Monday, February 27, 2012

Unschooling Week

A friend sent me an email this week asking if she could pay us a visit. She was concerned because she didn't want to interrupt our schooling, posing the simple question: "do homeschoolers have vacations?"

This struck me as funny at first. I don't really know- we're kind of inventing this as we go- and I hadn't really given it much thought. I had some lessons planned for this week, but I realized that I wasn't tackling them with the same gusto that I had been a few weeks ago, so perhaps this was the time for a short break? The fact that Ben and Ava had a couple of public-schooled friends coming over for playdates throughout the week seemed to reinforce the idea that we weren't going to do a lot of structured lessons anyway. So, I asked the kids if we should be on vacation. They agreed that it might be a good choice, so vacation it was. :)

But, as is my way, I continued to think about this homeschool vacation of ours. What is a vacation, really? If you physically go to a school on a regular basis then vacation is surely time when you don't go there. Since school happens for us in our home- on the couch, at our kitchen table, etc.- then we really weren't taking that kind of vacation. Was it a vacation from learning? From lesson plans and objectives, yes certainly. But from learning? I think not.

I have many friends who are "unschoolers," folks who use no formal lessons at all but rather use life experiences to teach their children (think baking for fractions, gardening for earth science, etc. ). While that isn't the exclusive road our family has taken at this point in our homeschooling journey, I confess that I am finding a lot of truth and wisdom in that approach this week.

In the absence of lessons we have done a whole lot of learning. We attended an Angelina Ballerina event at our library yesterday where Ava took her first ballet class (this will have to be a continuing trend, by the way, judging by her enthusiasm and the cuteness factor of a 2 year old in a tutu, er gown). That is learning. I also discovered her "reading" a book to herself all curled up in a corner this week. This is a pre-reading indicator which she has stumbled upon independently, and should surly be considered learning.

Eleanor has discovered the fun involved in skipping, and has begun to feed the dog on her own (great gross and fine motor skills). She is babbling nonstop and is mimicking behavior all day long. This must also be learning.

Ben participated in Lego day at the library during which time he undertook a "secret challenge" to build a tower which met his personal specifications. This was an incredible opportunity to showcase his new spatial recognition and engineering skills. Learning.

So really, who is on "school vacation"?

Our family may not be doing formal lessons this week, but we are indeed learning. Thus, we are calling this our "unschooling week"- our week to freely explore the things which interest and challenge us. Though we may return to a bit more structure next week, we will maintain our commitment to discover and explore our passions just as we did this week, during our foray into unschooling.

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