Many times you have read on our blog and throughout our website the word “Unschooling,” and it is possible that you approached us to do “Homeschooling.” You may have thought that they are synonymous. They are not, and each one has its particularity.
Homeschooling is usually the first approach to changing the traditional educational system to adapt to their lifestyle. This does not leave aside the subjects, grades, and evaluations. The content is dictated by the educational system, with a mixture of interests. All this is learned at the student’s pace and from home.
As we go through homeschooling, it is normal to lose a bit of the structure and the rhythm to become more and more lax. We start to worry if our children are being educated correctly. This period of family readjustment can be very uncomfortable for all family members, and the fear of the future and doubts about having made a good decision settle in family dynamics: Conflicts begin.
At this point, some families ask for outside help and hire tutors to help them maintain the pace with which they came, others return to the traditional educational system, and others opt for unschooling. All options are valid since only families know what is best for their children’s education.
Homeschooling and Unschooling
Unschooling is about education without the curriculum established by the traditional educational system, without grades. At West River Academy (WRA), we feel comfortable with both systems and even dual enrollment if the family decides to continue with the traditional educational system and certify their other activities with us.
The fundamental pillar of unschooling is natural learning. This speaks of the promotion of the innate qualities of the individual, expanding the space for experimentation without rigorous study plans or excessive care. Giving rise to the spontaneity and curiosity inherent to the human being.
For many years we have been told that it is impossible to have a functional life if we do not have the same schedule every day; we share with a number of people and that someone else must bring us knowledge in a structured way. In reality, this type of education is one of the many that there are to offer.
The fundamental difference between homeschooling and unschooling is that in homeschooling, the school is transferred to the home, with all its elements. In contrast, unschooling is based on natural learning, and there are no subjects or evaluations but life. This is why our slogan is: “Turning life experiences into academic credit.”
In both systems, education is considered, one in a schooled way and the other in an unschooled way. It is common to confuse education with schooling when one contains the other, and they are not synonymous. Unschooling doesn’t mean being uneducated.
We hope we have clarified all the doubts regarding these two concepts with this brief explanation. Now that you know if you are homeschooling or unschooling or plan to try it, you know the difference.
We could not be more thrilled, honored, and downright AMAZED by the photos submitted for our Photo Contest! Families all over the world have submitted their photos, and we have received more than we could possibly display.
Please take a look at these images as a whole; representing the collective childhoods that are being savored by courageous and resilient parents world-wide.
Finding educational freedom is a journey that is unique to each person and there is no ONE correct way to do it. By allowing your children to learn naturally, you are helping them grow into confident, happy and thriving young adults!
The West River Academy Graduation Program students are a true testament to the philosophy that there is beauty in diversity. The young adults that we cross paths with have learned that it is okay to hit walls, question your identity, and feel imperfect. Because what you learn from that is how to bounce back, be authentic and embrace your uniqueness.
Marta Chan is an exceptional young woman in our Graduation Program Class of 2018. In one of her monthly report assignments, she reflects on a trip to Finland, growing up in Estonia and her journey to self-discovery.
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine… And it’s breathtakingly beautiful!” L.R. Knost has managed to put into words the description of how this month was for me.
I learned once again, that sometimes things just don’t work out as you planned. I thought I had already learned this lesson, but this month proved me wrong. Nothing seemed to go the way I wanted. I was really upset and irritated. But then, I started noticing all these unexpected little, wonderful things that happened in my life. I realized how I sometimes rush to get everything done and forget the reason why I’m doing these things in the first place. Writing my thoughts and feelings down into my journal, really helped me find some serenity and peace of mind.
One thing that was constantly on my mind this month, was my dad’s Chinese origin and his ancestry. It’s challenging for me to do family history from his side, because I do not speak neither Cantonese nor Mandarin Chinese. I’m learning the latter, but it’s rather difficult. It’s not so much the language that’s hard to learn but the notion and culture of the Chinese people. As I have learned more about their culture and traditions, I have recognized pieces of it in myself. I know my parents gave and still give their best in raising me and my siblings and I am really grateful for them, because they have allowed and encouraged me to become the best me. But at times I feel like I am disconnected from the Chinese “part” of me. When I was younger, I always tried to convince others (and myself) that I am a “true- Estonian”. And I remember being so upset when someone would point out that I’m “half- Chinese”, because it made me feel as if I’m incomplete and hence insufficient. But with time I came to realize, that’s not true! Rather than trying to define myself, I learned to know myself. Who I am? Who and What I love? What are my fears, my talents, my passions? What do I do to accomplish my dreams? These are the things that matter. These are the things that make me complete. Not perfect, far from that. But whole.
I learned that if we come to accept ourselves the way we are, it helps us move forward and better ourselves. The beauty in being a human is that we have both the ability and power to improve ourselves. Our backgrounds and situations do not play important roles in this. Our attitude does. My dear grandpa told me once: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t drive the car anywhere until you change it. And if you change it, you can go anywhere your heart desires”. I agree with him.
February Twenty-fourth officially marked the one-hundreth birthday of the Republic of Estonia. This gave me again a reason to dive into my family history and celebrate the people who built this country. Their sacrifices and diligence in hardships don’t cease to both amaze and impress me.
One of the highlights of this month was our family trip to Finland. We went there by a ferry. It was really cool to see the frozen Baltic Sea. All of the water was pretty much asymmetrical blocks of ice. Finland is really pretty! They have many lakes (about 168 000) and endless uninhabited boreal forests! But our first priority was to visit Helsinki Finland Temple. I believe it to be (along with the rest of the 159 operating temples our Church has) a sacred place and the house of God. It was wonderful to visit it and it really made me appreciate everything that has been created, even more than I did before. The time there also gave me a chance to rewind everything that has been going on in my life lately and steer myself back to where I want to be. In conclusion, this month I mostly analysed and studied myself. As ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”