Understanding that all kids have diverse and individual needs for lifelong learning is one of the reasons that a family may decide to choose unschooling. Whether a child requires a more intimate learning environment, is drawn to a self-directed learning style, or has special emotional or physical needs, unschooling can be a beneficial option in helping strengthen their engagement in education.
As more families see the benefits of unschooling, they are naturally interested in how to create an environment that bolsters the imagination, creates a sense of comfort, and allows children freedom in their learning. Additionally, establishing an efficient and welcoming unschooling learning environment also helps parents to feel more organized and committed to the experience.
Creating a welcoming place for kids to dig into new topics and build valuable life skills doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether learning takes place at home, outdoors, on while traveling, there are a few handy tips that will make every family’s unschooling journey feel supportive and fun.
Stick to a Routine
One of the key factors in ensuring that unschooling feels seamless and productive for everyone is to establish an agreed-upon routine. Keep in mind that a routine doesn’t have to be a strict schedule; that’s one reason unschooling appeals to many families. Think of a routine more like a natural flow and rhythm to your day.
Take some time to reflect on how your typical day unfolds, what seems to generally transpire, and what the specific needs are for your family. Some children thrive on routine and on knowing what to expect, while others do well with “going with the flow”.
Things to consider would be:
- Do you and your children prefer to embark on learning earlier or later in the day?
- Do you and your children enjoy a pre-set structure around a curriculum or would it work better to decide their learning focus on a daily basis?
- Would you want to set aside a day or so each week for field trips, meetups, and other adventures out of the home?
- Would you prefer to have breaks, snacks, and free time at the same general time every day or allow your children to decide that on their own?
- Do you have working needs or other commitments that must be taken into account for an unschooling routine to work best?
Once you have a better understanding of what you and your children need in order to create a successful and engaging unschooling routine, consider posting the schedule on a whiteboard or in a central area where your family can see it. This will help everyone feel more prepared and ready for their unschooling week. Update the schedule as it changes and consider asking your whole family for input about what they feel is going well or what they’d like to change.
Unschooling gives children the chance to learn in the comfort of home or other welcoming spaces. Instead of having to sit in a desk, kids are able to find relaxing spaces to unwind, focus on learning, and allow themselves to think creatively.
An ideal indoor unschooling environment for most kids would be one that includes comfortable spots for independent learning, reading, and projects. Pillows, cushions, and flexible seating arrangements allow children to customize the space to fit their needs. This area can include a bookshelf of books and resources, a storage spot for games, a clear table space, and an organized area for arts and crafts. Create a cozy environment by decorating with your children’s artwork, setting out nutritious snacks, and having plenty of school supplies at the ready.
Because many families also rely on electronic devices for learning, having a dedicated charging and storage station for devices can be helpful in keeping everyone organized. Remember that access to natural light has been proven to be beneficial to learning as well. Throw open those curtains and welcome in the light!
Another aspect of unschooling that is appealing to many families is that nature becomes a wide-open classroom. Utilizing outdoor spaces can make learning fun, relaxing, and interesting all at the same time.
If your yard is a conducive space for learning, consider hanging a hammock, placing a picnic table under a shady tree, or installing a playset. Budget-conscious families can search local listings for inexpensive, used patio furniture and outdoor seating for sale. This could even be made into a project, by asking your whole family to participate in repainting, refreshing, and repairing the furniture.
Planting a garden is also a wonderful way to get your children interested in botany, wildlife, nutrition, and learning about the seasons.
When venturing outside of your home, be sure to take advantage of local and national parks, historic sites, and outdoor events. Because some of the outings are likely to be spontaneous, it can be helpful to keep things such as extra clothing, jackets, towels, a picnic blanket, and other essentials handy.
On the Go Learning
Don’t forget that unschooling can also happen on the road! Whether embarking on a road trip or just running errands for the day, you can create an interactive learning environment in your car or RV.
Prepare in advance by storing notebooks, books, writing utensils, crossword puzzles or word searches, and coloring books in the vehicle. Include a stash of movies and books on tape or have podcasts and audiobooks downloaded on a mobile phone or tablet.
There are also many convenient, portable games that can be purchased and played in the car. A quick internet search will also yield a number of fun printable games for kids of all ages.
As an added bonus, don’t forget to pack snacks and drinks to be sure your crew stays happy and healthy on the drive!
Make Unschooling Your Own
Your unschooling family will thrive when the environments in which they learn feel accessible, welcoming, comfortable, and stimulating.
With a bit of pre-planning and creativity, you can make your indoor and outdoor unschooling spaces fit the needs of your family perfectly and help engage their curiosity and desire to learn!