I believe that people are born with an innate desire to learn. Look at a baby eager to move, reach, bat a toy, roll over, sit up, babble, crawl, walk, talk etc… They are curious about their world and want to navigate it.
Unschooling isn’t just an educational philosophy, it’s a way of life, it’s living and learning naturally. It’s imperative to be our children’s partner in life. I believe that children learn what they need when they need it.
We need to be with our children. Unschooling with young kids is very hands on. It’s our responsibility to provide the environment and facilitate as needed. We watch for cues on when to step in and when to step back. It’s important to build a solid foundation when they are young. We need to connect with our kids and be open to question everything we were raised with. When we know better we do better. Try to say yes more, it can be a knee jerk reaction to just say no.
As our children grow and develop and reach new stages in their life we are right there with them. I have learned so much from observing my children.
When you’re unschooling the early years, kids learn through play. They imagine, create, explore, build, research, draw and much, much more.
When people truly learn, they remember, it has a purpose, that is why they learned it in the first place. There has to be a want, need and desire to learn, it needs to be intrinsically motivated, external motivation produces short term results but it’s not authentic learning.
Learning is as natural as breathing when one hasn’t been stifled by schooling. It’s especially important for children to be able to learn without force, coercion, scopes, sequences, tests, and grades. Our kids have always followed their own interests and learned in their own way and time. I do not believe that every child can or should learn the same thing at the same age.
Play games: board games, cards, video games, computer games, imaginary games.
Read books, newspapers, magazines, cook, build, play with toys, explore inside and outside, dress up, create art, watch TV, collect things.
Whatever the child is interested in, allow them to explore it, help them as needed and be amazed at all they learn. Trust in the learning process, trust your child and trust yourself. They know how to learn, they know how to think. We are here as mentors, facilitators, and guides. Talk to them, listen to them, kids are so insightful. Have fun, laugh a lot and live the best you can. Learning happens, you can’t stop it. Kids are born to learn.
In 2005 I created An Unschooling Life, a blog detailing our unschooling experience after adopting our three children. Over time, An Unschooling Life became a hub for unschooling support and advice. The blog has been featured in print and digital media and was home to the popular Unschooling Carnival. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog where they will be housed under the An Unschooling Life section. This post was originally published on July 2, 2011, and was written by Stephanie Waldron for An Unschooling Life.