I haven’t been great about keeping up with our activities through the blog (and not that much better about keeping track on Facebook either). It seems that the days escape me and by the time the kids are asleep, it is time for relaxing on the couch. Gannon turned five yesterday. I am trying to remember that he is still younger than even kindergarten age so I can slow down. I don’t need to have planned activities for every waking moment of the day. I don’t need to have any planned activities at all.
Slow. Play. Freedom. Opportunity. Exploration.
That is what they need. To play. And in their play, there will be ample opportunities for learning. I finished reading How Children Learn by John Holt. It really made me feel that I was doing right by these three wonderful humans. It also reminded me of how much I love watching them learning and just being. It reminded me of how interesting it is to see these developments happening before our eyes. It also taught me some valuable lessons in giving kids the chance to use their own minds and not guiding their every move or correcting every mistake for them.
We don’t need to rush education. It can happen in little moments, moments that will teach them in a way they will remember, not just memorize. Gannon remembers an incredible amount of information about animals from watching Wild Kratts on PBS. When we are outside, he is often pretending he sees some of the creatures in our backyard. Waverly is learning so much too. Today, we were writing on their new whiteboard and I spelled her name. Then we found the matching magnet letters. And as I was sitting alongside her, just talking, we were engaged in a lesson about letters. She then said, “Gannon is G-A-N-N-O-N, right, Mom?” Yes, Waverly, that is right. She is always listening to her brother and he has been spelling his name for a long while now. She looks up to him and learns a lot of the same things he does. She is currently working on learning her colors, which she knows most of, from watching YouTube videos and from general conversation around the house. And Gannon has started writing his name with hardly any instruction in letter making. I am astonished at their progress with no lessons, only support and encouragement, and endless conversations, of course.
This is why unschooling makes so much sense for us. Unschooling relies on real life lessons and interactions for knowledge growth. Education never stops. It is happening throughout the day, from the moment their eyes open in the morning until they close at night. They are learning on weekends, on holidays. Their hunger for information is growing, rather than diminishing. We are here, learning, right alongside them.
So that means I am trying to be more present, more engaged, and more focused on them while going through a process called deschooling. Deschooling is basically removing all of the learned practices and ideas from being in school, or those imposed by society. This is not easy. I went to public school. It is hard to remember keeping kids home does not look like school and it shouldn’t look like school. It is so much more. This is not to put down schooling in any way; I believe the school systems serve a crucial role as well and are needed in many ways. Unschooling is a lifestyle that fits our relationship with our children. Some people consider it an extension of attachment parenting and I agree. It is the decision to spend time with our kids, engaged with our kids, teaching them through our actions and living life together.
I hope to be writing more about our adventures now that Egan has been more agreeable to napping somewhere besides my shoulder. I hope to be able to take a few minutes here and there to write about the lessons the kids are learning without lessons.
Everyday is an adventure. Every new situation meant for learning. Every turn an opportunity.