Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Just Another Reason to Unschool

One reason I'm drawn to unschooling is because it allows a child to follow her interests without forcing someone else's notion of what she needs to know on her. The basics are the basics because we all need to know them. If we all need to know them, we will all learn them in due time, without being forced to learn them at a certain time. At least thats how my theory goes.

Anyway, I just don't see the need for parental control in the name of cultivating a child to be his best self. This article encourages me.


Anne Zelenka said...

I hope you're right that kids will learn what they need to know in due time, because Anna is really struggling with reading. However, as much as it challenges her, she's really engaged with it. It's interesting for me to see how she approaches reading so much differently than Henry did. She's a phonics kid, while he's a sight reader.

As to unschooling allowing kids to find their own interests, here's my own experience of "school-based unschooling." Henry has free reading time each day at school for an hour. At first I was upset thinking "why am I paying all this money for free reading time. He can read at home." But since it happens every day, it's motivated him to search out new reading material. He bought an Edgar Allan Poe reader with his own money at Costco and read The Raven to me this morning on the way to school. Of course it helps that he was initially introduced to Poe via The Simpsons!

Marjorie said...

Nevermore! That was an awesome Simpsons episode.

If the reading thing is Anna's self chosen goal, its probably less of a struggle for her than a challenge. If its someone else forcing it on her, it may indeed be a struggle. My favorite education quote is from David Elkind "Education is not a race." Just because a child is not reading by 5 doesn't mean they never will. I love all the stories about kids who learn to read much later than others and they 'catch up' quickly.

A friend of mine taught her daughter phonics and she now thinks that she actually slowed the child down because the child was already demonstrating a lot of typical pre-reading skills when she began phonics instruction [the child did not ask for phonics or even show an interest]. The mom was worried she wouldn't learn to read 'in time.' But it sounds to me like it was just more work and stress for everyone. And, she may have been at the exact same place she is now had she been left alone. But maybe not.

I just think that people who want to learn to read will learn to read. And I think most people want to learn to read because they want to find out things without having to rely on others. But it doesn't have to happen at 5.

Anne Zelenka said...

I don't know whether Anna's experience qualifies as a struggle or a challenge right now. I'm just thrilled that she's making progress on it. We read a book together tonight and it was so cool to observe her sounding out the words and then getting what they were.

I theoretically agree that reading doesn't have to happen at five. For my kids, I don't think I'm willing to wait much beyond that. Reading is not something I feel very laid back about.