Unschooling is something I'd only vaguely heard of prior to reading and reviewing God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco. My loose understanding painted a rather unappealing picture in my mind. As a result, I never pursued the topic any farther...until now...
Perhaps it's the side of me that desires to do things "by the book" so to speak, but it wasn't until recently that I stopped to ask myself if I'm following the right book.
Julie's book touched on much of what I've been battling with the past few months. Her words challenge you to step outside of a system created by man and consider a less hindered approach. An approach based on biblical support and the natural learning progression of each child.
Essentially, it's allowing your child to guide the direction of learning based on their own areas of interest. While Julie does address the more extreme side of unschooling, she expresses her support of healthy parent-guided limitations (i.e. screentime, chores, etc.)
One thing that really resonated with me was her struggle with curriculum and the proverbial millstone it can become when allowed to dictate your homeschool. Like her, I have and do continue to spend $300+ on curriculum. Why? The curriculum is good, yes. But the truth is, I could probably spend 1/4 of the price on another curriculum and get the same results. A big part was the appeal of "Christian Curriculum." There's no denying that. Yet I never stopped to think that even with hundreds of dollars worth of paper...I could still fail to do what's right ...FAIL
That's what it's really about. The fear of failure is a powerful tool the enemy uses. As I was reading this book, Yah really opened my eyes to the motivation behind my homeschooling approach.
Yes, I love homeschooling and being able to plan out fun activities. Like Julie, I had a vision of creating a super-learning experience that my kids would love and appreciate. But somewhere along the way, I became rigid. Like aggressively so and I was completely yielded to a system I wholeheartedly believed was formulated to ensure my children's scholarly success.
I mean surely Yah would bless our endeavor. We've invested and sacrificed money we didn't really have to make sure our children had a faith-based curriculum, right? Well, I quickly found myself frustrated and overwhelmed by the workload. Actually, it was my kids that were frustrated and overwhelmed by the workload. I was frustrated and overwhelmed by their supposed lack of interest and insistent need to fight me every step of the way. Who knew I was approaching this all wrong?
Unfortunately, I'm not able to nix worksheets altogether (compliments of the state) but I have certainly eased up. Julie helped me to realize that I was allowing our curriculum, our pacing guide, our scope & sequence, and even my own lesson planning to call the shots. When that's not really what my children need. Sure they can do worksheets and spout out their times tables but, as Julie points out, that's not a true measure of excellence. Not perfection...but excellence!
I no longer use the curriculum as a teaching tool but more so to have something to turn in. When I spend more time engaging my kids in fun and active ways, they seem to absorb the information more and, ironically, they breeze through a review sheet here and there without any issues.
I'm not keen on forcing a bunch of information on them just for the sake of meeting a man-made set of guidelines that ultimately force them into a box. Yah did not create us to fit into a box. Each child is created uniquely and each with their own gifts to contribute to the kingdom. It's important to remember that the school "system" does not take this into account!
Julie also gives tips on covering different subjects by age ranges under 8-years-old, 8-12, and the teenage years. Under 8 is currently the most relevant to me as I have an 8-year-old and the other 4 are under 8. Most of us have heard that kids this age learn the most through play. But Julie touches on another important factor and that is being present.
One thing Julie stresses throughout her book is the importance of waiting until a child is developmentally ready to be introduced to new material. In other words, not introducing concepts too soon. I've been saying for a long time that schools are introducing material way too early. I don't remember covering division until my middle school years yet it's a standard now for 3rd grade...what?! I still have moments of unbelief when I look through the curriculum and the standards.
While waiting until the right time to introduce new concepts is ideal, I will say it's much more of a challenge for those who are still bound by a set of standards like common core (and who are expected to pass an exam based on these standards.) So while I can and do delay for a moment, I still have to complete that checklist at the end of the year.
I'll admit that I did get discouraged for a moment but it's important to remember that as we fight to do what's right for our children, Yah's grace and love fill any gaps that may exist. He knows our hearts as parents and where we fall short, His love and mercy are there to protect not just us but our children as well.
I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to read God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn. There is such a wealth of wisdom in this book that I haven't even touched on here. Not only has it changed my views and attitude about homeschooling, but it has changed the way I related and interact with my children.
I feel freer to give my kids what they need and less obligated to give them what people tell me they need. We're already seeing a marked difference in their engagement, attitude, and enthusiasm. And while it does make things easier for me, it brings me joy to see them spread their wings. I'm believing that Yah will continue to guide my homeschooling endeavor as I seek Him and HIS way!
Until next time...
Scriptures to Encourage Homeschool Mamas
5 Sanity-Saving Tips for the Introverted Homeschool Mom
Why I decided to Homeschool Despite the Opposition
Hi there! My name is Brittany..help meet to T.J. and mom to 5 little blessings. My passion lies in helping other women to see their value through the eyes of their creator. Be Encouraged...YOU are a Good Thing!