Unschooling: Am I doing enough?
Many of the questions I get from people are concerned with if they are doing ‘enough’ with their kids. And as yet my answer has never been ‘no’. Sometimes unschooling feels so easy that you don’t realise how much you are actually doing. It is just life. It’s unrushed and leisurely learning, which makes it seem like you’re not doing much at all. If you write down every single thing you do in a week I bet you’d be surprised though. All the questions, the play, the creating, there’s so much when you look closely. The people that ask this question then go on to tell me that their children do sports, read books, play outside, paint, play with siblings and friends, draw pictures, write letters, have interests, help at home, and a host of other things. But still it seems to them that they should be doing more. No, that’s really enough!
Actually, that’s perfect! You don’t need to fill up the hours from 9am to 3pm packed full of activities. The beauty of choosing to home educate means we aren’t confined to the same rules as school. Learning happens whenever there is a desire for it, not at scheduled times. All we need to do is let it happen and support it. Sure, give your children opportunities and experiences, but don’t feel pressured to be providing something new every day. There is as much learning in the quiet times as there is in the busy times.
When you start to wonder if you’re doing ‘enough’, maybe you could ask yourself some of these questions…
Is my child happy?
Does my child love learning?
Does my child have plenty of unstructured play time?
Does my child get outside enough?
Am I allowing opportunities to be involved in daily life?
Is my child taking the lead in their own learning?
Am I supportive of my child’s ideas (without taking over)?
Is my child actually asking to do more, or is it what I think I should be doing?
I think the first question is the most important. Unschooling is about forgetting the ‘rules’. Don’t worry about what you’ve been told they need to know. Is your child happy? Then there’s your answer. Go live your awesome life!
Love your posts!!! gentle reminders of why we do what we do…
Thank you 🙂
So reassuring, many thanks.
My pleasure 🙂
I so want to unschool! And at age 4 we are for now but I worry when she gets older if I should continue. I’d say she’s a left brain like me- not the creative artsy type. So free play she doesn’t build or create. She wants someone always with her and wants us taking the lead. I feel like she likes structure and to be ‘taught’ traditionally. So is she taking the lead in her learning?-no. She is just not a leader. Or an explorer, creator, etc. She does not like outside time, would rather be inside, playing a game with us or watching TV! I feel the more I limit TV the more she wants it. I make her go outside b/c she needs it but she just doesn’t know what to do. I’m struggling and would love advice
I think if you hope your child will take an interest in something, it really helps if you take an interest yourself. How much time do you spend outside yourself? If I go out and do some gardening, my kids will always follow. I can’t make them play outside when I’m on the couch with my phone.
Maybe think about why you believe you’re not creative….did your own school experience make you believe you were no good? You could try learning a craft for yourself and don’t worry if it’s no good – it’s good for kids to see you try and fail and keep trying. If you start making things, I bet your daughter will eventually want to have a go. Right/left brain is a new idea – before cameras, art was an important part of science, you had to learn to draw – it teaches you to observe well.
Hi! Thanks for the reply! I started a garden this year and try to get outside a few times a day. I will say I don’t love it but I know it’s important for us so I try to make it fun. Yes I’m not the most confident person and don’t have a talent. Maybe I’ll crochet things and model my creative side! It’s good for me to have that time too aside from cleaning, cooking, and everyday items. Thanks!
I know what you mean, Dana…I feel like personality type does play a big role in the unschooling. I have asked questions about this before, like how to unschool kids who seem to not care about learning at all? Neither of my kids have a natural curiosity, and they’ve been homeschooled from the start. It can be frustrating to provide them with all the best opportunities and supplies, and all they want is the stupid iPad. 🙁 They only seem to enjoy learning when it’s something structured, like horseback lessons, swim lessons, etc.
That sounds a lot like mine!! She loves structure! Free play she is bored and whiny!
I think that she is still very young and it will come, give it time. Try not to define her yet. They change SO quickly! I especially found my eldest has changed a lot since she turned 6. And I would recommend this book too: http://amzn.to/1s1W8h2 (this one really helped me see what my role was)
We are a free learning family!! This is something me and my husband believes in! With our whole hearts and brains!!! However, we are still products of the society and community we were brought up in, with family values, school situation, etc etc…
We trip ourselves up all the time in behaviours that we rather leave out with our family. I love organising…my son, 2yr, does too, but in a different way from me. I need to make a real effort not to decide and organise everything all the time. My two, 2yr and 4yr, bum about like they are board at times but if left alone they suddenly settle in to doing something!!! Also…if they don’t, i understand. Some days I feel really restless and unconnected! So why shouldn’t they. Thinking about it…probably even more with everything they are learning and taking in!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hello! Just a few days ago I discored the world of Unschooling and I’m thrilled!We have 2 boys 2 and 1. I’ve been doing a VERY loose version of tot school and trying to find my home education style. For many reasons we’ve decided to educate at home but didn’t know what was going to work for us until now! I agree with most promises of unschooling and am eager to continue to learn more and make it our lifestyle. That being said, I was wondering how does unschooling fit at say high school age or if they decide they want to go to college? I know I’m probably getting way ahead of myself here but I’m curious about this! I have a million more questions but this one came to mind when I read this post.
I would watch the documentary “Class Dismissed,” it is very pro-unschooling and the kids in the film are older, high school age and preparing for college. It’s quite interesting and really is what led me to transition more to an unschooling style.
Yes, that was a great doco lesli mentioned. I’ve written about it here: https://happinessishereblog.com/2015/03/homeschooling-high-school/
There are many many ways to get into uni after unschooling too, if they wish 🙂
It seems like my kiddo, if left to his own devices, just wants to watch YouTube and play video games. I try to encourage going out to play, visit museums, etc. But he rarely wants to venture out. So I am pushing a bit – he is doing stuff I think he should be doing. But then I think I’m pushing too much, and let him get back to his screens. So I really feel sometimes like we’re not doing enough….
It’s a delicate balance!
This is a hard one. There is a lot of scientific evidence to say that more than an hour of screens a day is bad for children, so I have taken a health stance on this to put in place a boundary. My children are free to watch an hour of screens a day, whenever they choose and whatever they choose. But once the hour is up (we use a timer that they put on), they know that it is time to move on. We have had a lot of discussions as a family about why an hour is the limit for us. I also try and my del this by not spending unnecessary time on devices in front of them. I am sometimes flexible on this if they are watching a documentary that is longer than an hour on a topic of their interest and also if we are researching ideas in their interest area.
Thank you for this !
Truly appreciated !