I support public schools (and public libraries and public transportation and the public option), but the past few days have shown me how unschooling could be the perfect choice for the right parent (and child).

On Monday, we went to the local airport. Since that day, Bella has asked eight million different questions about airplanes and flight, and now she wants to fly kites for her birthday. Today we went to the local Nature Center -- and a whole new avenue for thought and creativity opened up for us.

I just wanted to get out of the house -- little did I know my girl would be so intrigued by the snakes, frogs, lizards, turtles and other local wildlife on display. She was thrilled and excited by everything (thrilled-scared by the snakes, thrilled-happy by the gliding squirrels), but the highlight of her day was the turtles.

We spent at least thirty minutes looking at the same four: a spotted turtle, a yellowbelly slider turtle, a painted turtle, and a mud turtle. (She had zero interest in getting near the gnarly snapping turtle!) We talked about why they swam so much, why they looked so different, what they ate, whether they'd bite, and which one looked most like Tuck. She wouldn't get too close to the glass, but she was enthralled.
Later, we walked outside to watch the waterfall before heading home for lunch. Bella wanted to know why the water was all moving in the same direction, why it wouldn't stay still, what makes the water fall, what can live in moving water, why doesn't the grass grow where the water is, and why the rocks are slippery where the water is. Somehow I wound up giving an impromptu lesson on gravity, on the four seasons, and on the properties of water.
I'm pretty amazed at both of us. Who knew that two year olds care about these things? I don't remember Javi being so full of questions, and the questions he did ask didn't seem so thoughtful. It's like I can see her making connections, piecing things together, and learning by doing and seeing. I don't know that I could do this everyday or actually spin conversations and questions into knowledge, but I have a better understanding now of why so many people choose to tackle that challenge.

Tomorrow we're supposed to be hit with an icy deluge (which never really happens 'round here). I can't help but wonder -- and look forward to -- the path that'll take us down.


  • suzannah | the smitten word

    what a little smartie! how funny that she wouldn't go near the glass:)

    my daughter LOVES all things animal and outdoors, too.

    i love the name bella. it is so, well, beautiful!

  • Christie

    I took my kids out of public school a couple of years ago. We did the 'school at home' thing for a while, then ventured into unschooling territory. I am AMAZED at what my kids will learn and do with less structure.

  • Lisa


    You have a wonderful blogsite. Congratulations.
    And a beautiful family.

    Nice meeting you.

  • TKW

    I cannot wait to hear what wonder and mischief the ice brings!

  • amber_mtmc

    When I see my little girl make connections, I can't help but smile. I like this "unschooling" notion you mentioned.

  • Jennifer

    What a great day!! We're considering homeschooling. I was a public school teacher so I know that it works too but for some children it really doesn't work. I may just homeschool for a few years. I don't want them to lose their natural curiosity and love of learning.

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