4 Ways to Answer Unschooling Questions

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While I was still blissfully unaware of the flavors of homeschooling that are out there, I plunged into my first year of homeschool plus nothing. (Before you continue reading, you need to know that I am still new to labeling myself by saying “we unschool,” and that I promise I will attempt to share from a perspective of what I am learning as I go.)
4 Ways to Answer Unschool Questions - By Shellet

Tips  to Answer Unschooling Questions: 


Prior to “officially” beginning homeschool, I had been teaching my “preschool” son all along by simply answering his questions, and reading, reading, reading to him. My husband had been teaching him phonic blends in song form since he “gooed” his first “gaa.” We constantly played music, and sang. (We still do.)

 One thing that I learned rather well before starting this journey was the importance of questions.

If you have ever used Craigslist to put up something for sale, you probably know the importance of questions. Spammers will sometimes send a quick question to lure a response out of you so that their email is whitelisted and they can send you more junk. The quick question is often simply, “Is this still for sale?”

Paying close attention to questions becomes important to best results in your Craigslist sale. You know someone is actually serious when they send a message like one of these:

“Is this the first edition?”
“Did you buy this new?”
“Do you use this with an android, or do you happen to know if it will work with one?” 

When it comes to children’s questions, people (half) joke about their inquiring minds and bemoan their ability to ask a TON of (seemingly unimportant) questions, especially between the ages of 4 and 6. Even worse, they don’t pay attention to the patterns of children’s questions, and seldom respond thoughtfully with questions of their own.

Learning Questions!

Not taking questions seriously not only drives a child to close the door of their heart to their parents, but also begins to quench their natural craving to learn. A parent who consciously would strive to stimulate good learning patterns and keep close with their child might unconsciously be contributing to the closing of that door, and the quenching of that fire!

I try to go by a few guidelines with how I answer my son’s questions and would like to share them here with some examples.

1. Answer information questions with stories, examples, pictures, and reading on the matter. He will naturally build upon what sticks with him.

2.Help find the answers for things you don’t know. Enjoy learning together.

3.Be wise with skill building questions. My favorite example is spelling questions:

“Mommy, how do you spell seat?”
“Let’s see. K-l….”
“No, mommy! S! S!”
“You’re right! Let’s see, S-l…”
“No, mommy! E!”
“You’re right, son…” 

4.Respect the fact that he has learned some things. Respond to knowledge that he shares with the same wonder as him. “Really, spiders can regrow legs? I didn’t know that!” Leave the door open for more learning.

I learned that cashews can be poisonous unless they are properly processed and how pineapple grows because of my son’s asking me. We went and looked for the answer together.

“Mommy, how soon is Christmas?” My son asked me this on the way to the library one day.

We left the library with a history of sea clocks, one short and one long book of scientific time and season experiments, a fun story about keeping a schedule, and a child’s book of time that explains everything from seconds to years in real-life terms.

We’ve read from these books every day since then, and my son has discovered that my birthday is coming up, and his knowledge beyond the days of the week on the calendar is gradually expanding.

My son’s questions also endear him to me.

What questions have your child asked which you had a hard time answering? Do you have any tips?

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