By Leo Babauta
If you're interested in the unschooling approach, one of the first questions you'll probably have is: OK, so how do I do it? What do unschoolers normally do during their days?
And the answer might not satisfy you, if you're looking for a step-by-step.
Here's the short answer: they do anything. There's no one way to do it, not in general and not even for a particular person.
However, I'll run down some things we do. Before I do that, a few things to know about the unschooling approach:
- Unschoolers throw traditional schooling out the door. So the idea of having classes and studying textbooks and taking tests is not at all required. You can do any of that if you feel like it, but mostly you don't.
- School artificially separates learning from the rest of life. Unschooling says that life *is* learning. Why is reading a textbook and doing worksheets any better in terms of learning than going to the beach and talking about the tides? Why does learning stop at 3pm (or whenever kids get out of school) ... why can't it happen on weekends and summers and evenings?
- Unschooling is much, much less structured most of the time. There's no one way to do it, and each day you're kind of inventing things as you go along. That's part of the learning too -- making up new ways to learn and have fun as you go along.
OK, OK, Leo, you're probably saying. Get to the details. OK, I'll share a few things we do, but you should know that what we do isn't what you should do. These are just some ideas to get you started.
Here are some things we've done with our four unschooled kids recently:
- Seth watched the first Percy Jackson movie (about a teen who is the son of Poseidon), then got interested in reading the books and read the whole series, and then got interested in Greek gods and voraciously read all about them and now knows way more about Greek gods than I ever did.
- Noelle got into Youtube videos about dolls and crafting, and she and Eva built a dollhouse and decorated it themselves.
- Maia got obsessed with origami and made dozens and dozens of incredible origami figures, even giving them away to people as gifts.
- Justin decided he wants to take the SAT and maybe apply for college, so needs to brush up on math, so is learning algebra from Khan Academy at his own pace and will probably learn the entire subject in about 4-6 weeks.
- Justin & I are learning Spanish through audio lessons.
- I'm helping Maia start a vegan cupcake business.
- Maia is working her way through a vegan cookbook, cooking dinner for the family, and takes pictures of the dishes and blogs about it all.
- We read to the younger kids pretty much every day.
- They help us shop for groceries.
- I run with the kids and talk to them about life and becoming entrepreneurs. I want to invest in their companies and mentor them.
- Justin and Rain (who goes to regular high school) and I are learning programming and are going to build some web games together.
- The kids all read on their own.
- I quiz them on math sometimes.
- We play board games. Sometimes they'll create their own games.
- Noelle wants to sell Maia's vegan cupcakes in the park to make some money.
- The older kids cook and clean and generally help out around the house.
- The younger kids have responsibilities too.
- The older kids help the younger kids with projects.
- Justin & Maia take music lessons.
- Noelle likes to make videos and put them on Youtube, and has made her own cooking show.
- We've made wands with the younger ones.
- Noelle watches Eva sew and does her own sewing.
- Noelle exercises with Eva when she works out.
- Seth does pushups and his own martial arts.
- The younger ones play a lot together, making forts.
- The older ones read and play online a lot.
- Justin takes online college courses.
- Noelle likes to build things from boxes, like houses and cars and stuff.
- Maia and I are making a manga comic book together (she loves anime).
- Seth taught himself math and is pretty good at it.
- Justin taught himself 3D animation and is making a 3D animated short.
- They play a lot.
- We go to the park and play. Maia likes to play basketball with me.
- Justin loves watching soccer and is an avid fan and knows all the teams and players.
- Maia draws a lot.
- They all blog.
There's a ton of other things, but I think you're getting the idea. We do anything, and we have fun.