Thursday, February 28, 2008

Instead of Curriculum

This is the question for Unschooling Voices Issue 13.

Issue #13: What do you do, as an unschooling parent, when your child expresses an interest in a particular topic, and you don't know how to help them in a way that doesn't involve lesson plans and curriculum?

Lesson plans and curriculum would be a last resort for me. I'm pretty sure that my kids don't even know what a lesson plan is and therefore they do not seek it out.

We would talk about whatever we knew about the topic, then we would get online and look it up. We use the internet the most at this point, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips. We also have encyclopedias and atlases and maps and other resources in the house.

It really depends on what the interest is and how much the child wants to know. Sometimes it's just a question and we find the answer, sometimes it's an interest that lasts months or even years.

If someone we know has knowledge in this area we could talk to them, it's great to have mentors and to pick people's brains. We could see if there is a physical exhibit that we could go to. We can get on Netflix and look for movies, we can go to the library and find books.

We could make crafts or foods or play games if possible. We can print up charts, graphs, pictures, outlines, maps, etc.

A simple example, about a year and a half ago Jared was interested in sign language. I knew some as a child but I have long forgotten it, I printed up the alphabet and number charts for him, he learned all of the letters and numbers fairly quickly.

My oldest son has been into history and wars and weapons for several years now. He has a wide range of knowledge on weaponry and mostly WWII and the Civil War. He has watched movies, played video games, looked at books, researched online and talked to people who have the same interest. He used to make drawings of guns he designed and real guns, of tanks and other weapons, he also makes up battle plans and plays army with his friends and brothers.

I could have never *taught* him what he learned himself about the history and the people and the weapons.

It's kind of hard to answer this question without sounding generic because it truly depends on what the interest is. We just do whatever it takes and use whatever resource is available to find the answer and to further the learning process.

There is a wealth of information and learning outside of classrooms and textbooks. There is more to life than a boxed curriculum with scopes and sequences. There are as many ways to learn as there are topics to learn about and people to learn with and from.

Just open your mind and look for the possibilities and you will find them. Sometimes they find you when you least expect it.

Don't go gung ho and scare your child with too much information either. Observe them and find out how interested they are and how much they really want to know. It's easy to get caught up with something and over do it and lose the interest of the child. There is a balance, sometimes they just want a quick answer and sometimes they want to know everything they can about a topic.

My role is that of a facilitator, I answer questions, I provide the environment and access to the resources.


Tina said...

wonderful explanation, Steph.

justjuls said...

This really was great.
You're right - it does depend on what the interest is. We find that when mom gets too involved - the interest wanes - so I try to stay pretty far back unless I'm asked - and then only go so far as they ask me to with them. The trouble is - they usually get me interested WITH them!

Sarah said...

Same here. I have never <taught> my oldest how to cook or bake. She observe; she searches the internet for recipes and reviews; she watches The Food Channel whenever we visit my MIL (about every 3 weeks or so.) I love to cook and bake but she hardly asks me for any help or suggestion. She taughter herself how to play guitar.

Laura said...

Grrreat post! You are right on...knowing when to stop is oooooh so important!

Silvia said...

I'm sorry I missed your submission! I've added it now to the carnival, right at the top.