The article below was copied from a post in the Unschooling forum on the Mothering.com discussion board. It is credited to Anne Ohman of the Shine With Unschooling group.
We have always unschooled. Unschooling came easily to me and my family, because I learned early on to trust my heart and my children. But for those for whom unschooling does not come easily, I try to give them the guidelines you may be asking for here. If your question is “Please define my role as an unschooling parent,” here’s what I’ve come up with this morning:
I believe that your role as an unschooling parent is to show your children as much of the world as you can, and let them choose from it what they love and want to further explore. You accomplish this by expanding their worlds with interesting objects and places and people and events and tools and books and magazines and television shows and…(this list could go on for quite awhile).
It is your job to answer their questions, without shame or sarcasm, because all questions are valuable. If you don’t know an answer, it is your job to say, “I don’t know,” and offer to look it up with your child (I tend to say, “Hmmm…I *think* it’s this…but I’ll check to make sure…).
It is your job to be interested in the world. It is your job to ask your own questions about the world. I believe it’s an unschooling parent’s job to be excited themselves about learning the incredibly cool stuff there is to learn about the world. Learn from your own children how to be curious, aware and interested.
It is your job to pursue your own passions in life. This has numerous benefits, not only to yourSelf and your Spirit, but to your child as well.
It is your job to know your children and get to know them again and again as they grow and change. Get to know what it is they love, what it is that interests them. A big part of my job involves spending time looking for various resources in the area of my children’s passions – books, tools, people, events, classes, gatherings, websites, lists – and offer them up to my children. This is how I encourage my children to pursue what they love in life, by feeding them things that they may be interested in until they’re not interested in it anymore. (They are also quite capable of *feeding* themselves in the areas of their passions, or anything else that may be new and interesting to them…but right now we re just talking about the unschooling parent’s job…).
It is your job to learn about how children learn, by reading about unschooling, by un-learning everything you once believed to be true about forced learning.
It’s your job to sometimes think out loud, to initiate interesting conversations, and to be open for discussion where you may have just shut the door before. It’s your job to realize that your child will have different opinions and thoughts than you do, and to respect that and perhaps even broaden your own world from it.
It is your job to Trust the Children. Trust that they Love to Learn, and when they have a need and or desire for information, they will get it. Trust that learning isn’t separated into subjects as school would have us believe.
It’s your job to see the world through your child’s eyes. Understand where they’re coming from, and when conflict arises, it’s your job to stop and really think about if the resolve lies within the child, or within yourself. It’s usually within ourselves.
It’s your job to see Learning in places that you’re not used to seeing learning. I was even able to find it in Ed, Edd & Eddy cartoons…it’s there if you look. It’s everywhere if you look. And once you start seeing it, the world will open up to you and your child.
It’s your job to Love your child, and to Learn from your child. It’s your job to go into each day with an open mind and heart, trusting in the fact that you may not know where the day will end up, but that you began it from that magnificent place that is a child’s curiosity.