The shape of your unschooling year - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 05-30-2014, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Smile The shape of your unschooling year

My schoolkids (15 and 17) are just about done for the year. But even with the effect their schedules have on our schedules and attitudes, my 11-year-old's unschooling year seems to following a different shape.

Here's what it tends to look like:
  • April/May ... the world outdoors springs to life and so does family energy. New interests announce themselves, there's energy for travel and projects, we get outdoors and that re-ignites interest in physical pursuits, and all that busy optimism leads to pulling out workbooks, computer programs and other learning tools more regularly.
  • June/July/August ... high gear. Lots of progress. Lots of interests. Summer intensives in arts and sports (stuff like soccer skills camps, mountain bike workshops, dance and theatre camps, music camp).
  • September ... things become a bit more structured with the resumption of weekly scheduled activities like music lessons, choir, dance classes or gymnastics. Everyone is excited to get back to those activities, so the structure is enjoyable.
  • October/November ... the honeymoon period with the weekly activities is over but there's a lot of focus on preparing for the holidays, whether for performances and tournaments or for the holidays themselves through baking, gift-crafting and so on.
  • December ... holiday season, and the culmination of the fall preparation. We're busy, but we set aside most of the learning work, and are more concerned with traditions than bursts of new ideas.
  • January/February/March ... the depths of winter, and the nadir in our energy. Weekly activities continue but they aren't energizing the way they were in the fall. Bursts of new creative and academic energy are much less likely at this time of year than any other.

And then it's another April and things start afresh for the new year.

Contrasting this with school's schedule, I'm struck by how upside-down they are from each other. In school December/January/February/March are supposed to be peak productivity months. In a geographic location where winters are long and cold and dark, that just seems wrong to me. Much of I want to do during those months is just stay cozy and read. And then, this lovely happy time with all sorts of outdoor possibilities, long days, easy travel and so on, that's when schoolkids' apparent productivity just stops.

I imagine it's different for those of you who live where summers are uncomfortably hot and winters are the moderate season. And maybe our spring productivity and winter waning is an anomaly even amongst unschoolers at higher latitudes. I don't know. What have the rest of you noticed?

Miranda

Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#2 of 8 Old 05-30-2014, 11:05 PM
 
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I think it depends on whether you count being outside as peak productivity! School in our northern latitude ends in mid-late May, and for the last month the poor school kids are just stir crazy and dying to get outdoors and enjoy it, and can't go to sleep in time to wake up alert for school because the daylight lasts so long. Even the preschool kids. So the existing calendar is probably ideal as far as "choosing which 9 months to lock them all indoors," if you take that as a given. I'm not sure spring energy is helpful in a school setting.

My kids are too little to answer the question for my family, but I haven't noticed much seasonal variability in their academic interests so far. Our life is highly seasonal, and we spend less time at home in the summer, and more time outdoors, as there are more wilderness trips, camping excursions, garden chores, etc...
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#3 of 8 Old 05-31-2014, 07:09 AM
 
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I notice the same thing, that energy is high beginning in the spring. I think my girls' young age keeps their main focus on nature, so it's natural that the ability to be outside comfortably charges them up on every level. But our "down time" is more like "grouchy time" but it could be the age of our family.

We also have a few things to prepare for starting in the spring that energizes them: 4-H projects and preparations for fair, the excitement of camping at the beach, and now Girl Scout camp.

In the fall and early winter, the holidays keep them busy physically and mentally. Gymnastics starts back up for us and our week settles in. After Christmas things start getting a bit dull, even with the prospect of a birthday approaching. The weather starts to wear on us and tempers flare more than usual.

My 7yo has taken to spending a lot of time with her nature books, but my 9yo hasn't found her quiet pastime yet. She has snippets but hasn't really "settled in" I guess. By February after birthdays the mood turns south and boredom has taken root in a bad way. I was thankful this year to have cookie season to prepare for and then chicks to raise. It could be that all these external activities keeps them from finding their groove at home amongst their books and things, but I'll take whatever I can get that gets me through January and February without strangling them (or strangling each other).

It is "backwards", or school is backward. Kids never get a chance to be with their school gardens over summer unless they volunteer. But I'm glad kids have a chance at their freedom in the summer. For schoolkids, this is their chance to immerse themselves in the kind of life that homeschoolers get (if schedules would leave them alone). I only wish they could enjoy more of May, June and September in our gorgeous weather. I feel so sorry for them on those gloriously sunny and mild days when the gardens are full and the breeze is balmy.

Speaking of, another gorgeous day in store for us....

Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#4 of 8 Old 05-31-2014, 11:17 AM
 
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My kids have January and February birthdays, so new stuff and new excitement gets added at that time of year.

I know my energy picks back up in mid-February, because that's when we often have a nice snowpack for snow sports, and the sun is coming back enough to shine on all the pretty snow. I find November the hardest (not enough snow, stormy and dark, nothing left to harvest), and often try and leave town then.
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#5 of 8 Old 06-13-2014, 05:12 AM
 
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I like this thread. Though I don't think we have a shape to speak of.

We travel so much that we don't really have a regular sequence of energy levels every year - or maybe I just need to e more observant. I think we have some sort of a pattern in that if we have spent several days away from the books, dd herself will take a "break" from all her activities and do some writing or math in her folder. Of course she reads widely and we are having conversations all the time. I am a little surprised as I write this because I don't recall dealing with any boredom recently - that used to come up more often.

Yesterday we heard a lot of honking around 3pm and realized that it was the last day of school. So dd will get to see her school going friends more the next few months.

no longer momsling.GIF or ecbaby2.gif orfly-by-nursing1.gif ... dd is going on 10 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?

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#6 of 8 Old 07-02-2014, 08:09 AM
 
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Thinking of this thread because we've been spending a lot of time with school friends. I can say that while our shape changes, nothing is as dramatic as that of schoolkids. Our changes are a bit more subtle. Our days haven't really changed that much, except we are spending more time outside.

Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#7 of 8 Old 07-05-2014, 11:43 AM
 
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I am not sure if this has to do with its being summer but our homeschool coop is finding it much harder to meet regularly. When we started, just last year, everyone was eager to be part of a co-op and have regular activities. But now we are finding that people aren't having time to meet weekly. I don't know if this will change after summer or whether we will still consider ourselves a co-op that meets irregularly or we should officially switch to monthly … not sure what will happen really.

no longer momsling.GIF or ecbaby2.gif orfly-by-nursing1.gif ... dd is going on 10 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?

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#8 of 8 Old 07-10-2014, 06:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumi View Post
I am not sure if this has to do with its being summer but our homeschool coop is finding it much harder to meet regularly. When we started, just last year, everyone was eager to be part of a co-op and have regular activities. But now we are finding that people aren't having time to meet weekly. I don't know if this will change after summer or whether we will still consider ourselves a co-op that meets irregularly or we should officially switch to monthly … not sure what will happen really.
Around here, things always seem to fizzle out or slow down over the summer. The weather gets too hot and people make vacation/family plans. But come fall, everyone is raring to go again.

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