Ok, I get the idea of letting children direct their learning, follow their interests, reveal their passions. I get the idea of allowing them abundant time and space and resources to learn and explore and discover. I get the idea of not over-scheduling them and prioritizing unstructured play time. I get the idea that freedom and fulfillment matter more than test scores and report cards….
But what do you DO all day?
I hear some version of this question quite frequently. I think we have become so conditioned as a culture to think of education as something passive--something that someone does to someone else--that it can be challenging to envision a different way of learning, a different way of living. We are a learning species. We learn all the time, everywhere, from the everyday process of going through our day, being together as a family, interacting with our community, gathering with friends and neighbors. As John Holt so famously said: “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all.”
A peek into today's unschooling day, based on my end-of-day camera roll, reveals a morning outside in the bright October sunshine. The three older children ran in the fields, collected acorns, climbed trees, and made up games while the baby napped in the Ergo. We returned home and I made lunch while the big kids listened to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on LibriVox on the iPad. (LibriVox is a free resource with an enormous assortment of free audio books in the public domain. Check it out!) Then there was more reading, both independently and by a big sister, until friends arrived for an afternoon of play.
Running. Climbing. Collecting. Creating. Listening. Reading. Gathering. Playing.
There is so much to learn and do in a day of living together.