Exploring Unschooling Preliminarily. Reflections, K Week 13 and 14

Time goes by so fast!  I can hardly keep up.  (I know I can’t with my house though.)  Yet, I’m not getting anywhere, interestingly.

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Swimmy Sammy and the lotus that he sleeps in

Nothing has really changed here: no new job, still homeschooling, everything the same.  Time just seems to go by so fast!  It seems that I clean the fish’s tank, and then all of a sudden, I realize a week has passed and I am needing to clean it again.  Good thing I’ve got Swimmy Sammy to help me keep track of time!

One thing to celebrate is that we are on our last unit of Moving Beyond The Page!  I can hardly believe it, yet it feels like… “Finally!” too.  I have enjoyed using the curriculum, but I also look forward to moving on from it.  I’m not sad that I went with something else for K, my impression of the Kindergarten curriculum is that it’s just not as good as pre-k (or age 4-5, really).  Maybe we will come back to MBTP, other years call to me, but what I see of the kindergarten year just doesn’t call to me.  And I’m glad that I realized that before I bought it.  (If you would like to read about someone who does use the 5-7/kindergarten MBTP curriculum, check out Beyond The Books Homeschool .)

Our last unit is one of Elizabeth’s favorite books, The Greedy Zebra, by Mwenye Hadithi and illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway.  The story is fun, and every page is full of different and interesting verbs – we had a blast acting them out!  But even though I am excited to finish up and move onto the Global Village School curriculum, we have been moving slowly through this last unit; Monday I logged a 12 hour day, and the rest of the week I was totally beat and have been suffering from headaches.  I am used to being energetic and busy all day long, so when I need to nap in the afternoon, it throws things off.

I’ve been experimenting a little with unschooling too.  My awesome childcare provider happened to pick The Unschooling Handbook, by Mary Griffith  up at a second hand sale a few weeks ago, and she has lent it to me.  I’m slowly going through it, wondering if I am audacious enough to radically unschool.

Unschooling is so different from what everyone thinks school ought to be, and I live in a small town, and have a few past teachers in my family, so they seem to be having a hard time wrapping their brains around the idea.  I’m still concerned that since I will have to work that I will still not have enough time to do it, or rather, to know what they are doing.  It killed me after the twelve hour day to be putting Elizabeth to bed and during our nighttime routine, I ask her what she read, tended to, and made that day – and I had no idea for that day.  She may be learning without me, but how will I document it?

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Learning colors by mixing them

The part of me that went to public school tells me that kids need to be ‘schooled’ as well, schooled to learn things that we all think are necessary, like calculus and punctuation.  But the real me knows that that is totally untrue.  I can describe multiple instances in my life in which I learned something because it felt pertinent to me – whether in a formal educational setting or not.  I also know what kinds of grades I got in school, how little I remember of US History even though I often got 100’s on the tests, and that I knew in college how much or how little work I needed to put into a class to get an A.  When I went into the Peace Corps, I learned Spanish not by knowing the preterit tense or whatever, but from using it, writing it, and especially listening to others speak.  I recall being in the 3rd grade, and we were working on punctuation, and I had just written my first story, and I thought that punctuation was super boring, but then it occurred to me that I might want to know it for my writing, so in one go I memorized it all – that which we were learning and the rest.  And I recall watching tv a little after I had begun homeschooling Elizabeth, and coming across a program about horses during the Civil War.  It was incredibly interesting, and when it was all done, I thought to myself that if I had been taught history around the history of horses, I would know way more than I do now!  That’s unschooling.  I am a self-directional learner, something that I have learned since being out of college, but I think kids are innately designed to be so.

071Even so, I am going to still use what I had organized of the Global Village curriculum, I think.  I have liked, that with the MBTP curriculum, it has helped me to put before my daughter things that I just would not have before, and thus we have opened doors into different areas that she can be interested in.  Unschooling, in my understanding, does involve the parents doing just that: presenting different topics to the kids when they feel they are needed to expand learning into different directions.  I think that this is especially appropriate for younger ages who have less means of looking for information independently.  But, unschooling is also flexible enough that it follows a lead that the child may find and expand upon that.  I guess the interesting thing about unschooling (and homeschooling in general) is that I am able to guide my child’s learning through the topics which interest me, and stress the things that are interesting to me, and validate her own interests and learning style at the same time.  For example, if she’s really interested in horses and the Civil War, we can combine those to make an interesting lesson, and then possibly and probably have it expand to horses during other parts of world history.  Or it may take another turn and she may decide that she dislikes the treatment of horses during the Civil War and we will look at animal abuse in the past and present and the myriad of things associated with that topic.  It’s really exciting to me, actually, because learning is fun, and learning in this way is incredibly creative – and I love creativity!

Share your thoughts:  Oh, any thought you have, you are welcome to share it!

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11 thoughts on “Exploring Unschooling Preliminarily. Reflections, K Week 13 and 14

  1. It is hard to get public school out of our heads when we homeschool, but I have learned there are so many ways to learn and that children are naturally curious about the world around them and learn so much just through play and exploration. When I first started homeschooling my son, after pulling him out of first grade, I was quickly drawn to unschooling. It just felt right. I do wish I had documented it more, and you are right, sometimes with unschooling that is a bit tricky, but I never doubted that my son was learning. For one thing, his love for reading led to him being a natural speller. For another, I noticed that he remembered the subjects he chose to study himself, things that truly interested him (just like your comment about horses and history). It sounds like you’re on a great educational path with your daughter.

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  2. Creativity should be the essence to learn. I wish to work at school like you do at home. There are countries where kindergarten is a place to share, to dream, to stay warm and confortable like at home. Not in Spain, but i’m working to do that in the future. I wish a school in Spain with the same creativity and motivation than homeschooling. I dream, I believe and I create. that’s the begining, don’t you think so? Go ahead with your dreams and thanks for your reflections.

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  3. Nice post.
    I started homeschooling 2 years ago or so.. did the worksheets and so forth and soon fell off that bandwagon. Now that our son is 9, we have let things go more and followed unschooling and have let him follow his interests, seems like the thing he loves best is being with pets, hiking and just wanadering around our families farm land. He loves quiet time, and has ZERO interest in other kids….unless I bring it up sometimes, otherwise he enjoys his self and being with mom and dad.
    Please pass the word on for followers as we start to embark on our jouney, leaving suburbia and exploring Arizona by 5 th wheeler.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I like when you say that he isn’t too interested in being with other kids and likes to spend time with himself. I was very much like that – like I liked to be with other kids, but would play by myself alongside them! I think Elizabeth is a lot like that, and I’m coming to realize this, and accept it. There’s a lot of hype about the socialization aspect to homeschooling, and I’m a homebody, so since she is kind of a loner, I feel anxious sometimes that homeschooling is to blame. But I’m letting that go into the idea of it being just who she is. Thanks for the comment – everyone’s comments always make me think – and I LOVE that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. You gave peace of mind. No joke. I asked Ethan if he didn’t mind not playing with many friends..he blew it off..without a care in the world. Possible autistic spectrum..from what im told. My husband and I are forgoing labels and just letting him experience life on his terms. Give him a mountain to climb or a group of dogs and a gun to shoot and he would be content. 🙂 🙂

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      • I used to spend hours and hours and hours and hours alone, content as a chicken. Still do/could – but I’m not autistic. I fear that labels are too restrictive. I mean, they can have their uses, but at other times, I think it’s social environment, schools needing to have resources for kids that do need them – which is great, and trying to push all kids to be able to do things at an earlier age and when some get it and some don’t, those that need more time get this label attached to them that may not really be necessary or appropriate. The unfortunate thing is that those labels stick for life, even if just in that person’s mind.
        I desire to be a wanderlust as much as I love to be here in my home. I look forward to more posts on your page!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We mix a lot of “unschooling” in just….because, you know, life happens. We’re busy! And then, when I look back on our day or our week and worry we didn’t get anything “done”-honestly those are the times I realize my daughter learned the most. It’s the letting go that’s the hardest part for us parents sometimes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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