Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 46

Unschooling : whoda thunk it.

We've always been the sit-down-and-plow-through-workbooks types of homeschoolers; it's what you learn in school, it's what public school kids do, and it's what's easy to go and purchase. But you know what? The kids enjoy it about as much as watching paint dry. What purpose does homeschooling serve if the kids are fighting every minute of it, and we all wake up dreading the day ahead?

Unschooling in its simplest form is recognizing that kids are learning all of the time. Not just 8-3, not just from a textbook, but ALL of the time. The concept of "school" is completely backwards - the only lesson truly being taught to children is that learning is a task that must be gotten through before the rest of the day can be enjoyed. That's not a lesson I want my kids learning! Thus, we are embarking upon some new adventures in our lives. I don't know if I'll ever have the guts to completely unschool, but I expect we will become unschoolers at least 60% of the time. 

For example, we bought a globe at a yard sale on Saturday and the kids have not stopped looking at it and asking questions. 

This week, while I take some time to sort through our workbook curriculum to pull out what I feel is truly important and necessary, we are starting our first new unschooling project. I started by hand-drawing a six-foot-wide map of the United States on a giant piece of paper and tacking it up on our school room wall. Then I outlined the major bodies of water and the kids colored them in. Tomorrow they will be outlining the states in black marker, and labeling the oceans and lakes. Then, the fun starts.

We are creating a 50 states scrapbook with fun facts about each state, in the order of which the states were added to the union. The kids will be exchanging postcards with homeschoolers from other states in the hopes of obtaining a postcard for each state, and I also sent away for tourism guides from the first five states on our list. As the kids create the scrapbook, they will color in the corresponding state on our big wall map, labeling it and naming its capital, and drawing something grown/produced in that state. We also plan to collect the fifty state quarters. 

In this one state project, both kids are learning geography, history, writing skills, art, computer skills, and how to research topics. And they are having a blast! I look forward to incorporating this type of unit study into most if not all of our subjects, and replacing many of our boring black and white workbook pages with meaningful, memorable activities.

And lots of raids on the book closet.

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