As you all know, we’ve been implementing a method of homeschooling called, “unschooling”.
It’s basically where you don’t teach your kids anything and they turn out to be geniuses. Just kidding. That’s not exactly how it goes. Sometimes our kids turn out to be prodigies. Okay, I kid, I kid. Here’s a good description of what unschooling is…
When people ask, “What is unschooling?” My answer is that we follow our interests – and our interests inevitably lead to science, literature, history, mathematics, music – all the things that have interested people before anybody thought of them as “subjects”. A large component of unschooling is grounded in doing real things, not because we hope they will be good for us, but because they are intrinsically fascinating. (source)
We may not choose to unschool forever, but for now it feels right, and we are really enjoying our lives and the adventures that arise in our unschooling escapades. The awesome thing about unschooling is that one interest leads to another, and another, and another until you find yourself on some completely random different subject. And THAT, will always be my favorite thing about unschooling.
Here’s how we ‘unschooled’ this week:
I checked out an interesting music book at the library. If you remember, when we go to the library, I sneak in a bunch of books that I think the kids will be interested in, and over the course of a week, they usually read them even if they said initially they weren’t interested. I’m sneaky like that. Lydia read that interesting music book, which covered all the aspects of music, from the history/culture of music to poetry and period music and finally, all the instruments used.
That book inspired us to look up all the different periods of music on YouTube listed in the book and pick out our favorites. We listened to Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, Classical, Modern, etc. Our favorite? Renaissance period music. Learning about periods of music led us to an favorite video of ours, The Evolution of Music, by Pentatonix (click here to watch the video), and we pointed out the periods of music we heard as they sang. We watched the video about 5 times, it’s so awesome! We are huge Pentatonix fans!
Watching that video sparked some questions about some of the modern music that was sung. I decided to show the kids some videos of the most popular singers during the modern period, specifically the Beatles and Michael Jackson. They didn’t like either. Oh well, what do kids know, right? 😉
All of the above took about 30 min.
About a month ago, Lydia’s rat suddenly died. I was really happy – er- I mean I was super upset. I did feel bad for the poor thing, but I really didn’t enjoy rat smell in my house. Lydia decided since she had spent so much on the supplies for her rat, she wanted to sell the items to recoup some of her hard earned money. But first, she needed to figure out the size of her glass tank so she could sell it on Craigslist for a competitive price.
This led to a great life lesson on measuring width, length, depth, and determining volume. We learned what a cubic inch is, and how to determine how many gallons something is. After determining the size of the tank (it was 10 gallons, in case you were wondering) and looking up the going rate for a 10 gallon tank on Craigslist, Lydia decided maybe it wasn’t worth it to sell it and maybe instead she could buy the animal she most wanted in the whole world, a turtle. (Just for your information, every animal is Lydia’s “most favorite animal in the world she’s always wanted”)
The interest in turtles led her to look at the turtles for sale, research the different breeds, and begin her “report” on turtles. In our family, if you want a new animal, you have to convince Dad (Mom’s a softie), and Dad expects a full oral and written report complete with graphs and charts to be fully convinced:)
The above section took about 30 minutes (with me) and probably an hour with Lydia doing her turtle research by herself.
I recently purchased a math book called, The Life of Fred (click here to see where I bought it). I was told by a lot of friends that I would love it because it’s so weird and quirky, like me. Hey, I’ll take that as a compliment! The book portrays the life of a kid named Fred, who encounters all sorts of math problems in his life and you help him solve them. It’s a pretty hilarious book and I thought it would serve two purposes.
1) To help the kids be introduced to FUN, REAL LIFE math
2) To get me to start noticing real life math all around me so I can point it out to the kids and find opportunities to teach.
The Life of Fred series leads children through ALL math, from basic addition to calculus. So far, the kids absolutely LOVE it. And as an quirky adult, I pretty much love it too. It’s such a great way to get us to look at math in a fun way, so I highly recommend it.
We read about 6 chapters this week totaling about 2 hours this week.
I needed to exchange $1500 in $100 dollar bills into smaller amounts. At the bank, the kids and I tried to figure out how many I would need in 20’s, 10’s, and 5’s. Let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it sounds! The benefit of homeschooling is that all of our errand running is during less busy times of the day and the bank teller who served us was thankfully, very patient. The kids were also fascinated by how fast she counted by 20’s, 10’s and 5’s. She did it a couple times for us, and we practiced ourselves when we got home.
It’s amazing how kids are so fascinated by the world around them. This bank experience led to a discussion about how talented that bank teller was, and how it must be so neat to be a bank teller. I also made sure to mention that she must have not been very good at first, but she must have persevered until she was fast enough at counting. (We’ve been trying to get our kids to realize that although they aren’t good at something at first, that doesn’t mean they should give up and that working hard at something really pays off).
Ethan is interested in space, black holes, and pretty much anything to do with astronomy. Every night at milking time, he’s been noting the positioning of the moon and we have been having lots of discussions of the position of the Earth, the moon, and other planets. We talk about the equinoxes and solstices during the year and how that relates to the longevity of days. A few weeks ago, we camped out in the tree house during the Blood Moon, and although that was a bit of an adventure in itself and we ended coming inside at 3 am, we still got to see it, and it was amazing! Ethan absolutely loved it.
Our goats have been giving us crazy amounts of milk lately and we’ve been running out of jars. We have had many conversations about volume, and my kids are getting really good about knowing how many cups are in a quart, how many quarts in a gallon, etc.
I’m tech savvy on the computer, but I hate all the TV/VCR/DVD connections. Maybe it’s because my husband is crazy and double stacked two big screen TV’s and has a million different sound system connections. Yep, that’s probably it. Anyway, since I can’t get a hold of Kevin when he’s at work, Ethan has been my helper in figuring it out. He’s got it all down. He knows how it all works, why, and when I need something changed, he’s there to hook it up. And he figured it out all by himself.
Fun activities outside of the house these past couple weeks were library visits, playing with friends, attending a rollerskating day at the local skate rink, and attending a craft/art class with a local homeschool group.
Backyard farming adventures this week was purchasing 6 new chickens (where Lydia caught a baby wild bunny and subsequently spend the rest of her day researching how to care for it, and yes, it was the animal she always wanted) We also purchased a boer goat to raise for meat. We attended a 4-H Club meeting and they had goat meat to taste. It was amazingly delicious, so we decided to buy a goat instead of a lamb to raise for meat this year. We also helped an elderly neighbor out by picking the last of her citrus for her. This was a great service we did as a whole family and lucky us, we got to take some home to juice for summer slushies. We are obsessed with frozen citrus slushies around here. We’ve been making 2-3 a day. OH. MY. YUM.
The kids still look forward to their Minecraft Homeschool History class. It’s awesome I tell you! Our second class ends next week and we are signing right up again for the next one. We’re a little obsessed.
Personal goals we have been working on:
Ethan is working on being open to new things, especially sports. He’s not really into sports and he’s also been stubborn about trying them out. We bought a badminton set and he decided he really prefers individual sports likes these instead of team/contact sports. He mentioned he wanted to play racquetball with Dad, which is a big step for this sport-avoiding-boy. Our goal isn’t to make him some big sports star, but to encourage him to be open to trying new things, and persevering and improving at something he’s not very good at. It’s easy to stop something if you aren’t very good at it, but it’s so rewarding when you see yourself improve.
Lydia is working on not being emotional and impulsive. She has a bit of a temper and so she’s working on staying calm and explaining why she’s upset without hitting, yelling, or saying hurtful things. We have a long way to go with this one, but that’s the good thing about homeschooling, we have enough time together to work on things like this. And really, aren’t these some of the most important characteristics our children should master?
I’ve been working on trying to live in the moment and not focus on my inadequacies. It’s really easy as a parent, but especially a homeschooling parent, to think you aren’t good enough to teach your own children. I sometimes get overwhelmed when I talk to homeschooling families who are doing so much more with their kids than me. I have been working on stopping that thinking in it’s tracks. It’s not helpful, it’s destructive. I have to remind myself that I am doing the best I can and that I have to accept my limitations. As a parent, all we can do is learn and try to do the best we can, and that’s what I’m doing! I watched a movie last week called About Time, and I highly recommend it! It’s such a great reminder that life is short and we need to appreciate the little things.
you. are. awesome.
Loved your post! I’m in the midst of unschooling my 4 & 5 year old and this week was just blown away at how much learning has been happening in our very ‘quiet’ days. I was starting to write it all down, with the many reasons why we homeschool when I discovered this post. Our children (and almost all children) are thirsty for knowledge and to learn about how their world works. All the snippets of knowledge are cumulative and it’s amazing to watch things spiral around in the flow of learning. It’s intense and sometimes crazy at times, there are times filled with doubt but I am learning to value it all and step into the unknown each day! Great to know of others on a similar path that I can resonating with and be inspired by!
DaNelle Wolford says
I always catch myself freaking out about not meeting education goals per the state of Ohio… or teaching just to do well on the standardized tests… or not finishing all that I had scheduled for that week only to reflect back and see the reason we didn’t is because we helped get the new bator babies settled into their brooder, or watching our first goaties being born, or putting in the garden, transplanting our strawberry patch… or even spending some quality time w/ gma… I think we are ready to slap an “unschooling” label on us….. I think it will be liberating…. love your blog!
DaNelle Wolford says
Slap that unschooling label on, it feels great!
Love your unschooling blogs – they remind me why we too choose this life. Love living and learning with the kids and letting their learning be an adventure
I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your unschooling with us. We’ve homeschooled for two years with curriculum and all of us have had days where we wanted to just be apart. I just started the book Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay Clarkson and have had a bit of a paradigm shift where it come to educating. Anyway, all of that to say that we have really struggled with trying to fit the mold and are realizing that we just don’t. Thanks for the encouragement and tips. There are a lot of us homeschool moms out here who love it.
One question. Does your state require you to define the curriculum you use for your kids? I’m curious as to how to fill ours out in the fall.
Hi DaNelle! Just wanted to say how much I LOVE your blog. We raise ducks and have had two Nigerian Dwarf wethers for some time but you convinced me to take the plunge and get a milking doe, which so far has been amazing. Thank you for your candor, your practical advice and your easy-going attitude about all of it- very inspiring. Keep it up!
DaNelle Wolford says
Thank you Becky! I appreciate the comment! Sometimes I wonder if I’m making an impact, so it really makes my day to hear this! And congrats on your new doe!
I am LOVING all of your unschooling posts! So helpful for us, thank you! I’ve heard some great things about the Life of Fred books, but I had forgotten about them. Might need to order some of those, soon 🙂
DaNelle Wolford says
Awesome! We do love the books!
sarah pachev says
I just finished reading your book and loved it. It was comprehnsive but not overwhelming at all. Pack meeting this month is bring a healthy food to share and i was seriously tempted to bring some lard and explain what i learned about vit d in your book!
I also homeschool and have 8 kids so i know about feeling like you cant do it all. Good job at stopping those negative thoughts in their tracks! Im a big advocate of less mommy guilt! Thanks again for your great book!
DaNelle Wolford says
Thank you Sarah! Wow, 8 kids! You are superwoman!