Are you feeling what I'm feeling? Especially with food allergies?
Pandemic-driven back-to-school options are less than perfect. Regardless of whether you are distance learning, home-schooling, on-campus schooling, or a combination of all three, your kids are likely to experience uneasiness and resistance to unfamiliar procedures, which can have a direct effect on their attitudes and abilities to learn.
Despite what's beyond my control, I'm committed to taking charge of what I can and making the most of it. A big part of this will be my own attitude or example and the way I encourage my children to foster a love of learning, no matter the circumstance.
With the exception of pre-school, I've always sent my kids to public charter schools. Instead of sending my kids to pre-school, I played with them and fostered a love of learning as we discovered the world together through play. After my kids started school, our family culture of learning-through-play continued on the weekends and during fall, winter, and summer breaks. We've visited a variety of museums and parks, participated in our local library's children's programs, learned new sports together, and experimented with new recipes and ingredients in the kitchen.
School hasn't always been easy. Plans haven't always worked out the way we've wanted them to, but no matter their schooling situation, my kids have always loved to learn.
What I didn't realize was happening with my kids during all the times of discovering together was that I was accidentally ‘unschooling’ them. Unschooling is defined as an informal method of education that involves teaching children based on their interests rather than teaching a set curriculum.
Some parents use unschooling as a method of transitioning from traditional, in-person schooling to home-school. Others continue with unschooling as their primary home-education model. Others (like me) use unschooling as a supplement to other, more traditional schooling programs.
No matter how you use unschooling methods, they've proven effective in fostering a love of learning and encouraging kids to take initiative to explore the world around them, discover their interests, and more deeply investigate topics that appeal to them. Unschoolers have also realized increased retention rates in lessons learned.
Unschooling By Design
So how do you get started and how will unschooling help your kids during this pandemic? Unschooling starts by simply offering your kids a variety of educational opportunities and encouraging them to investigate whichever options interest them most. Here’s how:
1. Take the time to learn along-side your kids and set an example of positivity about learning.
2. Make it compelling. You know your kids and what they like. Tease them with opportunities that interest them, rather than try to force learning upon them with consequences or ultimatums.
3. Keep it relaxed and engaging. There shouldn’t be any pressure to complete tasks or reach milestones by certain dates.
4. When your kids start showing interest in a topic or learning method, expand their opportunities by helping them find additional resources or information.
5. Most importantly, have fun with it! If you’re not having fun, it’s likely your kids won’t either, and it’s hard to pay attention to or learn anything when it’s not fun!
6. Look far and wide for resources, for example, Pinterest never disappoints when it comes to fun ideas for teaching concepts creatively.
I founded a company called Chef Free to help foster a lifetime love of learning among children and families. Each month, Chef Free links you to resources that encourage a deeper dive into a variety of topics. Through a Chef Free monthly subscription, you and your children can take an ‘unschooling’ journey together, all while learning essential cooking skills and developing a healthy relationship with food through easy to follow lessons and creative (tasty!) recipes and treats.
Chef Free's cooking lessons and recipes naturally introduce concepts in art, reading, math, science and health, and our monthly themes (have you taken your dinosaur for a walk lately?) spark curiosity of history, social studies, career paths, and a variety of other topics.
No matter what your kids' schooling situation looks like this year, Chef Free can help you enrich your children’s learning journey and have fun along the way.
About the Author: Tiffany Rogers is a food allergy wife and mother with over 20-years experience managing a special diet household, and over 15-years professional business experience. Public speaker and author, Tiffany founded Allergy Cookie to simplify living with food allergies, later publishing her cookbook: 52 Allergy-Friendly Cookies for Kids. Her newest project, the Chef Free Club, teaches children through the kitchen and is inclusive of kids with special diets. Tiffany has served as a local Chair for the FARE Walk for Food Allergy, Community Events Director and General Board Member for the Utah Food Allergy Network, and Support Group Leader for the No Nuts Moms Group of Utah.
Photo Credits: Thank you to Vahid Moeini Jazani on Unsplash for use of the first post image and to Tiffany Rogers for providing the second post image