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Non-Formal Homeschooling

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  • Non-Formal Homeschooling

    I should start by saying that I am not a parent, but I plan to homeschool when I do have children (God willing, of course). I had this idea about how I want to do it, and although it is years and years away, I get excited about it and wanted to share. lol Also, I apologize if this is already something that people do...but I've never heard of anyone doing it exactly like this before. Let me know what you think.

    If you don't know what un-schooling is, it's basically where parents are legally homeschooling their children, but they aren't actually teaching them anything. The children only learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn it. For the record, this is NOT what I am suggesting I want to do, but hearing about this did give me an idea.

    I want my children to know things like math, reading, and spelling at least as well as everyone else their age, so un-schooling is not an option for me. However, I thought about it, and there IS a way to un-school without the kids having all of the control and learning nothing. My idea is to make a list at the beginning of each year of all of the things that they need to learn that year. Then, instead of having a formal school day every day with books and everything, you just casually teach those things in their every day lives without them even knowing that it's school. For example, teaching a kindergartener to count money. Instead of sitting and reading about/doing work sheets about how to count money, you can just take them to the grocery store with you and explain money while in the check out line, and then have them practice counting it for you. Another example would be learning to read. You can use those flash card games or Leap Frog computer games when they are young to teach them what each letter sounds like, and then you can turn that into reading by reading their favorite books with them (like every parent does anyways) and having them sound out the letters to make a word. Those are only a few examples.

    Of course, as they get older, there will be a few things that you have to teach with actual text books because there will be no way to apply them to your life (algebra, for example). But for the most part when they are young, they can learn almost everything they need to know without even knowing that they are in school. My reasoning for wanting this is because so many homeschooled families have told me that they have trouble ballancing school time and family time, and I think it would be neat if they could simply learn casually during your family time. My other reason is that I want to teach them things that they are going to need to know in life rather than a bunch of information that they will forget as soon as we are done learning it. It's different from un-schooling because the children still have to learn everything that the parents want them to learn, but they are just living their lives and being taught along the way instead of calling it "school" and having a set amount of time for it every day. People have said that doing this will make your kids undisciplined because they won't know that they need to do work when they are told to, but I don't really see how that's true. They will still have to help a lot around the house, obey whatever they are told to do, and do school work whenever it is something that can't be taught in every day life. I don't think that not having to sit and stare at a book for hours every day is going to make them undisciplined.

    Does anyone here do anything similar? Did it work well for you? Are there any reasons why you see this being a bad idea?

  • #2
    I am just starting out my preschooler in this way. I do have some focus on what I teach him, but it is just play. He knows how to count to 40, he can add simple numbers, he can identify all the letters and their sounds, and he is starting to put simple words together. He has learned all this through his play and interaction with me. I intend to just take it easy, and follow his lead as far as listening to what he wants to learn and then focusing his learning as he gets older. My biggest goal is to preserve his motivation and interest in learning, because if I do that, there is nothing that he can not learn.


    • #3

      Some homeschoolers use a method called 'delight-directed' learning, in which a family pursues whatever sparks their curiosity. That would be close to what we do, and have done for many years. Our oldest loved all things mechanical, so we would take all the broken VHS players, phones, lawn mowers, weedeaters, etc... and he would take them apart and put them back together. When he got to high school, he apprenticed with a local HVAC company, and then went into the military as a HVAC tech. Our dd loves cooking and decorating, and would like to be an event planner, so she makes scale models of rooms and houses, 'plans' weddings and parties with a 'budget', and we cook and do many craft and sewing projects together. Our secondborn loves computers, but is also interested in psychology. He does quite a lot of independent reading on the subject, and has a computer workshop or sorts in his room where he takes apart computers and other electronics.

      We read aloud together quite often- fiction and nonfiction. This gives us opportunity to discuss many ideas and concepts, and provides fuel for further study. A reading of Dracula involved a study of legends, blood-typing, Victorian England, Catholicism, and modern media portrayal of 'monsters'.

      Algebra actually does often related to real life- whenever you have an unknown variable, you use algebra to solve it. Also, think of the chemistry and physics involved in cooking, or the geometry involved in creating scale models.

      Teaching good character and instilling Godly virtue is not a function of 'school', it is a function of parenting. Learning can be 'organic', but that does not mean that good habits of punctuality, self-motivation, self-discipline, honesty, etc are not required of the child.

      When the student enters high school, a parent does need to find ways to translate learning into subjects, credit hours, and grades for transcripts, and also provide documentation to support their transcripts.


      • #4
        Great ideas!

        That's kind of what I want to do, but not exactly. There are things I want to make sure they know (like reading and math up to their age level) I'll still teach those things whether they want to know them or not, but just in their everyday lives instead of having a formal "school time". When teaching to read, I will use books that interest them instead of boring books and that stuff...but they will still be learning to read even if they haven't expressed interest in it...because it's hard to get through life without those things. Same with basic math, science, and social studies. I'm not going to teach worthless stuff that they'll never need to know once they graduate (unless it's something that they ask to know about), but just what they will NEED to know to function in the world.


        • #5
          I like the Charlotte Mason method of using "living" books rather than textbooks. For instance, instead of reading a textbook about the Civil War we read books that Civil War buffs write, books from authors of that era, biographies of notable figures from that era, and some historical fiction. Instead of a science textbook, we check out from the library a book of science experiments to try and we go on nature walks with our nature journals.

          No need to do "school" like the school does. Basically I see it as a lifestyle rather than just a "schooling" choice. I live my life and take my kids along for the ride so to speak. If I'm balancing the checkbook...I show them what I'm doing and how to do it. If I'm cooking something...they are there with me stirring (or chopping or kneading) too. If I'm gardening...guess kids are gardening too.

          I try modeling what I want my children to learn because I have found that more is "caught" rather than "taught". I call this my "stealth mode" lol. For instance, if I want my children to enjoy poetry more I don't make them do poetry exercises. Instead, I check out poetry books for myself to read and share the parts I enjoy. I start writing poetry and share it with them. Before long my kids are joining me in my new adventure. Many times they become so interested they take off on their own and become much more skillful or knowledgable about whatever it is than me LOL.

          Of course they have their own interests that they share with me and I delight in those with them and help them to persue what they want.

          Then there are things that have to be learned whether you l ike it or laundry.


          • #6
            OP, that's not exactly what unschooling is.... I always thought that's what it was, too, but then someone suggested I read The Unschooling Handbook and it has really inspired me, really! Unschooling is about following the child's lead, letting them study what interests them, when they are ready. I mean, if we think about it, as adults, we are unschoolers ourselves. I plan on unschooling certain subjects (like science) until my LOs are like in 2nd or 3rd grade and other things I'll just follow their lead on, like reading and handwriting and stuff.

            Anyways, check out that book, its really good!


            • #7
              I think unschooling, or relaxed homeschooling, or delight directed learning works well for young children, up to age 7 or 8, possibly later depending on the child. At a certain point, most people will start being a little more formal with their studies. If you're doing curriculum for math and language arts, you can do more relaxed learning on other subjects for longer, I would think.


              • #8
                I love all of these ideas!

                I did some more research on un-schooling and I LOVE it!! I don't know if I would exactly do "interest guided" learning in all areas, because I think there are some things that they need to know whether they are interested in it or not, just to be able to function in the world and be prepared for college if they choose to go. However, I just want to teach them throughout their regular lives instead of having a specific "school time" each day where it seems like a routine. I will still make sure that they know math, reading, writing, etc. up to their age level and that they aren't nieve in any area. And they will have to do a few work sheets here and there, because our state requires you to turn in a portfolio of some work at the end of each year...but for the most part I can just submit pictures of them learning in their everyday lives and write out an outline of what I taught them- even though the kids will have no idea that they are even doing "school". They'll just see it as learning new things in life.

                EDIT: I just re-read my last reply and realized that I basically repeated myself here. lol


                • #9
                  One of the dangers of letting a child lead,

                  They are not capable of it. In many respects that is our problem today.

                  Children need structure too. Sometimes that includes discipline, drill, scheduled tasks.

                  In business there is a practice of stratigic management where you tailor the management practice to the situation/people.

                  It works for homeschooling too.

                  As the teacher, you have results you should expect. Based on the child, you may have to modify those expectations.

                  As for how you get there, that is where the diversity starts.

                  And sometimes you have to scream (but go outside for that)
                  It's ALL about Jesus. The Son of God - Emanuel - The Mighty God - Our Salvation.

                  John 1:1-3 NKJV --- Luke 22:42 NKJV --Romans 3:23 NKJV, Rom 5:8 NKJV, Rom 8:28 NKJV, Rom 8:31 NKJV, Rom8:38-39 NKJV, ---Titus 1:2 NKJV - Heb 6:18 NKJV --- John 14:6 NKJV --- 1 John 5:13 NKJV --- Acts 16:29-31 NKJV ... John 6:28-29 NKJV... 1John 2:22 NKJV... Heb 10:11-13 NKJV

                  “Oh Look,... an Atheist........I Don't believe it....”


                  • #10
                    Yeah, like I said, I'm not really going to let my kids "lead". They are going to learn at least the things that you need to know to easily survive- like reading and math. Then for the extra stuff that they don't really need to know a certain amount of (art, music, in depth ancient history, etc.), I will let them lead.

                    I absolutely agree that kids need discipline, but I don't think that having a formal school time is the only way to do that. I think having a stable family, making them clean up after themselves and help around the house, leading them to God home as well as at church, showing them love, and disciplining them when they misbehave will give them structure just fine. Some things will obviously have to be scheduled, like when we have to go somewhere and things like that...but I don't feel that I need to have a formal scheduled time to teach my children. That's just me though.


                    • #11
                      Maybe its been mentioned earlier, but another popular homeschooling tool is a unit study.

                      You pick a theme - say Little House on the Prarie (DD1 and DD2 loved this one);

                      They get to watch an episode each day.
                      We set up math problems as if they ran a general store or sawmill,

                      Cooking, meal planning, gardening.... and of course a ginham dress for each daughter ( I think I got that right)

                      We toured the local heritage centers and various museums.
                      They wrote stories and read books about pioneering.

                      That was an easier subject.

                      Flying however......
                      It's ALL about Jesus. The Son of God - Emanuel - The Mighty God - Our Salvation.

                      John 1:1-3 NKJV --- Luke 22:42 NKJV --Romans 3:23 NKJV, Rom 5:8 NKJV, Rom 8:28 NKJV, Rom 8:31 NKJV, Rom8:38-39 NKJV, ---Titus 1:2 NKJV - Heb 6:18 NKJV --- John 14:6 NKJV --- 1 John 5:13 NKJV --- Acts 16:29-31 NKJV ... John 6:28-29 NKJV... 1John 2:22 NKJV... Heb 10:11-13 NKJV

                      “Oh Look,... an Atheist........I Don't believe it....”


                      • #12
                        That's a really neat idea! If I did that, it may be a little less formal, just because that's how I am...but your idea is excellent! Like for me, I like the idea of teaching them math by playing store with them instead of sitting down with a book...but I may not make a whole week out of it and incorporate everything we do. That's just me though; I really like your idea.


                        • #13

                          We did a whole school year. It was great.

                          Usually by 9th-10th grade you are focusing on book work - prepping for college.

                          We did a a Civil War study with DS.
                          Gettysburg hikes, Harrisburg museums, steam trains, local reinactments, black powder shooting, minnature gaming. He loved it.
                          It's not an everyday thing, but it is disbursed through the whole school year.

                          We did an Art year - painting - drawing, art shows......

                          Zoo - wildlife year, Zoos wre our first target for homeschooling activities. It was so cool explaining homesschooling years ago.
                          The staff quickly realized we REALLY wanted to be there to learn and we got alot of info in the process. We found zoos in the oddest places too.
                          Our favorite is the NC Zoo in Ashboro NC.

                          An invention year - science projects, museums, factory tours, Lego/Connects (it is amazing what you can find at yardsales/fleamarkets.
                          We tore apart an old lawn mower(free at curbside) to see how it worked and if it could be repaired. (we learned about scrap metal and recycling...)
                          It's ALL about Jesus. The Son of God - Emanuel - The Mighty God - Our Salvation.

                          John 1:1-3 NKJV --- Luke 22:42 NKJV --Romans 3:23 NKJV, Rom 5:8 NKJV, Rom 8:28 NKJV, Rom 8:31 NKJV, Rom8:38-39 NKJV, ---Titus 1:2 NKJV - Heb 6:18 NKJV --- John 14:6 NKJV --- 1 John 5:13 NKJV --- Acts 16:29-31 NKJV ... John 6:28-29 NKJV... 1John 2:22 NKJV... Heb 10:11-13 NKJV

                          “Oh Look,... an Atheist........I Don't believe it....”


                          • #14
                            Sounds like a great idea. There's certainly a far cry from being able to do "homework" and apply what was learned in real life. The latter is obviously better.

                            However, for your own legal protection, I would highly advise giving them at least some traditional homework/tests/quizzes/etc. You never want the state to invent reasons to take your kids away. If the worst ever happens, you'll want a solid paper trail that proves your kids are indeed learning what you teach them.

                            I myself was homeschooled under an "umbrella" private school run through my family's church. They gave us homeschoolers a standardized test every year, as well as received report cards and samples of our work every quarter. In turn, we had legal protection from the private school, not to mention that I could put down the private school's name as my official school when applying to universities or looking for my first job. If you have a nearby church private school that offers a homeschool program like this, it can really protect you from the state, as well as ensure your kids aren't discriminated against when applying to a university. (Yes, many universities discriminate against homeschoolers and reject their applications, despite their SAT scores.) Yes, it costs money to go through a private school, but not nearly as much as actually sending your kids to one. Plus, if you ever feel like you can't teach a certain class (such as chemistry with all the chemicals required), many private schools offer special classes for their homeschoolers to take. In other words, you'll have an entire pool of resources to help you! They also shouldn't dictate curriculum, so you should have freedom to teach how you want.

                            I hope that helps! God bless!


                            • #15

                              In PA we have very good accountibility.

                              Portifolio which contains test, samples of work, art, project reports,.....

                              School year plan, objectives, calendar

                              Letter from state certified evaluator showing child has indeed learned - done the things in the portifolio.

                              And all goes to the local school district principal who gives final approval and sends the child a letter indicating promotion (or failure if warranted).
                              It's ALL about Jesus. The Son of God - Emanuel - The Mighty God - Our Salvation.

                              John 1:1-3 NKJV --- Luke 22:42 NKJV --Romans 3:23 NKJV, Rom 5:8 NKJV, Rom 8:28 NKJV, Rom 8:31 NKJV, Rom8:38-39 NKJV, ---Titus 1:2 NKJV - Heb 6:18 NKJV --- John 14:6 NKJV --- 1 John 5:13 NKJV --- Acts 16:29-31 NKJV ... John 6:28-29 NKJV... 1John 2:22 NKJV... Heb 10:11-13 NKJV

                              “Oh Look,... an Atheist........I Don't believe it....”