Friday, September 21, 2012

So this is unschooling!

Today I gave my kids a real day off, or perhaps I should say I finally let them try what real unschooling is like.

While I was cleaning the house today, Alec and Evan were locked up in Evan's room working with Lego's.  As I sit and type this they have been locked up in there for almost 6 hours (and I do mean locked; they won't let anyone in unless we have a good reason).  The few times I peeked in to remind them to please at least eat breakfast and brush teeth there were Lego's everywhere.  But they are so happy and engaged in what they are doing I don't want to interrupt- at all! 

I can only imagine all that they are learning by working with Lego's for 6 hours.  I know it must involve lots of problem solving, architecture and math even though they don't realize it. 

They are learning to play cooperatively, something I think is just a bit harder for siblings, so I'm quite proud of them.  

I'm sure it will take us quite a while to clean up Evan's room later, and I'm betting Alec is still in his pajamas (since they are his favorite clothes) but some things just have to wait until later. 

Ian, on the other hand, has been a bit more restless. 

He came into my room early this morning all dressed and ready (he had even had breakfast & brushed his teeth!) looking for something to do. 

I was playing a new Sodoku game I had downloaded to my kindle and he watched me play for a bit and then asked if he could try a puzzle on his own.  I set him up with one that was called "very easy" and left him to it.  He played for a good 15- 20 minutes.  All he knew was that he was trying a grown- up math game but I knew he was learning all sorts of logic, patience, and critical thinking skills.  He was also taking part in a game that dates back to the 18th century so in a sense you could say he was living history for a bit too.  He didn't finish the whole puzzle but we saved it to work on another time. 

He then asked to play outside. 

Restless after playing outside by himself for a bit he wandered back in and found the rest of us watching a Crocodile Hunter show about Lemur's in Madagascar (Alec and Evan came out of Evan's room long enough to eat a bowl of cereal and had turned the TV on).  Ian watched the rest of the show and then begged his brothers to play a game with him but they went right back to playing Lego's.  

I felt bad and offered to play with him once I finished mopping the kitchen floor.    I found him in his room also playing Lego's so I guess it was just a Lego kind of day around here!

Ian and I played Disney Wheel of Fortune until everyone was ready for lunch.  I loved that he suggested the game and he used, not only spelling skills, but math skills to play the game too.  He had to figure out how much money for multiple letters (like when I spun $600 and got three H's; he multiplied to get $1800!) and make change when buying vowels.   To be the host you also have to read a chart.  The game comes with a book that lists all the letters of the alphabet, when a player calls out the letter you have to find it on the chart and cross reference it with the puzzle number to see where that letter lands in the puzzle.  He could have tried spelling the puzzles since, as host, he knew what they were but I didn't point that out.  I did, however, model that when it was my turn to play host. 

It was a great, fun, engaging game.  The best part was getting to spend time together just the two of us to really connect and have fun together.  With all three boys home with me all the time it can get a bit difficult to find quality one on one time so I enjoy every chance I get. 

 We had a picnic outside on the lawn so as to not mess up the kitchen I spent all morning cleaning. 

As I was putting the lunches together Alec asked if we could listen to his book on tape outside.  I hadn't planned on bringing the radio out but figured why not?  It really only takes a minute to set up and I certainly didn't want to discourage them from listening to books. 

We listened to most of Make Way for Ducklings and Macauber.

I cleaned up the picnic and they went to play on the swings, in the sand, and in the woods. 

I didn't have anything planned for this afternoon anyway since  Ian is spending the evening at his friends house and they were picking him up this afternoon.


I have to say I was shocked as I watched our day unfold. 

I read all about unschooling and really thought it sounded wonderful.

In my heart I want to be an unschooler all the time but I often panic that we just aren't covering enough that way. 

I'm a linear person; if we start a chapter book we'll finish it, if we have a math book we start at page one and work our way through it. 

 Yet here I sit recapping our day and they did math/ logic, reading, some spelling, some science and all we did was "play"! 

I think I've finally got it and will try to keep our days unplanned like this.  Have materials and ideas handy for when they're bored (and I'm sure I'll still throw in those occasional "real" lessons) but I'm going to try very, very, hard to keep our lives unscheduled like we did today and just follow their lead. 
           

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