Saturday, June 22, 2013

Unschooling Rules

I just finished reading Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich. In case you're not familiar with unschooling, it is a growing idea that childrens' best method of learning does not fit the mold of traditional public schooling. "Unschoolers" believe that tests, curriculum and sitting in desks don't promote learning. Instead, exposure to life, arts, nature, and whatever interests the child promote learning. The idea then being that children will be more motivated to learn if they can choose what they learn and how they learn. Unschooling parents are more like facilitators than teachers and expose their children to many different opportunities to learn.

As a teacher, I see that student motivation (or lack thereof) is a growing contributing factor to students' learning (or lack thereof). Here are some practical snippets from Unschooling Rules that parents and teachers might want to consider.

  1. Adults are role models of learning. If you want your child to be an avid reader, then be an avid reader. If you want your child to be inquisitive and curious, then model that kind of thinking for him or her.
  2. If your child develops an interest or passion for something, do everything you can to feed it.
  3. Allow your child to be around "non-authority" adult figures. This allows them to see adults as role models and people from which to learn, rather than just the "person in charge." These relationships could later develop into mentorships.
  4. Outdoors beats indoors. Ahhh - Yes! My favorite one. Being in the outdoors fosters change and fun rather than the monotony of being indoors. Anyone who has young children and has watched them play outdoors can attest that their eyes are a little brighter and they are much more inventive with the outdoor canvas. Inside is too boring and predictable.
  5. Walk. Walk with your children. Children (and adults) think and talk when they walk. Walking creates a classroom in and of itself. Point out things you see when walking; ask questions about their day.
Unschooling Rules is a thought provoking, easy read.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Little Things

Today, Eli made it to the top of the playhouse ladder in our backyard all by himself. We've been working on it for weeks, because he watches his big brother, Lex, scale up the ladder with ease on a regular basis and wants to be just like him in more ways than one. This feat was accompanied by another milestone in which Eli drank an entire cup of milk, without a lid, without spilling a drop. This was another first. Maybe he could have done it sooner - I don't know. I haven't pushed those types of milestones like I did with Lex. I just happened to have handed him a cup without a lid, and he drank it like a pro.

Combined, these events made me long for slower days so I could sit in these moments a little longer. I think these moments are fleating by design so that you do appreciate them.

With summer here, I look forward to the countless days ahead of just sitting in the sun and watching them play. I love the way that boys run faster, play longer, and laugh harder in the great outdoors. It never gets old. Enjoy your summer and don't forget to enjoy the little things!