Yesterday I was explaining unschooling to someone, and started to talk about how as unschooling parents, we must be observant and in tune with how our kid learns best so that when they are interested in a topic we can better facilitate access to it in a way that they will enjoy. Some kids love to sit down with workbooks and textbooks. For other kids (like my son), sitting at a table with a workbook is on par with being stretched on the rack in the Tower of London. Such kids need movement, or the ability to use their hands; maybe they are primarily aural learners. Possibilities abound.
The thing about unschooling is that learning is adapted to the child instead of, as in school, the child having to adapt to whatever form the “learning” takes. So the kids who think school is fun (at least in the first few grades) might be those who enjoy sitting down with workbooks, and the kids who are branded as a problem or diagnosed with ADHD might be those who, like my son, need movement and learn kinesthetically.
That’s the crux of it. Unschoolers learn freely, in whatever way works for them. No one tells them they are wrong for doodling while listening to someone talk, for instance, or for running the sewing machine while behind them a discussion goes on about geography. If Ben is made to sit at the table and “pay attention” he will remember little or nothing of what is said. If, however, he is building Lego or shooting his Nerf guns, looking for all the world like he’s not listening, he’ll be able to tell you exactly what you talked about after you’ve almost forgotten it yourself.
When you do away with the random demands placed on children and their learning, you free them to engage with the world and be excited. When they are not made wrong for the way they learn best, they are happier and more motivated in their chosen pursuits.