Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why can't I make up my mind?!

      So after finding several posts already on my main Pinterest page, I have started reading all sorts of wonderful articles and blogs about unschooling again and I'll admit that I'm starting to lean that way again.   I knew when we left it behind it wasn't going to be for good.  I am drawn into this philosophy of unschooling.  I am fascinated and I am determined to raise my boys to think for themselves and follow their bliss.  However, it's that same old fear that gets me every time.... "HOW do I know that they are learning enough??"  It's so scary, but I see great things for us if we can stay the path.  I know unschooling doesn't mean I don't do anything, but I'll admit I get sick of planning activities, picking books and things to do only to be met with shrugs or answers already formed before we've even started.  I love that my boys are smart, but I'm sick of feeling like I'm re- teaching them things they already know (and letting things they don't know slip through the cracks because I think they do know it or might not be interested in it).  I am determined to keep reading blog after blog, book after book, and article after article to keep me motivated and on this path of unschooling.  I will keep searching Pinterest for ideas and make suggestions to see if anyone is interested in doing those things that I found and thought looked interesting.  I'll still help them with projects, demonstrations and finding books they love but I don't want to be telling them what to do every day.           I also don't want to fight over the Wii and the TV everyday but I think that's going to be inevitable.  It's their first thought every morning and the first question that comes out of their mouths (morning, noon and night!).  But I have a plan!  I just hope this plan works better than all my other plans!  I don't understand why they all fall apart when my plans pertain to homeschooling because I am obsessively plan oriented in all other areas of my life and they work really well.  But I digress.  My plan is to meet with the kids individually once a month (or once every few months) and brainstorm activity ideas, book ideas, learning and curriculum ideas to help them focus.  I didn't do this the last few times and I think they faltered in not knowing what to do all day.  The choices set before them were overwhelming, but they did love learning through play and I think over time we could be great unschoolers. 
         I know it's not easy to embrace a whole new philosophy and way to life overnight and that's essentially what unschooling is... a whole new way of life.  It's hard to de- program myself and look at learning in such a different way.  Delight led learning does scare me a bit because I always think that there are things they aren't going to want to learn about that I truly want them to know.  It's hard to see in the short term the long term outcome and it's easy to focus on the here and now and panic.  I can't fail at this because then I fail my kids.  No one wants to fail their kids.  But I believe they will grow, learn and thrive mainly because I do care so much and because they will be having to much fun not to thrive.  They'll end up learning in spite of themselves I'm sure.  But, wow!, is it hard to let go of those "they should know this by now" thoughts.  So very hard! 
      I look back at my old posts though and long for days like those.  I loved when we focused on play and the importance of play.  I loved when we  played games with abandon, followed our bliss, and, quite frankly, even allowed screens.  We always love field trips and while we have taken a hiatus for the summer we're all anxious to get back to them (though this is due to hot days, high crowds and just summer business not any sort of homeschooling philosophy). 
     Yesterday and today I had such long "to do" lists that they were all left on their own to follow their bliss.  Evan and Alec mostly found bliss in the Wii, TV and computer.  This was one time I didn't mind all that much (though I still didn't love it!).    Ian was gone most of the day yesterday at a sleepover and then to play at another friend's house.  He swam in the pool, dug in the dirt, rode bikes and had a ball.  The other two boys took occasional breaks from the screens to play with Lego's, Beyblades, and Star Wars characters.  We played the Scrambled States game and ran around the yard for a bit.  Alec did his laundry (without being asked or asking for help).  They played in their rooms for a bit and Alec read quite a few of his library books.  He was so engrossed in the book Cougars that he had to read at least 4 of the pages out loud to me.  Apparently Cougars are moving more towards the East every year and he was shocked to hear that one had been spotted as far east and north as Greenwich, CT.   We were talking about Belize and Alec told me that must be near Brazil, so we found it on the map and talked about the countries that surround it as well. 
      When we picked Ian up the younger boys started playing a game of football with Ian's friend and started learning some of the finer points of the game as well as some new terminology.  Evan found some toys that had numbers already on them and told me it was a 10, a 15, and a 20!   During dinner the younger two boys took off to sell pencils and beads to the neighborhood.  Evan wanted his note pad to write down the costs and prices and keep track of all that they were selling.   All the boys helped us figure out how much pipe, foam, and supplies we needed to make all of the kids at Evan's party their own nun chucks.  They watched Wild Kratts, watched The Indian in the Cupboard and compared the movie to the book.  The list goes on and on.  It's amazing to me as I sit and write all that they did in just two days.   Looking back, even without my involvement they incorporated math, reading, writing, geography, and vocabulary into their day as well as many gross and fine motor activities.  It's hard to teach myself  to see what they are learning and not think about what they aren't.  It's hard to remember I want to focus on the process, not the product.  I want to build self- motivated learners that can lead and teach themselves.  If you're interested in homeschooling, and in particular learning about unschooling, you should check out these blogs. 
         Some of them are just amazing.  Some are a bit more radical than I think I could ever feel comfortable with, but who knows.  Two years ago I never in a million years thought I'd be comfortable homeschooling my boys and now I can't ever imaging sending them back to school.  I'd miss out on everything and I'd hate to watch their thirst for knowledge and life slowly dwindle down, or worse yet, to get snuffed out. 
          Here is my new mantra! :

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