We are exactly 18 days away from finishing our school year. There are some things we did that I hope to replicate next year, and some things we tried that simply did not work for us. I thought it might be helpful to revisit some of my previous thoughts on unschooling, now that we have nearly completed a full school year using that particular homeschool method.
This year, we adjusted our schedule every other week (sometimes every other day), it seems. We were finding our rhythm. We learned math by way of projects and experiments. We learned grammar from reading (more on this in the curriculum section). What I really want people to understand, is that this is very time consuming. I am more aware than ever that unschooling is hard, hard work. To be ready to deliver an impromptu math lesson in the middle of Target (while the girls counted allowance) I had to be ON my game. Always.
In the beginning, our schedule reflected this. I was pretty much consumed with homeschooling from 9-noon every day. We didn’t have set subjects, but we were learning (through books, documentaries, nature, etc.) during those hours. Once my own school became much busier (I was taking 15 units in the spring as opposed to 9 units in the fall) I absolutely had to change our method.
We switched to doing 10-15 minutes of math and 10-15 minutes of grammar each morning. The girls had “learning time” completely on their own until noon. This freed me up to do my homework (and other work) that took several hours each day. I didn’t have tons of time to chase every thought and every thread of imagination with the girls.
Next year, I plan on incorporating elements from both extremes. I plan to implement daily short math and grammar lessons, but to have extended hours together to learn all of the subjects (including more math and grammar, if appropriate) in a non-scheduled, “unschooly” way. We might focus on science one day, and history the next. I like having that flexibility. I will also only be taking 9 units of classes, so this will help me to be “on” when I need to be.
This year, we used NO particular curriculum. This worked just fine for our first year. I explain here in detail about how we figured out what to teach for math and grammar. For all the other subjects, we took field trips, watched documentaries, read books, did science experiments, planted gardens, etc.
Next year, I plan on trying a math **curriculum for both girls because they have asked for something a little more predictable. Unschooling is all about following the child’s lead, and often children actually want something more routine. I’m excited to try out this new method of teaching math. If it doesn’t work, we will adapt. No harm done.
**In regard to curriculum, we are considering Life of Fred, RightStart Math, and perhaps, revisiting Saxon.
Was this Year Successful?
Well, that depends on what we consider “success.”
If we are talking about 100% accuracy in memorizing the times tables, mastering pronouns, or even getting actual letter grades (more on that in an upcoming post) than, no. I suppose not.
But if you consider this…
- The girls have learned more about the world and themselves.
- The girls are more self-sufficient now, than at the beginning of the year.
- The girls have worked hard to understand concepts that were difficult for them.
- The girls are closer now than they used to be.
- The girls want to homeschool again next year…and I do too!
…Than YES. I absolutely consider this year a success.