Am I doing enough, I was thinking to myself as I scrolled through posts on a homeschooling group on Facebook. Everyone is asking about curriculum and planning field trips. People were discussing units they were working on and asking if anyone wants to join their learning groups.
I look over at my son and he laying on my bed looking at his laptop and my daughter sprawled out on the couch watching Youtube and playing the SIMS on her laptop. Are they really learning enough to move them on to the next grade? What if they decide they want to go back to traditional high school? Will they be behind? All these thoughts and doubts are flying around in my brain. I start to get anxious and frantically looking up ways they can learn math.
Then I realized, I am doing enough! They are learning every single day. They are getting physical education, they are learning health, they are getting math skills and it is all coming naturally. They are not taking formal math classes or following a specific curriculum, but they are learning math. Every time we double a recipe while they are cooking, that is adding fractions. If my son is measuring the distance between two holes to hang a TV mount, he is using a tape measure and again learning fracture. When my daughter is working the cash register at work and has to give someone change. How about when my son is at work with my husband roofing? Well, they are using fractions, algebra and geometry.
Not only do they learn by doing these everyday tasks, we also have conversations about math. We had a long discussion about student loans and how interest works. How much student loan debt I have, how long it is going to take me to pay off those loans. We also discussed the difference between debit and credit cards.
What about health? Well, anytime they go to the doctor’s or the dentist, they are learning. How many times have you been to the doctor’s office and they start explaining where your children should be developmentally? What issues they have? How to eat better? What about when you go to the dentist? Do they discuss flossing and the proper brushing technics with you? Our dentist even discuss the use of Fluoride (see my blog post here).
How about when they chose healthy snacks instead of sugary ones? We have also had numerous discussions with our kids about the use of nicotine. We have had discussion on drugs and how they can affect your life and body. There has also been discussions on alcohol and what it does to your brain and decision making abilities. We have unfortunately known people who have passed away from drug over doses and we have educated them on the Heroin epidemic going on today.
So, I am starting feel a little better about what we are doing. Then someone asked about Science! Oh no! What the heck are the kids learning about science??? Well, they are each taking college level psychology classes online. Plus, my daughter is taking medical terminology. In psychology they are both learning how the brain works and how it has different functions. My son is taking human development and he is learning about how humans develop from infant to adult.
Yes, I can relax now about science! Thank goodness. So, let’s talk about social studies. Again they are not taking any formal history classes, but they learn history and current events every single day. Especially now with the election year, they are learning a lot about democracy and how a presidential election works.
They have learned about the Black Lives Matter movement and how that developed and the history of African Americans in history. We have had long conversations with them about real history and what they were taught in school. We have had many discussions about Abraham Lincoln, JFK and the Clintons.
We also go to antique shops and flea markets often and they have great conversations with dealers about the history of items. They learned different uses of modern day items and how they have developed over the years.
Lastly, I will discuss physical education. My son is very active, he spends hours in the garage riding his skateboard. We have a mini skate park set up in there and we are looking to expand into the driveway in the next year or so. He goes skating with his friends all the time as well. He also has a punching bag set up in the garage and does use that on a regular basis.
My daughter on the hand is not very active at all. Finding activities or physical activities that she is willing to participate in was difficult. We tried walking for a short period of time, jus the two of us, but that soon became a bore to her. She likes to swim so we went to the town beach a few times, but again she got bored with that. I had to do something. So, I joined some homeschooling groups on Facebook in my state. I found a few groups that offered different activities like bowling and soccer. After some convincing, she finally agreed to check it out. She went to bowling and soccer in one day. She thought bowling was boring and there were not enough kids her age. She decided not to attend the bowling activity again. She went to soccer and we got to know the woman running the event. My daughter was one of the older kids going to the weekly event and the coach asked if she could continue to come and help with the little kids. Rylee is not big on soccer, but she liked to help with the younger kids, so she agreed to go. She has been going for a few weeks and really enjoys it. She is even getting a whistle next week and can’t wait.
Everyone’s experience with unschooling is different. Each child learns differently and has different interests. All of this is okay. It is okay to doubt yourself and it is okay to not have a schedule. We need to remember as unschooling parents that our children learn every day, regardless if they are sitting in a class. They are learning through doing and through conversations with us and other adults. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and realize that our children know what they want to learn. We need to find out what their goals are and help to achieve them.
Let me know some of the things that your kids are learning and how you are helping them achieve their goals.