When we started unschooling, we were frequently asked the same question, “What if they learn nothing and play video games all day?” To be honest, we were worried too. Yet the unschooling approach made so much sense and we trusted our kids and our parenting abilities so much that we decided to take our chances and go ahead with it. Years later, I am even more confident in unschooling.
The school system makes children passive in their learning – all they need to do is just sit patiently and wait to be taught. I see that many school children don’t know what to do when they aren’t told what to do, when there is no clear curriculum to follow and no teacher hovering over them to make sure they study. That’s why when they hear about unschooling, many parents assume that if kids aren’t told what to do, they do nothing but play video games all day. That may be true with those kids that are conditioned by the school system to be passive learners, but not with kids who are used to unschooling and whose parents gently guide them along the way.
When you unschool your children from the beginning, they get used to the idea that no one will tell them what to do. Yes, at first they might do what feels easy – play video games or watch TV. But they will soon get bored because it’s in the child’s nature to explore and learn, because they know that they are expected to learn in order to get by in the modern world, or because they get inspired by their sibling’s learning. However, it takes strong-willed parents who can keep exposing their children to new ideas and who also set rules and expectations rather than just let the kids do absolutely anything they want. The parents act not as imposing teachers but as facilitators and role models. Under those conditions, the children will soon put their games aside and start learning on their own. They will choose what and when to learn because they know that there is no teacher around that will make that choice for them.
My kids don’t wait for me to tell them what to learn and to organize their curriculum. They look around, think, observe their siblings and friends, and proactively tell me what they want to learn and ask for help if they need it. The initiative comes from them, not from me.
Why should we let the kids come up with their learning plans rather than making plans for them? Because in the adult world, they will have to find their own path and come up with their own ideas about what they want to do in life. Especially since we are raising our kids to be entrepreneurs, it’s important that they are self-driven and can study on their own. I believe that self-motivation is the best way to success in business and in life.