From Liesel: How do you teach a child to read? In my (limited) experience, it takes lots of practice over a period of time to become a comfortable reader. Including regular instruction on the rules of phonics at least until that info is ingrained. That kind of system doesn’t seem to mesh with unschooling.
Me: Here’s where I admit to something that isn’t a secret but new(ish) readers might not know. I didn’t unschool our girls from the cradle. Livi went to public school through 5th grade. Ava went through 3rd grade. And Nina hung out at 1/2 day kindergarten before she came home for (un)school.
I have three children who can read. I taught school for 3 years and have a college degree in elementary education. And guess what?
I have never taught a child to read.
Livi learned in kindergarten. Ava learned in first grade. And Nina learned when she was four. Her sisters taught her. And they taught her pretty well. She finished the entire Harry Potter series soon after her 8th birthday.
I learned how to read when I was four too. By watching Sesame Street.
So, I think it can absolutely be done “unschooling-ly” but I didn’t do it that way (except for Nina–her sisters just read books with her until she could read them herself).
From Sarah (a dear friend and public school teacher): I await the blog post explaining why public school is structured as it is. Why teachers stand and talk of things that my child can google in two seconds. With all this info at our fingertips, what’s the role of the teacher? 😉
Me: Oh, this one is gonna need a whole blog post. Or perhaps an e-book. 😉
From Candice: I feel like learning for the sake of learning is valuable even if certain parts don’t directly relate to what we do in the future, it helps our brains grow. There are studies done on brain development, and school aged children are in a critical window for soaking everything up, and then giving them the ability to learn more as an adult if they learned more as a kid. What I am trying to say is learning is a discipline that paves the way for success in other disciplines regardless of if the same exact knowledge is what is being used.
Me: I agree. Your brain grows when you learn things, even if they’re things that don’t relate to real life or what you want to do with your future. But your brain also grows when you learn things you want to learn, things you’re passionate about, things you plan to use for a long, long time. And, if I have the choice, I’m going to learn things that help my brain grow AND help my heart grow AND help my soul grow AND help others in the process. That’s just so much richer, fuller, and more meaningful than expanding my brain matter.
Gonna be candid here. The very last thing I’m worried about is my children’s brain development. They’re three of the smartest people I know. And I’m not exaggerating when I say they are learning pretty much non-stop all day every day. Even their outdoor “play” time with friends every afternoon is spent learning new games and cultural traditions and Somali/Eritrean/Nepali words for this, that, and the other thing.
From James: I love the idea of what you are doing. However I, like others, struggle with not forcing your children to expand their education in areas in which they are not interested. Just because a child doesn’t like history doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely valuable to know the stories and lessons from world history and our own country. Even if a child doesn’t like to write, being able to express oneself well in written form is an invaluable skill. I am shocked by how many people I run into who can’t do fairly basic math, like finding a simple variable, or finding the length of the side of a right triangle. Eagerness and curiosity are great, but in education I think they need to be tempered with other not-so-exciting skills and knowledge.
Me: This one probably needs its own blog post too, but I’ll at least get us started. The world of knowledge is too big for us to ever know it all. We only have so much time (and room in our brains). We all pick and choose (to some degree) what things we’re going to learn (or learn more) about. And what’s valuable to one person might not be valuable to another. History, for example. Yes, important. And my girls actually know (and like) a lot of history. For me? U.S. History is far down the list after World History, Geography, and Current Events. My dad? Loves the Civil War. So he knows a ton about it.
And all three of our girls like to write and can express themselves pretty well in written (and verbal) form. They can also read as well as adults. And do basic math. And lots of other things.
I respect your opinion that “eagerness and curiosity are great, but in education I think they need to be tempered with other not-so-exciting skills and knowledge.” But I disagree. Or maybe I just see it another way. Maybe we make the “not-so-exciting” fun.
What else you got for me?