Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Thursday, February 16, 2012


This is actually a post from last Friday, but I am just getting around to posting it on here. 

Okay, so Sam and I had a fantastic day today! We got up early in the morning and went to McDonalds for breakfast. (We have not been to the McDonalds since before the other one was torn down in the tornado, so I thought it would be a nice treat. Then we toured the co-op. Came home to rest and let me pay bills online since Jessie got paid today. Left. Did a few errands-getting groceries, some stuff for the house, bank, etc. CiCi's. And then the playground. (The playground was a blast. Usually, when we go to the playground, I let Jessie play with her and I watch. Or if Brennon is there, I sit and read while they play. But today it was just me and her, so we actually played together, and it was awesome!) Came home and both put on some fake nails. (Found her someStrawberry Shortcake ones and me the french manicure ones for pretty cheap. Jessie has been wanting me to try so we tried them.) Now nap for her and I am blogging.

Anyway, about the co-op...We arrived at 9:30 this morning. Mindy (the director) took us into her office and let me ask some questions, general questions about homeschooling and then questions about the co-op. I learned some things that soothed my fears about standardized testing, that I do not have to turn in her test scores and they can not force her to go to public school if she doesn't do well enough-say, I don't teach her the same stuff that is on the test. I also learned a little bit about HSLDA-the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. She explained the co-op, told me about pricing,  and gave me some papers to go over. We visited the preschool classroom and the Kindergarten/1st Grade classroom. We sat in for a lesson on each one. Preschool was going over the letter S and K/1st was going over insects. I learned a lot. So did Sam. And lucky for her, they went over her (presently) favorite thing, butterflies! She warmed up after a bit and she sat in her own chair and said she wanted to do the lesson too. So she did! She wrote her own name at the top of her paper, and she even-with some assistance from me-labeled the parts on the insects. I talked to Mindy afterward and explained to her that Samantha was bored in the PreK classroom. She said she figured as much and that she thought Samantha should start the Kindergarten class in August since she is reading and writing already. I was honestly worried that Samantha's maturity level was not high enough since she will still be 3 in August, but she said she thought Samantha was extremely mature for her age, the way that she sat through the meeting without interrupting or getting down and walking around. And the way she sat in the classrooms for the lessons. She said I would also be surprised at how much children mature right when they turn 4. She was completely convinced Samantha would thrive in the Kindergarten classroom. So we went over a list of things she needed to be able to do before starting Kindergarten. She could do all those, plus some on the 1st grade list. I told her I wanted to talk to Jessie first and maybe wait until closer to time to decide. There are a lot of things I do like about the co-op: 1. They expect parents to be involved 2 out of the 4 Fridays a month. That is very important to me, that I feel welcome to being involved. 2. It would be so much easier to have the assistance of the co-op helping to teach her, in a small, close knit environment. 3. They do all sorts of cool activities, like science and social studies fair. They have yearbooks and such too. 4. It would be a place for me to meet with other homeschooling Moms. In fact, to be honest, I like everything about it, EXCEPT that they chose the curriculum. And I know that obviously they can't do individual curriculum for each child, but I just don't know. What if she doesn't like doing a set curriculum? What if it isn't her style? I know they said at a young age, they are able to adjust things to their level, and they do not grade until they are older. And it would give her experience with written and book work, not solely hands on. I guess we could always try it and take her out if she doesn't like it...hmm...I guess I will look into the Y and make a decision between the two. I have awhile. 

Also, a few reflections...You know, I was extremely shocked today when I was sitting the classes observing and I completely forget that I was sitting in a small church room with a class full of homeschooled children. Everybody always says that homeschoolers can't socialize well and whatnot, but these kids were 1. Extremely social. Just normal kids! They talked to each other, answered questions, and I never once thought of them any different. and 2. These kids were geniuses! They were starting a unit about insects and they knew answers to questions I had no idea the answer to! And these were Kindergarten and 1st graders! 

I know this is getting kind of-well, really long, but I am just too excited about all this! Homeschooling. Finding activities and outings for us. Looking at curriculums. Reading books about homeschooling. And as Samantha gets older, she gets more interested too! Speaking of Samantha....

I am going to brag on Samantha. I don't get to do that much, because I don't want to be "one of those parents" who thinks their kid is the greatest kid on the face of the planet and that nobody else's kid can live up to that standard. So, don't get me wrong. That is not what I am trying to do. I know everyone's kid is special. 

I just wanted to say how proud I am of Samantha. For behaving so well-usually. And using her manners-most of the time. Everybody always compliments her on how she says, "May I please..." to just about everything, even if she is asking me. And when we go to a friend's house or something, and she eats, she will always take her plate to the kitchen. She asks to touch or play with things before she just goes and does it. She's just-growing up, into a very mature little girl. (Not to say she can't be silly, because trust me, silly is her middle name. But she knows the time and place to be silly and what the limits are.) 

On top of that, she is just so into learning! Anything educational-she is all there! Like today, when she was all over doing classwork. She Loves hands-on activities AND written work-although, I try to stray away from written work, unless we are practicing hand writing, which she has pretty much gotten down. She can trace any letter, number, or shape. And she can free write almost any letter. She hasn't practiced numbers or shapes much. 

I think those would be the two things I am so proud of. Sitting across from her today, talking about the stages of the butterfly and what she liked about each class. And listening to her tell jokes and talk about how much she loved pizza, etc. ect. almost made me cry. Happy cry. But cry. 

My Studious Girl
Sam wrote her name, but messed up on the I and didn't erase it. 

Labeling Insects

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February Weeks

Well, we were supposed to do a Fairy Tale topic, but we didn't. Been busy lately, keeping them running with story time and play dates and  looking around for co-ops and homeschool activities. I went to look at February's planned topics, and for some reason, THERE WAS NONE! Apparently I skipped the whole month of February when I wrote out the year's topics. So, I decided I would attempt the "unschooling method" (where you let them take the lead) for the month. It isn't like they will get behind. They are 3. They don't even have to "do school" and they will still learn. 

But to my surprise, Samantha noticed we weren't having lessons, and she looked straight at me and said, "I want to learn about butterflies. Can we do lessons on that?" So we have. They are more informal. I took away the calendar. I decided they are just too young. And we just do our lessons anywhere and everywhere. We checked out books from the library on butterflies. We have watched some videos about butterflies transforming. Listened to songs about caterpillars. And I am wanting to go find some of those rubber butterflies and caterpillars for her to play with. Do some butterfly art-lots of good ideas out there. And maybe go outside this Spring and make a butterfly feeder or look for some butterflies, if she is still interested at that point. 

I really want to start listening to her. She shows even more interest when she chooses the topic and when we learn and where, weather it is outside, in the car, or in the living room. One night, before bed, we were laying down, and she just kept asking question after question about butterflies. She learned a lot, and she remembers it too! And I am learning also, because I am looking up stuff to answer her questions! 

Did you know butterflies have an all liquid diet? And that caterpillars only eat plants. And did you ever wonder what eats a butterfly? All kinds of animals! Ants, snakes, birds, lizards, and MONKIES! And in some countries, humans eat them as a delicacy! 

I never knew I could learn so much myself! And these are things that I truly believe will stick with me. And I hope they stick with Sam. 

As far as the co-op hunt goes, I am touring one on Friday. And I will be talking to the YMCA in my area to get more information about their homeschool activities. I think I like their idea better because it is all physically active stuff, no academics. I can take charge of those at home. That way there is no mixing of learning styles or curriculums. But she can't start there until she is 5.