I've said it before. I'll say it again. This year has been great. My feet were already in the unschool pool the last two years, so I just decided to go ahead and jump in.
Here are some things we do different:
-Playtime is ANYtime. As long as S is not being rude and using it as an excuse to quit something we are doing, playtime is anytime she will go to her room and play with her toys. It can be when she wakes up. (Although she generally begs me to read to her first.) It can be in the middle of the day-before or after we play for a bit. And it can definitely be at night. I know once we start back activities we will be in the car more often, so S has a bag of toys already packed so she can play on the go too!
-We no longer keep track of what S does every week. I'm sick of it. Doing things so that we can write them down in the book. I just want to scribble on the pages and write, "TALK TO HER AND YOU WILL SEE!!!" in ALL CAPS. I mean, honestly, anybody who talks to her sees how much she knows. And every one who took the time out to come and see her gallery-which sadly enough was only half the friends and family invited - were thoroughly impressed by her art. Enough to say something even when she wasn't standing there.
-No more big projects. Unless she is 100% the initiator. And at that point, I will help, but I won't push. And I won't make sure it is done a certain way. That is all up to her. It seems like we spend a whole year on these long projects and I end up seizing control until the end because I expect too much from her.
-And my very favorite change is-focus less on academics! MORE on problem solving. I was at the store the other day and I was going to spend $12 on this group of card games that are trivia based. Things like "What is the population of Kenya?"/"What geological formation is most common in Southern Australia?" Or, I could spend $6 for a puzzle and another Think Fun logic game. We discussed it and both chose logic. Because in the end, who cares what she knows academically? Who do I know who can name-and does so frequently-all the Civil War battles or the imports of South Africa? Who do I know that diagrams their sentences for work? Even an author doesn't do that. But I'm over here freaking out thinking that Fashion in History maybe isn't academic enough to use for a History Fair Project and then I thought, you know what? Who cares? At this point it is all fun and games. From here on out, let's say we did the bare minimum. And no. I don't mean sit her in her room in a pair of underwear, give her bread and water for meals, and leave her to her own devices. But I mean if we spent all our days bike riding, playing games, reading, laughing/playing, hiking, experimenting with her beakers and graduated cylinders, what is she missing? Nothing really. What is she gaining? So. Much. If we did what most people considered" minimum" for the rest of her life, which I highly doubt she will continue to do as she grows older and wants internships and all, she will still leave my house equipped with basic math. She will be well read. She will have common sense, logic, and plethora of problem solving skills. With a huge side helping of patience. She will have experience and knowledge about all sorts of things in the World around her. She may not be a master at any one thing, but she lives to dabble and she impresses people with her knowledge. About how the boat locks work. How candy canes are made. She likes to talk about animal behavior and why the incline on trails is hard on the body. She knows how to camp and rock climb and she can tell you about canoe safety. Fishing. She knows how to take videos and enjoys learning to edit them. She loves music. She listens to it for hours a day. And she can interpret songs. She can tell you about Impressionism and Abstract art. She likes to talk about the lives of famous painters and how classical music effects the emotions. She already is-and will be - well rounded. She may not be academically gifted, but just like every kid, she excels at her top interests at the time. She has a Scientific mind. She can explain how things work with no need to tell her. SHE was teaching ME about aerodynamics yesterday! And she did not even know there was a word for it!!
So here it is.
Here is our goal for the year:
-PLAY PLAY PLAY
-READ READ READ
-Spend time mind building instead of pushing things she won't remember in 10 years. Puzzles are great! So much conversation can take place while doing a puzzle together. Especially if it is a puzzle of a nature scene, famous painting, or landmark. Right now we are doing puppies! S LOVES animals. We will play our Think Fun games that even give me a hard time and Chess as much as possible. Strategy games like Battle Ship - Risk as she grows older.
-Keep on keeping on with anything she wants to learn without pushing. If she is truly interested, she will bring it to the table. Right now. That's Science. Her microscope just came in and we haven't had a chance to use it. She's dying. We plan soon to go to the creek and collect samples to look at. Ah. We are both dying it seems. But if it goes back to something non academic like art or a sport - so be it! I think that might even be cooler.
-Let life happen. That pretty much sums it up. Throughout the year, lots of "Life" happens. And I won't freak because we got one less home day because of life-as long as it isn't something like errand running. We have many adventures to go on already: Camping with AHG where they will teach new things. Pumpkin Patch, Apple Festival, Vacation where she will get to zipline for the very first time. And hike a new trail with new land features she has never seen before. And probably more. The Challenger Center at UTC, Huntsville Space Station. This year she will build a float for the Christmas parade. That's a first. And who knows what else? That's just what is on the list that I can remember! Then you have holidays and playdates. Many projects to do: History, Geography, Science Fair, Badges, Community Service together and with AHG, party planning for her birthday, and classes!! Oh My. Yep. We are booked.
It is gonna be a good year if we just keep doing what we are doing and see where it leads us. If I can keep doing what I have done the last 2 weeks. Not Worrying how many pages we read, how many games we play, or hours we log, I know that we will lead a fuller life because when we do things it will be for the sake of having fun and doing them based on interest. NOT on what I can log in her journal. (Although I am still required to write a progress report. And I will. Those things tell more than any journal ever could anyway.) I still have pictures. And all of Samantha's abilities to prove we do things. But our "work" is must people's play and that's how it should be. Unschool For Life.
Thought provoking video, but couldn't get it to load.
Google: Don't Stay In School Video. First Hit.