Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Don't Be Shy of Structure Just Because You Are Unschooling

In my online support groups (see below) I often come across comments such as, "I often lean toward unschooling and am really interested in how it works but then find myself feeling the need for structure".

I don't know why people think unschooling means a lack of structure. Perhaps they define structure differently to me, perhaps in the more narrow sense that a school teacher might. I prefer a much wider definition, one that makes sense to me in my life and works for me, rather than boxing me into something I don't want to do, or feel that I have to do to please others...
Structure works for unschooling too. It's just a different kind of structure - more akin to natural routines and learning styles that work for each person in the family and the family as a whole.

For example, we were owner builders. You can't build a house without some kind of order and structure. But we weren't doing it on someone else's timetable or structure - we worked to our own rhythms and to meet our needs. And our structure allowed for spontaneity and creativity - that's the beauty of doing something yourself and not relying on others. Same with our children's education. I had an idea of what I wanted, how I wanted to get there and what resources I wanted to use and a vague idea of when things might happen - but everything was flexible and adaptable, so it could be responsive to whatever came up each day. Goals were achieved and I relied on my structure - it helped to keep my confidence high.

Unschooling happens anyway. Homeschoolers have plenty of unschooling moments in every day. We don't school our children continuously as home educators! Although every moment is a learning moment, we're not on task capitalising on them in a schooly way! When your children are playing, watching telly, kicking a ball around, helping prepare the dinner they are learning, they are unschooling. When they are arguing and fighting they learning - natural learning. Living is learning, naturally!

To become a conscious unschooler rather than a homeschooler means moving further away from the need to coerce our children to do or learn things that don't make sense to them or for which they don't have a need to do or learn right now. It means consciously stepping back and acknowledging the learning taking place as our children simply get on with living. It means enjoying life with them, doing things with them, being a learning partner rather than teacher. It means relaxing and recognising that education isn't something that is done to children but something that simply happens.

See also Organising your Natural Learning Day and The Hidden Structure in Natural Learning.  

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