being involved and active.  I love this graph about how much time you should spend with your kids. 

It seems like people don't know how to do something with kids unless they are doing something that looks like school.  Or they don't *count* the MANY things they are doing as "doing something" because it doesn't look like school.

Spend time with your "preschool" age child.  Read books, play games, watch movies, look up cool stuff, go for walks, cook and sing and dance together, go fun places, eat fun food, dig in the dirt, pay attention to what they are interested in and do more of it.  Then if you're still doing that when they are 5 or 6 or 7 and they still aren't in school or school-at-home, call it unschooling.

Or call it unschooling now!  I did, since I intended to continue doing those same things and not send my child to school and not start school at home, and I was using ideas and philosophies from parents unschooling with older kids and seeing how well they work.

Just please don't tell the world that unschooling is "hardly doing anything."

UPDATE:  Today I was told that I was actually schooling, not unschooling my kids, because I said we were going to go home and look up more info about the plants we found at the lake.  These moms were under the impression unschooling was "doing nothing and hoping the kids learn."  While I do wish that people would at least read a little John Holt (the guy who coined the term unschooling) before they decide they know what unschooling is, I do understand that with a quick internet search they could come to that conclusion since there are so many people out there claiming to be unschooling, and doing nothing or saying they are doing nothing because they haven't deschooled enough to know they are doing something.    

"What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent - in the broadest and best sense, intelligent- is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them."
~John Holt~ Teach Your Own

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