In the first article in this series, Unschooling Inspiration: Wholeness and Happiness, I mentioned that I knew only one unschooling family when I started unschooling. Ten years later, I’ve met many more. Even so, I continue to gain inspiration and get ideas for fun ways to learn things from unschooling and homeschooling blogs. Below are some of my favorites unschooling-friendly project ideas, as well as information on the learning environment.
Unschooling Project Ideas
Despite the misconception that unschoolers “do nothing,” in my experience, we do a lot with our kids and our kids do a lot on their own, both explicitly academic and not so obvious.
At the end of the year, SunnyDayTodayMama posted a compilation of “Best Projects for Kids,” including over 200 do-it-yourself outdoor projects, play dough, seasonal crafts, art, books, calendars, puzzles, etc.
I frequently visit the Almost Unschoolers blog by a homeschooling mom of six who regularly posts fun learning activities.
My children learn basic skills in a variety of ways from manipulative tools and toys to online games and puzzle books. For example, I’ve written about how they’ve unschooled mathand unschooled reading through a combination of fun, self-motivated methods.
Learning and Play
Psychological research shows the fundamental importance of play for optimal learning. Play includes fun, engagement, focus, and effort.
Stuart Brown’s TEDTalk, “Play is More than Fun,” also emphasizes the importance of play to human learning and development.
Learning Relationships and Environment
You may have read that unschooling parents facilitate rather than teach. They offer guidance and support, but don’t give assignments. They give instructions if asked and help their children find answers and resources for further learning according to the child’s chosen motivations and goals.
In “How to Nurture Your Child’s Potential,” mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting offers a helpful list of ways to support our children’s learning and growth.
In his “Human Nature of Teaching” series, Psychology Today blogger Peter Gray, Ph.D. gives insights into learning behavior and the teaching relationship between hunter-gatherers.
David Elkind’s lengthy, but informative article, “Much Too Early!” warns of the detrimental effect of introducing formal learning activities before children are developmentally ready. For example, a very young child sounding out letters doesn’t equal reading comprehension and pushing the activity may hamper future ability.
Unschoolers sometimes downplay the learning activities that they do, perhaps to emphasize that the lifestyle is about more than self-directed learning. Nonetheless, unschoolers do a lot of learning in a lot of ways. We can learn a lot from each other.