Painting Area
Today’s post is from the gorgeous and talented Shae from Yay for Home. Shae is an unschooler:

It is simply learning from life and following the lead and interests of your child. The underlining principal is that humans are born learners and learn best with the freedom to be self motivated and learn what, when and how they choose. Source: Yay for Home

Until I read Shae’s blog, I imagined unschooling would be completely random, messy and lacking direction, but it isn’t the case at all. There may be cases where it is indeed that, but then there are plenty of examples of schools that are like that too! She even talks about KLAs! (Key Learning Areas).

Today Shae shares how she organises educating her kids. Although I send my kids to school, I found this post inspiring. I am still an educator to my kids and Shae’s ideas on how to organise this has given me great new ideas to implement at our house!

Have a designated “classroom”.

Have an area of the house that has all of the art things, workbooks, puzzles etc in one place. This makes it easy for children to find what they are after and it makes it easy to pack up as well. Having a space that is uncluttered and has child size desks etc to create on is very important to growing minds. It’s empowering for them to be able to start or continue projects themselves with easy to access materials in familiar places and ask for your help if it’s required

Strew

Paint
Unschooling advocate Sandra Dodd coined the term “Strewing”. It basically means to add new stimulus and see where the child takes it. This could be recording a show you think your child might be interested in or borrowing some new books from the library or even setting up a table with food dye, vinegar, baking powder, shaving cream etc and letting the kids go for it. For younger children setting up the train track or making a play scene might be more appropriate.

Don’t get hung up on socialization

It’s the big one that people seem to worry about and it’s probably the need that is the easiest to fulfill. If they have friends who go to school make times to catch up on weekends and afternoons-and don’t forget school holidays! Find other home educating families with kids yours get along with. Hang out with them during the week. Go to local home ed meet up groups-there will be some! If you are lucky to live in an area like I do (Melbourne) you might also have family camps to go on if you like. Do “extra-curricular” activities like dancing or scouts.

Find new and interesting things to do.

Garden
This might sound obvious but it can be easy to stick with the things that you enjoy. This is great and to continue to visit places and activities that everyone enjoys and work for the family is important but don’t forget to look for new things from time to time. Think of your local orchestra, museum, park or market. How about an alpaca farm or behind the scenes tour of the zoo? What about going to visit a family member at their place of work or trying out a new craft supplies shop or library? There are so many recourses available that your child will learn from. Remember to tell them if you are home educating-you might just get in for free as the “teacher”!

Keep a diary and a calendar

Many home educators find that they might have a rhythm to their week but the activities and people you catch up with may vary greatly. If you are anything like me with multiple children it can get tricky to remember who is going where on what day and with who! I keep a full year planner on the wall, a month to month calendar near the kitchen and I have a weekly whiteboard that gets filled in every Sunday night (mostly) so I know what’s coming up.

Budget for “school” expenses

We go through a LOT of art supplies and have yearly memberships to the museum & zoo. We also go on a few camps each year and use a fair amount of petrol visiting friends and taking trips all over the city rather than school run in our own suburb. These expenses all need to accounted for so you don’t get caught short and miss out. Remember that school related expenses such as internet usage can also be claimed by registered home educators and in some states the school start bonus for both primary and high school is available as well.

Think outside the box

Outdoor Exploration
One of the main advantages of being school-free is that you can tailor learning to meet the needs of your individual children as the “teacher to child” ratio is much smaller and as a parent you are an expert on your own child. Your child hates readers or chapter books-how about comics or magazines or video games? Want to learn more about life cycles-why not grow some butterflies/moths/frogs at home? Learn about the stars by staying up late and using a telescope, learn about maths from having pocket money or baking a cake or learn how to speak Italian from your neighbor who was born in Italy. If your child likes to run take the classroom outside and get hands on, if they learn by listening you can download audio books or watch documentaries. Don’t limit yourself.

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11 comments...read them below or add one

  • Marita May 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I am really impressed, one of my biggest issues with unschooling has been the lack of structure. My girls really need structure. Shae, you inspire me and also fill me with comfort that if we do change to full time homeschooling in the future it will be okay.

    • PlanningQueen May 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      I find Shae’s effort and thought quite amazing. And the best part is the kids seem to have so much fun!

  • Jessica May 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing this…fantastic blog site. Relevant, real and straight to the point, very inspiring…have always wanted to homeschool but never brave enough to take the step, thinking the age gap between my older ones and little one is too big. Perhaps, I can unschool our youngest!

    • PlanningQueen May 19, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      I have contemplated homeschooling my daughter. Last year I took her out for one day a week to work one on one with her. It is amazing how much you can do in a short period of time in a scenario like this,

  • katesaysstuff May 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Love it.

    Shae you are an inspiration :)

    There’s a lot in this for us schoolies too… especially with some at school and littlies still at home.

    • PlanningQueen May 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm

      Completely agree Kate – lots of things for me to action from this post!

  • Tess May 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Thanks for this post. I found it very interesting. The approach described resonated very strongly with me and many of the specific examples you gave are actually things we do, I’d just never put a label on it. Our children are still under school age and at this point we plan to send them to a state school for primary school. I have not ruled out homeschooling because I agree that children often gain a deeper understanding when they learn things in context and when they are in an environment that fosters their natural curiosity and some schools and teaching methods don’t have these elements. Our plan is to keep paying attention to our children with an open heart and open mind and see where that takes us.

    • PlanningQueen May 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm

      Sounds like a brilliant approach Tess.

  • Deborah May 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Great post, Shae. You inspire me to try new ideas that seem daunting. There’s something in this for all parents who are schooling or unschooling their children.