I’m so glad the weather is finally warming up! While autumn is my favorite season and I can’t wait for it to turn cool and crisp, by time we get to January or February I’m ready for spring. Maybe I just like the steadiness of the earth’s cyclical changes. Whatever it may be, we were happy to get outside today, especially after being cooped up in the house over Easter with sick ones. I hadn’t been grocery shopping at all since we had been dealing with illness, and we had completely run out of leftovers, so Golden Chick was on the menu. It’s nowhere near healthy and wasn’t remotely satisfying for me, although the kids loved it, but oh well, don’t judge! Ha ha! We put a blanket out under the tree in the backyard and had a super fun picnic!
Let me just also say that this is one of the reasons I absolutely LOVE homeschooling! We all just needed to get out the house, and this was the perfect opportunity. As homeschoolers, we are always learning. I say “we” because that includes ME! Homeschooling is not the same as the public school setting though. We don’t sit at the table for 8 hours a day and do bookwork. We follow an “unschooling” style of learning, at least right now. My kids are 6 years and 4 years old, and then there’s the baby who is 7 months. The two older boys are at an age where kids naturally learn more from play than from any other method. Kids aren’t made to sit still for so long. While I do believe that ADD/ADHD is a real thing, I also hypothesize that many times it is a case of not letting a child learn in their natural method. Kids, especially boys, can get very fidgety and lose focus when sitting for so long, and they need an avenue in which to expend all that energy. This is what we do with unschooling.
What is Unschooling?
I have to say that I was really turned off my unschooling when I first heard of it. I truly think that it’s because people don’t always use the same definition of the word. The people who I had seen that said they “unschooled” really weren’t unschooling at all. They were telling the kids to go read some books, learn what they wanted to learn, and the parents were not including themselves in the children’s schooling, nor were they checking up on their progress. That’s not unschooling, that’s NOT schooling! That’s leaving kids to their own devices and not giving them any guidance. That is most certainly not what we do in our home. Rather, we go about our daily lives and incorporate natural learning through the things we do, such as playing outdoors or cooking. Take today, for example. Today we had a picnic out back and we sat and listened to the birds. This lead to a line of curious questions and statements. “Mom, why is it spring?” “Mom, I see a bee!” “The bugs are bothering me!” As I responded and we had a conversation, I asked questions back to my kids. “Why are bees so important? What do they do?” “What are the seasons? What’s the weather like in that season?” So today we learned about spring, new growth, insects, bees, pollination, and even planted sunflowers. Then we came inside and watch an episode of The Magic Schoolbus about bees. And now we are learning about earthworms. No curriculum required, no textbooks, no table work. Just life! We will go to the library (home or public) or internet for more information often. We have some resources at home that we use when learning about things, especially maps and science stuff. The only curriculum we currently use is Classical Conversations. We use the classical model of learning to teach geography, Latin, math, science, English grammar, history, and timeline, and then expand upon those using our extra reading materials, Netflix, the library, and the internet.
Homeschooling is much more than academics. It’s about building character, training up children spiritually and morally, helping them learn how to learn and how to love it, and being the most influential person in our children’s lives. Some of our “lessons” involve how to load the dishwasher, how to makes beds, working off a chore chart checklist, pulling your weight and helping each other out, gardening, outdoor skills, cooking, and work ethic. The academics comes into play while we are learning those life lessons. Would you believe my oldest son understood fractions by around age 4 or 5 just by cooking and making pizzas with me in the kitchen? And instead of sitting there with a worksheet, we actually made it fun! I absolutely LOVE seeing my sons’ eyes light up when the grasp a new idea. When it stops being fun, we take a break, because learning at this ago should be fun! Gradually, they will be able to sit for longer and do lessons that may not be quite so much “fun”, but for now everything is laid back. And by the way, another added benefit is that we get to go places whenever we want. We’ve been on vacations during the traditional school year, we’ve taken a break just to go see grandparents, we join other homeschool families for field trips to places like the planetarium, and we often join people for park play dates. I’m so glad God lead me down this journey, and I have to say my kids really enjoy it as well!