Thursday, September 3, 2009

Homeschooling.... our style!

I have been meaning for some time to blog about our homeschool and never quite got to focus has been parenting and the things I learn along the way from my kids but to neglect our homeschooling would be to neglect a big part of my parenting journey!

We are unschoolers.... yep there I said it out loud for all to hear! Not that it's a secret really it's just that as an unschooler you have to be careful where you use that term because it brings to mind some pretty unpleasant things for some folks. To tell you the truth even if you talk to a bunch of unschoolers you will get all sorts of definitions and even the occasional aspersions cast towards other unschoolers that aren't doing it "right"! I claim the term because it does trip off the tongue easier than eclectic, relaxed, classically based, child led, attachment parenting, collaborative schooling!

Let me try to explain what I "do". You see for some folks that "un" part trips them up... they think I lie abed all day watching the soaps and reading steamy romance novels while my children run a muck and in the end are only capable of flipping burgers at Burger King once they graduate! Ok now I know there might be people that are offended by that but not a one of my children has claimed as their aspirations to flip burgers at any burger joint so this would not be their dream job. If it was then I would make sure they were the best at burger flipping they could be! I do guide my children in their behavior and in their education, not in the whack them to keep them in line sort of guiding but in the constant discussion of their goals and my goals and the continual effort to synch at least some of them at some point in their development. I find that around early high school my kids arrive at a place of figuring how how they are going to get where they want to be as an adult. They usually initiate the material and how to make it all look like traditional courses that a college can understand when evaluating their readiness to be a student there.

I have always maintained a resource rich environment... this is not the same as "I have alot of stuff" (which I DO but there is a method to my madness and the AMOUNT is not the operative term here!) I make sure that there are lots of interesting items available for my kids to explore. I can spend as much money or as little money and still have the same well rounded environment if I am attentive to the quality of what I bring into my home. A $2000 microscope isn't superior to a $200 microscope or even NO microscope at all if it's not available in an interesting way. My kids love to play games so we have lots of games, my kids like self contained activities so we have lots of those around as well. I LOVE to make file folder games and all kinds of those things so we have tons of those. We have lots of books and manipulatives. My schoolroom albeit messy currently (still not sorted from the move!) is a cool and interesting place to hang out and explore.

This year I have purposed to be a little more "step ahead" than my kids because my son is now 8 and getting to an age when he really really wants to know about everything. He is frustrated that I can't make a cool science experiment appear from thin air instantly! To solve that frustration I have purchased the books "Science Experiments in a Bag" book 1 and 2 ... coordinating a swap currently so soon I will have at least 25 experiments at the ready for him! I have always used a loose interpretation of Sue Patrick's Workbox system where I have boxes filled with activities for the kids to access if and when they want to. I haven't been using the system in a while but have pulled it back out for the two youngest this year and they are really digging it!

I am including some pictures with this post.... I can't figure out how folks seem to get pictures up and labels to coordinate with them so you will just have to figure out what I am talking about... at any rate Ainsley has a folder system where she can clearly see what each activity consists of and when it's finished. Jack's system is more straight forward with bins he can see what's in there and what's required to do the activity and so forth. I have also been making lots of the Evan Moor hanging centers so enjoy those pictures as well!

So anyway for our family the whole unschooling thing is having a prepared environment that respects that children learn every minute of every day and allows their interests to run their course in their time frame. So here ya go... a glimpse into our day!