An Unschooling Day

Ren Allen, 2002

"My 8y.o. son and 4y.o. daughter found a skeletonized squirrel in the yard which really excited them. They came barreling in the house exclaiming "this is really cool Mom you HAVE to come see this". They weren't sure what it was, but because some fur and skin were still holding it together they soon figured it out. I came out and helped them salvage some of the skeleton for observation. Now, I could have said "oooh, that thing is disgusting. Get it off the driveway"

Or something to that effect.

But because I didn't here's what it led to.....

We picked out some bones and glued them to a piece of cardboard...they made guesses at what bone it was. Online they reconstructed an entire skeleton, the website led us to owl pellets, then the Oakland zoo, green monkeys, Muntjacks (don't even ask how long we spent on the various species of Muntjacks), somehow in between all this we got hungry and made Potato Latkes which we ate with chopsticks that the kids were fascinated with at the grocery store. Later, they read a book and watched a movie in which chopsticks were used (no, this was not planned...just serendipity).

I can't tell you the things we learned or it would take up way too much room here. One thing just naturally led to another. One of my children popped in occasionally to see what we were up to and absorbed only a few tidbits while happily roller blading the rest of the time.

So the moral of the story is it's us, the parents that must change. Unschooling works. It always works. But only if we can be as excited and interested as our children.

Or at least offer an avenue for them. Not everyone would be able to not get squeamish at a dead squirrel...but "hey, here are some gloves and a jar" would at least not slam the door of opportunity in their face.

I don't worry anymore that my children won't learn everything they need to for this life. I also see that joyful learning can only happen if we are open and totally willing to see every moment, every interest, everything as opportunity. We never know what a tidbit of information, or an experience might lead to...and not knowing can bring a sense of mystery to this whole Unschooling life. If we keep that sense of mystery, that feeling that this COULD lead to big things, (but if it doesn't that's ok too) we will so much better be able to serve our children well when supporting and encouraging their unique interests and pursuits. That's what it's all about for me.

Being an avenue instead of a closed door.

Ren
April 2002
(source)

More by Ren Allen More accounts of typical unschoolingdays and experiences Respect for children