Friday, April 10, 2015

Learning to unschool...and mostly failing, but with hope

Technically speaking, it's not possible to fail at unschooling.  And maybe as a student, that's true.  But as a can totally fail!  Fail to inspire, fail to fail fail.

As a homeschooling mom, I can tell you that homeschooling parents fail ALL THE TIME.  You know how I know?  Because I am one, and I talk to many others. and we are VERY honest about the progress of our homeschooling.  There are good days, and bad days, incredible days and horrible days...but for me, the unschooling days were just kind of aimless.

This is not a judgement on unschooling, because the idea that kids should learn because they want to, and not because you made them makes  a lot of sense to me.  And more so, thinking about my K-12 public school upbringing, followed by college...I can honestly say that nearly the only things I retained were things that interested me.  That in itself is sort of the point of the whole thing, if you are passionate about it, you will learn it because you want to...and you will love what you learned for a lifetime.

But I have struggled with how to inspire, without overwhelming.  Encourage without forcing.  Basically, how do you make them do something, without being so obvious?  (To be fair, you aren't supposed to HAVE to get your kids to do stuff...they're supposed to do it on their own...but that didn't seem to be happening)

Just when I thought it was useless,  something happened...two things actually...

1) I brought home a bunch of poetry books, thinking I'd have a poetry night.  I'd somehow get everyone captivated...and it would be wonderful.  (Man when I read it like that, I can see that it's naive and slightly annoying.)  But here's the shocker...after a very long week we decided to stay home and so nothing on Friday.  Laurel was crocheting, Luke was knitting and I had just finished reading a book....I decided to pull out the poetry books and start reading out loud while they were working on their projects.  First I read the illustrated Cremation of Sam McGee, which as far as kids go, is a great way to start off with poetry.  This one sparked a lot of conversation.  We then moved onto a book about Emily Dickinson; first I read the biographical part, then went on to read about a dozen of her poems. Then we moved onto Robert Frost and read about 6 of his.  Then I moved to some more modern poetry with My Dog is a Carrot, by John Hegley.  This was a great ending to our poetry introduction because it got us in a silly then I started our own little poetry slam.  Basically we went in a round and each came up with an impromptu poem.  Some were legit (and hilarious)...some were basically the rhyming of poo and doo with a a few more nonsense words (courtesy of my 7 year old son).  But for the most part, it was exactly what it should have introduction to poetry, fun, interactive and educational.  I couldn't believe it worked!  I actively inspired some unschooling fun.

2) I started taking guitar lessons about 6 weeks ago, and the more I practice, the more the kids have gotten into it.  They are curious about the tuning of the guitar, they love to listen to me practice and they often sing along.  It's already inspired Luke (the rhymer of poo & doo) to pull out his old guitar and start strumming.  He's even asked to start taking lessons too.  Plus, I was having trouble with a song, so we looked it up on YouTube and watched it together, memorized (by singing) the song together, then while I played it...we all sang it.

This unschooling thing might yet have it's virtues....

Chili Cook off Winner 2015 for her Morrocan Pumpkin Chili

 Luke and Laurel building the loft bed

Luke's posterboard knight armor

Target practice at Polk Inlet Cabin

 Paper mache ducks for the art contest at the Discovery Center

 Survival skills practice (starting a fire with a flint)

Laurel and Luke's Chicken (before and after)

Collected sand dollars on Prince of Wales

Laurel's recycled bike project

Luke's homemade Apollo Rocket

Laurel and Luke's zombie meatloaf

Laurel's paper flowers

Laurel's felted bunny

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