It’s a question unschoolers are asked regularly: does unschooling actually work? For our family, unschooling has worked in allowing our boys to learn at their own pace, how and when they decided they are ready. Time and time again my husband and I have been reminded how our kids will figure out what they need to know in their lives/interests and then pursue it. I’ve shared how a simple observation leads to questions in the unschooling process.
Top Gear UK. We have watched every episode on Netflix (also available through Amazon Prime’s Amazon Instant Video) at least once. Most of them multiple times. Especially the episodes with mustangs. If you haven’t watched the show here’s a low down: three men test drive cars and review them and do a bunch of crazy challenges. From an unschooling perspective, it is a mother of boys’ dream come true. The show involves geography and history (the places they visit), science/mechanics (engines, building experiments), language/vocabulary (the hosts are mostly clean and use fun words like “torque,” “centrifugal force,” and “gravity”), art (in the form of beautifully molded metal as well as the scenery and videography), politics (in various countries, not just England), critical thinking (how can they cross a salt land without sinking?) and even mathematical concepts (horsepower, speed, time).
My boys are young so they’re not quite ready to tear apart an engine to rebuild it but C asks a ton of questions and both boys listen and take in the answers. They have a ton of small cars that they act out the races with, including building ramps and jumps and ferrying them across rivers. They hadn’t really gone beyond that whole cars and racing theme until recently though.
A few weeks ago, they made a train with the kitchen chairs. Certainly not an unusual thing for children to do so I didn’t think much of it. I even packed them a little suitcase with their clothes (ulterior motive: they were still in their jammies so I hoped they would get dressed) and planned to pack them a picnic lunch. They had their tickets and even modified the train to fit a seat for Baby Bear and me. C was the engineer and Biscuit was the conductor.
Then it got even better: they planned a trip.
They were going to drive down Chile to the bottom of South America and see if they would be able to beat (imaginary) Daddy, who was driving a Mustang in the race. This gave us the opportunity to examine our wall map to see what kind of obstacles they would come across (bodies of water, mountains, etc.). We talked about how maps work and calculating distances and how many days the race might take them. It was a really great geography lesson (and probably covered a whole host of other schoolish subjects too) and a really great imaginative game as well.
That is unschooling. It requires very little effort on anyone’s part to follow those questions but it requires a lot of trust that our children are designed to learn. And, if granted the freedom to do so, learn they shall. Even if they spend days at a time watching a tv show with three bickering middle aged men with funny accents.
What has caught the interest of your child recently? What are you willing to do to run with their curiosity?
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