So far our home learning journey has been almost completely unstructured and involves mostly lots of free play, snuggling and reading together, lots of outdoor time, science experiments, cooking and gardening, arts and crafts, watching our hens raise chicks, and so on. It has been working well for us. Meredith is starting to read simple words/sentences, she can add and subtract fractions, count by 2’s and 5’s, do simple division and multiplication. She can identify many local plants and knows a lot of healing properties of herbs. She loves mapping. She asks lots of questions and has learned lots about anatomy, reproduction, evolution, the food chain, and more, just from asking questions and having conversations and finding books. And so on and so forth. Basically, I have no concerns that unschooling isn’t working for us.
I definitely feel that unschooling isn’t just letting kids do anything they want and standing back and doing nothing though. I love the concept of strewing and so I’m always on the look out for things that I think will interest and challenge the girls and maybe open their minds up to new interests or hobbies. Meredith’s fascination with dinosaurs and space has been ongoing for more than two years now, and so I’m always looking for new books and games that are relevant. Those ones seem easy as there is lots out there! More recently, she saw me reading some home learning blogs and saw a lap book that had been made, and asked if she could make one. It isn’t something I would have thought to suggest as it seems really schooly to me, but of course I agreed and asked what topic she would like to do one on. She chose butterflies, and had a blast cutting the pages out, finding out the information to fill them out, and then gluing everything on. It’s not quite done yet as she wants to glue some pictures from our butterflies after they emerge. We got most of the materials from here. She says she would definitely like to make another one at some point, but hasn’t asked specifically, so we will see.
With a new baby on the way, I decided to try a couple more new things too. Mostly I want more ideas to keep me motivated to blog! I also want to make sure we have things to turn to when Meredith asks for more or when we have some time but not sure what to do. I think we are going to try starting the Outdoor Hour Challenges. It seems to have enough structure that when I can’t think of anything I can turn to it for ideas, but little enough to still allow Meredith lots of freedom to explore and do her own thing. There are also ideas for keeping a nature journal (which I think Meredith will love as she’s started one already) and various topics to explore. And of course that doesn’t mean that we are bound to it every time we go for a walk; it just gives us a starting point if we feel we need something more.
I also downloaded Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding for $5, which I thought was a great price. There are lots of ideas for experiments and reading; a little more structured than just picking random experiments but this way I can plan ahead a bit and make sure we have all the materials on hand. Meredith asks a few times a week (at least!) for a new experiment and I am running out of ideas! BFSU still looks easy enough to incorporate into day-to-day things, but a lot of the topics he covers are things Meredith has been asking about recently so I think she will find them relevant and interesting. And if not, I’m only out $5, or I can skip certain ones and just do certain ones. Though she seems to love to do any kind of science experiments regardless of the topic. He quotes Alfie Kohn in his section about how children learn, so that pretty much sold me!
We will see how this all goes. I may drop them before we even start. Flexibility is definitely important! Schooled kids and many home learners are starting to wind down and end activities, but I find summer such a fun time to get outside and meet up with other home learners and go for lots of walks and do lots of messy experiments and projects. And, since we follow Meredith’s lead and interests and don’t really have a set schedule for anything, we don’t really have anything to stop doing just because it’s summer. Life will go on the same as always; living, playing, learning, growing.