Unschooling means to me learning through living. No curriculum, no pseudo school set up, no assuming your child will learn specific things in the upcoming year and certainly no detailed planning about the “year of learning”. To me it’s about living and experiencing a diverse life and following your child’s lead when approaching different topics. It’s also about listening to their interests and helping them learn more about those interests.

I hope as an unschooling mama, I’ll get out with my children often giving them plenty of opportunities to find interest in a variety of topics. I personally value spending time outdoors a great deal and think there’s no better way for a child’s mind to be at ease, ready to take the whole world in.

I think the computer/internet is a great tool for expanding knowledge and connecting with others. When a question is asked it’s a quick and easy resource for the answer. Sometimes a little too quick and easy which is why I greatly value the library as an important resource. A walk to the library is something we enjoy very much as is sitting in the aisles with my daughter and no limit to the subjects we can read about. Which is only slightly spoiled by her brother’s current desire to look at all the same books upside down and then tossing them to the ground.

I’m less of a fan of tv and video games and don’t believe there is much benefit to them despite the convictions of other unschooling parents saying otherwise. There’s certainly a lot of evidence to support concerns about tv and it’s effect on children’s brains and learning. The small amount of knowledge gained from watching a program can quickly turn malignant and become hours spent transforming into a tv zombie. Watchers become targets of aggressive marketing and the skewing of personal and social values seem inevitable. I’ve kind of touched my personal thoughts on artificial and manufactured things worth avoiding here.

[Just to name a few tv article worth reading: Infants weaned on tv cannot concentrateToo Much TV Can Have Negative Impact on ChildrenTV Has Negative Impact On Very Young Children’s Learning Abilities,Trash Your TV….]

23 Responses to Unschooling

  1. Sophia Sunshine says:

    I’m so glad that you’re sharing the word about saying no to Baby Einstein videos and the like. It completely amazes me how many well educated parents think they have positive value. Scary!

    It’s funny that you should talk about education today – I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be “when I grow up” and I spent much of yesterday looking at the requirements for becoming a Waldorf teacher. It’s been consuming me! I’m scared what the world will be like if society continues to send kids to school with the newest gadgets and poor morals. Homeschooling and the Waldorf approach seem like the most logical choices to us given our public school experiences and what we see in society today.

    I’m so impressed with what you’ve been able to share of your learning and I have alot of respect for your interest in doing the things in ways that work for your family. Keep up the excellent work!

  2. Annie says:

    Oh wow! I didn’t realise that would be something you’d be interested in doing! You would make a fab teacher and a Waldorf one to boot. You should really consider that avenue.

  3. Sophia Sunshine says:

    I took what I needed in Cranny so I could get into a 5th year teachers program but with how poorly teachers are treated by parents and kids I wasn’t sure I was up for it. Thanks to following blogs I’ve found an education “system” that fits my values and addresses the social aspect too so maybe one day I’ll make the switch. It certainly makes a return to the island fit…

  4. Annie says:

    You could teach in the Waldorf style anywhere on the island. There’s such a demand and your personality would be well suited for the job.

  5. Sophia Sunshine says:

    I suspect so too. One of two Teacher Training centres in Canada is in Duncan and their program fits best with a teachers schedule. It takes 4 years to complete so it might make sense to go to Mal and get a B.Ed. first. I don’t know!

    I’ll have to do some more thinking on it and the finances but I think it can be done! Thanks for your encouragement.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Great post Annie. It’s something Kris and I discuss a lot lately. It seems so early to even be talking about it considering if she does go to school it won’t be until kindergarten (definitely not preschool), but it comes up a lot.

    I agree for the most part about TV too. We actually somehow got free, full cable, and turned it on once or twice while the Olympics were on and then unplugged it. We just don’t watch it. We do watch movies sometimes, and I do actually think some TV is okay, but not for babies at all and only if it’s not being watched simply because it’s there. My mom bought us some “educational” DVD’s marketed at the 0-12 month age group, which basically play classical music and have bright balls and clocks and stuff flashing up on the screen the whole time. The idea is to park your baby in front of it and they’ll become enthralled. Needless to say, one hasn’t even been opened, the other was only opened because my mom wanted to watch it. (But then, she comes out to visit us and complains the entire time that we don’t have cable, so it’s not unexpected that she would look to the TV as a good avenue for teaching kids. We’re not going to mention to her we somehow scored free cable ha.)

  7. Annie says:

    You do have a lot of time to decide on school. I think unschooling is more of a lifestyle anyway and one many parents do already before their child is at a “school age”.

    We watch some movies too. In fact, I’m in the process of downloading the Planet Earth series as I type! Whoa boy, those are big files. I’m also a big fan of Mythbusters so am downloading that one too. We don’t have time to watch a lot of these shows though. After supper seems the best time and yet we get out for walks most nights and go to bed when we get home.

    My family can be the same. My mom makes an effort to find something other than the tv but my dad’s wife is ALWAYS trying to get Lily in front of the damn thing. I tell her I’d rather do something else but especially don’t want her watching the crap “educational” kid’s shows/cartoons. Man, I hate those shows. Which reminds me to write to BC Ferries in regards to their new tv room that’s taken over the play room. Everyone sitting there like zombies- NOT playing.

  8. Lindsay says:

    We have Planet Earth on blu-ray and it’s a lot of discs haha. Mythbusters is one of the shows I was going to use as an example of a TV program I love that I think would be fun to watch with kids. (Though my last comment was starting to look longer than your post so I edited it haha!)

    We love a lot of the Discovery Channel programs. We used to like TLC, but I think it’s gone downhill lately. We will often rent, buy, or download our favorite TV shows on DVD, which means we don’t have to watch commercials (one of my biggest beefs with TV) and we can watch them whenever we want, and don’t have to wait for new episodes. I can’t stand so many of those kid’s shows. They are often so condescending and irritating.

    I have a feeling my mom is going to be like your dad’s wife. She’ll feel sorry for Meredith that she doesn’t get to watch TV at home (even though to be honest I doubt we’ll limit it even if we ever do plug the cable back in, it’s just not something we’ll spend time doing), so she’ll try and entice her with all sorts of cool shows thinking it will make herself look like this fun grandma. She really doesn’t get that some people find a lot of TV boring.

    And this post is turning out longer than my last one. But I agree about unschooling being a lifestyle. At this point it’s doubtful we’ll send Meredith to school, but even if we did she could stop anytime and we’d still continue living the same way at home.

  9. Annie says:

    Depriving your child by not watching tv. Hm. *scratches head* :D Tv is boring. Isn’t that why people download shows they like so they can watch them without commercial and on their own time?

    I think my dad’s wife just likes to show her contempt for me and what I believe in as passive aggressively as possible. Perhaps I should save these comments for the more private part of my blog! Ha.

  10. Sophia Sunshine says:

    Planet Earth is good. I think everyone we know here has it or has watched it. If I knew you were still working on downloading it I would have just sent you the DVDs. And on that note… I think Cranny had the best library ever. I’ve never found as good of a collection of CD audio books and the movie collection was nearly as good as Guelph’s. Maybe we should start purging some of our not-so-necessary resource materials to the library!

  11. Annie says:

    Bah! I’m part of the way through the third! It’s coming.

    I’m glad you say that about the Cranbrook library. I thought it was pretty great too. I stopped there almost everyday while out walking. I like the Nanaimo library but it’s not quite the same.

  12. Eileen says:

    Unschooling is not homeschooling. Please do not put the two together.
    A homeschooling Mom of 3

  13. Annie says:

    Eileen- Yes it is, figuratively and literally.

    mama to two everyday home learners

  14. Eileen says:

    It’s people like you who give the public the impression homeschoolers are wackos. Homeschoolers teach academics thus the word “homeschooling.” Unschoolers are just that. They don’t “do school.” I disagree with you.

  15. Annie says:

    I agree that we disagree. I have no interest in *doing* school at home. However, we learn at home, therefore we are home learners.

    You seem to dislike learning without a structured curriculum but that doesn’t negate the value of our home learning.

    You sought my blog out to make these comments. Most people who read and follow my blog don’t think we make homeschoolers look like “wackos”. Quite the opposite in fact. I’m curious about what looks like a personal beef you have with “unschooling” as a general term. You might better spend your time focusing on the what you do like about homeschooling instead of what you don’t and sharing that dislike with the masses.

  16. Eileen says:

    Do what you want, their your children. They just end up working for mine.

  17. Annie says:

    A further thought. I don’t know anybody who thinks that homeschoolers are “wackos”. I’ve never heard anyone say or imply this. It’s my impression that homelearning is much more widely accepted as a better choice. Perhaps this is a difference between our countries. Do you realise we are in different countries?

    I’m wondering if you’ve had negative feedback about your choice to homeschool and want someone to blame for the ignorant comments or judgements you’ve experienced?

  18. Annie says:

    At this point I have to believe you are trolling, unless you are seriously looking for a “my dad is bigger than your dad” kind of reply to that last comment.

    ps. You should have used they’re, instead of their and I’m guessing you meant “They will” or “They’ll” when you wrote “They just end up working for mine”.

  19. Erica McKay says:

    Did you end up writing to BC ferries? I think I will too, I’ve been complaining about it long enough to anyone and everyone, perhaps I’ll write to them too – one time we were in there, and a kid was trying to PLAY on the cars (gasp gasp) and he was told that he should sit still like everyone else because he was disturbing the kids watching TV. ARGH. My kids are also drawn to the TV since it’s such a novelty in many ways, so instead of running off steam for the trip, they watch inane cartoons. I wouldn’t even care if they had a TV in a different room, I just hate how it dominates the only play area on so many ferries!

    ANYWAYS, just curious to know if you wrote it and if you got a response!!!!!

    Not even going to wade into the debate here, but you’ve gotta love ANY comment that starts with ‘people like you’ type statements, ugh!!!!!! It’s people like you that inspire me to continue enjoying my life and give me joy and fresh ideas!!! xo

  20. Annie says:

    I did write them- after each ferry ride I’ve been on! I’ve even receive a reply once. It was positive and sympathetic. I think most parent riders enjoy the tv being available the way it is and BC Ferries is catering to the majority, as sad as that is.

    I can’t believe play was so outwardly discouraged so the tv wouldn’t be disturbed!! Ha! We end up spending most of our time wandering and looping the ship and the outside deck.

    Thanks, Erica!


  21. steph says:

    It’s people like you who give the public the impression homeschoolers/unschoolers are privileged. I think what matters is the amount and quality of what they learn, not really the amount/quality of what you teach regardless of whether the setting is formal or not, lead by the adult or by the child. Therefore, between homeschooling, unschooling or schooling each family should choose what works best for each of their children

    But even more important is the development (or preservation) of their *desire* to learn.

  22. Reba says:

    Hi Annie,
    I am a unschooling mom of a 9 yr. & 5 yr. old. I am totally committed to non-violent communication and continium concept. My husband and I are committted to figuring out all systems and taking what works for us and leaving the rest. We like to question everything to figure out what is going so wacky in our world. Kudos to you for being committed to what works for your family. it gets quite difficult defending who I am and what I want to associate with, we do not have to. Sharing in this day gets very tricky, people get really triggered. I make decisions for what is best for who is concerned in my family and my decision is to not blog because of people like this: judgement keeps us seperated.
    My hat goes off to you, I am proud of you for taking this stand for us!!! I feel very priveleged to see the boxes in which they(powers to be) want us to remain in just like the masses do so well. This is what wil turn our world around, mindfulness about it all!!!! No matter how painful it may be to my programmed body. Peace to you and your family.

  23. Annie says:

    Thank you, Reba for the kind and encouraging words! We have a lot in common. My kids are also currently 9 and 5. Would love to chat more… xx

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