Here’s a message I sent my teen daughter about my plan to facilitate more in her learning experience. Part 2 will talk more in detail about the subjects I hope to expose to her and why I think its important.
I’ve come up with a plan to take a more active role in your education. The purpose of unschooling is to let the child discover her own passions and encourage her to learn as much as she can about those passions. The parent guides the child by introducing her to experiences and subjects. The parent assists the child by providing her with tools, books, lessons, and other sources of learning. When we first started unschooling it was a learning process and most the “rules” I have about unschooling were not yet formed. I was a little concerned at first because you weren’t going to be learning things in the same order that school kids your age would be learning them. But I learned that’s okay, there is no set time line to learn certain things. Given enough ambitions anything can be learned in a relatively short time. For instance the child doesn’t need multiplication on its own but if she wants to, its fairly easy to learn them and commit to memory for either a short time, or longer if she is using the tables on a regular basis. While learning about unshchooing I also liked the idea that you’d be learning subjects as they intertwined with each other. You wouldn’t be learning History on a timeline but rather as it pertained to other areas of interest. For instance while watching Doctor Who you’ve been introduced to historical characters and events. Researching those further has given you a better perspective of history at that time then learning it from a textbook. As we’ve grown in unschooling we’ve grown as a family and we’ve grown as individuals.
This is a great way to learn, to learn to love learning, and really excel at what you love. If done right the child has the opportunity to learn more and in a deeper capacity then a schooled child. Even though its child-led it is parent fascilitated. Its my responsibility to expose the child to many things, observe what excites, communicate about further learning, and help find resources to learn more. However, I’ve been lacking for the past few years in my part of being your guide. I’ve been preoccupied with other responsibilities and the places my own life has taken me. Sometimes life happens though and the path we expect to take often turn into new paths. Having one little one to take care of is challenging enough but add another one that’s close in age and the difficulty doesn’t just double, it quadruples. Because I’ve been busy just trying to maintain some order and take care of two busy little ones, I’ve left a lot of your learning to you. This isn’t exactly bad:You’ve taken it to some interesting places that I would never have expected. I’m proud of the things you’ve learned, the progress you’ve made, and the relationships you’ve made. Even though I haven’t been able to focus entirely on you I’ve helped in little ways here and there. We have had experiences and I have exposed to you many things without expectation, Steampunk for instance. Now that I have more opportunity, its time to start facilitating your learning more. I’d like to be more active in your learning. Even with a new baby, I’ll still be able to help more since it won’t be two toddlers with little self-control that I have to constantly monitor. Plus we have a few months to implement some habits and somewhat of a schedule.
Here are my suggestions so far. Each day I’ll send you a message with an “assignment”. This just means that I’ve found something to read or watch that I think might interest you. It will be something that doesn’t take up much time. But it is something I want you to give a chance. Read/watch it and think about it. It might be something that pertains to our lives now or just something that I think could interest you in the future. It will also be something that interests me-something I am learning or something that I think is important to know to function in the world as an individual or in a group. At some point in the week, or a couple points, we’ll talk about the assignment. As with most things that interest you, you’ll continue to explore the things you want to learn more about. Talking about it with me will give me more of an idea if I should help you in further study and in finding more information on it. However there are things that I will send you to read/watch that I just believe are important to at least be exposed to. I’ll talk more about them in another message. These are things that you need know because it will help you function either in this family or out in the world. Of course all your learning isn’t done by reading but it will help you better understand certain things. For instance I will be sending you info on child development. With that information you’ll better be able to understand your siblings and how I’ve chosen to raise you and them.
I think its important for me to do this because you are the age where you do need to start learning a little more about the world, how it works, how it should work, what makes people tick, how you can be happy in any situation, how to function in group settings, and how to be a strong individual. Of course none of these things are actually learned strictly through reading or watching. Most learning is done through experience. But I can learn a little more about where to guide you through exposing you to ideas and subjects. You do learn a lot of things from the stuff you already watch and learn. But the stuff I send you might be from a view point that you are not often exposed to through regular media. Especially when it comes to history and economics and politics. Most media is slanted a way that I prefer not be stuck in your head. So I’ll be sending you lots of links of a more honest history and a government as it should be.
I know that you are also the type of person that needs some prodding and encouragement to begin things as well as carry them through. I’ll do my best to gently remind you to do these things. We can talk about and decide what you’d like me to do to help you on your learning journey.