We have tried many different methods of homeschooling for our son. Workbooks, School at Home, and Classical were utter disasters. Waldorf, and Montessori were improvements but still didn’t quite work as well as hoped. All of these methods of homeschool are wonderful in their own ways. They just weren’t wonderful for my son, because they all tell my son what he is to learn and when he is to learn it. With our son, we just needed to get out of his way and let him learn what he wanted to learn.
Let him go to the library and choose whatever books caught his interest. Let him discover his passions.
Gabriel is 7 years old. He is inquisitive and tenacious. When he finds a subject interesting he dives head first into it and devours as much information as he can find. So, for example, when he came to me one day saying he wanted to create his own Dinosaur Field Guide, I gave him a binder and helped him navigate the internet. This Field Guide was so much more than just looking up a dinosaur. It encompassed Math, Art, Science, Reading/Writing, Geography, and History!
How do we fit in all our subjects when we unschool?
Math- He discovered the size of the creature in meters and feet and measured that out so that he could get a visual. Sometimes he compared the sizes of creatures which included adding and subtracting.
Art- Gabriel usually recreates the creatures with LEGOs. This is how he learned what Bipedal and Quadrupedal were. He also likes to model with clay and color pictures of the creatures.
Science- He researches who discovered the fossils any special attributes the creature had and why? Was it for defense or offense? Was it for mating purposes? Did it have to do with its habitat or environment?
Reading/Writing- Well, he is writing a book…so yeah. I remember the first time he read the word Ankylosoraus! I was astounded that he read it so easily. But, I suppose I shouldn’t have been because it was something that interested him. Sometimes reading books lead to new subjects. Such as the book on Climate Change. He was reading it because there was information about the dinosaurs in it, but it also brought up the Natufian Culture, Homo florensis, Leif Erikson, and Hernan Cortes! Guess what he wanted to research that week!
Geography- Gabriel wants to know where these animals lived. So I give him the latitude and longitude coordinates and he finds the location on his map. He marks the locations with stickers so he can keep track of where he wants to visit. He also likes to talk about how a place got its name. Patagonia, South America is one such place and it led him to Ferdinand Magellan. He learned about a great many things by asking Who? What? When? and Why?
How to unschool when your child isn’t interested: Get Creative!
Now there are days where my son doesn’t seem interested in anything but his LEGOs and that’s OK. I do not force him to learn anything. Besides, when he is “playing” with his LEGOs, he is creating pulleys, catapults, levers, buildings, and vehicles. Do you realize how much problem solving goes into that?
Gabriel learns additional math by adding up chocolate chips and then dividing them evenly between himself and his little sister, helping me double and quadruple recipes, and he plays games on the internet that are math based. We enjoy playing board games and math based stories as well.
I have connected to quite a few scientific professionals over social media who are really great at posting new scientific finds and answering a 7 year olds questions. Such was the case one day when Gabriel was not interested in anything. I saw that a scientist posted something about the Greenland Shark! I thought it was really neat because I didn’t know there was such a thing. So I yelled, “WOW!” Gabriel comes running to see what got my attention. Guess what we learned about that day? Later a shark scientist was having a Q&A over Twitter so we got to ask him questions about the sharks and about being a scientist!
Of course we don’t spend all of our time inside. Like any good scientist, Gabriel, likes to be out running, playing games, digging, climbing, discovering and observing. Most days the first thing the children want to do is go outside! We love our Nature Hikes! There is so much to learn about the seasons, habitats, flora and fauna. There is so much that my son is learning now because he wants to and that for us is what unschooling is all about.
What do you think about unschooling? Have you ever considered it?