You’ve probably heard of homeschooling. But have you heard of unschooling? It takes homeschooling one step further and takes the learning outside of the home.
Thomas and Eryn Connell are unschoolers. They don’t go to classes and there are no subjects, books or studying at home like traditional homeschoolers.
“I’m their guide, not their teacher.”
Mom Resi Connell stumbled on unschooling almost accidentally.
Resi had been homeschooling both kids, following a set daily curriculum. But, when her job changed she had to find them a sitter. That’s when she noticed something interesting.
“When we dropped the curriculum and stopped learning things in bits and pieces, they were exploring and getting interested.”
So now, Thomas and Eryn go on lots of field trips where they learn about things that interest them.
“I like movies more than anything else,” Thomas told 8News anchor Morgan Dean.
That’s how Morgan ended up giving Thomas and Eryn a tour of the 8News studio and newsroom to talk about television production.
Eryn goes on field trips to learn more about her interests too. She’s part of a weekly 4-H program where she learns about veterinary medicine. Their hands on adventures have taken them on an archeological dig at Montpelier, farming tour at Fort Valley State, Mount Vernon, Washington D.C., the state capitol and even to the British Isles.
Resi says they’re getting a well rounded education.
“With unschooling you cover a lot of different things. There’s math in archeaology, there’s math in vet medicine, so you cover all those aspects… but you cover them in a way so that it’s something that they are already interested in, so that it sticks.
Eryn recently tried at semester at high school but found it tough going. She’s now unschooling again.
Thomas is high energy. His mom says she fears he wouldn’t make the grade in a classroom setting.
“There’s a lot of labels they put on kids in the schools,” Resi said. “They make them feel like they’re broken, when they’re really not designed to sit at a desk. Unscholing works for that. For gifted kids who can really excel and push what they’re learning.”
Eryn will have to learn to work on study skills and deadlines as she prepares for college in a few years. Yes, college — although unschoolers follow a little different path to higher education.
“One of the ways you can do it is take an entry exam, go to community college, get your first year or two at junior college. When you go to transfer to a college, they don’t care about SAT scores or they don’t care about transcripts so much.”