academics / homeschooling / what is an education

two seasons in our home: formal studies and project-based learning (unschooling)

I cannot call myself a true unschooler because there is a season where I pull out the workbooks, insist on essay writing, exponents and French verb conjugations.

True unschoolers don’t insist on anything prescribed.

I’m sure I’ll change my approach again, but I think I’ve found myself a tried and true balance. One that provides a lot of engagement with the world.

There are two seasons for our family over the last few years: the prescribed academics season and the unschool season. Or if the unschooling notion is hard to fathom, I’ll call it a project-based season.

We’ve put the books away. Packed them into boxes even. Almost all of them anyways–until a couple of us finish our writing books, complete those research papers and essays. The grammar books, the formal French and Latin, spelling lessons and history lessons…we’ll see you in September. The math books will stay in our care, spending a tiny portion of each morning continuing to practice throughout the year.

This project-based season is not for increased screentime. I’m tighter on screentime, in fact. If they become computer programing coders, it will be a remarkable feet as I’m not giving them enough time to pursue that. I’m steering them towards their passions though.

I’m certain it will ebb and flow over the next few months, but these are some of the things they’ve done the last couple weeks…

1. …fought for the computer. Yes, ironic. A screen. Even before I sat down to write this, I was asked how long I would be. Two of them are writing their own fictional stories. They’re lapping me at 1000 words a day. Each evening they read to us the continuing saga of their stories. I know I’m their mom, but they are authentically listenable stories.

May 13, 2015 004

2. Entertained me with their music. Piano. Guitar. I’m starting to get envious of their skill. I think I hear something from iTunes, but I turn the corner to discover, it’s one of my kiddos. I’ve even asked for guitar lessons. My girl isn’t nearly as patient as her mother, ha ha ha, as she insists I can play A minor, C and G in thirty seconds or less but I’m sure I’ll soon be strumming along with Vance Joy.

3. Find employment. One of us does the ironing, which is certainly a payable job, as I have love-hate, no just hate, relationship with it. Another waters my greenhouse plants every morning, while also tracking and drawing the growth of one pumpkin seedling. Yet another has written her resume and cover letter, circulating it in hopes that she’ll land on the library shelving position. One of them is catering for the monthly emerg staff meeting, making a couple dozen breakfast treats and learning about capital costs and interest on a new 20 cup coffee urn.

4. Indirect lessons on floatation and physics. Tis the season to be outdoors.

May 13, 2015 017 …the boat must first be inflated…

May 13, 2015 020…but we’ll row anyway…

May 13, 2015 011…can we charge for rides in this contraption? No. No we can’t, cause it won’t stay together.

5. Home economics. Bread baking, dessert preparation, muffin making. Everyone gets a turn each day to create. And with all that grocery store practice, my eldest has even taken on a full grocery shop independently, visa and all.

6. Less screen time…which has turned into science time. Every afternoon they can watch an episode of SciGirls or Animal Planet or Planet Earth. All found on Netflix. It’s downtime, but also discover time.

7. And there’s still extracurricular and games, games, games. Soccer, dance, gymnastics, music lessons, playdates and youth groups. I even, in utter disbelief, heard my eldest say she’ll have to play chess with her brother every day. Whaaa?

May 13, 2015 003

I know I only ascribe to this quote half the year, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it…

What is essential is to realize that children learn independently, not in bunches; that they learn out of interest and curiosity, not to please or appease the adults in power; and that they ought to be in control of their own learning, deciding for themselves what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.” John Holt

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