Supporting Child-Led Learning

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Harvard Seeks out Homeschoolers

It is well known in top colleges that homeschoolers and unschoolers are prized students for their creativity, connection with their community and ability to think for themselves. So if top colleges think that conventional school systems are failing our kids, why haven’t we, as parents, woken up and taken matters into our own hands?

unschooling

 

Unschooling is NOT Traditional Homeschooling

With the same interest and enthusiasm that our children use to learn to walk and talk, they use to discover the world around them. I’ve been learning more about Unschooling and how natural and liberating the learning┬áprocess really is. Unschooling is NOT traditional homeschooling. It is a philosophy of learning that every child should follow their interests and learn what excites them, what they love, and what they want to know more about. Many of us whose love of learning has been squashed by conventional school methods of memorization, test taking and learning what was put in front of us, tend to recoil at the idea of child-led learning. Won’t our kids just play and get into trouble all day if they don’t have the authority of school to tell them what they need to learn?

No, actually, most kids, when presented with a chance to learn what they love, take it and run. Their interests become finely tuned and they retain the information learned along the journey to accomplish their goals. Think back to your school years. Do you remember much of what you learned and were tested on? Name all the states from memory. Perform some algebra problems. Recall some elements on the periodic table of elements. Most of us cannot. We don’t use these items on a daily basis. We were taught to the test. We memorized things and dumped them onto a test, only to shove more facts into our brains for the next test. Now think of something that you were very interested in while going to school. Did you pursue this interest in school or on your own free time? What do you remember of the things you learned? Did you retain more information because you needed or wanted to know it?

How do YOU learn best?

Most of us, when faced with problems or questions in life, do not wait to sign up at a local collage for a course that is going to start in 5 weeks. We find out the information we seek through the web, people we know, experts, books, etc. We know how to Unschool ourselves, and most of that information we enjoy learning because we either need it for something or we are interested. The information sticks. Unschooling takes this natural and logical way of learning into the child’s life. Unschooling fosters a love of learning and lets the parents be guides along the child’s journey to discover with them and help them find resources for the information they are seeking.
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Memorize, Test, Repeat

Brian Greene discusses why he thinks schools fail at sparking interest in science. I think he is onto something with his analysis that conventional curriculum in the USA teaches to the test and makes memorization, instead of discovery, the driving force of learning.

So What Do We Do?

There are schools in the USA that do not follow the beaten path. But they are often expensive or accessible only to the privileged or well-informed. Montessori, Reggio and even Waldorf are some of these alternative methods. All children deserve the type of learning that unschooling offers. As a parent, I find I cannot allow my child to suffer in a broken school system while attempting to reform it. That doesn’t mean we should give up on the schools. Unschooling is a vote against the system the way it currently stands. We can still advocate for school method reform while unschooling our children.

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