unschooling: my dilemma

unschoolinglargeWhen it comes to talking about myself and my family, I tend to err on the side of humility. But not because I’m humble. It’s the opposite. It’s because I don’t want you to think I’m prideful. Oh, the irony.

As I read through these amazing, thoughtful comments/questions and ponder how I’m going to respond, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. Because some of you seem genuinely worried for my poor children.

If I’m too humble, I think some of y’all are going to assume my kids are dumber (or at least know less than) the average schooled kiddo. That their brains aren’t going to develop and they’ll grow up knowing how to chop vegetables and wash dishes, and that’s about it.

On the other hand, if I start listing every single thing each of my girls has done/can do/learns in a typical day and give some “proof” of how pretty stinking smart they are, I’m going to look like a big, fat show-off.

I’ve started replying to several comments and then stopped. Because depending on what kind of mood I’m in, my almost-responses range from gentle and grace-filled to defensive and sarcastic. So, I decided to just simmer a bit and give this some thought.

Plus, our whole fam had the sweet opportunity this weekend (Friday afternoon to Sunday night) to hang out in West Virginia with some amazing friends (and 400+ women on Saturday) chatting about Cambodia and Honduras, selling Dancing Elephant goodies, and sharing our story. It was pretty awesome (and quite educational in an unschooling sort of way).

So, we’ll get to your questions (we have 25 whole days left, you know) and I’ll share some thoughts (and I have some beautiful people lined up to share theirs too), but for now I’m going to unpack, eat something healthy (I ate more cheese this weekend than I have all year), and get this e-book off to the publisher (and, by publisher, I mean my husband).

(Run-on sentence anyone?)

Question of the Day:

What’s one thing you or one of your kiddos learned this weekend (informally, not in a school setting)?

14 thoughts on “unschooling: my dilemma

  1. Gale

    I don’t think unschoolers are lazy or harming their kids. I just know I couldn’t do it. My oldest…he could totally unschool now if he didn’t want to stay in PS with his friends. All it would take was a little encouragement now and then, and lots of stuff for him to tinker with and read and do. But, if I had tried it while he was little? Oh my word. He would have driven me bonkers. Because he would have gotten all interested in learning one thing, and then by the time I got it all set up for him, he’d be interested in something else. I’d have been worn ragged. I admire people who can chase what their child is interested in doing at that particular moment…and I’m guessing that’s what unschooling sort of is. Being there to help them learn what they want to learn. But, while I can chase those moments sometimes, sometimes I need to set up, to prepare, and to go ahead and it least get him to try doing what I want him to do even if he just thought of something else he wants to do more.

  2. Cheryl Pickett

    I actually thought of you guys and unschooling this weekend! My husband and I drove up on Friday to Cedar Springs (just north of Grand Rapids, MI) so that he could judge a band contest on Saturday.
    As we were driving, I noticed a flock of pretty large birds (I have animal radar LOL) in a field. So of course we had to go back and look. The flock near the road probably had a couple dozen, but the field was long and as we drove alongside, there were 100+ birds at least. I was about 98% sure they were sandhill cranes, which I verified when we got home by looking it up. I’d never seen one in the wild, let alone dozens. Had your kiddos been with us, lots of opportunity for learning both about them and migration (clearly the reason they were all hanging out).

    On Sunday, we stopped in another small town that had a good sized river dam. This was our first opportunity to see it. We noticed a few men fishing over the side and then started to see why-big ole’ jumpin fish! We asked one of them what they were and were shocked to hear Coho Salmon! I know they run along the coast in Lake Michigan, but had no idea they came in that far. Neither of us had ever seen that live, only on TV/in the movies. It was cool! Not only could your girls have looked up stuff about salmon and spawning, they could have also compared the environment at the bottom of the dam to the smooth as glass river at the top (hope to canoe that in the future) and why dams like this are built in the first place (this one did not appear to be hydro-electric related).

    With the state of many public schools today and what and how they teach, I can totally support home or unschooling especially for homes where faith is important.

    And they could have also learned more about budgeting because after being total tourists with the dam/fish thing we went shopping in all the cute little boutique shops LOL.

    BTW, my next book is in process as we speak and will be in the hands of my designer (not my husb :-)) hopefully later tonight!

  3. Joy

    My wonderful in-laws are here and we have been working on projects. Dad and I designed a platform storage bed for my husband and I and dear Dad designed an amazing headboard. So I learned how to work through a design to get the measurements needed. I also found out that Dad has great 3D drawing skills. 🙂

  4. Megan

    One of my son’s learned and is learning about balance. He’s involved in 2 sports, public school and he’s learning how to play percussion instruments. All of these take time and effort. He enjoys them all, but at a cost to his free time. As a parents I am trying to figure out the fine line between helping him and enabling him.

  5. cyndee

    Ha! It’s funny you asked this question today. We had four of our grandchildren this weekend and we visited an old-fashioned playground (the kind with “dangerous” equipment!). I was telling my daughter how we moved the kids (and ourselves) around on the old-timey seesaw, experimenting with different weights and positions and explaining how levers work, BUT I’m pretty sure all four kids (ages 10, 7, 3, and 2) were having too darned much fun to absorb any of it! (But I’m taking full credit if any of them becomes and engineer! 😉 )

  6. Jennifer

    My leadership skills got a little more refined as I analyzed how I’d led a team at church over the weekend and realized I could have delegated better to help build up other team members into leaders. 🙂
    I also learned how to microwave a potato.

  7. Melissa

    I think it is hard for people to understand unschooling because it goes against everything we’ve been taught about how and where we can learn. I understand because I used to be the same way about unschooling. Now I have changed after seeing other people’s families and my own family and my own experience, because I understand it better. Is it right for everyone? No, but it is right for some families but knowing that means you first have to accept that there are ways other to learn than just sitting in a school building or using a textbook. Until you get over that, you can’t really get how unschooling works I think.

    Anyways that was not your question lol. This weekend I learned a little about life in China and what it’s like to grow up there, as our good friend visited after living there for two years and was talking about his experiences there and also about some of the experiences his new wife had growing up (she is Chinese and she will be moving here in November – I can’t wait to meet her!).

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      “Goes against everything we’ve been taught about how and where we can learn.” Yep. And who likes it when something goes against everything they’ve been taught? NOT ME.

  8. Amanda

    Phoenix (2) learned that pumpkins grow in a field, on vines. This morning he told me about how he picked a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch yesterday and that a few weeks ago he picked apples off of a tree. He also found out what a hay ride is, which he didn’t understand before he went on one this last weekend. 🙂

  9. Sharon

    My 4 yr old daughter learned (and remembers!!!) how to spell Bible at Children’s Church. I learned a fun hand clapping song that teaches the books in the New Testament that I’d never heard before.

  10. Kim

    Ack…it says ROB not ROD. Hopefully you knew what I meant 🙂 My eyesight is going! Rob is our youth pastor that took one of my teens caving yesterday…forgot that she learned about God’s great creation from inside the earth as well!

  11. Kim

    Our boys went to the Tucson reptile festival (your uncle Rob was there with your cousins!) and got to experience and learn about all kinds of creatures. The girls learned some new historical dances at an Old Fashioned Family Social. (They are highly skilled seamstresses and have put together many civil war era garments that they’ve used in various reenactments and dances.) On Sunday we all learned about boldness for Christ as we listened to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (the lobbying group in DC that shapes public policy from a Christian perspective).

    Not a day goes by that we don’t take in something new and exciting….unschooling is a lifestyle of learning, a snatching of every opportunity before you to expand your thinking, knowledge and understanding. There is no beginning or end to it and no limit to what our children can accomplish with the ability to learn that has developed during these formative years!

    Thanks for doing this series….we appreciate you 🙂

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