the Learning in Everyday Life
by Miranda Hughes
The idea of homepreschooling strikes me as a little strange, since I follow a child-led approach and do not structure my children's learning. Yet although my eldest child is only just reaching school age, I've been calling myself a homeschooler for some time. So what's different between the committed homeschooler/parent of toddlers, and the neighbour down the street who intends to send her kids to school in a couple of years?
Well, in my case, nothing in practice. I don't teach my children at the kitchen table. We don't buy homeschooling curricular materials and set goals and schedules. I don't devise unit-studies, assign worksheets, generate educational exercises or evaluate my kids' work.
The difference between me and my neighbour down the road is that I have a philosophical commitment to continuing to guide my children's education in the same manner I am right now. My homeschooling approach is one which is often referred to as "unschooling". It's a natural continuation of the way I parent my kids as toddlers: watching for sparks of interest in the world, answering questions, sharing enthusiasms back and forth, providing resources where appropriate. "Child-led learning" is another description which suits our approach. "No uninvited teaching" is another mantra.
When I first approached the idea of unschooling I was a little surprised to discover that there were no obvious answers to questions like "what do you do to get started?" and "what do you do all day?". Now that my eldest child is crossing the threshold of the age of school enrollment, I understand. We all start homeschooling at birth and the process simply grows and evolves with our children. We don't need to suddenly go out and order a bunch of supplies and write up a schedule and dispense schoolwork. Gradually, imperceptibly, our kids' natural explorations begin covering areas which, under another regime, would be called "academics".
I have a two-year-old boy. As an unschooling parent I train myself to see his learning through everyday life. Rather than viewing laundry, supper preparation, playdates and walks to the park as activities competing for quality educational time, these *are* my son's educational activities. He loves learning and he learns all day just by living his own life.
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