Exposure, not expertise
17 June 14
One of the main tasks of someone who is overseeing an unschooling child’s growth is that of providing opportunities for development — in early stages focusing on exposure rather than expertise. As a child matures, they glean the information that is relevant to them from how they’re living, and an involved adult simply needs to be on hand to address their enquiries and resource the child’s further interests.
While my children are still young, I want to foster their natural greediness for understanding life, the universe and everything in it. I’m focused on providing experiences that show a range of cultural lifestyles, natural history, geography and provide opportunities for unique problem-solving. I want them to know that life is rich and varied, and all sorts of choices are valid for independent living.
At this stage in my children’s development, I don’t expect mastery of any subject. Until they demonstrate clear passions and are motivated to hone their skills, I don’t expect to see expertise. This is something that I believe will happen naturally as they mature, as it did for me. I don’t need to impose an artificial timetable on my daughters’ developments. I’m not trying to tick the boxes on a list of objectives. Instead, in staying in tune with each child, I am content to see that this week they know more and different things than they did in the past. But I do need to provide the seeds from which their natural passions will grow, and this is through continual, constant exposure to new experiences.
In the last couple of months, we’ve spent a lot of time living at one address. Friends opened their homes to us for extended periods of time, and we gratefully parked the bus and moved inside. The girls read more, spent hours working on paintings and collages, transformed the whole house into elaborate play-spaces and basically took advantage of the extra floor space that we don’t have in our housebus.
Although I appreciated this quieter phase of reducing our travel and building a few solid friendships — both for me and the girls, I can see that for our family, travel really is the best form of education. In moving from place to place, in constantly camping, in meeting new friends from all ages and occupations, the girls are exposed to a wider smorgasbord of life. From these experiences, they’ll be able to find their values, choose their careers and continue friendships.
That’s what unschooling is about for us. I’m allowing life to provide the curriculum for my children’s learning, and the richer our life experiences, the greater the education!