How will we make sure our children don’t miss out on learning everything they need to know? Our answer to this is — by faith, we’re certain that they will receive the learning opportunity at the right time for them. Here’s a recent, practical example.

Aisha was sitting on my lap recently. “What is a bird’s nest made of?” she asks — out of the blue. I feel triumphant by the question — surely this is a clear demonstration that although we had previously been talking about food, Aisha’s unschooled mind is ranging wider in search of truth and knowledge.

We talk about what could possibly be in a bird’s nest, and then Aisha expresses a desire to see one. Looking up in the nearby trees, I scan them for a nest. There are none in sight, and I can’t manifest one on the spot. So I give my reply — in faith: “At the right time, we’ll find a nest and you’ll get to look at it.”

Fast-forward a couple of days, and David and I are walking up a creek. I spy a nest, neatly made at eye-level on a branch overhanging the water. It’s close, accessible and — yes! exactly what Aisha was asking for.

Willy wagtail's nest, October 2011
We spied this nest while on a walk downstream from Flat Rock.

I ask David to bring our girls so they can see the nest, and I sit down to observe it and identify its maker. Soon a willy wagtail briefly returns to the nest, shy and wary of my presence.

Willy wagtail's nest, October 2011
The wagtail who made this nest hasn't laid any eggs in it yet.

When the girls come, I carry them each out to the nest to have a look. There are no eggs, and we don’t touch the nest, but they receive the opportunity to have a close look at its construction.

Lauren and Calista looking at a nest, October 2011
Wading across the water and holding the girls up, I give the girls the opportunity to examine the nest more closely.

This lesson is what we asked for. This lesson is what we received. When we have learning experiences like this, how can we doubt that our children will learn what they need to, at the right time? We don’t. And so we unschool in confidence — and in faith.