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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"School Shopping"

I get a lot of questions about if it makes me sad that Samantha won't get to "school shop," and the answer to that is always a no. Although Samantha "school shops" differently, it is a fun sort of different. Even she enjoys it. For Sam's school shopping, I get to order her games online and things pertaining to her unit studies. We get to buy her new outfits for her activities and group meetings still. And since she doesn't have a "supply list" which is generally half donations to the classroom and half things the individual student will use, we have more money to put towards different things-things she wants, like the super awesome pencil case she got or a fancy new outfit for the Back to School Picnic. And of course, there is always something I need/want to buy for our homeschool! Here is what we got this year:

Math: I ordered several new games for Sam to help her learn math without workbooks! That is and will continue to be our "curriculum" for a long time. I ordered Math Dice, Math War, and soon we will order her the Math Mat. (Side Note: She is already getting quick at her Math because of these games!) She also uses computer games for Math as well as Reading.

Science: We picked her up a sketch pad to go with her nice art set (That she got for Christmas last year. It has professional pencils, pastels, etc. in it.) That way she can use it for her Quiet Nature Studies and Prayer Time. Also included in her Science supplies, several things pertaining to her Body Unit Study, like a torso model I got her at the Curriculum Fair this year.) 

Georgraphy: We have maps and globes and a few board games. Since we are really just getting familiar with maps and also with out Homeschool Community, I didn't feel the need to add anything. I want her to focus on making new friends and getting into a routine with all this new stuff going on.

English:We use the Library as our resource for English. We Read. Read. Read. We read tons of books for her Unit Studies. We read for fun. We read for information. And just from reading she has learned that there is punctuation, capitalization, and even incorrect spelling. I don't have to point it out. She just knows. So I feel no need to add to this either. Although, from time to time we find a book we really Love and order it offline or find it at a used book store.

Last night we took Sam out for a picnic in the Battle Field. It was a pretty, cool day, so we got to play in the fields and walk up the Tower Monument. Then we headed to WalMart to shop for a few small things. We had to get new Crayola Markers, a ruler (which had a clock and calculator on it-just to keep her familiar with those two tools.) She also got a sharpener for all the cute unsharpened pencils she has. Eraser tops. And an awesome pink camo pencil box that has a key to lock it and pockets inside.

Groups We Will Join:

Catoosa Home Education Association-A Local Support Group that gets together bi-weekly for field trips, holiday parties, field days, etc. They are having a "Not Back To School Picnic" in September, so we can go check it out before we join. (Jessie and I promised to buy Sam a new outfit from Justice in the mall for the picnic. She is super excited!)

Sam will also start her Homeschool Gymnastics class in September.

Planned Pield Trips:

Bodies Exhibit in Atlanta! We are super excited about this one, and will go when Sam ends her Human Body Unit. It is sort of pricey, but they do have Homeschool discounts, and I can't pass up taking her there when she is so interested in the body!

This "School Year" is going to rock! Sam is pumped and so am I. We will pretty much do what we always do, but with a few activities added in and slightly more structure, not much. I still want her to have time for play and exploration, because that is what she truly needs.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Serious Play by John Holt

I read a book recently, by John Holt, famous author and supporter if the Homeschooling/Unschooling movement. It is called Teaching Your Own. John Holt's books always make me think of things in a different perspective. His examples and explanations make think of the things the way children see them, most recently play. In his book, Teaching Your Own, there is a chapter called "Serious Play," which talks about the importance of play in learning. I always knew children learned through play, but not until I read this chapter was I able to truly understand how.

As many know, children learn the basics through play. Textures as a baby. Maybe colors and numbers, or even letters as toddlers. And as they grow, they are learning more about social skills, making their toys interact with one another. They may even create their own experiments, taking things apart and putting them back together or putting them in water to see what they do. (I used to struggle with buying S toys that were not labeled educational, until I learned this. Now my only rule is to limit toys that don't require imagination. She has lots of building materials and plastic animals like dinosaurs and fish.)

Back to the matter at hand, John Holt proposes that children use play as a way to act out life experiences, to practice living in our world, which we see in many instances, such as play store and play cooking or taking care of babies. I believe there is lot of value in this. After all, sooner or later we will all go grocery shopping or cook a meal. Kids can learn recipes, math, and other real world concepts through this. Sometimes I can hear S listing the ingredients of something or experimenting with how much something in a store might cost.

However, Holt also proposes another, less evident, reason for play. Children are just learning how to deal with the events in this world, and they experience hurt on a regular basis. To deal with this, children may be seen or heard acting out situations they have been a part of. My daughter will sometimes make her Little Pet Shops say things to each other like, "You can't play with us. You are weird." Or "We don't want to play with you because you are a girl." I used to tell her to stop and use nicer words. I couldn't understand why she was doing that, until I read that chapter. Holt states children use play to act out those painful experiences over and over again until they gain complete control of the situation, and therefore are no longer hurting, which makes perfect sense. S eventually stops playing out the scenarios she once couldn't stop re-playing.

And if you consider yourself, and you are anything like most people I have talked to, when a hurtful or even exciting event takes place, you can't stop replaying it in your head. Maybe it could have gone different or maybe you just have to keep telling yourself the exciting news. Sound like you?

Another observation, I have also noticed her play is different when she is playing by herself or with me than when she is playing with another friend or my little brother.

With me, or alone, she does a lot of experimenting, slow thinking,  and more so lately, story telling.

With her peers, S is more active, playing pretend and learning to compromise-who will be the Husband? Who will be the baby? Are we cooking or grocery shopping? Who gets to wear the green hat?

I believe there is good in mixing both. Too much alone play may produce boredom. Too much group play may cause over stimulation and lack of alone time that children need to quietly play and figure things out on their own.

If you have not read any of John Holt's books or his Growing Without Schooling, I strongly advise you too, especially this one. Even if you are not a homeschooling parent, Holt presents things in a way that makes you understand the mind if a child, using real life situations as examples. And I have found the more I understand the mind of my daughter, the closer we grow, because I can use the "stop, think, and understand" approach to parenting.