Waiting on Her

A mom of another 4 year old recently sent me a message on Facebook asking about our homeschooling – specifically, our unschooling.

“I like the idea of unschooling, I just don’t really get how it works… from a practical stand point. I need to keep her on track in case she goes back to Public School.”

When I offered suggestions, she started to say she was fighting her daughter to do math work and that she is easily at a first grade level in math.

“Then take a break from math.”

She didn’t like this recommendation because she liked her daughter being ahead.

I wrote last week about my struggle letting my daughter take the lead on her education. It looks like I’m not alone on that.

I’ve already taught Ellie a lot of the basics for reading. She can read some small words and really could read if she wanted to. She just isn’t there yet. Pushing her frustrates her and she just guesses at words to rush through the work, which doesn’t help anything. She is definitely able but she isn’t ready.

Ellie is more than happy to bring me a stack of books and be read to. I don’t know why I was in such a rush to push her into reading herself when I’m perfectly happy to read to her. I feel like I was so pressured by what public schooled kids are learning, the naysayers to our homeschooling and wanting to show people we can be successful at this that I was willing to push Ellie, making her miserable in the process, into something that she doesn’t need right now.

She isn’t going to go to college not knowing how to read. She has the basics. She’ll get there.

And when she does, it’ll be because she was ready.

Edit: After writing this post, I came across this great article about Kindergarten (at age 6) and learning to read in Finland. Kindergarten is mainly play and they only teach reading in Kindergarten if the children are “willing and interested”. Otherwise, they let them enjoy the pictures and leaving learning to read until first grade. Finland’s schools are proven to be much more successful than American schools!


Letting Go

We’ve recognized that traditional curriculum isn’t a good style for us and more interest based learning is a much better fit. I’ve spent countless hours online researching and have checked out books from the library on letting kids take the reins, but putting it into practice has been extremely difficult.

Logically, it makes perfect sense. Kids want to explore and learn. They are driven to understand more things. Children tend to retain things when they are interested in what they are learning. So, when you follow their interests in schooling, they’re going to really learn.

Even since letting Ellie choose our subjects to study, we’ve switched from My Little Pony to the Solar System. She asks for math sheets, chooses activities to study the planets, flips through library books on space and the Solar System, asks questions and acts out space exploration while she plays… I am watching this method work.

Why, then, do I have to keep reminding myself of that?

I feel like it’s been so ingrained into me that children need to be sitting at a desk, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for 13 years in order to learn; that watching my daughter playing, relaxing, exploring and actually enjoying her “school days” feels wrong. I know she’s learning. I know she is happy. I know she is going to get an education that is all her own based on what was important and interesting to her.

But letting go is hard. Not stepping in to tell her what to study is hard.

It’s hard.

But I think it is so worth it.


My Little Pony School

Going into week 2 of homeschool, I noticed that Ellie wasn’t interested at all in the curriculum. I would read her stories and nothing was retained. I would do activities and she wouldn’t be into it. It was extremely frustrating.

I was talking to my husband about it and we both agreed that the only things we retained were the things we were interested in. The rest of the time we would just memorize what we needed to in order to pass the test and then forget it all.

So, I started watching Ellie. What does she like to do? What is she interested in? What will keep her attention? I came up with two answers. Painting and My Little Pony.

First I decided to apply the painting because I had no idea how I could possibly teach with My Little Pony.

Ellie would have a meltdown every time I gave her work books to practice writing her letters and numbers. If they didn’t look exactly like the picture, she would get extremely frustrated and shut down. Not good. So, I decided to look at it from what interests her.

“Ellie, would you like to paint the numbers?”



That was enough for me. There was no fighting. She was really learning and she thought it was fun.

I got right to work researching My Little Pony worksheets and unit studies and came across this MLP Printable Pack from 1 + 1 + 1 equals 1. Ellie went nuts. She was jumping up and down with excitement over doing “My Little Pony School”.

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Then I found this tutorial on how to draw Twilight Sparkle from Art for Kids Hub. She spent over 40 minutes working on it and is extremely proud of it.


And my personal favourite, we were looking up pictures of MLP characters and came across this amazing MLP Anatomy Page! Ellie was ecstatic. She spent the afternoon trying to copy the skeletal system and we had some fun talks about anatomy.


I’m so so excited about the response I got this week. I’ve been looking a little more into interest based learning because of our success this last week and it seems like it could be a great fit for us.