It’s a common theme among homeschooling and unschooling parents to have this constant nagging feeling that we are somehow not doing for our children what we need to be doing. That we’re somehow experimenting on them with unschooling and the educational choices we have helped them make. I have discussed own issues with this here several times before
Over the weekend I had an opportunity to go to a parent’s meeting at the resource center where my children go and talk about where to step in and where to step back. The one thing that meant the most to me was to see parents where I was three years ago questioning what they were doing with their kids in regards to traditional skills ane where they were. Three years ago I was that parent saying “How can a kid NOT read by nine?!?!”, yet here I am with a nine-year old who just now starting to became fluent in reading. It was refreshing to me to listen to those parents but reflect back on our own unschooling experience, how trepidatious I was when we started this journey and how much more confident I am now. That tense feeling hasn’t completely gone away but when I take a step back and take a look at my children and their progress and how far they have come in the last three or four years of unschooling it’s amazing. They are intelligent, independent, smart, self-directed, inquisitive children. They are everything they should be. Do they know their multiplication tables to 9? No. Do they understand mathematical concepts, absolutely. My oldest can tell you how much five boxes of girl scout cookies cost no problem but she might be a bit baffled if I wrote 5*3.50=x and asked her to solve for x.
One of the directors at the unschooling resource center had a great idea for passively gauging a child’s progress without “testing” the child. Simply ask them a question about the world or something they are interested in. Note, write down, their response and then six months or a year later ask them the same question and see how they articulate it differently. They will, because they have developed as a person in that time. Use the differences in the articulation of their response to gauge their progress.
Reflecting, taking the time to step back, look at where your children were and where they are now is an important step in unschooling. It’s important for the children, so they can get excited about their progress, and it’s important for the parents so they can relax and let go and realize that they are learning. It’s one of the most important parts of this educational process.