I wasn’t sure what to call this post: ‘365 Days of Homeschooling’ or ‘I Don’t Know What to Write About in My Posts Anymore.’ That’s not because I don’t have anything to write about, nor that we didn’t do anything this week – much the opposite – but, well, let’s put it this way: when I began blogging, I read some of the WordPress posts that they automatically sign you up for and other posts by fellow bloggers who wrote about blogging and how to get more traffic on your sight. Well, both of these resources always said to pick a theme for your blog – not a visual theme, but a theme for the content that you write about, because if your posts are too all over the place then your readers will only be interested in some of what you write and tend to peruse your page less often. I didn’t totally follow that rule for my Seedling blog, but I can see how it makes sense.
But what does it have to do with this blog, which does follow a defined theme? Well, it’s just that as we move forward with trying out unschooling, or rather giving it more room in our lives, the amount of activities that I record Elizabeth as having preformed or participated in fills the entire block on the calendar, but there really is no theme across the week. Yes, we are finishing up our last unit of the Moving Beyond The Page (MBTP) materials…super slowly…but unless the girl is really, really, really sick, she creates something every day, most often having finished a project alone by the time I get up. (Yes, she is awesome because, at 5, she gets up about an hour and a half earlier than I do, gets herself breakfast, and then sets to spending some time entertaining herself until she hears her brother starting to sing over the monitor, at which time she comes in to ask me if she may go get him!) Now, I just have to narrow it down as to what to talk about at the end of each week. Hmmm.
I’ve still been reading The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith, and there is some content that covers documenting what you do. Up to this point, I have kept track in my teacher’s calendar what MBTP projects we do, plus some other stuff when I feel it is relevant. As the book has both a monthly calendar and weekly datebook calendar pages, I have also gone though and marked on the monthly calendar what number day of schooling we are at. Mostly, I did it last year out of curiosity, and this year I’ve been on and off again about it, but it’s easy to catch up when I get behind. But I’m coming to see that if I unschool, it will be completely irrelevant, because I could technically mark that we school 365 days of the year, because my daughter learns and creates something every day.
I’ve thought of writing this up as another post either here or on Seedling, but Elizabeth and I have changed our nightly routine. About a year ago, I wrote Money Lessons, in which I discussed how we would do a daily task and behavior chart, not necessarily things that she had to do everyday, but a way to encourage her to do the things I wanted her to, such as pick up her room, help pick up in the living areas, and be nice and share with her brother. If she got three to five stars, she got ten cents, and if she got six or more, she got double that. I never emphasized that if she did not do the tasks on the chart that she was being punished for it, but merely that she was rewarded for doing the ones that she did – or at least I hope it came across that way.
But shortly after the kids’ father moved out, I was reading The Riddle by Alison Croggon, and in the story, the Bardic schools teach the three arts of Barding: Reading, Tending, and Making, and I thought to myself that those are excellent things to strive for every day, not only for myself or for Elizabeth, but for everyone. I made myself a traced-calligraphy picture that I hung in the bathroom to ask myself each day what I have read, tended to, and made; and Elizabeth and I have adapted her chart – which is not a visual paper chart anymore – to simply asking her these three questions. As long as we do the “chart,” she gets her money, no more having it contingent on her performance.
So, to come back to the title of this post, moving into unschooling, I can now pretty much claim that we do 365 days of homeschooling a year. That’s pretty awesome! One change I like about this unschooling stuff is that I feel like I am more present with the kids. Not that I normally spend hours playing on my phone or the computer or watching tv or filling my time with anything else at the expense of paying attention to them, but I think that while I am now watching more intently for things to write down as ‘school’ for the day, it puts me in a place in which I am just more present with both of the kids. I also find that I am much more prone to say “Yes” to a requested activities, because that’s what unschooling is about – and this is incredibly validating for the kids. Elizabeth and I have had an endless stream of conversation lately it seems, and her powers of understanding and processing information are fantastic. It also has an obvious positive impact on her behavior as well, and we see less tantrums and time-outs – which is much nicer for everyone in the house.
So, how do I choose what to write about in my posts now? I don’t know! And do I continue with labeling my posts as weekly reflections? I don’t know! I probably will, because unschooling or not, I am still reflecting on the week, and labeling each school year as k-12 will be easiest for at least me to navigate my page, and I’m hoping for my readers too!
So, what did we do this week? Here’s a taste:
- Made crayons
- Made and frosted every-holiday sugar cookies
- Did continue with our Africa and zebra MBTP unit by reading about Africa, looking at pictures of different ethnic groups and emphasizing that most people look and dress the same as you and I and that we are all much the same underneath
- Made art with stripes
- Played doctor a number of times
- Practice handwriting by writing up breakfast and dinner menus on the dry erase board
- Made a hand- and foot-print turkey and decorated it with dried beans and corn
I have been sensitive to the fact that Paul is growing up too, and around the terrible two’s tantrums, it is incredibly exciting to watch him becoming a little person with a big personality. I’ve been trying to take some extra time with him because I often feel that I just kind of leave him to play with Elizabeth while he is awake, but feel that he and I need some one-on-one time too. So this week he and I:
Named colors and counted with a Melissa and Doug parking garage 3-D puzzle