14 August 2009

It's Not Just Homeschooling, It's Life Learning

It's not just homeschooling, it's Life Learning. If you are not familiar with the homeschooling environment, you might be asking what the difference is. If you are familiar with homeschooling, you might simply be asking what Life Learning is.. I have written about it before, but I feel compelled to try to explain it further.

Let's start with home schooling though. Homeschooling can encompass any number of different curriculum and styles. Some family choose to recreate a school environment within their home using text books, workbooks, and the kitchen timer as a signal to switch classes. Some families choose to do unit studies and pick a topic of interest and explore it from every aspect of education. Still other families prefer something akin to a Montessori or Waldorf style run in their homes. I'm sure there are more curriculum that you can think of, and other styles that can be mentioned.. feel free to leave them in the comments if you wish..

Beyond all the curriculum of homeschooling, you start to find the simpler world of Unschooling. Unschooling by definition is simply child led learning. Some may say it means that you do not use any curriculum, but this is not necessarily true. If your child wants curriculum, you use curriculum. If your child wants to try out school, you grit your teeth, cry in private, and pack them their lunch each day. You let the child's interest direct their learning. Will they learn that way? You bet they will.. they are natural explorers, they each have their own direction, but every child has a list a mile long of things they WANT to learn about. Heck, I think most adults have a list that long too.. I know I do!

Further into unschooling, you find Radical Unschooling. These are the families that tend to not use curriculum. For them, curriculum is never needed. There are plenty of learning opportunities around each of us, every day.. if only we would stop and see them as such. The world is their playground. The libraries hold plenty of books to read, the museums hold plenty of science, history, and art, depending on which type you are going to. Want to learn about animals? Try the zoo. Want to learn about marine life? Where's the aquarium? Or maybe this week you are learning about pigeons while playing at the park, exploring the river bank to see what lives and grows there. Perhaps it is horticulture this week as you watch your plants in the garden grow.. and then on to cooking (or uncooking) class as you harvest the fruits of your horticultural labors. Where are your passions.. follow them, share them. Even more important, where are your child's passions.. follow them, share them.

From radical unschooling, it is an easy side step to Life Learning. Life learning is not just the style of education  that the child receives, it is the style of life that the family lives. It is a style that may or may not include breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cloth diapers, and respectful parenting. Life learning may be done in an apartment in the city, on a farm in the country, in a hut on the beach, and anywhere in between. Life learning encompasses the thought that children are capable of thoughts and decisions well beyond their years. It is a place were children are treated with the same respect that the adults are given. It is a place where children are given the same choices as an adult is given. Children are not disciplined per se, but encouraged to learn self control and establish their own boundaries.. taught to accept the responsibilities for their own choices. In this place, the adults are mentors, guardians, life guards, and friends.

This is my world.. I don't just homeschool, I life learn.
If you have questions or want to share your thoughts, please leave them in the comments, and I will get back to you with answers one way or another.


Primal said...

First..I have to say ..EXCELLENT ARTICLE! KUDOS!

I am a Primal Mom. My kids are from the world of the homebirthing, breastfeeding, herb-taking, co-sleeping, babywearing, cloth-diapering, nature-loving freaks.

I've done public and private school; classical and unschool; relaxed homeschool and charlotte mason. It's been a journey of learning for all. I love what I do and what I do is Charlotte Mason. This doesn't take me away from my relaxed schooling nor my life-learning.

I do believe in respect for children as the bible dictates (and as even the Charlotte Mason method instructs) and I do believe strongly in discipline. Many primal(crunchy) moms would disagree with the way I handle discipline and that's fine. But most admire how wonderfully my children have turned out too. I've never been criticized in that area of my life because the proof is in the pudding.. or the adult child who has turned out so beautifully. :-)

Love the article.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post written from the point of view of a life-learning mom - I did some research on unschooling, read some books, etc; and tend to incorporate unschooling with traditional - a little of this and a little of that. I like the concept of unschooling and life learning and think it works very well with some families. : )

Tracey said...


I consider my family to be Radical Unschoolers...which, to us, means that we are life learners, and trust and respect every member of the family (child and adult). We trust that our children know what their needs are, and we listen and support them. Our main goal is that everyone is happy as often as possible. If my children are happy now, and are happy adults later...then I've done my job as their mom. As far as the "academic" part of our lives, I don't plan on teaching them anything. If they ask me questions, I answer (just what they've asked!) or help them find the answer (if I don't know!).

We just live life and follow our passions!

Molytail said...

Great post! Heh, I'm one of those people that the radical unschoolers want to beat with a stick - because I often say that we "unschool" in some areas and not in others (which is true!)... drives the RU crowd nuts when you say that ~ and I say that with affection, having friends who are RU's *grin*

Sarah said...

Excellent post - it's sometimes hard to find an explaination for what you do for the education of your children when the only terms people typically know are defined by traditional schooling.

Suzie said...

Wonderful post! Although we're known in local group as unschoolers, I've always been confused about the terminology as they all seem on the same continuum to me. Life Learning is a nice way of encompassing it all.

Jonam said...

Nice Article. thanks

blogomomma said...

As usual you teach me something new with every post. As a traditional school system child and mother, I find it interesting. These are avenues that I am not only NOT familiar with but have never heard before. I applaud you for the passion and perseverance you have in educating the schooled about the unschooled. It's a wonderful world when we can learn from each other, whatever the method!