I know I have talked before about the freedom of our life without school. Mainly the freedom we feel not being restricted by school schedules, terms, when to take holidays, or having to be up at a certain time. Lately I’ve been watching my children though, and really appreciating the freedom that they can have in their learning. Every day I have new things that I’m thankful for and I’m more and more glad we made this decision. Homeschooling is such a freeing choice and you can make your life exactly as you want it. My children are learning without limits, and I love it…
Life is not divided into subjects
We all know this, yet that is how our education was delivered to us. In our life, things couldn’t be more different. Very rarely are the children working on only one ‘subject’. Instead, they follow where their curiosity takes them and along the way many things from many different areas are learnt. For example, they might find an interesting bug outside and want to find out what it is. Say they look it up in their book, using the contents, finding the page number, reading words. They learn all about the bug and then decide to draw a picture of it and write down what they know. Something so simple and they’re practicing maths, reading, writing, science, and art.
To us this seems much more natural, and they are always so engaged, because it is led by them. They are learning all they need to, but in a way that is true to life and relevant to them.
No time restrictions
In an unschooling home, learning can happen whenever inspiration strikes. There is no ‘school time’. Instead of having set times when learning takes place, we learn when we’re in the mood. Really, being made to learn something when you’re not feeling it is so uninspiring. And conversely, when you’re in the middle of something, feeling engaged and alive with learning, it’s really disappointing to be told you have to stop and move on to something else. So, there are no time restrictions here. You may learn when you feel like learning, for as long as you like.
Often the girls most feel like learning at non-traditional times. They may be already up before us and doing some writing at 6am, or they may want to stay up late because they are busy ‘doing sums’. They may suddenly develop an interest, and we can pack up and go out to explore it for the day at a moment’s notice. I’m so glad I can help keep this love of learning alive by allowing them the freedom to pursue things in their own time.
Learning can happen anywhere
The world is our classroom! Just as we don’t need a set time for learning to happen, we don’t need a specific place either. In our home you might find learning happening anywhere. Interestingly, the trampoline is a favourite place to write. A lot of learning also happens when we’re out and about during the week too. They’re always discovering interesting things outside and often pack a backpack for themselves with their journals and drawing materials before we head out. On the weekends and holidays we’re learning too! You might have seen our recent holiday to Fraser Island. Learning here is not confined to a table and chair most of the time, but wherever you’re most comfortable.
Their curriculum is dictated by their interests
I can’t imagine growing up not having to learn things you weren’t interested in. But that’s what is happening for my children and I am so happy for them. Their ‘curriculum’ is entirely dictated by them. Not only that but they have the freedom to learn about things that they find important, whatever they are. Something that they may not have gotten at school if their interests were outside the curriculum. Things like maths, reading, writing, science, and art are easily woven into learning about any topic, which also shows them how these skills are relevant in everyday life.
By showing them that their interests are valued and important we also give them confidence in themselves, and a sense of ownership over their education. The freedom to decide for yourself what is meaningful, important, and interesting to you is wonderful.
They set the pace
My children also have the freedom to learn at their own pace. Whether that means they are way ahead of their age level, or taking their time. They are able to wait until they are ready to learn something, there is never a push for early academics which is becoming so commonplace. They can also go as far in depth with something as they like, they are not restricted by grade levels. In fact, they don’t even know what grades are or if they are ahead or behind. They don’t need to compare to anyone else. Which brings me to my next point…
Success is measured by them
The measure of success here, is how they feel about their work. Success does not mean outperforming peers. There is no need for testing, because they are not one of many students in a class. I already know where they are at, I don’t need to test them to find out. Instead, they continue learning about a topic until they are satisfied. Just as you or I would. People may think that this means that children would choose not to do much at all, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, when allowed to learn in this way, their dedication, enthusiasm, and motivation is amazing. For example, my 5 year old has been learning about bees for coming up to 4 months now. That’s some focus for a 5 year old!
Ample time for play and other things
One of the best things about this life is that they have endless time to play. They wouldn’t even be able to distinguish for you between their ‘play time’ and ‘learning time’. Learning is just part of life and happens so naturally that it never feels like ‘work’. Without a schedule to stick to, and the freedom to choose what they want to do at any given time, there is always time for play. And that’s what childhood should really be about, in my opinion. There is also lots of time for being outside, time for being with friends, and time for visiting family.
All in all, this life is fabulous. Along with the freedom I feel, my kids also have a massive amount of freedom in their education. This has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for our family.