More Reflections on Learning and Unschooling

I have been absent from the blogging world lately – first Lucien decided to try dropping naps altogether, then Grandpa came to visit. And then, in the past week, I have been taking some time to reevaluate what exactly would work best for Lucien and me in terms of our home-learning adventures.

It seems that the less I plan – or the more that I expect that nothing will go according to my plan – the more successful my plan is. So I figure, why not stop planning so much? I think back to my suggestion of a game that involved tossing Lucien’s bears. The game itself only lasted a short while, but then those bears became Lucien’s favorite companions for the next week. They inspired creative play, he built houses for them, he cared for them with his doctor tools, he branched out and played with his other Beanie Baby bears (and even did a bit of counting practice!). Lucien knows his mind, he knows what is interesting to him, he knows what he wants to learn. And I am trying to step out of the way and let him do his work!

Lately he has been wanting to read Highlights High Five and work with his play doh and blocks. That is exactly what we have been doing. And really, there has been a lot of learning going on within this relaxed, playful atmosphere. We build play doh “bricks” to move around with the excavator. We make three green bricks and two blue bricks, which add up to five total. Lucien does the counting. We make a tower that is eight blocks high. We build pyramids with six blocks on their bases. Lucien asks me (it seems) constantly to “Read that word what it says.” We read words together. I sound them out and point out the individual letters. Lucien can recognize a lot of them all by himself. We read signs on the road, packages in the house, labels on canned goods in the pantry, whenever he asks. And he finds it all fascinating.

It is really exciting for me when he shows me what he knows. Like when he points and identifies individual letters. Or when he looks at the Safeway grocery bag and says “S for Safeway!” Or when he sets out eight seats for our library story time and then declares, “Eight stools!” Or when we are sitting together reading Highlights and he points to the number five at the bottom of the page and tells me “That number five page!”

This parenthood journey really is an awesome trip. I am seeing his personality shine through more and more. He is sharing with me his opinions, interests, talents, and passions. I am thrilled by how musically inclined he is – drumming along with the beat, dancing along to the music, singing along with the words (in tune, no less!) at music class and at home during our impromptu music and dancing parties.

I love how he has such a strong sense of self, how he knows his mind and how he shares his feelings with such delightful frankness. I love what a conscientious caretaker he is, and how he nurtures animals and babies (real, stuffed, and even imaginary!). I love his insatiable thirst for knowledge and his drive to understand everything around him. I love how he will step out bravely and attempt to conquer new skills. I want to encourage, support, and nurture all of these characteristics. I want to provide him with new opportunities for learning and growth without ever stifling his creativity or desire for knowledge, or pigeon-holing him into my idea of what he ought to be learning.

I am still toying with how this will look on a day-to-day basis, but for right now I feel like I will aspire to become an almost-unschooling mom who is very skilled in the art of strewing.

For now, I think that I am going to go back to a weekly theme. (I am going to do it alphabetically – A will be for apple – because even if I am unschooling, I am by nature a somewhat type A person:) My thought is to set up a table with lots of open-ended interesting items and books related to our theme, and then let Lucien decide where to take his learning from there. I hope to facilitate his exploration rather than plan his learning.

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