the fourth space

those spaces in between life, thinking, the physical world, and humanity

Unschooling: Creating Inviting Spaces for Play and Discovery

Unschooling is not “Not Learning” .  It is a constant journey of exploration, discovery and creativity that occurs every day all day long.  It’s important to provide inviting places for unschooled kids to go about the business of play and discovery.  There are as many ways to do this as there are unschooling families.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Keep at least one large surface clean and empty throughout the day to allow for activities such as play-doh, painting, or doing puzzles.

For younger children, consider having a child-size table and chairs set.  Providing furniture that is the right size for small bodies is a wonderful way to honor their needs.  Small floor rugs scattered around can also help kids to be comfortable during play. Bean bags or oversized pillows are another way to offer kids a cozy spot.

Make supplies accessible. Find the way that works best for your family.  It took me a long time to realize that my kids didn’t use some of our supplies simply because they were out of reach or not organized in a way that was user-friendly.

Move things around every once in a while. Sometimes just seeing things in a new spot sparks new interest.

Organize your books so that you and your kids can easily lay your hands on whatever you’re looking for.  In our family, different “subject areas” are housed on different shelves and arranged by topic.  For example, our science shelf has all the books on space together, then all the books on animals, then all the books on the human body, etc.  It’s a little bit of work to get the books organized initially, but it makes it so easy to support my kids when questions come up.  I know right where to go to find a book on whatever they’re asking about.

Keep a computer, lap top, iPad or even a smartphone within easy reach.  We have one computer always set up and running in the kitchen, where we spend a lot of time.  This allows us to quickly Google any question that comes up.  We’ve learned about the life span of a gorilla, discovered the dietary needs of freshwater snails, explored acid rain, and identified the disgusting slime oozing out of our maple tree, all on the fly – over lunch, while I’m cooking etc.

I can’t say enough about the value of looking something up with a child as soon as the question comes up.  Kids live in the moment.  They may be wondering about boats one minute, and types of tree frogs the next.  As unschooling parents walking alongside our children, we need to capture the moments as they arise with enthusiasm and immediacy whenever possible.

Dayna Martin Unschooling Author and speaker.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on February 20, 2013 by .
%d bloggers like this: