One mother of two has shared how she ditched textbooks and traditional lessons to “unschool” her children.
Shanel Bell, 34, who lived in Colorado before moving to Bury-St-Edmunds, Suffolk, has always homeschooled her children Maui, 10, and Maya, six, with husband Nicholas, but more recently decided to change to ‘unschooling’.
“Unschooling” is a different approach to home education. It allows the child’s personal interests to guide the instruction, instead of following a prescribed curriculum.
The museum teaches history through cooking. Math lessons focus on children’s interests.
Shanel stated that it is ‘helping Maui & Maya become global citizens’.
Shanel Bell, 34, who lives in Bury-St-Edmunds, Suffolk, has revealed how she has ditched traditional lessons and textbooks to ‘unschool’ her children
The mother-of-two has always homeschooled her children Maui, 10, and Maya, six, but more recently decided to change to ‘unschooling’ (pictured together on a hike)
Although unschooling was a new phenomenon in America, it is growing in popularity here.
Although homeschooling children is legal and legal, unschooling children is not. The Department for Education (DoE), however, states that compulsory school-aged children must be able to receive an appropriate full-time education in schools.
Shanel said, “We have always home-schooled them. The only year that they attended public school in America was 2019/2020.”
“Obviously it ended half-way because of the pandemic so that we could keep going with what we were doing, we thought.”
They decide what the children will be learning each day. The plan is led by the children, who also learn math through cooking lessons and history lessons in museums.
Meanwhile the family also began travelling when they lived in Colorado, US, with Shanel explaining: ‘We went on a camping trip in 2016, and we absolutely fell in love with it.
“It was then that I bought an RV, and traveled the US for several years before coming to the UK.
Following the death of Shanel’s husband Nicolas (34), who was a doctor, they moved to England.
She stated, “We have always wanted to be here and were very lucky to have been able to relocate here during the pandemic.”
Their family started traveling when they lived in Colorado. They continued this tradition when they moved to the UK in early 2018. (Image: Snowdonia).
After emigrating they have been to Snowdonia and the Peak District as well, along with trips up to Scotland’s Isles of Skye (pictured to left and to right).
Shanel stated that Shanel’s family likes to ‘go out camping as much as possible’ and enjoys ‘going for hikes every week’. (pictured Maya and Maui going on a hike).
“It is so frustrating because we would love to travel all over Europe but at the moment, we are unable to.”
It feels close, but far away.
They’ve been to Snowdonia and the Peak District since then, as well as to Scotland’s Isles of Skye.
She said, “Now we camp and go on trips all over the UK, as well as going for weekend hikes.”
Meanwhile, the mother of two explained how the plan would change depending on what children are interested in learning (pictured Maya with Shanel’s husband Nicholas).
Shanel, along with her husband Nicholas, have been on many adventures in the UK and are always looking for ways to teach their children every day.
Now, the children learn mostly from Bury-St-Edmunds (Suffolk), and Shanel explained that because of their endless curiosity, every day is new.
Mother-of-two said that the choice of what children are interested in learning about will determine the course of action.
She explained that it all depends on their interests, so she tries to keep the focus on topics they enjoy learning about.
Because you are measuring and counting ingredients, cooking can turn into a lesson in maths.
The mother-of-2 explained to her two children that she wouldn’t be able to get out a textbook and prefers for them all become global citizens.
Maui, Maya and Maya had always been home-schooled with the exception of a year during the Pandemic when they went to public school in the USA (pictured in Snowdonia).
They can clearly see that what they learn is valuable, and so we go out and try to help them as much as we can.
The only exception to this rule is if the animal that they are interested in learning about was found in a textbook.
“But, they’d also go to the Zoo to actually see it. Or we could take them to York for owl handling so that they can learn more about owls.
After going on a camping trip with their family in 2016, the four-member group fell in love and began to explore.
Shanel, however, defended unschooling and said that although’some people share concerns’ the process works for his family
Shanel also said that people have mixed reactions to unschooling.
She stated, “People share their worries, and they know that they mean well. I can understand why it’s unconventional, but it works for me.
“Overall it helps them to understand the world better and be more global citizens.”