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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Start Of This Unschool Season

Today has been a day...An amazingly, unbelievably, great day! As I stated before, we do not have a school year that starts and ends, aside from the dates (September 1st-August-September 31st) for paperwork's sake. But we do have changing seasons, and the last few years have looked like this:

Fallish (August-November): Lots of projects, unit studies, experiments, game playing, video clip watching, and field trips. Oh my! The fieldtrips, Apple Picking, Pumpkin Patch, Fall Festivals, anything unit study related-we are always itchy to get our year started, and of course any fieldtrips CHEA plans that we opt into-everybody in CHEA gets itchy to get their year started too so there is definitely a flood of fieldtrip opportunities.

Early Winter-ish (Through the Holidays): Lots of Holiday History, baking, and celebrating-shopping, parties, visiting family, carrying out family traditions. Last year we learned a lot about the Indians and Columbus around Thanksgiving. And around Christmas we learned a lot about old traditions and the Bible. This year S wants to learn about Pocahontas and more about how America came to be.

Late Winter-ish (January-Early March): Okay. By now we are tired of this cold weather, but alas, we will do what we have to. We have lots of projects for CHEA fairs. We pick back up on some of our unit studies from before the holidays. TONS of reading living books, because frankly, it is too cold to get out of the freaking bed, so we use this as an excuse to sit around all day and cuddle. This also includes some computer time between books. And, I'll be the first to admit, the occasional nap. Okay, more like every day nap. I am starting to think we are part bear....

Springtime (March-May): Lots of playing outdoors, even if that means carrying a large blanket outside, laying it out on the driveway, and playing board games until the sun comes around the house and starts burning our backs. Spring also means that we step over the threshold of the front door again to venture out to the playgrounds and creeks and explore all the wildlife that has begun to emerge! We start our garden and begin planning for the warm weather, so many things to do! We wind down some of our studies, although we never exactly put a definite end on them. There is always an opportunity to fuel the fire again. We make sure to savory the weekly trips to the library, because Summer is coming and that means my little brother will be joining our Unschool!

Summer: Summertime is extremely relaxed. If it wasn't all about play before, it is now. We spend our days playing in the water or on the trampoline. We go to some of the local water sources. We take trips to the library every week. And gotta have that downtime with TWO of them, so on the computer it is for both of them-30 minutes MINIMUM! No televisions on during the daytime hours. (Of course that is a year-round rule, but I occasionally slip in the colder months.) And Summer ALWAYS means Monday trips with Hubby to the beach or CAMPING! (This year it has been backpacking in the woods, camping in the wilderness, and finding new hobbies such as bouldering, caving, or searching out Historical spots!)

This Fall I would like to add in a few things. We will definitely be taking our bikes to the Battle Field regularly now that we have a bike rack to tote them on. Nature rides will very be nice in the cool weather. Camping will also extend into the Fall-between other activities like her birthday and all the Festivals. (Hubby is into Festivals this year and S wants to go to some Art related ones, so it looks like we will be a Festival Family this season!)

So anyway, back to today. Today has been a great day! I was determined for us both to enjoy our first day back into our Fall rhythm, and boy did we both! We started out the day reading in the bed until she was ready to really wake up-just one book's worth. We went to the kitchen for some granola and S and I carried on our new tradition of writing each other notes on the board every morning and reading them out loud. Then we went to play on the trampoline for a few minutes before S almost died from a lack of oxygen because she was doing so many flips and then we came inside to do an experiment. (S is studying caves, because she loves to cave with her Daddy.) So we did an experiment to see how stalactites and stalagmites are formed. This somehow lead to her wanting to bake a cake. (However, I have to save what ingredients I have for her birthday cake Sunday.) So we decided to do use Playdough, seeing as she just wanted to practice some of the decorating skills she learned from Nerdy Nummies. I opted for "Minecraft Cookies" and she opted for princesses. Rather than put her dolls in the Playdough though, she attached my Minecraft cookie heads to her dresses. Wa La! Magnificent! Lunchtime. I am determined not to waste time between activities this year. Even sweeping can get us both sidetracked and waste a lot of time, so we went with some Civil War uniform books to look at while I cooked lunch. This lead to lots of questions about military ranking and watching a video about the Emancipation Proclamation, per her request. Which THEN lead to watching a documentary on the History Channel called "Stealing Lincolns Body." (It popped up on the YouTube list for what to watch next.) I was completely oblivious to the fact this crime ever took place. The documentary went on to detail the happenings of his assassination, some fun facts about his life, his embalming, the history of embalming, and his burial. (We made it 30 minutes in. We stopped at this point because S said she wanted to finish it another day.) However, we both learned lots of facts-double checked our sources, and she asked many questions from What is assassination? to Why do they embalm people? Man, at that point we were tired, but we were avoiding napping. (I guess being at home all day will take it out of you.) So we tried our hand at knitting and found that we need to double check that we are doing this right before we continue! WHEW! And at this point we were only a little over half way through the day. Dinner is 2 hours away now and she will help cook, so she started to play with some dolls and her kitchen while I read. Then decided to start a photo diary for her Memory Book. Afterward, she went on to play on her iPod while I did some research and started to type this.

Tomorrow we will trek to the library for the first time by ourselves since May, but since we are missing my brother and his school is right down the road, we will probably go eat lunch with him too.

It never ceases to amaze me that we wake up almost every morning without a plan, but always find something to fill the day and make it productive, weather it we do art, study History, or just play games. The coming weeks will be very busy with gymnastics, volunteering, clubs, and field trips. So we will definitely be enjoying our days at home. I'd like to do some origami at some point and paint with Nature. She seems enthusiastic about trying these things and I think it will help widen her perspective of art.

Side Note: I also did some research, trying to find some art related resources for S to take advantage of, without killing her creativity. I found an art festival that is coming up soon, and a Beautiful area in downtown Chattanooga called the Bluff View Art District. It looks majestic and is filled with galleries and artistic scenery. Most things are free. I plan to take S there in the coming weeks and take her to lunch in the District during the day. I think it will be good quality time where I can show interest in something she has a passion for. Oh wait, that is every day, but this will be an extra special day. ;)

I Love Home/Unschooling! It is the best decision we could have ever made, and while we don't enjoy EVERY minute of it, (Like last week when S wanted to try worksheets, but she took over an hour to do just one because she was bored and kept getting distracted...Yah. Those days.) we DO enjoy most of it.

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