My interpretation of unschooling is that it is a form of learning from life without imposing a specific curriculum or forcing a specific method of teaching on my children.
A lot of information about unschooling that I have read talks about how it is just letting life teach your children the things they need to know to live and thrive in this world and culture. This method of learning has always made perfect sense to me. If you need a skill to survive in your current role or career, you find a way to aquire it. Sometimes this is done through extensive reading and research, other times through hands-on trial & error, and other times it requires us to take a course specifically set up to give us the proper qualifications and information. At the end of the day, the outcome is the same: the new skill is learned because you chose to learn it. Why should it look any different for our children?
Many radical unschoolers forgo the practice of schedules or parent-imposed learning or even restrictions on anything that many other children have limits on. While I understand how this can work really well for some families, I feel that unschooling gives my family and I the opportunity to set up our household in a way that works for us. My family runs better when we have a regular rhythm to our days. This also means that we require certain things from our children and have certain rules for them.
Here is a bit of a framework for our family:
* We require our children to participate in the family, including the family work (household as well as farm).
* We expect them to show the love of God through their actions and attitudes. We do no allow them to disrespect us or each other.
* We believe that our children must respect us as authority figures (which, in turn, means that we must prove ourselves to be an authority worth respecting).
* We teach and expect them to treat their bodies as temples of God, which includes healthy eating habits, an active lifestyle, and healthy sleep habits.
* The condition of their heart takes precedence over all else.
Those are some of the boundaries and expectations that we have in place for when our children live in our home.
The Alberta School Act even states it’s goal for students become a “self-reliant, responsible, caring and contributing member of society.” It seems that even the Alberta government believes that character is important. Many employers realize that while skills can always be taught, character cannot. In fact, out of the 46% of job failures that happen within the first 18 months, 89% was due to attitude issues, only 11% was due to lack of skill. So, in order to give my kids the best foot forward, our main focus will be to develop their character. We believe that these things are essential to our children becoming capable and well-adjusted adults. And isn’t that what unschooling, or any other educational method, is all about?