How we unschool and meet state standards.
Yes, Mama you can meet state standards and not sell your soul to worksheets or timeline/teacher directed education. When I first enrolled my son in a charter, I fought his homeschool teacher tooth and nail. As I started to get to know the standards I realized we were already doing a lot to meet them.
Let's talk a little bit about what the term "unschooling" means, what is NOT unschooling and how to meet state standards while unschooling.
The term "unschooling" itself can cause great debate in the unschool community about exactly what it looks like to be an unschooler.
For the purposes of this blog we are going to talk about the foundational meaning of unschooling which is simply to approach education in a child led or interest led manner. It is the opposite of "doing school at home."
Rather than using a pre-planned traditional curriculum, unschooling allows for the child to be curious about the world and deep dive into those curiosities.
The words unschooling, child led and even play based suggests unstructured learning or chaos. However, it is quite the opposite. It is an active learning process which focuses on the whole child and trust that the child is naturally curious and competent.
Loris Malaguzzi father of the Reggio Emilia philosophy said it the best:
“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning and how to learn.”
Here are a few myths that are often associated with the unschooling method:
Not having a schedule
Not helping children learn what they need to know
Lack of guidance and structure
Homeschooling, but not doing it well so calling it "unschooling"
The unschooling approach to education has natural daily rhythm instead of a rigid schedule. A consistent routine is key. It is child-led with lots of play and hands-on activities. Flexibility is allowed and creativity is encouraged. Using the environment as the 3rd teacher to ensure it is a safe and positive place to learn.
Now that the foundation is laid here are a few tips which can help you meet CCS without sacrificing your ethos.
1. Look at the whole picture.
Know your standards! Many homeschool teachers will recommend printing out "I can" statements. This is a child friendly way to explain the standards, however I find that it is often restricting and pages upon pages of I can statements can be a bit overwhelming.
If you look closely you will notice that the standards are broken down into smaller chunks. Don't worry about that. If you stick to the main standard you will see how open ended it really is and all the subcategories will fall into place as you deep dive into the subjects.
2. Loosely plan curriculum.
Once you have decided on children's interests. Build out your explorations and stations, gather books, supplies, print vocabulary words. This is where you can strategically place what is required to learn.
Its almost like working backwards, but if you allow time for intentional play, you will open the door to teachable moments and questions.
3. Document, document and document some more.
Save any work that is specific to a standard. When submitting work to your homeschool teacher, submit pictures, videos along with work samples. Often times it is hard for a homeschool teacher to measure how much your child is mastering or grasp the concept of your explorations, especially if they lean on the traditional school method.
For example, we were out playing and a friend gathered 10 snail shells from the
Lake. During the interaction he counted the shells, grouped them in tens, answered basic addition and subtraction word problems. However, all I have is a picture of him counting. If I had a video clip we would be able to hear his thought process and even the 1st grader who has mastered simple addition and subtraction yelling out the answers from the lake.
4. Take a deep breath!
It really is not as hard as it seems and you most likely are already meeting the standards daily. If you find yourself worried about the standards and focused on that, take a big deep breath, that's not what it's about. The standards are simply a framework for you to work within.
Unschooled does not equal uneducated. Unschooling does not equal chaos. At Kids Korner Explorers we pride ourselves in allowing the child time for unstructured play and time for intentional play where we make space for questions, exploration and one on one teacher/student time. No need to have all the children in the class write the same sentence to prove they can write. A child drawing a picture, telling a story and labeling their art is doing the same thing.
Kids Korner Explorers currently has a Science and Sensory Preschool Enrichment Class. As well as a K-2 class on a private orchard. The K-2 class will touch all four core classes meeting CCS and NGSS.
Kids Korner Explorers proudly accepts Freedom Academy.
What does it mean to be illuminated to Reggio? How can I be Reggio inspired? Reggio Emilia is an educational philosophy which is focused on the image of the whole child. The idea that children are not empty vessels to be filled, but naturally curious and capable of directing their own learning. Children are human beings who learn through hundred languages. Teachers are facilitators and co-learners using the environment as the "third teacher."
There is no printable curriculum. Instead it is believing in the foundational truths which make up the philosophy of Reggio. Where Teachers facilitate curriculum emergent from the child's interest and developmental stage.
Teachers are more than facilitators, they are nurturers, and guides who help the children deep dive into explorations. Documentation is used as a critical tool in tracking learning through photos, class work and reflection journaling.
Becoming Reggio inspired is to be excited about dropping the traditional and allowing the children to lead. It's is learning to listen and observe during unstructured play to hear what the children are interested in. It is taking time during intentional play to work one on one. It is learning together as a community through collaboration. It is different in every Country, City and Class.
Kids Korner Explorers is about respecting each individual in the community. The child, the teachers, the parent. We create a safe environment to explore and learn. All children are considered and worked with according to their interest and needs. Kids Korner prides themselves in bringing a balance of the 3 Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic.) All while remaining child-led and hands-on.
Being illuminated to Reggio is a process and one Kids Korner has been on for close to 18 years. We must constantly reflect to continue growing as facilitators, children and parents. We as a community need to reflect on how we can improve. Together we can provide quality education that breaks through the norm, fostering the development of creative critical thinkers.
Have you been illuminated to Reggio?