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There are several fascinating and successful ways to teach children. All of them have something special to offer. We recommend using a combination. In this article we will discuss one known as “Un-schooling.
Un-schooling is based on the knowledge that all people, including children, have a natural desire to learn. Watch the toddler as he focuses on learning to walk, or talk. Normally no one forces him. It is like breathing. Wanting to learn is part of who we are, unless it has been squashed at some point in life.
OK! One might ask: then why do I find myself having to push my child to read? The un-schooler would answer: “because you are not un-schooling”. This method tells us to pay attention to the child’s natural rhythms. Just as we know when we are hungry, the child knows when and what he is hungry to learn. Use that natural tendency, and you become a facilitator rather than a teacher using many different things to stir the child’s inner enthusiasm. Some examples will help to give clarification.
Koty had learned all of his phonic sounds, and could read all of his early reader books. He also enjoyed sounding out large words like “premium” as he and his mother traveled around town playing a word game. But he had no desire to pick up a book and read it. He preferred, instead, to have his mother read to him as she had from the time he was little. Mother was becoming a bit worried, because other kids his age were able to read better than koty. But she had read the book “Better Late Than Early” (a book about Delayed Academics) by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and, as a result, decided to patiently continue reading to him.
As time passed she began to question her decision. One day Koty again asked her to read a book for him. He was fascinated by the picture on the cover, and wanted to know what was inside. “Sorry Koty”, she replied, “I just don’t have the time right now”. Koty, anxious to learn what was inside this interesting book, began reading it by himself. He did put it down until he had finished. Mom even allowed him to read late in bed to nurture his enthusiasm.
What a miracle! Just as the Moores had indicated, Koty’s enthusiasm was lit. From that day forward he became an avid reader, and advanced several grade levels in a short time…passing his peers.
I know a teacher who moved to a wilderness area. Due to her location it became necessary to home school her large family. Until the children reached the age of seven she used the “Formal Method” to teach them the basics (Note: Most un-schoolers would tell you that is not necessary because one can un-school from day one.) After that it all became un-schooling.
The family needed a home, so she took them to the library where they began researching. They helped design the family home, do the blue prints, and build it from the ground up. In the process they expanded their ability to read, do geometry, drafting, art work, measuring, and many other lessons. But they (and Koty) were thinking about accomplishing a goal rather than just learning for the sake of learning (The un-schooler would add: unless that is the child’s interest).
It is interesting to note that all of her kids received scholarships to Yale University. She did something right.
Mom is cooking and asks her child, who is eager to help, to cut the apple. She has him/ her cut it in half, and then again in fourths. She even asks her little one to measure a half of a cup of milk. That’s right, the child is learning, and you have become a facilitator.
In un-schooling learning is driven by the individual’s natural learning instinct, curiosity, need to feel competent and whole, and even their need to have fun! As a parent you have likely used this method from time to time without even being aware that you were un-schooling. Awareness is what will help you to expand your ability to nurture your little one’s natural desire to learn, and to retain it for a life time. Have fun being a facilitator.