Recently while away on a homeschool Mom’s retreat I was given a question. “Are you a Traditional Homeschooler or an Unschooler?” I thought about it for a moment and my answer was neither! When asked why that was my response I said, “because we do schoolwork from books but we take every opportunity to use life as our open classroom.” The facilitator responded with, “You are an Unschooler!”. I was a little taken aback as my perception of unschooling is no formal instruction whatsoever, until she explained that Unschooling really just means you homeschool Outside of the Box. When I looked at it from that point of view I definitely agreed.
We generally finish our book work fairly early in the day, most often by lunchtime. What do we do with the rest of our day? We use that time to explore the boys specific areas of interest or go on a field trip, or lend someone a helping hand. Most often than not you will find Alyx working on cars or walking the neighbors dog, or maybe working on his newest woodworking project like his Little Free Library. Taylor is usually playing Minecraft, so imagine my interest when I found out there were actually homeschool classes that encompass Minecraft. We joined 4-H this year as well as camp half the year, exploring everything around us.
Being the Mom of 3 High School students definitely keeps me on my toes, but if I find activities for them that key into their specific areas of interest, it makes for a much more pleasant homeschooling atmosphere. When I first started homeschooling almost 5 years ago I believed that we needed a strict schedule and that our entire day, the time traditionally schooled kids, my older son being one of those, were in school we needed to be doing book work. Boy was I wrong! Little did I know that year after year of our homeschooling journey our idea of what our homeschool day looked like would change. This year I began to think of how little time I have left being my boys teacher, and it made me relax even more. I have learned that although the boys learn from all of these books we have, they learn just as much if not more from living life.
Recently I was asked if my son’s Little Free Library was part of our homeschool somehow? I was at first stumbling for the politically correct answer when I suddenly was just very frank with her. My answer? When my son had to go to the store to buy his supplies he had to use Multiplication, Division and Geometry to figure out how much of each item he needed to buy and how to best maximize his money. Economics at work right there. He then had to some home and measure out each piece and then build the structure, carefully cutting and piecing it together. Woodshop right there. Taylor playing Minecraft incorporates money management, architecture, and History as well as computers, all while “playing” a video game. I never thought I would think video games would be a learning tool.
I could rattle on and on, but the point I am trying to make is life is short and homeschooling should be a blessing to both your children and yourself. Take the time to Homeschool Outside of the Box and just watch the learning opportunities unfold before you. Homeschooling is a rollercoaster ride, hop on, hang on tight and enjoy this wild ride. You will be amazed at how much your kids will learn when you take some of the pressure off, I know I was.
Jenn Kasprzak, Wife of David for 18 years, Mom of 3 teenage boys, 14, 15 and 16 years old.