deb kauffman – unschooling mom
Find/contact Deb in these spaces:
kauffmangang1@gmail [dot] com
@DSKauffman on twitter
Much like Amy, Deb has been a wealth of riches, teaching how to not teach, how to unschool/deschool, just be.
She’s writing about it herself on her blog, linked above. High recommend.
Peter Sims, Little Bets
I’ve homeschooled for 15 years. If I could do it all over again my curriculum would be:
Read out loud to my children as much as they wanted-we sometimes read until i was hoarse
Play as much as possible
Give them real materials to experiment with – hammer, nails, wire, rope, wood, sand, water, rocks, paper, paints, yarn,
Spend time outside everyday
Model for my kids what learning/living looks like
- Learn something new in a visible way often – I let my kids see me struggle and stick with it or not.
- Read in front of my kids
- Make things and invite them to join me (build stuff, cook, write, invent, paint – you don’t have to be good at it – fail gloriously – just try)
- Watch documentaries and exclaim how interesting the world is repeatedly
- Take them lots of different places – museums, farms, libraries, hiking, ride the bus in the city, different kinds of restaurants, art galleries, music events etc
- Introduce them to lots of different people
- Write letters and thank you notes – invite them to add a picture, their name or a little note if they want to.
- Create a family budget and let them participate – keep a running tally of what we spend on groceries on the blackboard
Then pay attention to what lights them up, notice what they are curious about and read more about those things, watch documentaries or movies about those things. Also find experiences and people related to the things that interest them. (if they are interested in rocks, go hiking at Red Rocks or hangout with a geologist)
Create a basic routine so they have security and are freed up to learn inside a predictable framework (Everyday we eat lunch together, take a walk, read, spend 10 minutes tidying up the house and are in bed by a certain time)
Trust them – don’t let this strange time in history (where we test our kids to death) distract you from what capable people your children are. Don’t make them feel like there’s is something wrong with them if they don’t happen to have the same learning time table as prescribed by your local school district. Our brains are fabulously unique – embrace that because it’s a gift not a “disability”.
The only other thing I can think of is that I would not worry about them changing interests or not becoming really good at one thing. Dabbling with many different interests provides the most amazing kind of education – it creates an incredible foundation or context that makes learning anything new easier. It also helps the individual understand himself – the ultimate goal of a good education is self – knowledge. Who am I, what do i love, what do i believe, what do I want to do with my life and the knowledge that those things change as we age. There no one right answer EVER..
That’s my two cents…..ok maybe that was more like 10 cents :)
more from Deb, april 2014:
I was driving home from a conference with librarians and CSU professors and started talking about “why I homeschooled my kids”. The converstion turned to the need for “rigor” to “teach kids to work”. I couldn’t talk about it very coherently because I’m so passionate about the fact that kids are not inherently lazy. So later I wrote this..
I guess if you are doing what you love, you don’t need to “know how to work”. You just do it because you love it. Even the parts of my job I don’t like, I just do because it allows me to do what I love. I am a big believer in a strong work ethic but am reluctant to use busy work and forced education to “teach” it. Seems like a good way to taint the love of learning. Education is so precious and crucial to life, I don’t want it to be ruined by puritanical ideals. Many will go through the current educational system and be fine. Many will continue to be curious and motivated to keep learning. But others will be totally disenfranchised. Their potential lost along with a promising future. It’s not OK with me to “lose a few”. All kids matter. All kinds of learners matter and any educational philosophy that doesn’t treat students as individuals is unacceptable. If “rigor” means forcing a kid who isn’t naturally good at writing to write 10 essays in a semester which ends in him hating to write. Then it’s not OK. Because perhaps this student has an amazing imagination and gift of storytelling but now hates writing because of this crappy experience and can’t imagine wanting to write ever again, then rigor is wasteful not helpful. I think “rigor” is OK if it means reminding a student that you believe in them and know they are incredibly capable….if it means providing challenges that they are hungry for…if it means showing them what is possible and letting them chose to go there or not, all the while expressing that you believe they can. We’ve all been indoctrinated into this system that we can’t even see it – like the fish who doesn’t know what water is – it’s all around and part of everything, it’s hard to see the truth. Learning doesn’t have to be painful to be successful and we all don’t need to be good at (educated in) the same things – humans are so wonderfully diverse, in my humble opinion, it is time to start honoring that because what we are losing is too high of a price to pay.