This was our ‘summer of books’ so I was delighted to add God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco to my list when the review opportunity arose. As I share my thoughts on this book, it is important to note that I do not believe that education is one size fits all. There are many educational philosophies and different styles work for different families and sometimes even different children with-in those families. That’s one of the beautiful things about homeschooling!
This book does a wonderful job of explaining and exploring the unschooling approach to education. While I do not think that unschooling is the approach that best suits our family, I enjoyed hearing about what works for her children and the research behind that methodology. I also gleaned a lot of great information and tips that will work well for our family.
One of the points that really stuck out to me in the beginning is how she explained unschooling. Julie says, “Unschooling can be a very deliberate endeavor, not necessarily haphazard.” She spends a great deal of time explaining how she deliberately sets out to provide her children with a good education in this manner. Sometimes unschooling is assumed to be doing nothing but letting your children play video games all day while you go about your business. However, she talks extensively about how she interacted with her children and helped guide them while providing natural learning opportunities and plenty of time for play.
She talks about how children, particularly children under eight, need a lot of free time and play. I wholeheartedly agree. They learn so much through play and exploration and if we are not careful we can fill up their days with school work and not allow them the time needed to play and explore.
Her chapter on children ages eight to twelve touches on many areas but I really liked what she had to say about entrepreneurship and service. In our family we believe that serving others is a Biblical command and we try to teach our children to serve from a very young age. During this eight to twelve range, they become capable of more complex service and taking more ownership in serving others. It is an important part of learning and development. Entrepreneurship is another important component of education for that age group. Learning to do meaningful work and contribute is a vital skill for successful adulthood. It is also a Biblical command and she shares several scriptures including 1 Thessalonians 4:11 and Ephesians 3:28 which talk about working with your own hands.
She also goes into experiential learning in that chapter. Children learn much better when they can experience that which they are trying to learn. She gives multiple examples from field trips and nature walks to living books and hands on crafts. These have been a vital part of our educational experience and I appreciated the encouragement to continue with this type of learning even as my children get older.
The section of the book that I needed to read most was probably the chapter titled, “Giving Teens Wings So They Can Fly”. My oldest son is twelve and so the teen years are very near for our family. Unintentionally, three of the books that I have read this summer have discussed how the modern age group of ‘teenagers’ is really a new lifestyle/category. Before somewhere around the late 1930s you did not see ‘teenagers’ as a separate culture. Most often once a child reached that age he/ she began working or contributing to the family in some way. Popular culture today paints teens in a negative light and holds them to very low expectations. However, Julie Polanco shares how she provided her children with opportunities to be involved in real life and contribute. It is important that we have high expectations for our teenagers and give them the opportunity to succeed and do great things.
If you want to know more about what unschooling looks like, especially from a Christian perspective or if you just want some encouragement and ways you can integrate more real life learning into your student’s education God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn is a great book. ** Also, she has a 1/2 price sale on the e-book version until August 22nd**
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