Dear Trust, You Scare Me
I've been homeschooling for 5 years now. But when I speak of homeschooling, I am not speaking of sitting at a table, text books spread and open for the next lesson to happen lead by me. Ok, sometimes that happens but not normally. When I speak of homeschooling, I speak of life learning. I speak of unschooling. I speak of autodidact learning. That sounds fancy, doesn't it?
Autodidact learning means that the person is self-taught. This quote is from Autodidactic Profiles:
"Millions of people pay a king's ransom for college tuition to learn what is free for the taking when motivated by a compelling desire to learn. In the movie Good Will Hunting, Will (played by Matt Damon) chides an arrogant Ivy League student for paying a fortune for an education that would be free but for the price of a library card. Although this is absolutely valid, very few people believe it. Instead they are convinced the knowledge they could acquire on their own is secondary to paying a lot of money to an institution which will attest that they have, even if they cheated their way through the process."
I will be honest here, it is beyond frightening at times to believe that children will learn when not presented with a structured curriculum. I fall into this category about every March. I was raised in public school. I was indoctrinated to think that worksheets and games which give us scores on how well we do is how we know we are learning. Honestly, I do believe there is a point to them. BUT, here is the catch: my kids do the ones they are interested in.
I can hear you groaning right now. Shhhh...trust me. The whole point of autodidact learning is to TRUST.
TRUST your child.
TRUST they are learning what they need to learn when they need to learn in.
TRUST they are going to want to learn.
TRUST that they want to become absorbed in their learning.
TRUST that worksheets and games and textbooks may not be how they learn.
TRUST that you will facilitate what they need for their learning.
TRUST it will be harder than handing them a worksheet or book because now you have to be involved.
TRUST you can do it.
TRUST it is easier than having to grade tons of papers and walk around with a really heavy tote bag full of files for you to grade during their latest lesson (although I do sometimes envy those parents because they look so important).
Every year, in the late spring, the girls and I sit down and talk about the following year. We pull up the World Book Encyclopedia Typical Course of Study and talk about what they are interested in learning. For me, this is an outline to begin from. It helps us organize our thoughts and explore different topics we may not have otherwise looked into.
Honey Bunny, my 17 year old, never thought about taking a class on psychology until we discussed it based off of that list. She also hadn't really thought about anatomy. She is enjoying both right now. Honey Bunny enjoys online classes, text books and the structure those provide for her. She enjoys knowing what is coming next. She enjoys being in control of her learning insomuch as she is in control of what she learns and reviewing for approval the classes I have facilitated in discovering.
Boo Bear, my 8 year old, on the other hand, is a free thinker and free floater. She does not like to have any sort of structure. She likes to craft..and craft..and craft. Right now, her entire world is about crafting doll items. She is severely dyslexic and has dysgraphia. We work closely with her occupational therapist, her tutor and her test administrators to make sure she is getting the education she needs (learning how to read, write and do math) while still embracing her passions.
You see, autodidactic learning isn't about letting your children play all day in the sandbox or hang out on a Minecraft Server all day while you eat bonbons and watch soap opra's. It's about truly being INVOLVED in their lives. It's about being an integral part of their lives so you can help facilitate further learning. It's about knowing what they are interested in, even learning about it yourself, so you can help open their world to new possibilities and thoughts. It's about helping them connect the dots and get from one place to another.
Autodidactic learning is not about being the authoritative parent, but instead it's about being a guide and a friend. It's about holding their hand through the journey of life like you did when they were little. It doesn't stop just because you have started homeschooling. No, it's about continuing to hold their hand and learning about the wonder of the world through their eyes.
So, whether you call it unschooling, radical unschooling, autodidactic learning, child-led learning or whatever phrase works best for you....the truth is it all boils down to one thing: TRUST in yourself and your children.