Life Learning

Life Learning at Natural Parents Network

Before we were married, my husband and I made the decision that someday when we had kids, we would homeschool, for a long list of reasons. At the time, we weren’t exactly certain what that would look like. When we eventually had children, we seemed to have stumbled into unschooling, sometimes referred to as life learning, as an extension of our consensually living lifestyle.

It’s a different concept for many. In fact, I think it falls into the category of one of those concepts you just don’t understand unless it clicks with you. When our oldest child was three years old, we were involved in a small homeschool group with other families of young children who also planned to homeschool. The thought was that our children would grow up knowing other children who wouldn’t head off to school at age five.

Over time, we realized that our families had different needs. Our family wanted less structure than the group had, whereas some of the other families wanted more structure. One mother in particular seemed to find our unschooling philosophy offensive. She stated, in a superior tone, that she was having conversations with her children all day and couldn’t refrain from teaching them, as it was such a part of their lives. I replied that I could understand not wanting to change something that was such a part of a family’s life.

We have cool conversations with our kids throughout the day. We do projects with them and read books together. We go fun places. Our children are learning all of the time. The difference is a bit of a paradigm shift for many from the idea of teaching to that of learning. When we teach, we decide what another person should know. When we facilitate learning, we support another person in their quest for knowledge. Just as my husband and I pursue subjects we are interested in and learn, so do our children. It would be rather impossible to go through life without learning. Our children are continually learning through life.


This article has been edited from a previous version originally posted at Living Peacefully with Children for inclusion in the Carnival of Natural Parenting.

Photo Credit for Graphic: Pineapples and Artichokes

About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

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