She Played: my year learning unschooling

It’s been a year since we registered to homeschool MissG. I’ve got to say, it’s been a steep learning curve….. for me. 

You see, I had these ideas about what we would do and how it would work. I said that I wanted to take an approach that was guided by her, that met her needs, that truly supported her interests and nurtured her growth.

I bought workbooks. I wrote a detailed plan, and made a schedule to stick to. We had our visit from the supervisor and were given a years registration (the most you can get for a first time registration). I patted myself on the back. We were ready.

And then my daughter taught me how to ‘unschool’.

I was a bit of a reluctant student at first. I brought out the workbooks and placed them enthusiastically in front of her. She refused. I placed out beautifully arranged activities to entice her. She was not interested. I suggested, cajoled and pleaded. She resisted. I got angry. She remained adamant. She wanted to play.

I reasoned, we have to start somewhere…… So, we played. Sometimes together, sometimes she played alone. Sometimes she played with her siblings.

I fretted. Is she learning? Am I failing to ensure a good education?

She played. She relaxed.

I watched. I made some notes. A bit of reading here.

She played. She experimented. She asked to do some baking.

I helped. A bit of maths there.

She played. She started making comments I hadn’t expected.

“Did you know if you smelt sand you get glass?”

“To make a rainbow you need the sun behind you and the water to spray in front of you and the angle has to be right. Come see, it works best on the back verandah.”

“The sunflowers growing in the shade are shorter than the sunflowers growing in the sun.”

I changed my record keeping procedure and wrote down what she was doing. Science, check.

She played. She laughed. She gained confidence.

“I’m going to make fruit salad for a healthy morning tea. I can do it myself.”

Personal Development. Check.

“I’m going to write a story today, about monsters. This is where I will keep track of how many days each monster has existed.”

“I am researching today, about Minecraft. I will need a book to read that tells me about all the things you can craft.”

Writing. Creating. Tallying. Maths. Reading. Investigating. Gathering new information. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

I began to relax.

She built lego. She painted. She dug in the garden. She cared for chickens. She watered the garden. She played minecraft. She watched tv. She made mess. She went on trips to the museum. She saved and spent money.

She played. And played. And played. And played.

I let her be, in all her glorious freedom and wisdom, to learn in the way she learns best and is most comfortable. By living her life.

And then it was time for a review with the supervisor. I gathered up the evidence of learning I had, carefully checked against the required outcomes. I nervously prepared to show my evidence of notes and photos, without a workbook in sight. We were given a two year registration approval (the longest possible in my state).

I truly had used an approach that was guided by her, that met her needs, that truly supported her interests and nurtured her growth. But it took her to teach me how. I am glad to have learned from such a capable teacher that I can confidently follow her insightful lead on this journey as I continue to learn unschooling with her.



One thought on “She Played: my year learning unschooling

  1. A wonderful child with even more wonderful parents and gorgeous siblings. Growing on a journey of acceptance and love. Maybe we should be unschooling more children 🙂

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