So in preparation for our big unschooling trial, I have been reading a few books on the whole subject and am understanding that we had been doing some of this all along. We had been picking ideas that the kids came up with to incorporate into our studies. One year I let the children pick all the topics we covered in science and then created a curriculum about each topic. I have found lapbooks based on their interests in book series and allowed them to tour museums and find pieces that spoke to them and used those artists for whom we studied that year.
My favorite story that I have read so far is a family who have "scheduled unschool" The children still rise at a decent hour, do chores and have breakfast, and then have 2 hours of learning time before lunch and 2 hours of learning time in the afternoon. During these learning times, the children chose whatever they want to learn about. The Mom gives them access to the internet, takes them to the library, etc to gather what information they want. Once a week each child chooses an experiment in science to do and writes up a lab page on what they did. Sometimes this sparks a child to investigate further on that topic or on a particular scientist. A couple times a week, the kids do some math work at various sites. And in the last hour of their learning time, they are required to journal about what they learned about that day. Mom says the kids, given this freedom to choose topics, have come up with projects to do, written plays about a time in history, etc, all on their own. She facilitates getting them supplies for things, helps them if they get stuck, etc, but only gives them the structured time, not content of their schooling.
This sounds sooooooo wonderful to me. I think this is the model for our Unschooling experiment. I have a unit study in kiting in process so we will be working on that a little bit, and I have pulled out my science experiment books and set them on our library table for the kids to peruse over the next week. I have asked them to browse through "1000 children's books you should read before you grown up" and pick a half dozen to have on hand for independent reading and as we go along, I will chose read aloud books to coordinate with what they are studying at the time. We are also in the middle of an artist lapbook that I am going to work on this week and then put aside until after the unschooling experiment. We will finish it up before the end of our school year so we can show our reviewer, but unless the children ask to work on it over the next 6 weeks, we will go back to it later.
I am really hoping this helps my daughter conquer her blocks about Math. She has been learning decimals all year and has not liked the curriculum she has been working with. I am going to give her 3 topics that she must master by the end of the 6 weeks and see if she can teach herself, with the help of a bunch of great websites, including http://www.khanacademy.org/ and several others. Again, guided unschooling, allowing the children to work on what they want and topics they choose, with a bit of math thrown in for good measure.