Why do we Homeschool/Unschool? Let me start by saying this. Like everything else in this world, educating your child is a personal choice. No child develops at the same pace or learns in the same way. Each child and family is different. For our family and for our child Homeschooling, and more specifically Unschooling, works best.
My husband and I knew homeschool would be best for our family and our son very early on. Our reasons for homeschooling included:
Family Time: My husband has long work days but sometimes gets to come home for lunch. He only has Sundays off as well. If my son was in a traditional school he would only see his Papa 1 day out of the week.
Allergies: Our son is allergic to 8 different foods. While none of these are epi pen serious, they all make him very sick.
Creativity: Our son loves to build! Be it Lego’s, K’nex, Cups, Popsicle Sticks, or Grapes and Toothpicks. He will spend hours creating machines with movable parts, cities, marble runs or air rockets. He also loves to dress creatively. He will wear costumes and face paint or paint his nails in a pattern of colors. We wanted to fully support our son and his desire to learn, build and be creative without the restrictions of a formal school environment.
Education: When our son was 3 years old he was giving the family presentations on different subjects from sea life in the Atlantic to the mega fauna of the Pleistocene. He wanted me to read out of the encyclopedia to him at bed time. He loved everything written by Jack London. He was and still is a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien! Yet, he himself couldn’t read until recently. His vocabulary was and still is better than most adults. He could build intricate machines and ships with Lego’s. If they fell and broke apart he would say it was OK. That he had taken a picture of it with his mind. He would have the creation rebuilt within minutes! When it came time for Kindergarten and First Grade, in many ways Gabriel was ahead of his peers. Yet in other ways, he was behind. He still wasn’t reading and would have extreme melt downs when he came across something he had never done before. He felt that he should automatically know how to do it. I suppose that’s because there are so many things that he does automatically know how to do. Sometimes it felt like we were on a roller coaster of ideas and intense learning without any prompting from adults.
So, Homeschooling it was. We tried Waldorf and Montessori approaches but they just didn’t work for him. When he decides he wants to learn about something, say Prehistoric Pigs for example, he dives into this subject and will think of nothing else! Let’s not forget the week he only wanted to know about viruses….mammalian viruses, vertebrate viruses, the top 5 most dangerous viruses to humans…
Our Homeschooling evolved into Unschooling because traditional methods do not work for our son. He needs the freedom to pursue his own interests in the way that works best for him. Sitting down with a text book and beginning with chapter one doesn’t work…I tried. Plus, our son is always learning, always thinking, always creating! If he wants to create a guide book of over 20 prehistoric creatures then that’s what he does! If he wants to make his own air rocket, marble run, Lego parachutes, or listen to hours of audio books, then that’s what he does. We are just there to help him in whatever way he needs us.
At bed time he will either completely crash or stay up half the night brainstorming ideas! For example: how to extract soft tissue from an arthropod without breaking it’s exoskeleton or how to create a growth serum for an anaconda so that its shed skin would be large enough to manufacturer into sleeping bags. *True Stories*
We are constantly looking for new and interesting things to expose him to, museums, zoos, scientist, STEM activities, scientific articles, subscriptions, etc. But it is ultimately his choice if he wants to do any of these activities.
It is also Gabriel’s choice in what he wants to read. This month it is all fantasy and science fiction. Last month it was all animals and grammar! Yes, I said grammar!
Finally, we love that we can go out into nature at anytime and explore! There is so much math and science happening out there. You just have to know where to look. We try to get outside most everyday, rain or shine! Gabriel loves being out hiking, discovering, pretending or meditating in nature.
We may not do things the way everyone else does them, but that is the beauty of homeschool. You can adjust it to fit the needs of your child and your family. I challenge you, not to compare yourself to others, but to look at what is and isn’t working for you and adjust your mindset accordingly. For us Homeschooling, and more specifically Unschooling, is working.
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