Parents Interested in Alternative Education
With a new school year in full swing, most families are faced with the hustle and bustle of the usual school year….packing lunches, bus pick up or carpool to school, school schedules, homework, and being at the mercy of the traditional school. Ever think of an alternative school for your son or daughter? How about Self-Directed Education (AKA Unschooling)?
Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to chat with Dan, a dad and certified educator, who along with his wife began Unschooling their son when their son started first grade and now currently starting their fourth year of this newer educational concept.
To back up a bit and lay down a bit of history….Dan and his family were part of a child-led (semi-directed by the parents) preschool where Dan’s son, Kai, was a student and Dan himself a teacher and eventually an administrator.
As first grade approached for Kai and the thought of a larger school was a bit scary for the entire family, but upon further educational research and the thought of if they could make it work, they approached Self-Directed Education (or a spectrum of homeschooling). During this transition, Dan and his wife really had to embrace trusting Kai to lead the direction of his education.
Upon talking to Dan, he stated most parents and educators rely on visible learning…i.e. worksheets, documentation, etc., but Dan realized that learning often isn’t visible and that the process of Self-Directed Education is educating the parents also to pull their minds away from the traditional classroom learning that they’ve known all their lives to then in return encompass this tighter family bond of learning.
Asking Dan about “their normal day of learning” was pretty open-ended with no coerced curriculum. Dan proceeded to share some of the techniques he used….A Question Wall for the family to post questions to eventually answer, KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learning) charts, and strewing (putting visible resources available like books, etc.) all relevant to Kai’s interests, which may be sonic booms, bees, aircraft carriers, to name a few.
Side by side with the Self-Directed Education, Dan and Kai created a podcast Unschooling with Kai that is in its fourth season to share with other families their findings, resources, and unschooling journey.
This podcast opportunity, opened the doors for Mosaic (www.wewereborntolearn.org) to approach them to help hopefully convey the old school of teaching was on its way out and encourage others to step out of the traditional school and approach independent learning.
Some items Dan wished he knew before he started this journey, but now truly supports:
- Not to worry about socialization. Just like in a traditional school setting, you find your tribe and circle of support and friendship for this journey.
- Start de-schooling as a parent and decondition from a schooling mindset as much as the students.
- Learning doesn’t have to be documented to occur.
- Parents don’t have to be interested in their child’s interests.
Some items Dan learned along the way:
- Giving his son freedom without taking it away from the family is a total family focus.
- Self-Directed Education aligns family life with family values and creates a tight bond of learning.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Dan what the future held for teaching his son. He states he’d like to ride it out as long as he can, but then again, he’s trusting Kai to go in the right direction and if that means continuing this alternative education or entering a traditional school, they will cross that bridge when they get there.
Self-Directed Education (AKA Unschooling) pique your interest yet? If so, follow along Dan and Kai’s podcast and website below or follow Mosaic for more information.
Thank you, Dan, for sharing your insight on alternative education. We wish you and your family many years of successful learning.
Having worked in and around early childhood education for the last 15 years, Dan only recently stumbled upon the concept of unschooling. He found the practice and theory of unschooling to agree with all of the current research on early education he encountered in his master’s program.
With the full backing of his son and wife, Dan started unschooling his son. He found confirmation in everything he suspected was wrong with public school and everything that was right with self-directed education.
Early on, Dan’s son Kai came up with the idea to start a podcast. They made the idea a reality and “Unschooling with Kai” was born. Each episode centers on one of Kai’s interests (e.g. wild cats, Delta Force, tardigrades, etc.).
Together, Dan and Kai research each topic and present the fascinating things they learn in audio format. “Unschooling with Kai” is now in season four and shows no signs of slowing. While not wrapped up in the intellectual world of unschooling, Dan enjoys reading, playing drums, skateboarding, enjoying nature, and spending time with his family.
My Unschooling Blog: https://readingrecipe.blogspot.com/
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daniel.t.moeller/
*Video and photo courtesy of Dan Moeller