Am I doing enough?

It’s the question that lurks in the back of every unschooling parent’s mind.  Am I doing enough?  Am I paying enough attention to my kids’ interests and doing enough to facilitate them?   Are days spent playing on the computer, making videos, building Lego ships and then watching “The Voice” or “Biggest Loser”, successful from a growth and learning standpoint?

A lot of times I see unschooling like the proverbial question about the tree falling in the forest.   In other words, if I don’t see and put a label on what my kids learn, is learning really happening?

Panic about subjects like math happens for just that reason.  In the realm of unschooling there are no “math lessons” and since that is the only way most of us can fathom the learning of math happening, it’s not uncommon to grow anxious.   Yes, Maya can double a cooking recipe, but if I wrote down some fractions on a piece of paper and told her to add them up or multiply them, I’d probably get a blank look.   Does that mean she doesn’t “know fractions”?   Because I can’t point to a piece of paper on which it is obvious that fractions have been multiplied and say, “See?  She’s learned math!”?

Or if your kid can figure out mathematical things but doesn’t know the textbook terminology for it, does that mean they don’t really know how to do it?

All those “are we doing enough” questions are borne out of a cultural need to ‘show & tell’ our knowledge in some sort of standardized form that is approved by the powers that be.

And it can be a real drag.

When it comes down to it, I have no doubt that learning is happening all the time in our house;  but is it happening in neat little packages divided by subject?

You know the answer to that.

Example:  Last week Ben was cutting out valentines for Joshua, and he made something so cool and amazing.  Where he learned to do it is a mystery to me.  I don’t know what subject it would go under, all I know is that I wouldn’t know how to do it.   Take a look:

Art?  Some sort of physics?  Fun?  (Yes, definitely to that last one.)

Actually,  I think everything is fine.


And now, purely for your entertainment:

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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One Response to Am I doing enough?

  1. maria says:

    I believe this is a nagging question even outside of ‘school-aged children.’ I find myself asking this same question of myself when it comes to my toddler. Is he getting enough attention, does he know what a 13 month old should? Colours, shapes, how to stack blocks. Is he getting too much screen time? (he loves the iPad) and when discussing unschooling with his father, I get the same compulsory response about ‘needing to learn the basics.’ But does he? Gah, I don’t think so. He will learn the basics of math and science and literacy by living in the world. Right? And if those things become his passions, I have no doubt he will indulge in them to the point of expertise. Isn’t that the whole premise of ‘unschooling?’ It’s just outside our ethnocentrism and our culturally ingrained understanding of learning.