I have been facinated by the idea of unschooling ever since I heard about the concept. I think it has wonderful merit. I have been reading more and more about the process and how it works. I have even practiced it to an extent with Megan.
Megan hated to take spelling test. When she attended a church school for a short time, we would study the words and she would spell most of them right, but when the test came, she wouldn't do so well. She grew discouraged and begin to have negative feelings about herself and her ability to learn. So due to this and other issues, I took her out of the school and started to homeschool again. (She had been homeschooled from 1st grade through the beginning of 5th, when she started the church school.) When I took her out, we just completly dropped spelling from her daily curriculum. At this time, she discovered blogging. She started a blog on homeschoolblogger and homesteadblogger. We had a small farm and raised goats, chickens, rabbits, pigs, cows and dogs. She really loved it and enjoyed blogging about it. She wanted her blogs to be nice and everything spelled correctly, so she learned to spell on her own. In the beginning, she would ask often how to spell a word, but soon she was able to do it without much assistance. Now she is in the 7th grade, we haven't had spelling in her curriculum at all, and she rarely has to ask how to spell a word. And she spells great.
So this little test of the idea of unschooling proved to me that it works. And if it works in one area, then it will work in the other areas as well.
While searching the internet for more information on unschooling, I found this article that I thought was wonderful. It reflects what I know in myself to be true and helps me to solidify my belief in allowing children to learn through their natural curiosity. Children are natural learners, they want to learn. If allowed to learn when they are ready to learn, they will learn it much better than if they are forced to learn something they aren't interested in or ready for.
With my older daughter, I took her out of public school after the 3rd grade. We did the traditional boxed school curriculum. It was basically just like school, maybe even more rigid. I felt pressured to continue the traditional way of educating. There were still nay-sayers regarding homeschooling. Even using the traditional method, I faced opposition due to my decision to homeschool. But something happened to Lauren in about 7th grade. She got tired of school. She got tired of working so hard at something she wasn't interested in. She still did well in school, (first-born, over achiever type), but she lost interest and just did what she had to do to get good grades. She no longer enjoyed learning. And it has continued through her life. She is now 18 and should have finished her high school curriculum last year. But she lost interest and has been lagging around. She really doesn't care to finish it. She is going to, but doesn't care if she does or not. She is very out going and has found success in the work environment. She has proven she can be successful in her adult life.
Both of my children are very intelligent and talented. I am not just saying that because I am their mother. They have always been advanced in their development and never had problems learning and retaining concepts. They each have different learning styles, and approach learning in their own way. So I know that they will learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. They have the ability, without question. But the interest must be their own.
I attended public school from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I graduated from college with a B.A. and have worked in various jobs through the years. My interest vary greatly. I know that the traditional schooling did not give me any advantage in life, and I learned what I learned when I was ready. I pursued interest and learned through various means. Twenty-four years after graduating from high school, I can say that the bulk of the knowledge I have, came outside of the traditional school setting. And the knowledge I have retained is the knowledge that I sought out on my own, not what was force-feed me by a set curriculum at a set time in my development.
So with all of this said, here is a link to the article I started this post talking about. It was published in Home Educator's Family Times newsletter. It is entitled Unschooling: Preparing Our Children For Life. The author's name is Marsha Ransom. I hope you enjoy it.