Saturday, 21 April 2012

Unschooling experiment

OK, It can't really be called a valid experiment, as exponents of proper unschooling would say that you have to unschool over a more extended period of time before you see anything that could be called 'results'.  However, I was curious to see how the boys would react to unschooling, and as they had all woken up yesterday morning with a request for a 'pyjama day', by the time I had written yesterday's blog entry (while they were all happily playing), I thought to myself, 'why not?'
So yesterday we did our version of unschooling (apologies to those who understand this concept far better than I & who can see my rookie mistakes all too easily)
Basically, I gave them no direction all day, just to see what they would do (although I did ask them to turn the Wii off when I could see they'd had enough)
Admittedly, there was a fair bit of watching the TV (as expected), but I was pleased to see that at one point they got bored of it and wandered off to play their own games - DS1 then spending a considerable amount of time building an impressive lego construction, and DS2 & 3 having a whale of a time with dressing up & role play etc.  (I still maintain that one of the best sounds in the world to a mother's ears is the sound of her children laughing and playing sweetly together).  After lunch they asked to play Wii, and DS1 said 'oh no, we need to get our stars first' (referring to yesterday's star chart reward)  DS2 was immediately discouraged by this, so we talked about it and said we didn't have to do the star chart every day, and even if we did, the goal didn't have to be the same every day (parental quandary: am I confusing them by shifting the goalposts, or - as is my hope - keeping it fun and interesting by adding variety?)
Anyway, we talked about it together, and agreed that playing on the Wii was fine, but today (as some of them wanted to earn stars) we would have an easier goal: 3 stars and they could have chocolate for pudding (they have a huge stash of left-over easter eggs still)
DS1 immediately worked as fast as possible and chose the easiest goals, to get his stars - interestingly he decided he wanted to get them all before he played on the Wii;  DS3 carried on with what he was doing, and just happened to get his stars as part of his normal day (he wanted to do some more dot-to-dot, he wanted to help Mummy put the washing on etc, without registering that in doing so he was earning stars);  DS2 turned his attitude completely around and actually got more stars than the rest of them - once he started earning them he got a bit addicted to the achievement of putting stars on his chart:)
So I'm not sure whether that was an unschooling day or not, as they wanted to follow the star chart, and set some 'goals'... it might count, as it was all of their own volition, with minimum intervention from me (I actually got some housework done - I like unschooling! ;) ), but then again it might not count as they coud be said to be still acting out of the old mindset of working for incentives & rewards.  Guess what?  "I don't know!" ;)  I do know that we had a lovely day though, so I'm happy with that - maybe I'll stop thinking about it so much, and just stick to the plan of relaxing & having fun while we learn :)  Not that thinking about it is a bad thing - I find it fascinating; I just don't want to constrict myself by following any one method. We're still novices - I'm enjoying experimenting & learning about how my children learn - isn't that the whole point? :)


  1. Wooooo Hooooooooo...finally someone understands :-) your awesome awesome awesome...keep heading in this direction. Keep a picture in your heart of who your kids are going to be and they will, in their each individual style.

  2. thanks Sally - that's encouragement I needed today! :) x