If someone asked me what I felt were the most important elements of unschooling and respectful parenting, community would be at the top of the list. Make no mistake, if you haven’t found your people, this path can feel like a lonely one. When you connect, some families ahead of you and some just starting out, what once seemed complicated and impenetrable, suddenly becomes a clear and well-trodden path, with others sharing their maps.
My six year old spent all day occupied by a ‘screen’.
We had a busy day with friends yesterday and I sensed that it was going to be a quiet day around here today. There is so much fear and judgment around the use of technology so I wanted to document what ‘spending all day on a screen’ really looks like and why I don’t care.
Here is what I saw.
I have thought about writing this post for a while, and I haven’t up until now for a variety of reasons. Firstly, each of my children have a story and it is theirs to tell. I try not to share their highs and lows, successes and vulnerabilities without their permission. The second reason is because I don’t really think there is any difference in approach to unschooling a neuroatypical child vs a neurotypical child.
My eldest child is the former. My other two children are the latter.
When we started unschooling our children, the biggest fears I had were around ‘reading’ and ‘maths’. How would they learn?!
This is not a blueprint. This is the story of my three children learning to read. I have seen unschoolers write online about much later literacy in children and also of children suddenly learning to read completely independently. That is not our story, and that’s ok. I hope our experience adds to the dialogue to show the myriad ways children can learn to read and write. And, as you will see, the way this has developed in each of my children has been quite different. My eldest two started reading at around five or six, and my youngest daughter has just started expressing an interest in some early literacy skills. She is three.
This is what it has looked like in our home.
My children love each other. Like, really love each other.
We spend our days together, every day. Not just a couple of hours in the afternoon. All day. We are unschoolers. We don’t spend days separated at home doing age level curriculum, we spend our days with interests intertwined, learning together. There is conflict and conflict resolution, a natural multi-age peer group, and endless opportunity to experiment with social skills in a safe space.
Another installment for those following along. I am actually really enjoying recording our days in this way. I am paying closer attention to everything going on than maybe I usually would. And it has filled me with so much gratitude that we get to spend our days together in this way. Seeing negative comments around about unschooling, I just can’t imagine anyone thinking that this wasn’t ‘enough’ and I hope this series demonstrates how life throws up so many opportunities for learning. For those of you unschooling, perhaps these posts aren’t that useful, because the flow of the day is different in every family. But for those of you considering making this leap, I hope these posts make unschooling seem accessible and doable because it is!
In an effort to show how child-led learning happens in our home, I document what we do every second Tuesday for those that want to follow along. I hope this takes the bias out of blogging about the ‘better’ days and can show a real picture. This is the second instalment.