[Nevertheless] It's What Learning Looks Like

Someone asked me what a typical day of learning for my eleven year old looks like. It was difficult to answer. As unschoolers, learning looks like many different things depending on the day and the number of medical appointments.

Some days it looks like physical therapy. There, Alia learns anatomy, physiology, physics, health, and to have confidence in and discover beauty and strength in a body that doesn't always do what she wants it to do.

Other days it looks like exploring the Amazon Rainforest or the life of a sea turtle through 3D movies...

or experimenting with liquid nitrogen...

or exploring the blood vessels of the kidney and all the other parts of real human bodies...

 ...or presenting her research on opioid addiction combined with her personal experience with chronic pain, pain management, and being offered opioid drugs by healthcare professionals in front of an audience. (There's lots of science, math, psychology, sociology, language, and more mixed up in all of that!)

Learning also happens in caves underground ...

or on a boardwalk through a frozen pond.

Classes she takes in homeschool co-op - anything from computer animation to creative writing to building her own ukulele - also provide educational experiences, as do the art classes she takes one night a week, such as her most recent Paint Pouring class.

Alia is also the youngest member of the church choir, music being an important part of her life. The experience of learning new songs and singing in a group provides many mental, psychological, and social benefits. 

Unschooling has allowed for this child to balance life with chronic illness - hypermobile type Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - and learning in a way that meets her unique physical, psychological, and emotional needs. I can't imagine Alia having to go to school after being in the ER until 2am or squeezing daily physical therapy, doctor appointments, her interests in art & music & theater, her love for the outdoors, and homework and school projects into after school and weekend hours while maintaining any sort of balance between activity and rest and emotional wellbeing.

To others, it might look like Alia is just doing physical therapy or only reading something on stage, nevertheless, this is what learning looks like.


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