Unschooling: Of Doodle Pros and Sex Ed

November 5th, 2010 by Dionna | 9 Comments
Posted in Children, Eclectic Learning, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, Preschoolers, Toddlers

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Kieran has been very interested lately in animals. I think it started more with a fascination of breastfeeding, perhaps he saw an animal drinking mama’s milk in a book. At any rate, for the past couple of months we’ve been talking about which animals drink mama’s milk, and he knows that those animals are mammals.1

I think this has been my first experiment with focused unschooling. When I realized that he was genuinely interested in learning about mammals, I started pointing out animals and their differences. We talk about them frequently. We checked out books on the differences between mammals, birds, reptiles, etc.We went to the pet store and zoo and identified the types of animals. “Does a hippopotamus drink mama’s milk, mama? Yes? A hippopotamus is a mammal!” “A crocodile does not drink mama’s milk.” “Does a mouse drink mama’s milk? A mouse is a mammal!” “Birds do not drink mama’s milk.” “Where does a whale drink mama’s milk?” And on and on and on.

The fascination grew. Now in addition to mama’s milk, he wanted to learn more about how different animals are born. We watched a video that showed how human babies develop – from conception (it shows computer animated sperm swimming to an egg) to just before birth. We checked out more books:
Making Animal Babies
The Life Cycle of Mammals: From Egg to Adult (we also checked out The Life Cycle of Birds)
If My Mom Were a Platypus

He’s always loved for me to tell him his own birth story, so I think this was a natural extension.

Kieran's octopus.

On another (soon to be related) note, he loves to draw on his Doodle Pro. He recently started drawing with much more control, and we can actually see the things he’s drawing – a person, an animal, a circle, a letter (letters usually happen by accident, but he gets very excited when he sees one after the fact). Last night after dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, he was drawing on his Doodle Pro.

First, a very realistic looking whale.

Then, an awesome octopus with eight legs and two eyes.2

Finally, he drew a passable fish. He said, “This is Nemo.” Then, he drew a big box around the fish and said, “Nemo is in the net!”3

Then he changed his mind. “No, Nemo is in an egg.”

He drew a line going across the box. “And this is the sperm coming in to the egg to get Nemo!

I think Grandma and Grandpa wonder what we’re teaching our two year old, and why I was so proud of him for talking sex ed at the table!

  1. Mammals is one of those toddler words that I love to hear him say. It’s so freaking sweet!
  2. This was the only picture I thought to record for posterity’s sake.
  3. For those non-Nemo fans out there, Nemo gets caught in a net by a scuba diver.

9 Responses to:
"Unschooling: Of Doodle Pros and Sex Ed"

  1. There is nothing like a curious child who loves to learn. You should be proud of his development!

  2. Rachael   RachaelNevins

    Thanks for this lovely account of how you “do” unschooling!

  3. krysten

    I’ve always been unsure of this ‘unschooling’ stuff and although I am thinking about homeschooling (we have a couple years yet) I never thought THIS was what people meant by unschooling. My 3.5 yr old is very focused in what he wants to talk about and learn about at any given time. We also do the same things you posted, library books on human body, bones, art projects about them, etc. I just consider this being involved and engaged in my son’s learning. I always just thought this is ‘what moms do’ to encourage their child’s learning and imagination and skills and creativity among many other things. I know that a lot of parents don’t do these things, sadly, but I just consider it a part of my mom job to foster his development, whatever it is at the moment (it does change often sometimes!) to create a very well rounded child, who knows a lot about a lot.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      From what I understand (and admittedly, I haven’t studied it a lot), unschooling simply means following your child’s interests, giving him/her opportunities to explore in ways that are meaningful – rather than choosing the subjects for them (i.e., this year you MUST learn to read, you MUST learn how to do x,y, and z, etc.). So that’s what we are trying to do :)

      • krysten

        It makes total sense. I have never really studied it or researched unschooling either, just from what I’ve gathered from other people’s comments and ways of doing things. Although at the preschool/toddler stage I don’t really think anything should be forced/pushed upon them to learn. I just always thought that’s what parents should do to allow kids to pursue their own interests, etc. This unschooling thing is quite new to me. I get it, but I personally feel that when my son hits that “school age” I will feel that he should learn/do something, but that could change also, as with most of my well thought out parenting plans lol.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        I’m pretty sure unschooling isn’t about forcing or pushing kids to learn at *any* age. The point is to follow the child’s lead, not to push an agenda. I think a lot of people enjoy this site as an unschooling resource: http://sandradodd.com/unschooling

  4. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    Great way to teach the difference between animals. By starting at BF. I will try to introduce it like this as well.

  5. kelly @kellynaturally   kellynaturally

    Dionna, did you guys enjoy If My Mom Were a Platypus? I just love the detail into which it gets, while still keeping my little ones interested.

    And, Yes, that’s unschooling as far as I understand it.
    It’s letting him be guided by his interests, and you, as the “more experienced” observer & helper, can watch that interest, and offer him the appropriate materials to help him further develop his interest.

    We chose Montessori for our children as we want them to attend school, but not in the traditional sense, and their philosophy on learning is so child-centered and interest-guided (and of course, no tests or grades or rote learning to get in the way of actual learning). Following the child is ALWAYS the best way in education (and, in my mind, dovetails so nicely with attachment parenting!) Okay, totally derailed the conversation.

    That’s me! ;)


    Love his drawing!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Kelly – it wasn’t his favorite, I think it’s a little over his head right now. We stuck to reading the pages with the color pictures, and I ad libbed :) But he did like the pictures, and I can definitely see the benefit for a child who was a little bit older than Kieran. Thank you for the recommendation!!

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