We understand that learning from home is overwhelming. This is why we have summarized in three steps. In the next few minutes we encourage you to have an open mind and prepare to be transformed with our 3 simple steps.
Step 1: Transform your mind from school to learn
While school focuses on achievement and scores, learning focuses on acquiring skills through hands-on and real life experiences. We have very high regard with academics, however, we do not want to limit our children to what their test results show. We focus on how each of the children learn how to apply the concepts they have learned in the academics to their day to day life.
A school is an institution or an organization. While this characteristics keeps your organized, it also limits your freedom of learning through set of rules. One classic example of a school rule is that school should be at least 180 days, Monday to Friday (except for holidays), and for at least 6 hours a day. That rule creates a mindset that learning can only happen during these hours. Once those timings are past, they should stop schooling and watch TV or play video games. The rule of time limits the child’s curiosity to learn endlessly. It rarely leaves time for the child to learn other non-academic topics that child maybe interested in. Worse, it leaves them almost no time to discover their gifts, intelligence and natural geniuses. Being able to discover their natural abilities provides the bridge on how they can apply their academic learning to real life experiences.
With this first step, allow yourself to dream. Ask yourself questions on what would you like your child to learn, and how you would like them to learn. Imagine a learning space where there is freedom and not bounded with time or walls. Scheduling a trip or vacation outside during this unschooling process allows you to see the other side of the coin. So take time for this process. Give yourself plenty of time for this process. Off course, we encourage you to do this step with the entire family. After all, it is your home, and each one is part of it.
Step 2: Know your Child
When I pulled out our children from school, and started teaching them, I learned that I do not know them enough to teach them. So that our first days of home school are full of grumpiness and all you can melt down events. I was literally reading through my lesson plan and sounded like a robot. Then, my child was just staring at me, with a big question mark in her face. My child probably thought I have gone crazy. Sounds familiar, right?
I started thinking that we are falling behind everyone else and my children will grow dumb and not have a future. I have further thoughts about making a mistake to pull them out from school. Not having any option, I stopped teaching and spent several days just observing them. I brought them outside, and allowed their natural curiosity to take effect. With that I started knowing them better and gave me idea on how to proceed.
One of the activities I remember was collecting acorns. It was an ordinary activity but I have learned what particular item catches their attention. One of my children is more curious about the squirrels that may need those acorns. While one of my children is more curious about how many acorns did we collect. I started to recognize the difference between an animal conscious child with a logical conscious child. Through outside activities I was able to inject concepts they have to learn without having to sound like a robot. Most of all, I was able to know my child more.
Another way of learning about your children is through brainstorming. This can happen during meals, car rides, family nights, daily walks, etc. Try dropping a topic and observe what their responses are.
I also particularly like board games. These board games bring out your child’s competitiveness and character. The character that you will see is endless: patience level, sportsmanship, logical and critical thinking. Most of all, you are able to know how they learn when all of you try to figure out the rules of the game. Do they prefer learning by reading the instruction? Do they prefer learning as they play? Do they prefer learning by observing first?
Once you know a little bit of your child everyday, learning with your child is a breeze. Everyday will become a learning experience to both of you.
Step 3: Set your Learning Goals for each Child
With unschooling of your mind already in place, and knowing your child on how they learn, setting a goal for each of your child will become a natural event for you. This is not a one time goal setting, it is an ongoing activity for you as you know more about your child. For the first time, it may be trial and error but as you know your child more goal setting becomes easier. Taking the step to set goals for each child will bring you tremendous benefits. Remember that each child learns differently so that it makes more sense to create a plan for each.
Before buying a curriculum, it is wise to create a goal. This will save you a lot of resources in the long run because you do not need to buy worksheets that your child may not thrive on. You can also browse a curriculum based on your child’s way of learning. You can have a mix of different curriculum. Go for curriculum that fits your child’s way of learning.
The non-academic skills are also important. It is best to consider these when setting your goals but can also come in later on in the year. Some ideas may just pop up. This is where a little bit of creativity can come in. While you can have specific allotment (e.g., 3 hours a day) for academic learning, also consider how to apply the concepts learned in your academic learning through life experiences and skills. Your child will appreciate this more when he sees academic learning is applied in everyday life. It can come through field trips (mostly for History and Sciences), or through board games (for Math and Language Arts). There is also as simple as going to the grocery store (adding money), baking (measurement), or shopping (discounts using percentage), or video games (strategy). The key is having them understand why the have to learn their academic by having them apply these to their everyday life through experience.
Formal non-academic learning can include music, arts, foreign languages, leadership, book writing, typewriting, technology and much more.