Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10, 2013::my unschooler

In all my research about in schooling I have had this worry in the back of my mind that in allowing my children to take the lead in their own learning, we would leave out important skills or topics. 

This is based, in part, on my training as a public school teacher and my years working in higher education. It is, also, partly due to the fact that left to their own devices, my older two children will watch tv or YouTube videos, or play video games for days at a time. These two have both been in public school and lived through our first years of homeschool when I thought we should basically model our day as if they were in public school. My attempts, in the last two years, at incorporating a more relaxed, and choice filled, environment into our day have been met with confusion and resistance. School, to these two, is something segregated from life. It's an ever present regret for me and something I am trying to dissuade incrementally.

Not so with the youngest. Because of his insatiable curiosity and his need, as the baby, to learn to entertain himself while Mom was busy with the older kids, he is the  poster child for unschooling. While there is usually some screen time in his day, there is little in the way of mind numbing junk. His choices usually include Titanic or dinosaur documentaries, Magic Schoolbus, or BrainPop videos. 

The course of his day usually looks like this...
A YouTube video on the topic of the day (usually the Titanic)
Playing with pets
Building something from Legos
Building something from the recycling pile
Telling stories
Looking at books
Helping me cook
Reading books with me
Playing in the yard
Making a video with the iPad or iPhone
Watching a documentary
Watching a superhero show, or Magic Schoolbus
Playing with educational apps on the iPad
Playing Titanic in the Tub or pool
Teaching himself to swim
Asking 272 questions about things he wants to know.

I could go on. He goes and goes. As I post this at 11:45pm, he is still trying to let go of the day and talking nonstop about the size of the ice burg that the Titanic hit and how much more was under the water than above the water... and making farting noises.

He teaches himself words, asks loads of questions, and soaks in knowledge like a sponge. When I try to schedule his learning it's a problem, but when I stand back and facilitate his plan the outcome is beyond my wildest expectations. 

I will continue to worry that we are getting it all. It's who I am. I will try my best, though, to follow his energetic lead. Twelve more years. I am giddy with anticipation.


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