Monday, August 15, 2011

Still no net..

So since the internet is still down and I can not post pictures using this stick I am having to post-pone the Stew and Chili recipes for a bit longer.

Since everyone is talking back to school I thought now might be a good time to talk about "school" in our house.

To say we are eclectic would be a good way to describe it. We do not define ourselves with labels, however most people would consider us "unschoolers"

What is an unschooler? Well there is no real definition that fits the same mold. Easily spotted by a lack of set curriculum and a more child led learning environment.

We rarely use store bought curriculum. I have used work books from time to time and the kids sometimes enjoy them as "fun" when they just want something to do. Yep thats right they consider work books fun.

There are many "styles" out there and we have tried a lot of them. When we first started homeschooling we enrolled our oldest in a charter school. This first charter school was a good school and had classes that met daily but you had to sign up for them. they were different classes and this worked well while we were there. We moved away and I enrolled my children in a another charter school but found that it lacked some of the things I loved about the other one. I also felt that it really was not working for my children. This is about the time I started to study John Holt and Charlotte Mason. Recently many people have taken a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. I personally skipped right past it although I do find that I use some of the beliefs of CM style as we consider ourselves to be "life learners". My friend over at Golden Acorn Homeschool just posted a fantastic post all about CM style, head on over there to see her post.

As Life learners we tend to incorporate learning into everything we do. Even if it is a trip to the grocery store. Walks outside are nature walks where we study the trees and the animals we see. We see the changes in everyday life and take note of them. This is how we approach everything in life. I do not tell my children "its time to start school" instead we just live. We learn each and everyday through learning. Sometimes we watch movies or play games. sometimes they sit and read books. I have not "taught" my children to read. I have encouraged them to read on their own at their own pace. We read to them everyday and sometimes they ask me how to spell a word and I help them, then they learn how to read the word as well as how to spell it.

So while I sit back watching people frantically "plan" their school year out I find myself wondering exactly what the year has in store for my family and I. We do not plan, or have a set schedule. I do not make them do work everyday. I know some people find that this is an important and it works for them. For me it does not work. I find that my children respond better to having control. If my 8 year old tells me that she wants to learn math today we sit and learn math. If they want to work in work books we do that. If they want to practice handwriting thats ok too. We sometimes do what appears to be nothing but is really a whole lot, like playing on the wii or watching a movie together. I encourage them to experiment new things and we enjoy learning all about things that are not typically taught in school. My oldest teen has done many unit studies on certain places. she has books on Rome, on ancient Greek, as well as hundreds on Ancient Egypt. She loves to paint and is very good.

So a peak at the life of our unschooling might be hard to capture what "looks" like learning. I can promise learning is happening. I notice it over time suddenly my children say something that makes me realize just how much they learned over a period of time. My youngest two can tell you all about why the leaves fall from trees, or how to tell if a tree is an evergreen or not. They also are learning to read on their own and spelling at their own pace. Its what works for us.

Now off to watch a movie while I crochet and enjoy spending time with my kiddos, we have a walk planned for later today.


  1. I really admire unschooling and I definitely try to incorporate that free style into our learning. I am definitely on the more relaxed side of a CM style. I know others who are very structured CMers, because they are influenced more by what she did in her schools. I think there is some structure to our year, but the kids don't really feel that, which is the point. I have goals, but not pressure.

    I am sure you guys will have an amazing year on learning! You are know in one of the richest educational areas in the country! I am bummed that now that my kid are old enough to really get something from visiting all those places, we don't live there anymore!

  2. Becky, You are very much a free learner. I know when I tried to plan and organize a lesson for the kids most of my work was in vain. My kids do not thrive under me telling them what they need to do. They thrive best by me guiding them in the things they already love.

    I think the best thing ever is to know your children well and to guide them in the way that suits them each best. It is not easy but it sure is rewarding.