Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Importance of Unschooling

Being the Easter Holidays I have covered some of the more commonly known questions:

“What does an average day of Home School consist off?”
“I would worry about them socialising if I home Schooled”
These are really valid questions and although I still completely agree that it is a personal choice for every family to consider, if they did actually consider it, I do believe that I have tried to answer these questions to my best ability.
So what now?
Well I did promise that I would write a post about the different styles and types of Home School that families may consider. However, I had started writing it when I got to the style ‘Unschooling’ and it dawned on me that I should really discuss the importance of Unschooling your child before I suggest it as teaching/Parenting style.


Unschooling is exactly what it says on the tin! Everything that you would consider as ‘schooled’ needs to be ignored (Well slightly)
‘Schooled’ is the concept that teaching a child to be regimented into a routine filled with structure, guidance and an adult led education. The adults therefore present the work to the child and the child learns from that point.
Where with unschooling you have the idea of an ‘Open Classrooms’ where life has enough lessons and interests to allow the child to learn. In principle from then the adults are there to be the facilitators of life allowing the child/ren to experience as much as possible.
Unschooling students are, potentially, learning through their life experiences including play, responsibilities, interests and, ultimately, their curiosity. It then encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning, the more meaningful, well-understood and, therefore, useful it is to the child.
Like in a lot or parenting choices we see that unschooling as a child-led activity.
This in principle, I believe, is pretty much what a lot of us do as parents; we offer guidance in life but we try, where possible, to encourage and support their choices. (As long as we believe and can see the best within it)
So why is this important to do this before we look at the styles of Home Schooling?
This really comes down to the age of your child and if they have been schooled previously.
From the age of 3 most Nurseries will promote certain schooled activities, such as: Sitting and Writing letters, Numbers and the Childs name. All of which is a schooled formalised style. (Sitting on a chair at a desk/table) This style progresses forwards to make, where possible, the child ‘ready’ to join preschool/Reception.
So we then get to the point where the child, for whatever reason, now needs to be Home Schooled. Whatever the reason may be it is important to realise that the association within a ‘schooled’ style will affect the way you teach them.
For example:
1: If your child was emotional distressed throughout the school experience then it is reasonable to believe that you creating a schooled and formulated system might not encourage the child to learn. They may have found socialising difficult or was bullied yet it has always been clear that a certain amount of emotional response is attached to what they perceive as school.
2: The same applies to a child who struggled with the work load or level of work that was expected; if, as parents, we then add to that concept and start to suggest that is what school is about we might as well just send them back to school rather than teach from home.
In both situations we are allowing the child to look at any form of education as black and white, good and bad and never really helping them the way we should and subsequently creating a barrier to education.
Now I know I did a post previously on Childism and how at an extreme, in my views, can be detrimental but when it comes to education for a brief period at least (if this is your choice) child led activities is key.  The best way to help a child learn is to let him have the reins; they will naturally know what is of most interest to them at every moment and will make that clear to you.
Ultimately you are looking at trusting your child to know when they are ready and eager to learn; the realisation and enjoyment should become evident through their activities. Ideally through doing this you are starting the basis of your child learning to learn rather than just absorbing what they are told.
The amount of time spent on unschooling then comes down to the parent’s judgement on their Childs ability to absorb and learn or if you see the benefits of it as a teaching style to then continue it.
Either way, through style or just to allow education and learning to be fun again I do believe that there is a place for unschooling before you decide to then look into what style of teaching best suits you as a family.


Hannah said...

This was really interesting thanks for writing this post Martyn :)

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks Hannah. I'm trying to answer a lot of the FAQ. It's interesting anyway to show a glimpse into it.