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An Unschooling Semester

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If you are a parent of a Home-Schooler, chances are you've at least heard of Unschooling. Unschooling is as old a practice as humankind itself. Knowing that our offspring are natural learners, the Unschooling technique is often used by parents without a thought. Did you sing the alphabet song to your toddler? Did you sort laundry or plan a meal with your child? These are both examples of what might occur during a typical Unschooled "School Day".

At it's core, Unschooling means to allow a child to learn through life experience. Playing games, free play, exploring a library or museum, watching an old movie, doing chores about the home or yard; these are all examples of natural learning opportunities that do not involve sitting with a school text. Encouraging a child to explore activities that they choose is a common entrance to the world of Unschooling, and realizing that how we learn is not as important as the learning itself is crucial to accepting the concept. Embracing the common sense notion that mere memorization of facts is not equivalent to an education means we can then fathom the reality that memorization of multiplication tables does not make one a mathematician.

That said, are you ready for a semester of Unschooling? I was, and we are about to have our semester wrap-up. Having a teenager who suddenly realizes that he has left his compatriots in the dust when it comes to common knowledge of nutrition is an interesting experience. Having that same child discuss with his younger brother the dreams of opening a vegan restaurant means an opportunity to teach how a business plan works, how government regulations work, and how payroll, minimum wage, and income tax are all part of the adult world. Unschooling makes it possible for education to take a natural course, tweaked a bit here and there by the parent. It's been an interesting semester. While Algebra is waiting for a few months and "Romeo and Juliet" has gone unread this semester, a child is learning the meaning of "well-rounded". And so is this Mom.

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