I’ve been “officially” doing this homeschooling thing for 3 years now and we’ve used a variety of approaches. I was amazed with how much my friend’s children who use Sonlight knew so we started off on that path. Then I had friends using “The Well Trained Mind” and well, that’s totally up my alley with hands on projects and such richness in history. Then, in a desperate attempt to simplify we turned towards Waldorf. Well, I’m about to shake things up to a degree again. A couple weeks ago we were going along our Waldorf path and it was Thursday and I somehow only managed to get the stuff from Monday taught. I felt a wee tad discouraged but then I was showering the next morning and it hit me, I’m the one that wants to do Waldorf. My kids LOVE the Waldorf approach. There’s a TON that they get from the material that they enjoy but really, they want to explore all kinds of other things, too. I struck me that I, personally, could learn the things I want to learn and if my children are interested then they will likely come over and express an interest in the material and ask questions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a Waldorf inspired home yet, becoming a mostly unschooling family. There’s nothing wrong with order, simplicity and routine (in fact, it probably leads to better learning as the children aren’t overwhelmed with TONS of materials). I’ve learned to embrace the idea that we are happiest when we are each doing our own things. That forcing children to learn certain material when they are not interested or ready is what I’ve been trying to avoid by keeping my children at home. So why, oh why, should I prescribe what they should learn? Sure, I may know them better than their teacher might but I don’t know them as well as they know themselves and I have the utmost confidence that they will learn what they need to learn to be successful and delightful adults with minimal input on my part.
My friend, Shannon, has started posting about suggestive unschooling and I am a pretty big believer in this method. The only time I involve myself in their homeschooling with suggestions are when they are driving me crazy with their “I’M BORED!”(s). A certain amount of being bored is good for learning and creativity but there are times when Mum needs silence and in those moments I will suggest something like Mammoth Math or a workbook but the kids know that they are only suggestions that if they really don’t want to then they’ll need to find something else to do. Usually they do what I suggest. Other times they disappear and go do something equally (or usually more) stimulating. Another suggestive approach that I use (unknowningly to them) is to fill my house with certain books on a topic that I think is interesting. They’ll often start reading/looking at those books, too. Or, as I said, I’ll start learning about something that interests me and then before I know it, they’ll be asking to learn about it, too. I’ll admit to very, very occasionally learning about something I’m NOT interested in, in order the pique the children’s interested but that is a rarity.
My children are most definitely learning even without me actively giving them material to learn. Morgaine spends hours drawing and making up songs and stories (especially when she thinks that we aren’t listening). She’s learning to spell (but not read) by trying to put letters together to see what happens. Liam very often pulls out his world map to write new information on. He is interested in many, MANY topics and spends much time hanging out with his encyclopedias learning about different countries, animals and space. He reads from his Bible daily and actively gets involved in teaching Morgaine (which goes significantly better that me trying to teach Morgaine as it seems like a game when they do it together….the poor “I don’t want to learn anything” child is learning without even realizing it!)). My job is to provide the environment in which they can learn and be available to answer their questions and guide them and let them blossom in their own time.
Trust your children, given the right environment, they know what they need.