“Living is learning, and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don’t always know what it is.” John Holt
When our kids were babies, we loved watching them explore the world around them and could see how quickly they were learning without needing a lot of direction. Though it made things more challenging, we loved that they questioned us and pushed us and wouldn’t just listen to what we said. They were their own people. When we came across the concept of Unschooling (or Radical Unschooling) we knew it was a perfect match for our family—which now has four kids.
Unschooling works for us because it is a lifestyle, not just a curriculum that you start and finish. It gives our kids the freedom to be totally engrossed in what they are doing. Which could be building a fort outside, playing Minecraft, doing crafts, going on hikes, or exploring a new location. There is no time limitation or set rules, but instead a blank slate that they are able to fill as they see fit.
As parents our role comes in to help them by answering questions, providing tools, being a playmate, taking them to amazing places, or whatever is needed at that time. We love that we get to learn right along with our kids!
We fell in love with the concept of continuing to let our kids grow and explore at their own pace, focusing on things they enjoy. We loved the idea of our kids being wild and free with limited restrictions. Our goal as parents is to raise kids who are confident in themselves and know how to make their own decisions.
It has been amazing to see math, reading, and writing make their way into their lives as need and desire to learn develops organically, based on the activity they are engrossed in. It also means that learning for us happens all the time. Sometimes at bedtime, first thing in the morning, or when we are driving down the road. There is no stop or end time for learning.
As a full-time traveling family, our focus as parents is to show our kids the world and to educate them through living and exploring out in nature—touching, seeing, smelling, and just being in different locations versus reading about them in a text book. It is amazing how much more our kids remember and take in this way.
We will spend a Wednesday out hiking all day then spend a Thursday by the river or ocean and to us this is education in itself. Our kids have seen some amazing views on our hikes, accomplished climbing mountains, and enjoyed running free through a forest. All on a “school” day. To us, this is more important than a classroom and learning your ABC’s when you are 5 or learning how to read when you are six or seven. That will all come in its time, but until then, we are giving our kids the gift of a wild and free childhood!
It also puts the focus on family relationships and building everlasting bonds with each other. We aren’t separated for hours each day, but instead spend the majority of our time together. As a result, all of us understand each other as people on a much deeper level, building amazing relationships as we all learn from each other. This time with our kids is precious and we are making the most of it.
For more information on unschooling: