Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What I mean when I say unschooling


alternately titled:


Why we won't be using a boxed curriculum
or any "curriculum" for that matter...





  1. I don't like the idea of teaching my children that any one book (or set of books) read should be taken as the absolute truth. I prefer they take a more active role in their education- asking questions, gathering information, constructing their own truths, and proving or disproving those truths. That said, I know there are subjects that actually do hold absolute truths, like Mathematics. And that there are some great and helpful programs out there for presenting subjects such as a foreign language. So I am not against using textbooks and programs as needed.

  2. My thoughts on unit studies? Love the concept! We'll be approaching them with an unschooling mind set though- taking what is interesting to Shaye(and Mackenna) and finding creative and active ways to explore the topic. It will be my job to cover all areas of learning (IE: math, science, English) during our explorations. Although this will probably take a lot of research on my part- I think it is the most economical solution for us right now, based on how quickly Shaye absorbs ideas and then moves on. Take for example our weekly library trips- Shaye checks out books with a theme. For two to three weeks, in the beginning of the Fall, it was dinosaurs and she read everything she could get her hands on about them. Even a book called Dino Dung- What we can learn from fossilized excrement . I kid you not. She also shows an interest every few weeks about everything and anything under the sea. During October and November, it was the election process, former presidents, and finally, women's rights. She actually selected and read a biography entitled Susan B. Anthony and The Women's Suffrage Movement - did I mention she's six? Other weekly themes have been Amelia Bedilia and Dr. Seuss. The librarian commented that she loves Shaye because not only does she check out so many books at a time, but when she returns them, they all get returned to the same place. So, "unit studies" seem like the natural route, starting now- please feel free to share any interesting ideas, projects, or "lesson plans" you have used or come across!


  3. Most of our learning will be absorbing knowledge through books, conversations, online research, hands on projects, and field trips. Work books and other busy work? Shaye eats them up like candy. We would go broke trying to keep up with her using just, or mostly, text and workbooks. First of all, she's been "doing" workbooks since before she could read or write. Once she could read the directions herself? Forget about it! She sees the entire workbook as one activity. She does it for fun, and she does it 'til it's done. Remember last January? And that was in the morning before setting off to full day Kindergarten. The girl is a machine. Which is kind of why the school was more than happy to send her packing. And why unschooling is our best option. She controls the themes, the speed, the depth- it's win-win-win. Although, I don't think I'll be sticking to giving up Diet Coke, I think I'm going to need all the help I can get to keep up with her.




What are your thoughts? Ideas? Prayers for me?

16 comments:

kel said...

I really respect your decision to homeschool. It's a huge undertaking.. and very noble idea! I wish you lots of luck!

mattie said...

I had a 7th grade math teacher who said "There's always more than one way to do things more than one way".

From an engineering gal who didn't always do math the way the text book was written....don't be surprised if they do things unconventionally even in a subject that seems absolute. :-)

Good luck!!!

Jean said...

Good Luck! You are going to be a great teacher and I have a feeling your kids will benefit greatly from your creative ways of teaching them and allowing them to be themselves.

Cindy said...

Congrats on being a homeschool Mom!! I admire people that do that! Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job! I do agree there are more ways than one to learn something.

pjmomof3boys said...

I'm impressed, and maybe even a wee bit jealous! Your 6-year-old sounds a lot like mine, which has been making me think about how we're handling his "schooling" so far...Right now staying home isn't an option for me, so homeschooling wouldn't really work, but we're trying to "feed" his interests when we can, which right now include the solar system and anything "math." My husband teaches HS math to talented/gifted kids, so if you ever need any math help or advice, you know where to find me! We'd be more than happy to help! Good luck to you!!

elexisb said...

my thoughts? oh my gosh, the kid is smarter than me! I'm getting a little nervous here, I better read something!

I still have to respond to your email. I have lots and lots of questions for you and need to sit down and think about it all as I write to you. Thanks for all the info/thoughts you sent on the subject.

gina said...

Mattie and pjmomof3boys- thanks for the tip and offer. I think I'm good with the basics but once I hit HS math- I'm a goner. It was never my strong suit- which according to a book I read recently is a math myth that sells people short, but I SWEAR it's true. I'm definitely going to be out of my league eventually.

Elexis- I know what you mean- there is so much to wrap your brain around- that's what's so exciting. all of the opportunities! I love to talk about , so anytime.

Thanks for all of the words of encouragement everyone- I am not so naive as to think there won't be days I'll need to reread them!

Idzie said...

I stumbled across this blog quite by accident... It's really nice as an unschooler teenager to see others unschooling their young children! I think it's marvelous that the unschooling movement seems to be growing. :-)

mamabear said...

Re: math

Saxon is your friend my dear. Higher up grades have DIVE CD's that you can buy to go along with the text book. A REAL teacher teaches the lesson (on the CD-ROM), and then the student does the lesson. Student has any questions, they call the 1-800 number in the book, to ask about what they are stuck on. That's what we use for math and it works wonders.

Jules said...

I don't really have any ideas for you - I just remember all the things you did with Brielle and I know you will be just as creative with Shaye! She's a lucky little girl.

Stay strong - be brave - research, research, research - don't get discouraged - e-mail me when you do - and we'll go through this journey together! :)

Have a great time!

ArtMind said...

Gina, unschooling is something I've heard about only recently. It's not common to do it in Belgium but I think it's a great way to show your kids another way! Enjoy this journey, it won't be easy but you have many friends to support you! :)

nikki/WhiMSy love said...

That's excellent Gina! My mom homeschooled my bro & me from 8th-12th grade. It was awesome!

Holly said...

Have you looked at Five in a Row? I used that for K and beyond...it can be used as a full curriculum with Math and Lang. Arts added, but you can just use it in a supplemental way too. It uses excellent childrens' books to explore topics in a unit-study sort of way.

gina said...

Holly- I've heard of it, but I never looked into it. I LOVE children's books- building themes around them sounds fun. The possiblities are endless!

Nikki- that's cool- high school is a scary thought for me right now- but you turned out well! I hope I get so lucky as to have my daughters' be so creative and upbeat thoughout their lives!

gina said...

Idzie- I love seeing unschooling success stories! Your blogs are fun and well written.

Thanks everyone for your support ~ it's just what I need! :)

The Princess Mom said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Gina, and congratulations on becoming a unschooler/homeschooler! Unschooler sounds like the perfect way to go with your little unpink ones (love that!). Just remember that no decision in homeschooling is permanent. Unschooling might work for a week, for a year or forever. When it stops working, you can try something new.

My teacher friends are most jealous of my ability change curriculum or teaching approach in midstream. A regular classroom teacher can't just abandon a math program because it's not working, but I can!

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