Learning by Leaning

IMG_2619One thing I’m constantly grateful for in my job is that I’m surrounded by education-related content, and even better than that, I have opportunities to meet with educators from all over the U.S. At our spring meeting in DC, while catching up with my teacher friends, the one question almost all of them asked was, “How’s unschooling going?!”

There’s two things I loved about that: 1) they were genuinely excited and curious, and 2) it was an opportunity to share perspectives and get ideas. Some of them are familiar with unschooling and some aren’t, but all of them had great ideas for me to bring back home—innovative, engaging ideas from their own classrooms that work well with their kids.

Before the ideas evaporated, I wanted to document what I came away with. I also want to give Kim Doulliard a shout-out since many of these ideas surfaced in our conversations (though others shared similar practices):

  • Although unschooling really means the kids drive their own learning, sometimes a little prompt is helpful. Say out loud what you’re wondering about and see what happens for them, “I wonder why that happened?” or “I see…” or “Let’s try…”
  • Have the kids document their own learning and if they are younger or don’t have advanced writing skills yet, have them video record and narrate with their voice. This might work particularly well for the baking projects the kids like to do. The kids plan the recording, work the camera, and on the video they discuss what they’re doing/what to do next; what’s being measured/how; and other observations. This could be taken a step further by considering who the audience is and how to disseminate it (possibly for feedback): friends? Other kids via YouTube? Grandma? etc.
  • Reflection journals: what happened today that you want to remember? What did you like? What did you notice? What was hard? Either in writing, or by drawing, and maybe even their own blogs eventually. Do this regularly to get in the habit and it can also serve as a valuable portfolio piece.

I can see a lot of possibilities in these ideas and I’m sure as we try them out at home, more will be revealed. As challenging as this unschooling process can be, the potential is just as exciting, and I’m grateful for friends who listen and share their expertise and experience along the way.