We have quite a few (to say the least) unschooling skeptics among our friends and family. Too radical for most people I supposed. Although the more they see the way she learns, the more they actually seem impressed.
Set the stage: Midnight on Sunday night. Everybody in the living room. Our guest seems surprised that S is fully awake at this time. Playing on her new video game - Mario Maker. Building detailed levels she designed on her own. "Do you stay up this late often?" "Yep." I'm like, "Great. If they didn't think we were bad parents before, they will now. (Even though I don't see an issue with what she is doing - learning technology, Geometry, etc. I know most people just see red lights and think, "Lazy kid! Up at midnight on a screen!")
15 minutes later S picks up a project that she started the other day on her own accord. (Whew!) Pretend play at its finest. She had spent 3-1/2 hours "training our dogs" last Thursday (which involved clicker commands and playing tug of war with a double rope we bought for them.) She also cut out intricate medals for each dog and flags for those attending her event to buy. She made signs with prices. (I never tried to make it a lesson on which way the numbers face or how to draw a cent sign. She just knew. And occassionally asked questions while I cooked dinner.) She got out her pretend cash register, made tickets, and a ticket booth. She had a fake plastic phone to take calls on.
Fast forward to Sunday night:
As she announced the opening of her ticket sales, she began answering calls from ALL OVER THE WORLD! People wanting to see German Shepards and Collies at her show. She regretfully had to tell each caller that she could not fill their request at this performance but would keep it in mind for her next one. "There is always room for change." She sold me dog signs and gave me change for my dollar. Then it was time for the show. She introduced herself and the bark and wrestling commenced!
"Is this unschooling?" Our guest said jokingly. "At it's finest," I replied, "she came up with it all on her own."
I was beaming with pride. Our guest was surprised. And I could not have been happier. S was simply...playing. And yet she was coming up with these elaborately planned scenarios that taught her so much. This year has been nothing but reassurance that pure, untainted unschooling (aka play) can turn such amazing results. No freaking out anymore. At all. No panic if we don't do enough Science or reading. No panic if she can't spell the word, "please." Just calm. And peace. Because I know without a doubt the things she learns on her own schedule will stick with her for years to come.
Update: The whole week, though a "normal" week for us this year went pretty well. We did our usual Heritage Girls. The decorated cakes again for their badges. She learned about some new decorating tools. They announced that the next week (tomorrow) will be a field trip to a bakery to see how cakes are decorated. And then at home she baked her own cake! Out of apples we had picked that weekend. I showed her the recipe and double checked her work and she was spot on! All I did was check and clean. She had swim. Learning more diving. And tennis Thursday. As well as bike riding on Friday. Where she learned how to comfortably stand and ride! (This year is physical.) Per S's request, we bird watched for a few hours one day in the front yard. And identified a few birds accurately! We are going to be so ready this Spring for the Bird-A-Thon! We also did some experiments with her new chemicals she got for her birthday. Read half her Kit Mystery. (This one is slow going.) We began a documentary on Egypt but both lost interest. I figured she didn't get anything out of it until she was talking to my Mom Saturday telling her all about "this grass in Egypt that you can rub together and make strong rope that they used to build ships! And did you know they actually buried a ship with a dead king?" This all lead to a conversation about the water they found on Mars. Oh and Wednesday morning she learned how to fundraise. She raised quite a bit. Although she was nervous and did not like it one bit! Lastly - actually first and foremost - she played, played played. Doll and Legos and Drawing pictures, and Littlest Pet Shops, and a shape sorter Noah's Ark. And with her doll house. And with her baby dolls.
This year has been laid back. We rarely sit at the table to work. In fact, as I said before, it has been very active. But there is airways time for discovery. Friday while riding bikes, we identified a caterpillar we found on the sidewalk. The field guide we bought last Spring has come in handy!
We have so much planned over the next few weeks. Our usual sports. A show and sell for her fundraiser. A hike with AHG. A trip to the zoo. A trip to the pumpkin patch...VACATION! Which will result in MANY discoveries! I can't wait. We are down to less than 2 weeks now and every day we are closer. Although it seems like we are so excited for the next big happening, I don't want this year to end. It seems we finally got it right. It's the perfect year. But next year will be different. Her age. Her needs. Her interests. All different.