Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cabin Fever of a sorts and the Great Homeschool Unschool Experiment

So every winter I get Homeschool Mom's Cabin Fever. It's when I start looking at what we are doing in school and start to nit pick and second guess all that we are doing.  Well...this year we are doing very wonderful. The kids cover Math, Vocabulary, Language Arts, Science, History, Geography, and Greek and Latin Roots, everyday. We do this using a lot of workbooks that cover small amounts of information each day as opposed to teaching larger lessons a couple times a week. My two children thrive  and learn and enjoy this style of learning. So why am I looking for something more?

When we started homeschooling, we used Oak Meadow curriculum. My oldest and I colored and drew wonderfully colorful pictures based on stories we had read, math concepts we were studying, history lessons, etc. We spent hours playing and exploring the local nature centers and the woods. We sang and recited verses. We had so much fun. All the while, our second child was busy playing and creating in pre school. Then when he started Kindergarten, I brought him home with us. However, now my oldest was busy with concepts like multiplication and we couldn't just run off to the nature center all the time. My oldest loved writing so we were slowly turning more towards schooling in our schoolroom rather than embracing all there was to learn in the world around us.

So this winter, I started realizing that we were doing a lot of work, but it was just that, work. No longer did we do all the fun stuff, the creative stuff, the "this is why we do this " sort of stuff. Last year, I ran the kids ragged (and myself too) with field trips  and classes that I just knew they would find fun and exciting and in the end, they were always complaining about never being home and about how much they did NOT want to be doing all the stuff that was supposed to be fun. So this year I made the commitment to tell them all the options that were out there but giving them the decision making power of what fun things to participate in and which to skip.

Now I was seeing that the way we were schooling was not the what we started out to do with our kids. I asked them about each of their subjects; what they liked and what they didn't. My oldest didn't like her math curriculum (this was the third we had tried) and my middle child didn't like his Language Arts curriculum so I sat down and looked at why they didn't enjoy them and rewrote these subjects from scratch for them. I reinstated what we called "Picture and Paragraph" where the children would create a picture from what they read the previous night and then wrote a few sentences describing the picture. I allotted large amounts of time for creating these, stressing that it was the process and not the finished project we were concerned with. The children began to smile again in school and to seem very relaxed while drawing

I took homeschooling books from the library looking for fresh ideas for our lessons and started finding myself reading more and more about Unschooling and what it entailed. As I read about families whose children took control of their learning, and the joy they found, I started wondering what it would be like if we embraced this method of learning. I talked to the kids and asked what they thought about it and at first glance, they were taken by it. My oldest is very independent and thought that this sounded like it might be fun to be able to decide what to learn about. My middle child thought it sounded like he would get to hang out and do nothing. He was disappointed when I told him that he would have 3 hours of learning time plus would have to keep a journal of all he learned. But he thought it still might be fun to try. So...we are going to do a Homeschool Unschool Experiment. For the next seven weeks, we are going to unschool, and document it as we go. The children will each keep a journal, either written or on the computer, and I will blog about our adventures here.
So come along with us and see what fun we will have!

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