So how does an unschooling child learn all the intricacies of grammar and writing?
Well, the answer might be simpler than you think.
My Ten-Year-Old reads a lot. A whole lot. Since she first learned how to, around kindergarten age, she’s had a book in her hand. She reads in bed, she reads on the couch, she reads over her bowl of cereal, and outside in the hammock. The girl reads.
Because she’s unschooled, she reads whatever she wants. She doesn’t have any assigned reading or required reading. She goes to the library and comes away with stacks of books as high as her knee, everything from juvenile science fiction series, to books about Colonial America.
The funny thing about someone who immerses their mind in story, is that they find themselves pulling from all that stored up information and creating their own stories. The other funny thing about being exposed and saturated in the written word, is that you unconsciously memorize the rules.
It’s just natural to realize that the beginning of sentences are always capitalized, or quotation marks are used when someone is speaking, when you see it right in front of your face every day. Spelling is tackled the same way. After you’ve read the word “tree” a hundred times, you simply remember how it’s spelled.
For years my daughter has written stories and poems and songs in every journal, notebook, or spare scrap of paper she could find. Have they been perfect? From a mother’s point of view, yes. Grammatically, no. However, like with all skills, the more she practices the better she gets.
This summer she discovered a tool that has given rise to a huge aid in her creative writing, spelling and grammar. I wish I had thought of it sooner, but she’s the one that first suggested it out of her passion for story telling. Instead of hiding her stories away in spiral bound notebooks, she has begun to draft up her “books” in Word documents.
Now every time she spells a word wrong, or uses the wrong kind of “there”, or creates a ridiculous run on sentence, the helpful grammar prompts in Word let her know. It’s also given her a lot of experience learning her way around a keyboard, as well as some of the more fun design aspects of creating a document like picking different sizes and colors and fonts for chapter titles, etc.
All of this was child initiated. Learning in an unschooling environment is an awesome snowball like that. Reading leads to creating, and writing, and spelling, and grammar, and typing. And because “english” isn’t broken down into lessons that might sometimes seem boring or tedious, she doesn’t resist the process at all. She enjoys writing and learning more about it because she’s passionate. Sure, she may not know terms like “past participle” or “predicate”, but personally I’ve never used words like that outside of a classroom setting. As over simplified as it sounds, grammar is what sounds right. She’s learning how to practically use language and the written word. And that’s good enough for me.
How are you teaching your unschooler grammar?
Join Jessica every 2nd Tuesday of the month to learn more about unschooling! Jessica is the mother of four children. She blogs at Bohemian Bowmans.