Lots of families happen upon unschooling at, or around compulsory school age. Some families start to unschool after their children have attended traditional schools. But what happens when the kiddo is much younger? How do you unschool a kid that is far from compulsory school age? Turns out, it's not much different than what you may already be doing.
First, take a minute to relax. Notice how much your little one has learned already. In these three years, he has learned to walk, run, talk, express complex emotions, climb, roll, jump up and down, count, converse, and a whole bunch of other things. That's fantastic! I'll bet that you didn't do anything super special for this learning to happen. It just did.
New unschoolers, especially those with young kiddos, will read about all the awesome cool things other unschoolers are doing. And they will panic because they may or may not be "doing enough." There is lots of pressure to expose your kiddos to new things. To figure out what their passions are and to explore them. But what if your three year old is hooked to youtube or video games or both? What if he doesn't ever want to leave the house (like my kiddo)? Don't panic. Video games and youtube videos are excellent sources of information. Young kids will be exposed to letters, numbers, words, language.. Not just english but any languages they may stumble upon. Chase loves to watch French Umizoomi episodes and signing time!
Young kiddos probably won't enjoy museums or going to the library or much of the whole wide world right now. They are still very young, and their world is a bit small and mostly revolves around you. As they grow, so will their world and comfort level. Don't focus on all the things you aren't doing with your kiddo (finger painting, swim lessons, toddler story time at the library) and focus on the things you are doing with them. Focus on the things they love doing. Then do more of it, and watch the learning happen at a rate that will blow your mind.
One of the top three questions I get when talking to people about unschooling is "How will he learn math?" I love this question. Being a number enthusiast myself, I get excited whenever I have an opportunity to point out how math is all around us. That's the pseudo answer. Math is all around us. But learning is a process. Realizing that our surroundings provide excellent opportunities to learn math is just the first step. Here's my three step learning process:
That's it! Once you get through with step 3, it could lead you to further research. A trip to the library or a google search for more examples and information could be the next steps. Or not. Maybe the 3 steps was enough to satisfy the math curiosity for this moment. Regardless, some learning happens.
But where is the math?
Chase loves to count things. He made me realize we could talk about numbers anywhere. The only thing holding back the math is our imagination. We count nuts and bolts, birds, parallel lines, marks on walls, shoes, vertical blinds, beans, people, cars, busses, you get the idea :) What fascinated me is how the simple concept of counting has lead to other math concepts. We now count sides on objects. That thing has 4 sides, its a square. Or a rectangle. This thing has 8 sides and he looks to me like, what is that?!? Octagon, I say. We went from basic counting to geometry. But it doesn't stop there.