Long story as short as possible. We are going on our 3rd year of homeschooling (grades 6, 4, 3, and K). We did a bit of unschooly-ness our first year and my heart is being drawn back that way. My husband wholeheartedly agrees (hallelujah). My biggest question, and it feels silly, is how do we start or end what we have been doing? Should we have a discussion that we decided to learn autonomously/free-range/unschool, or should I just let things naturally fall into place. I am leaning towards letting things fall into place. Letting go is such a hard thing for me LOL. I like control.
Right now, we've been doing Sonlight which I love since for the most part all we do is read the books and chatter about them, but I really want my kids to love learning more than they do now. My kindergartener so far, has been loving our kindergarten "work" so I am just going to change gears a bit with him and keep the special mommy time with him and just not call it kindergarten (because I am sure the thing he likes the most is spending the one on one time with me). Thankfully, most of the curriculum I bought is books I'd most likely have bought for our collection anyway, so the financial sting there isnt so bad.
Aron Mama to 6 homeschoolers -- 12, 10, 8, 5, 3, baby
I think I'd ease into it. Sometimes explaining unschooling sounds to kids like they don't have to do anything they don't want to do which is sort of true but places the emphasis in the wrong area. I'd focus on the kids being self directed, responsible for their learning, and support them in their interests without any big announcement.
I've got a bunch of kids. I have a meeting each term with each of them individual to figure out how to allocate resources (my time, family travel commitments, financial resources) in order to properly and fairly support my kids in accomplishing and experiencing what they want. It's also an opportunity for them to articulate their dreams and interests, and to get my input on resources and to discuss what, if any, structure they want in aid of accomplishing any goals they might have identified.
You could sit down with each of your kids in turn and say "This year I want you to be more in charge of your learning. It would help me to hear what you'd be interested in doing, so that I can get an idea for what you need and what kind of help from me you might want." If they're totally stunned and at a loss you could start a bit of a brainstorming session saying things like ...
"I remember you said you'd really like to do more experiments."
Or "I know you loved cooking co-op last year. Is that something you'd like to continue?"
Or "I was asking you to do that spelling workbook last year. Is that something that felt worthwhile? Would you like to continue with it, or do you have any different ideas?"
Or "You said you wanted to finish the math program we were doing last year. Do you still want to do that? By doing it regularly, or just when you feel like it?"
Or "I've noticed how much you love watching nature documentaries. Should we make more of an effort to have those available to you?"
Take notes, with a kind of anything-goes, we'll-look-into-that attitude. With luck you'll come up with an informal plan that can be revisited and amended as things roll along. And your kids will begin to get a feel for the autonomy they are being offered over their learning, without feeling totally at sea. My kids have really appreciated our meetings: without them we sometimes just don't get around to things that they'd like to do.
I don't think unschooling necessitates unplanning. In fact, I think a certain amount of planning is required when you have multiple children. Not top-down parental planning. Not fixed-in-stone planning. But a collaborative discussion to make sure that each child's interests and needs are identified and supported appropriately. Learning plan meetings might be a really good segué into unschooling.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Thanks ladies. I really like what you said Miranda b/c the size of our family is what always makes me hesitate about unschooling. I hate feeling like I am not meeting all their needs and dreams, but I think regular one-on-one meetings sound fantastic. We've been kind of doing this already as they were really interested (the big boys) on how marital arts got its starts, so daddy has been helping facilitate that one. And DS#2 wasn't interested in the book I was reading aloud so I told him he could go and play. He was rather confused and happy at my answer
There are a couple things we are doing now that they are enjoying. One is our photography challenge and another is a fun journal activity.
Aron Mama to 6 homeschoolers -- 12, 10, 8, 5, 3, baby
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