The Unschooling Curriculum


What a contradiction in terms!  Of course there is no curriculum you can buy, but I like the idea that children do, in essence and over the years create their own curriculum.  As an educationalist (well, an ex teacher) I could analyse everything my kids do and easily create a document that spans 13 years of multi-discipline learning.  One that shows planning, evaluations, learning outcomes, objectives, key skills, strands, levels…. But hey, why bother when the kids will do it for themselves?

The great thing about children directing their own learning is that they know themselves well.  They have strong instinctive feelings that shout –  “Hey I LOVE doing this!  I want more!”  or  “I really don’t like doing this, it drives me crazy/bores me to tears…”    So if they decide what they need to learn, their curriculum becomes the perfect individualised package for them.  Sort of like us as adults finally getting to that stage where we know ourselves so well we don’t waste precious time doing things we hate.   And knowing that is is OK to not like something.

Let your children know that it is  OK,  hey it is fantastic, that they know themselves so well.

Here is an example of a personalised curriculum.  Hannah (now 13) is a reader and writer, she has been from an early age.  Last year she wrote a 30+ chapter fan fiction (sorry she won’t let me tell you about it!).  She loves to also make, and more recently edit, movies.  I have no doubt her future is something that involves books and/or movies.   A few  years ago she told me that she had written secret psychological profiles of everyone she knows – kids and adults, family and friends.  They included alot of in depth notes  like how that person reacts to stress, or to conflict and  their personality types.  Amazing details from months of observations.  I thought  what an excellent idea for a budding writer/movie maker.  To be a great observer of human nature and personalities is surely a pre-requiste for  any writer.
I made a mental note to use that idea if I ever end up teaching writing in the future (well you never know!)
Yet again I was astounded by the children and how capable they are of knowing what they need to be doing and  setting their own curriculum.

The hardest thing is that they are constantly compared to school going peers.  The fact that your child is learning a completely different curriculum to them is important to remember!  Of course they won’t be able to recite their times tables, they have never been made to learn them by rote, why should they?  I reckon if they ever needed to know them by heart it would take, what, a couple of hours to learn them?  Not 13 years at school that is for sure.

And the same with any other subject.  If you hang around with school going kids who like to “test” your  children to see how little they know, then just remind yourself of what they do know.  Write a list of their own curriculum and know that is is perfect for them, for where they are right now.
(Or be cheeky and test the school kids right back in your children’s subjects!)

Charlie loves doing maths.  When he was 4yrs old he would be in bed, reading at 9.30pm and ask for a page of maths problems.  By this I mean  56 + 48 =,   79 + 65 = sort of level.  He did them for fun!!  He did them very quickly and in his head.  Then he spent a year playing shops.  He made price tags, had a set of fake money and everything was priced in the living areas of our home.  A year of this, and him adding up  $98.55 + $25 + $123.50….in his head and giving you your change.  He just put the maths he loves into a real life context, and did it for as long as he needed to and often re visits it.   He continues to love maths, quantifies everything, does worksheets that Wayne brings home (designed for his class 4 years older) and still sets up shops.  He has a gambling game going at the moment and  plans for a real cafe in our home one weekend.

I love how  three kids can all be so very different.

Hannah and Charlie have very obvious passions, ones that are impressive to others who can relate to the academic subjects that they enjoy.  It is easy and tempting to show them off, a 4 year old reading, a 5 year old doing this maths etc….

Ollie  is quite different.  He learns in a different way and his self  taught, passion driven curriculum is amazingly impressive but will not be found in any classroom in the country.  He is keen for me to do a whole post about him, so watch this space!

It really isn’t any of my business what these three lovely people are out to learn in this life.  My job is to support them and nurture them.  Having been with them so far on this journey I can honestly say that me imposing any curriculum on them would have  –
a)   Bored them senseless & turned them off learning
b)  Created many arguments
c)  Hindered them from being who they are today and who they will become tomorrow
d)  Stopped them from flying (creatively speaking)
e)  Changed our close and loving relationships as a family
f)  Turned me into a control freak

But who really knows??
I can only say it seems to be working wonderfully thus far.
So far so good.
All is well


5 responses »

    • Yeah – lets see those profiles, Hannah. Lets see what you have come up with for your wacky grandmother! I’d love to learn more about me from what you have learned about me……. You are a delight in my life.

  1. Flash blog Jane, now I’ll be paranoid that Hannah is secretly profiling me when I see you guys next! Inspiring stuff especially since I’m in the middle of exemption writing.

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