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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Unschooling Week

Some days I like to record all that we do so that I realize how much we are actually Learning all the time. This week I decided to do a whole week's worth. Here is what our week looked like:


Monday is a weekend for us, because Jessie is off. This Monday was extra special. We have been doing a lot of Easter lessons and working on traditional activities. Every year we celebrate by ourselves as a family the Monday before Easter. We like to use that day to put a lot of emphasis on Jesus and why we celebrate. And then Easter we attend church and focus on spending time with Family.

On Monday morning Sam helped us make breakfast. Pancakes and eggs. She learned how to make fried eggs.

Then we dyed eggs using onion skins. (Pace Eggs) We talked about what the red symbolizes and why it is important.

The rest of the day was pretty lax. Egg hunt. Cleaned house. Met friends for dinner. Then Sam played for the rest of the night.

At bedtime we drew numbers and words on her marker board. We talked about the date. Read books. Sang songs. And reflected on the day. Generally, this is what her bedtime looks like. Sometimes it is more hurried, but generally takes about an hour. We use this time down time for more learning and bonding time. Even Daddy likes to come in the room and make colorful illustrations on her board or teach her about her current topic on it using drawings.


First things first, Weather Journal.

Afterward we did an activity that taught pressure-The 'ol cup of water and index card trick. We recorded her hypothesis and conclusions. We also played with balloons-filling them full of air and then seeing what they did when she let go, and how the amount of air effected what the balloon did.

Then we watched Magic School Bus Air Pressure.

We made Resurrection Rolls.

Daddy came home on lunch. We all ate and played. 

Next was quiet time, where she played on her iPod. (I like to look on her iPod to see what applications she opened and keep track of what she has done.) Today she played a math game, a sentence building game, site words, Butterfly app, and several Space games. When she decided she was tired, she turned on Classical Music. I like for her to hear a variety of music from different composers and artists, so I Love when she turns on the Classical Music. 

Next, Samantha helped me cook dinner. We had crockpot lasagna because she had dance class. She saw/helped me boil the water, brown the meat, and make the sauce/seasoning. She likes to help clean up and wash dishes.

Dance class. She practiced her routine and of course heard a lot of dance "lingo," learned some new moves, and played with the other kids.

Once we got home, we were worn out, so we ate dinner and she watched an episode of Martha Speaks before bed. (For those of you who have not seen that show, it comes on PBS. It is a show about a dog who ate Alphabet Soup and now talks because of it. Anyway, it teaches lots of good vocabulary.)

Quick Bed Time.


Weather Journal

Today was Center day. On the way there we played car games. We like to play the alphabet game and the "Guess Animal" game. The alphabet game is great because even though she knows her letters and sounds, I can introduce her to new words, thus a richer vocabulary. If she doesn't know a word that I say, she will ask what it means. And there have been times I have heard her use that word later on in the day. The "Guess Animal" game is something her and her friend, Gavin, like to play. You give 3 clues about an animal and the other person guesses it. What I like to do is give 2 obvious facts about the animal and then 1 cool fact. That way she can guess it still, but she learns something new. Once it was an owl. I said, "This animal can fly. It says, "Hoo," and it is nocturnal." She guessed it and then asked me about nocturnal animals. That opened up a whole new conversation. She also likes to look up animals on Google Images if she doesn't know what they look like.

After we got bored of playing car games-long ride-she started asking questions. One question was, "What are the white and yellow lines on the road for?" Another was, "What does the sign with a red circle and line through it mean?"And of course I took advantage of her curiosity and answered them.

We also listened to J103, Sam's FAVORITE station. :) 

At the Center Samantha played with toys, read books, watched a Magic School Bus episode on weather, and helped me make copies. She now knows the basics of using a copy machine, and she got some number practice in too. Not to mention she used some basic office supplies like a stapler to help me while sorting papers. She even mimicked it in her play at the Center. She would draw a picture and some words and then use sticky notes to number them and pretend to staple them.

When we got home, she had quiet time. Today she played Freddi Fish and the Case of the Stolen Conch Shell, another Math game, Spelling, Reading, Space, and Spanish. Then of course Classical Music.

Afterward, Samantha helped me cook dinner. We defrosted meat, used a can opener, and chopped up vegetables.

Family dinner time was next. And talking around the table as a family is something that I truly treasure, "educational" or not. Sometimes our conversations are educational. Sometimes just chit chat. Tonight was just chit chat.

As I am typing today's activities, she is building, making all sorts of contraptions for her Little Pet Shops to play in. We still have a few hours before bed...

Later on last night she continued to play and also got some time on starfall.com and power my learning.com

Bed Time.


This Thursday we went to my friend, Suzi's house. We had a blast. My friend made sure to have stuff for Sam to do because she tends to get bored when I visit. (But of course we didn't leave without doing our weather journal!

First we baked a cake. Yum! It turned out pretty well. Sam did most of it by herself. It was a simple premade mix, but it made her feel good to do by herself.

Then Samantha got to paint some 5 gallon buckets for us to put detergent in. She helped a little to make the detergent. She grated some of the soap-then got bored and went to play.  

She played in a fort that my friend's husband built for her. She really enjoyed it. She couldn't really see much, but she played with her iPod a little and had some quiet time and a nap.

Later on she drew a picture for someone's birthday.

Played Outside.

And, her favorite part-played with and took care of dogs. My friend has two small indoor dogs and Sam enjoyed chasing and petting them. She gave them treats AND a bath. She did really well giving them a bath,..My friend is extremely patient when it comes to letting kids do things by themselves without correcting them. So Samantha got to go all for it and bathe them the way she wanted too.

After Hubby got off work, he went and rode motorcycles with my brother in law and my friend's Husband. So we took Samantha to the playground to play in the pretty weather. There was nobody there, so she got to play and run and climb and swing everywhere she wanted without restriction.

We cooked dinner late at night, right before we all passed out to The Lion King. 


Fridays are always full of activity for us. Once a month we go grocery shopping. Those days we read signs and grocery lists, talk about budgeting and meal planning, look at prices-number practice, lots of real life skills. We discuss what foods are healthy and which ones are not. Samantha's favorite part is when we go to Ingles. We always  make sure to go through the self checkout line so that we can take our time and Sam can help. She likes to ring everything up, bag it, and pay for it with my debit card! She sees the prices on the screen as they add up and she sees if I use coupons. She learns how to separate things in bags and asks what we use certain ingredients for. I even try to throw a little math in there as we add up how many of each item we have and how many more we need. By time we get home, she is worn out and falls straight to sleep!

Also, on Fridays, since the weather had gotten a little prettier, we like to visit Holcomb Garden Center, where we look for plants and learn a little about what we need to do to get our front butterfly garden started. Samantha gets to see the different plants and hear about how to take care of them, which plants which butterflies like, and what else they need to accommodate them. 

This Friday, however, was not grocery shopping day or errand day-since it wasn't payday.

This Friday We hung around the house for awhile. Weather journal first. Then we ate breakfast together and talked about Ladybugs and how she likes to study the dead ones in the house that came in last winter. At which point, I rummaged through my stash and pulled out LADYBUG LAND! She was so stoked! The Ladybugs are on order now. We studied the habitat and talked a little about Ladybugs. She wants to study Ladybugs and weather at the same time, which is fine because it will all tie into her Spring stuff, caring for butterflies and plants etc.

I packed some stuff up in the car for my Mom, which lead me to organize the game closet. Sam just played with her toys and then we got out some small games just for fun before we left.

Once I got that organized and the car packed up, I gave Sam a calendar I had found and forgot we had. I thought she would like "finding and touching" the date rather than looking at it on my phone. She was pretty excited and she recognized all the days of the week along with the month.

Daddy came home for lunch.

We went to the library. We have not been in awhile since I just got my car back last week and their system was down. She couldn't wait to check out lots of books! I usually have several weather books on hold, and today was no different. By I forgot....today is Good Friday. They were closed. No books for us, again.

Then we went to my Mom's house for her to play with Brennon the rest of the day. And I helped my Mom unpack. We were there all night. She played some board games with him, toys, wrestled, and got to help take care of my baby sister. (She is VERY  good with babies.) After work, Jessie came by. We all ate and then went home where, yet again, we passed out shortly after. (It has been a busy week of outings! Maybe we are always this busy and don't realize it. But I don't think so.)


Weather Journal. Today's weather journal came with a special discovery! Samantha Loves to go outside and check the rain gauge, weather it rained the night before or not. I knew it had rained from all the water on the ground, but when we got outside, there were only a few water droplets in the gauge. I knew the gauge was in a place it could collect water, so instantly my mind was blown. And that is when Samantha looks up and says, "Maybe it just sprinkled, and there was only a little, and the sun already evaporated it." That is when I KNEW it had clicked with her. All this weather stuff. She was applying it. It wasn't just spitting out information for her. It was studying, collecting data, identifying, and problem solving! At that particular moment, I could not have been more proud.

Then we went to my friend's house-different friend. (Again, we usually don't go out this often.) But Jessie works on Saturdays and my friend needed help on a school project. Saturday worked for both of us. So we set up a play/study date.

Samantha spent pretty much the entire day playing. Not sure really what she did, because by time we got home, she was out of it, so we didn't really have time to talk. All I know is she played hard.

After we got home, I made dinner and we ate. Then headed to the gym. Jessie just got a membership, so we went to check it out with him and waited in the lobby the rest of the time. I brought Samantha some stuff to draw with and her iPod. When we got there, we took a tour of the gym and she learned a little bit about workout equipment.

The rest of the night was spent cuddling together and SLEEPING! 


Sunday-it's Easter!

Today we started out by going to church. I was a co-leader for the class today, so I was in there with Samantha. We had worship music. Then a lesson on why we celebrate Easter. During the "free play" time, Samantha took care of my Baby Sister, because she was in class with us. She held her and fed her herself, comforted her, got her paci and covered her up. She is very good with babies.

Afterward we went to my grandparent's house and had an egg hunt and cook out, visited with family. The usual holiday festivities.

Samantha passed out when we finally got home, so Jessie and I have been watching TV all night, just spending time together, and enjoying each other's company. 

She just recently woke up, and took a bath. I Love bathtime because of all the discoveries that come with it! Tonight she has discovered that is she takes liquid soap and rubs it over the hole on the rubber duck's mouth, and squeezes the duck, it will blow bubbles. So she put on a little TV show about how she is a "Homeschooled Scientist" doing all kinds of experiments, and today's experiment IS BUBBLE BLOWING RUBBER DUCKY!

We just finished watching gymnastics shows on YouTube. She Loves watching the athletes do all their tricks over and over. It never gets boring to her, and I know EXACTLY how she feels. When I was little, I was the same way. I remember watching the same videos on ESPN.

Now she is sleeping and I am going to too. Lots of plans tomorrow. It should be pretty!

And that was out week...I am sure there are some things I left out. For instance, I forget what day, but I know several times we went to check on our chickens. (One of them has laid 10 eggs! And is sitting on them!) I would Love to start recording information about what they are doing, but I think I will wait for that. Right now she just likes to look at them and see what they are up too. (They, as in the roosters that are always guarding her!) For a 4 year old I would say that is a pretty productive week of discoveries...Until next time...

Side Note: At some point this week...I think it was Saturday, I began looking into gymnastics classes. Samantha takes part in dance right now, and while she Loves it, she thinks she wants to try gymnastics. So I started looking into classes. I wanted to find the perfect place for her to be and somewhere that worked for our family. After searching for about an hour, I ran across a homeschool gymnastics class. It is only about 11 miles away, a little further than I want to drive, but we will make do since it is a homeschool class. (I am sure I have mentioned before, she is already starting to realize the difference in that all her friends go to school and she doesn't. She does not want to go, but she still says it makes her feel like she is the only one who is homeschooled. So I thought it would be nice to put her in some groups where she can make some other friends who are homeschooled.) Also, the other great part about it is that it is a day class, which means no more having to rush to make a crockpot dinner before we have to go to dance class. However, it is twice a week, one hour per class. I am having to find ways to work around that, like cutting my time an hour short at the Center, so that she can go and it won't be taking up too much extra time. I am going to call about it and see what I can find out first thing in the morning. Just very excited to find yet another resource at my disposal. Around here you have to search for some of this stuff. It isn't very out in the open.

I also plan to join one of the local support groups come the beginning of the school year. Between CSTHEA and CHEA....But that is a whole 'nother post for a different day. :)

Night Ya'll.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Homeschool Discouragement

I have heard it happens, the discouragement and the self doubt, but I didn't think it would happen so soon! Samantha is only 4, and technically shouldn't even start what the school system considers pre-k until this September. But here, in my mind, I am like, "Oh my gosh, does she know enough?!" "Can she count high enough?" "She hasn't memorized the months of the year yet!" "Would she be better off in school?"

I am not sure why I care so much. One of the reasons I had decided to homeschool Samantha is because I wanted to choose what I thought was important enough for her to learn. And I wanted her to learn at her own pace, and through life. But lately, every time I hear that my little brother learned something I secretly wonder if maybe we should delay the focus on the unit studies and do more rote memorization, workbooks, and "circle time." Deep down I know that isn't what is right for our family. I like to focus on Bible study, nature, lots of getting involved with the community, learning about our history. Being "fast" at addition will come as she needs it in real life situations. Knowing what day of the week it is, will come with her natural curiosities for what day we do what and which days she sleeps in our bed. (The Weekend.) :)

I guess I just need some support and encouragement. As her friends transition into school it is hard to not feel alone.  It is starting to feel more real. And I know this September when she doesn't get out of the car and walk into her new class, that is when it will hit me full force. We will officially be considered homeschoolers. It is kind of scary, but I know it shouldn't be. People homeschooled/unschooled their kids for years before compulsory attendance. As her Mom, I will make sure she knows what she needs to know. And our entire family is there to help feed her interests and curiosities along the way. :) I just need to step back and see how much she has learned so far.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This is what Homeschool is all about....

The planetarium....well not just the planetarium. But all the experiences surrounding it.

They were finally open when we took her last Sunday! (I was afraid we were going to miss it because the car, but we haven't sold the Mustang yet.)

Even though we have moved on to weather, she was super excited! She got to play with several instruments, s constellation globe, a constellation finder, a telescope, and then there were pictures of planets and nebulas on the wall.

Then we went into the show. We were able to see a double program because they were trying out a new curriculum and wanted to see what the kids thought.

Sam loves the big dome and all the images. We all learned a lot. And the coolest part...portions of it, about the atmosphere, tied into her weather unit.

I Love trips like this! What a perfect way to end her Space study! I am already looking for ways to end her weather study.

Which is going great so far...This morning she initiated conversation about tornados. She asked questions. We looked up pictures. Read tornado books. Drew pictures. And did a tornado experiment! Later it began storming and we watched the weather channel for severe alerts and talked about tornado safety.

Just a side note...Jessie and I have been talking a lot lately about the co-op and I think we are going to do it. She needs friends who are homeschooled because she is started to get frustrated about her friends being in school and I feel bad about it. And all her friends that are older are beginning to tell her that they did this or that in school. When she tries to explain to them what she has done or learned with me, they look at her funny. I don't want to force her to conform, but I would like her to have ways to meet friends and do fun activities you can only to in groups...