Gaps happen. In an unprecedented year, will your child be missing content this year? You bet! Whether a child is homeschooled, unschooling or in a classroom or online, all children have gaps in learning. Not just this year, but every year! No child learns about every topic in the world. It would be impossible. And of the topics that they do learn, the breadth and depth vary immensely. Very few children get 100% in every course. And research from unschooling shows that it will be just fine!
Except for math and English, which are skill building topics, every other topic in social studies, science, health, physed, art, religion, languages and music is specifically chosen by someone other than the learner. Those people are curriculum developers, and then the government, and then the school and then the particular teacher, who has decided what kids should learn, and how much. The topics are local to the Province/State and country. Kids in other countries get a different education. But all over the world, math and language are the same.
Self-directed learners, (unschoolers), will learn many of those same topics on their own through play, research and projects, if interested, and if they are not interested – they will gain it at some other point in their life, not through study, but through living life when they deem it useful to know. They save everyone’s time and money when they are not forced to learn topics they are absolutely not interested in.
Many of the same grade 1-9 topics are covered again in high school where many unschooled children decide to take a more formalized program, whether chosen by the government or by themselves. School curriculums give students only a bare taste of as many topics as they can cram in. Students learn an inch deep and a mile wide. Homeschoolers and unschoolers have the privilege of unstructured time and can go a mile deep and an inch wide, in topics they choose. Unencumbered by the school year of 200 days and 1000 hours a grade, they can learn about whatever topic they choose, how much of the topic, in what method and can drop studies whenever they wish if they have reach a saturation level. Perhaps that explains why many homeschoolers know at an early age what they would like to do for adult work and study. They had time to discover their passions earlier and delve in deeply.
Every child who attends school has gaps. The school can’t possible teach about the 195 countries in the world, so has to pick 5. They can’t possible teach about all the major fields of science (math, computers, geology, physics, technology, biology, chemistry, astronomy) so they choose a few. They can’t teach about all the fields of social studies (geography, art history, politics, economics, culture, psychology, sociology, environmentalism, etc.) so they pick a few. There are 4000 languages in the world. They pick 1 or two. But why should they pick?
Why can’t the learner pick based on what they are interested in? When learning is desired, and internally motivated, concepts stick in long term memory much better. No one knows better what the learner needs to learn for that particular moment in time, than the learner themselves.
If children don’t need all they teach in school, why is there 1000 hours a programming per year? We all know that the task expands to fill the allotted space. Children under the age of 12 need supervision while their parents are working and school fills an important adult need of employment support. The curriculum expands every year to fill more and more of the 8-4 pm Monday to Friday workday of their parents. Preschool curriculum gets more in-depth every year – not because children can’t learn everything they learn in school at home, because it justifys jobs and an industry. Kindergarten grows from 2 hours a day to full day. It explains why elementary school is 10 months a year, high school is less than 8 months and university even less at around 7 months per year. As children age, time spent in school becomes less about childcare and more around learning specific knowledge.
So don’t worry about gaps. The ability to read enables children to learn anything they want. Math is simply a set of tools on how to figure out life’s daily problems. As long as kids can read and do basic math concepts like adding, substracting, multiplication, division, decimals and fractions by the end of grade 9, they are fit and ready to complete a regular high school diploma or continue living as a contributing citizen and learning what they want. Unschoolers will have gaps just like their school peers – but they will have extra knowledge and skills in areas that their school peers won’t have.
All children learn. All children progress. No matter what the topic. If they breathe, they learn. It’s all good!