Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who, What, Where, When and Why?

     Lately, Gumby has been into solving jigsaw puzzles - constantly!  It is her absolute favorite pastime and she does it for the majority of the day: sometimes alone, sometimes with me or Deeda, sometimes using little wooden puzzles (new or the ones that I used to build that my mother saved and gave to her) and sometimes on the iPad.  This is the 21st century, right! :)  If she is not honing her problem solving, critical thinking or shape recognition skills, one may find her in an imaginative game of make believe with her favorite characters from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Perhaps she is burying them in her rice box, meticulously lining them up like a choo choo train or tucking them neatly into bed as she names them and describes what color blanket she is using to cover them.  In any case, she is learning.
     She is following her interests, learning at her own pace and learning about what is interesting and important to her.  Anyone who has young children will say how amazing it is to watch them learn new things; and, it is.  They are always learning something new.  They are so curious by nature.  Our family journey with Gumby has been deeply rooted in following our instincts of trusting Gumby to communicate her needs to us.  Unschooling is a continuation of that journey. 
     Unschooling is an approach to homeschooling that follows the way people naturally learn, just as described in the first paragraph.  Unschooling holds that learning cannot be separated from life, it is always happening and it is always useful.  Learning need not be broken up into "subjects" because in life, all subjects are intertwined.  People gain more true knowledge when they are learning about something they are truly interested in and can explore in the way that best suits them.  Everyone has their own unique style of learning such as reading books, going places, hands on, etc. 
     As Gumby's parents, our role will be to facilitate, support and trust in Gumby.  We will trust that as she follows her interests, she will learn what she needs when she needs it.  We will provide her with interesting options, activities and choices along the way.  We will be available to help her by answering her questions honestly and openly or helping her to find answers - when she asks for our help.
     This is what I have learned on my unschooling journey thus far.  With breastfeeding, I could never measure in ounces how much milk Gumby had.  I trusted that she knew when she was hungry and when she was full.  As she was ready to start solid foods, after six months of age, we let her eat table food and feed herself.  Again, I could not quantify how much of this or that she was eating, but instead trusted that she knew what she needed.  Unschooling, to me, seems similar in that I may not be able to quantify in "subjects" what Gumby is learning, but I have trusted her this far along the way and it has worked out amazingly.  
     I started this blog as a way of journaling what is learned, by Gumby and by myself.  Why?  Well, perhaps the same reason as when I started nursing my little precious newborn that I kept track of "how long" and "how often" she nursed.  It can be hard to let go of quantifying sometimes.  I started it because I may need some record of what she is learning for state schooling requirement purposes.  And, I started it to share our experiences.  I think it will be fun :)
     That sums it up for my first ever blog entry.  What did you like?  What didn't you like?  And, what else can I write about?  I have my own ideas, but look forward to suggestions :)
     For tons of unschooling information, visit