Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our First Year Unschooling!

It has been so long since I have even thought about blogging but today is the day! Our homeschool life...well our life...looks so different than any year before it. We have tried all different types of curricula. We have tried different schedules. We have been in co-op's and we have tried both traditional and non traditional set-ups for "school". Nothing has seemed to click with us.

Many months ago (maybe over a year) I said I wanted to try unschooling. Such a foreign concept and one I am still learning about. This 'year' I have decided to take the plunge. Unschooling, is a broad term I have learned, or student-led learning is the what we have decided to try.

The results? So far it is working! There are definitely kinks but honestly they are not with the kids, they are with my perception of what 'school' is. Here is what our 'schooling' looks like. I have pictures to post too but they are with my mom in Houston! ;)

Daily Devotional (I have decided that this is NOT optional). I really liked how the kids and I started with this last year and stuck to it! I am using a book called, Today is the Day. I bought it at Lifeway a million years ago for $2.50 and am just now using it!

Sonlight Cores B&C I know, I know...Unschooler's do NOT use curriculum, but we LOVE Sonlight! The kids have learned a lot from the history and geography (H&G) portions. So I have tailored it to us! Since we are only pulling from H&G we can cover an entire week in a day.

Media There are many forms of media! We use the internet including YouTube, Google, Wiki, etc to find out about different subjects that the kids may be interested in. The other day we watched videos on how the Great Wall of China was built. We also go to the library every week. The kids pick out the books and I help when they may be stuck on what to find. Jackson is really into graphic novels right now. Our library carries tons of educational ones and so he is learning too! :) We also use Netflix for educational purposes (and fun). The kids love The Magic School Bus and documentaries about animals. The Kindle Fire is used often as well. We have also found some free games online for math and reading.

Reading We go to the library a lot! I also set aside time for them to read. We are new at this still and they don't automatically choose to do something like read (except Char) so I guide them! Ellie is still struggling with reading but it is coming along nicely!

Math This looks different for each child! Right now we have thrown out the workbooks for Jackson. He is still using math skills and I am impressed at how much he is doing without the book! The girls are constantly asking me math questions and are figuring much of it out on their own! We still have workbooks for them because they wanted to keep them.

Basically we are taking each day as it comes! One day may be more "educational" than the other. We may go to the park and learn about static electricity while sliding down the slide. The thing is I am being more mindful of the cues my kids are giving me! I am a guide and they are choosing what interests them! There is much more to what we are doing. We have several mission projects and field trips planned for this year. I will keep you posted on our progress and will post pictures!

Friday, January 4, 2013

What we have done so far!

I have neglected this blog!  Not on purpose. Life has just been busy. The last time I posted it was about Unschooling. I would like to update you on that!

Since we have started school we have moved to the DFW area.  We are now living with my parents. I do not have as much control over when the TV is on or off anymore and because we are sharing a living space our day looks a lot different than what I had first hoped. The good news? We have adjusted well!

Our day starts with the kids playing outside, or legos, or some other fun playtime.  At this time I wake up!  The good thing about having grandparents in the house is that I can sleep in a bit! I wake up, check email, facebook and blogs. We start school about 9 am.

We always start with Bible (Sonlight). The kids and I enjoy memorizing Scripture, praying and talking about the story or lesson.  This Sonlight curriculum has a lot of read-alouds! So I have incorporated drawing or painting of the Bible lesson into our morning while I read the, sometimes endless, pages.

Then we go on to History, Geography (sonlight), and then science.  We started the year with Apologia but I quickly realized that this was not a good fit for our family.  So we are switching (as of January) to unit studies. We just read a fun story "Owls in the Family" and the kids wanted to learn more about owls so we are working on a lapbook about owls.

Then it is time for individual work. Ellie is still very dependent on me for most of her work. So Jackson usually starts with math. I only help when it is a new concept or if he is confused. This leaves me time to work with Ellie.  She is really not getting math.  I noticed recently that she is relying on me to tell her the answers. So we have started over.  We are taking it very slowly. Today was the first day I saw the light bulb turn on.  She is starting to understand the concept of adding.  We will most likely do Kindergarten math again later in the semester. For now we are sticking with some little books that are meant to reinforce addition and other basic concepts.

I also like to take this time to help Charlotte. She only gives me about 10 minutes max!  She loves to play Sound-o Bingo, which is bingo with only letters and their sounds.  She also loves playing cards. Ellie joins in too.

Ellie reads to me and works on other LA and is usually done well before lunch. Then she is off to play with her sister!

Jackson and I work on ELA together and then he is working on an additional geography program that is based on the US.

That is it!  Oh, we have just started Health too.  Like just started today! So I don't know how that will go yet,

The unschooling has not really happened like I wanted but I feel a lot less pressure this year than I have in years past. We have had a lot of big life changes since October including: a move, Troy out of work for 2 months, 2 deaths, and me having to be the full time caregiver for my father. I have learned to let a lot of things go. My kids are benefiting from that.

All-in-all, it has been a good year!