Friday, April 19, 2013

When It Seems Like Unschooling Isn't Enough.

      It's well past noon and I'm sitting here feeling down about our unschooling course this week.  I look back and can't really think of any one thing my kids did that resembled "school" or learning this week.  I'm not even sure how much fun we had.  There's been a lot of listless wandering around and complaints of boredom. I'm feeling lazy after cleaning most of the downstairs, doing groceries, and preparing the house for a party.  The boys, if the whining, fighting, tension and tears are anything to go by are very overtired after staying up late for our family movie night last night and getting up early to go to the grocery store.  The boys have watched so many episodes of Liberty's kids, that I honestly lost track.  I didn't mind since it at least temporarily stopped the constant bickering I've been dealing with and led to a few wonderful discussions about history.  Unfortunately, it was only temporary and, once the bickering was louder than the TV, I made them turn it off and put them all to work cleaning.  Now to hear the wailing and complaining one might have thought I sent them off to war but in reality I asked the three boys to work together and clean the playroom.  That's it-- just one room.  Hours after asking; it's still not done!  Alec also has laundry to fold (laundry that has been in a basket in his room since Wednesday morning) and I've now threatened that we'll miss the first soccer game and the birthday parties we've got planned if jobs aren't done soon.  Honestly, I'm thinking of skipping soccer just so they can all go to bed.  If I thought they'd actually nap I'd clean myself and send them all to bed now.  I know a large part of my poor attitude about our week stems from just listening to them today.  I'm sure we had tons of fun this week but I'm just not able to think beyond the here and now right now. 
      I can't shake this feeling that I've been neglecting them lately.  Unschooling doesn't mean I ignore my kids but I am feeling like perhaps I did this week, OK, well maybe not all week but I certainly have today.  I have no idea what they did all morning while I put groceries away and prepared food for the week.  I heard a lot of "MooooM Ian hit me" or "Alec took my toy", etc. and after making sure that no one was hurt or bleeding proceeded to ignore them all.  Sometimes I have to for sanity's sake.  I guess today is just one of those days where I'm feeling out of touch and out of sorts, yet we've been homeschooling long enough that I realize it's just a phase.  I haven't even threatened to send them back to school and I feel like that's real progress for me!   We'll shake things up soon enough and get back on track.  I perused Pinterest looking up "Unschooling" and found many quotes and articles that helped me feel a bit better and know that todays' frustrations are only about today. 
        It's not the boys fault that I'm frustrated by the icky, cold, windy weather that has pretty much been making me feel like we're still trapped inside throughout this lousy spring.   It's not the boys fault I'm tired today.  It's not their fault I've been feeling apathetic about planning, strewing and inspiring them.  This too shall pass and we'll all be connected and happy again.  We'll be back to learning through life soon enough and we'll probably sprinkle in some "real" lessons in here and there to make me feel better along the way. 
         While I can't see all the learning everyday I know it's somehow sinking in.  It's often easiest for me to see these changes in my youngest.  Evan, who was able to find (or quasi- read) the words on my BJ's list last night and cross them off for me while we were shopping.  Evan, who managed to make his own breakfast in the toaster oven this morning and used a steak knife to cut up his food (without any bloodshed!).  Evan, who helped put away his clothes and who's been doing an amazing job on his intricate color by number sheets.   I don't usually worry much about Evan though.  I'd love for him to have this driving need to figure out how to read and take off in that subject, but I know he's only 5 and has time.  He loves stories and will often quote to me from Magic Treehouse books we listen to so I at least know he's listening and growing his vocabulary.  He's picking up enough environmental print that he's certainly making progress so I try not to fret over him. 
          Alec, who has never caused me to worry, has a huge stack of library books he checked out this week on his nightstand and always manages to amaze me as he hands back all the ones he reads through.  I know his vocabulary, reading skills and science knowledge is off the charts.  I'd love for him to start making his own books again, like he did last year in Kindergarten whenever he was bored, but he doesn't ever seem to be bored.  Out of the three boys, Alec is the one who has taken to Unschooling the fastest.  While he often asks (OK begs!) to play Wii, DS, or watch TV, he is the one that is most able to keep himself occupied.  He can spend hours in his room playing Lego's, reading, playing with his animals, etc.  He absorbs so much about the world around him; and I say absorb because he is like a little sponge.  I don't even know where he learns half of what he can spout off to me about, but he does!
       Ian, through no fault of his own, worries me the most.  Perhaps because he's the oldest and I worry that he doesn't have as much time as his brothers to learn all that he should know (silly, I know since he's not all that much older than the other two!).  Perhaps because he's not interested in anything that resembles "traditional" learning.  He's back to reading only grudgingly now that he has read his Diary of the Wimpy Kids series twice.  He doesn't seem to challenge himself where learning is concerned and often tells me he's bored.  In truth, he constantly tells me he's bored.  He tells me he hates unschooling.  Yet, as much as he begs me to start planning lessons and teach "for real" again he still sighs and resists all my efforts to teach him math, writing, or history.  So I don't plan or teach him very often.  I'm not seeing huge strides in math, reading, writing, science, etc but I know sometimes an accumulation of tiny little baby steps are just as good, if harder to see.  I'm sure he's learning and growing too; it's just harder for me to notice changes in him.  His learning tends to be in areas that are harder for me to quantify.  He tends to learn things about dirt, rocks, trucks, tools, fishing, working and outdoorsy kinds of things.  He's got a great work ethic and I know when it comes time for him to have to know certain subjects that work ethic will really come in handy. 
       For now they're heading outside to play and I'll finish cleaning the house while hoping to stay sane and looking positively ahead to next week. 

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