My Unschooler's Manifesto
Sometimes it helps to get really clear what we believe about unschooling. Here’s my list of 25 items that are important in my own personal Unschooler’s Manifesto.
Would you add something to my list?
Would you be interested in creating your own manifesto?
1.) Stop dividing the world into Educational and Non-educational. Everything is educational!
2.) Nothing is more important than the relationship between you and them – not some worksheet, not a banana peel on the floor, not what time they go to bed, not when they learn to read.
3.) You don’t have to artificially divide the world up into subjects. One thing really does lead to another when learners (children and adults) follow their interests.
4.) Figure out what your family’s rhythm is – and recognize that it may change over time. And! It may not look like someone else’s. But that’s the beauty of truly being able to individualize for your family too!
5.) Be curious about the world yourself. Invite your kids to be curious with you. Support them as they begin to wander with their own curiosities.
6.) Be Interested and Interesting. Unschoolers focus on living a rich, stimulating life with their kids.
7.) Role model critical thinking skills.
8.) Unschoolers recognize that the schoolish ways of lesson plans, curriculum, assignments, quizzes or tests, required memorizing, and grades are totally unnecessary and more about the “teaching” than the “learning.”
9.) Don’t suck the fun out of something by turning it into a “teachable moment.” Take your cues from your kids – a little conversation about it may be fine with them.
10.) Create a support system for yourself – people you can turn to when you’re not sure what you’re doing is working. Best if local, still good if online.
11.) You don’t have to use the term “unschooling” if it bugs you. A lot of options exist. And you may use different terms when you talk to different people – based upon their level of understanding. “Homeschooling” is fine for friends/family who don’t know what the heck you’re doing! Unschooling, at it’s simplest definition, is a homeschooling method. But if you want to call it Whole Life learning, or say, “We’re doing an experiential, individualized approach to learning,” that works too.
12.) Do everything you can to stay focused on TODAY… don’t beat yourself up about screw-ups in the past, and don’t play the “what if” game about all the things that could happen in the future.
13.) Take your cues from the child standing right in front of you. Staying tuned into who they really are (not that imagined story in your head) , will point you toward how to support them to grow and learn.
14.) Deschool yourself as well as your child. Read about how schoolish thoughts creep in, simply because they’re familiar – and because we are inundated with them from society.
15.) Ask yourself Why? And Why Not? Move away from arbitrary reasons. It may not have to go the way your knee-jerk thought wants to take you. Think about the rationale behind the decision – does this work best for your family today?
16.) Get rid of comparisons. Every person is unique – their interests, their experiences, their internal wiring! The sooner we embrace people for who they are today and not wish for them to be something different – the better!
17.) Recognize that when you are making comparisons or wishing they were different, they’re picking up on your disapproval, your disappointment. If you’re trying for unconditional love – don’t make it conditional.
18.) Observe without judgement. You’re taking in data so you can be the best resource finder or facilitator for them.
19.) Learning is naturally hard-wired into humans. It’s possible that your child has had that negatively affected by schoolish techniques – but it can return if you’re supportive and patient. It’s human nature.
20.) Parents have to have a lot of trust in the process of learning – and in their own children – when external pressures are so strongly pushing for traditional schooling.
21.) Stay flexible and continue to learn about unschooling. What sounded insane in the beginning, may make more sense to you later down the road. That’s ok. What you embrace is entirely up to you. We all evolve as parents and as learners ourselves. Thank heavens, right?
22.) Because unschoolers aren’t following a typical scope and sequence, they will likely have gaps in their learning… at least according to what schools expect. But truthfully, we all have gaps – either we weren’t paying attention, or we transferred schools, or we were out for an illness. And everyone can easily close up a gap with a quick google search or Siri question!
23.) 18 is not a magic age – they will learn when they are ready. Sometimes before 18, sometimes after. But the pressure to get It all done by 18 is gone.
24.) Your days will look more like summer vacation – with all the fun, connection, and exploration that can go with it.
25.) Enjoy your life with your children. If this is hard for you, talk with someone to see where your obstacles are: