Sunday, August 26, 2007

Feel the rain on your skin!

I was going to title this entry "what about math", but changed it to the above for the 1st photo which so much better exemplifies our lives! Running outside on an end of summer morning after a thunder storm to embrace the rain and catch raindrops on our tongue!!!! But, something I want to write about is one question that frequently comes up when others ask me about unschooling, which is "how will they learn math, how will they learn spelling, how will they learn the basics?" I know unschoolers who still use a curriculum based math program for teaching their children math. They are still not completely trusting unschooling. It has taken me a while to feel comfortable even defending this concept when I was not completely sure about it myself. But, the longer we have been following this path, the more I do trust it and am now able to share that belief with conviction to others. Today, was one of those days. I was talking to some other homeschoolers about charters, tests, field trips among a few things. And, the math question came up. It finally comes easy for me to say the things I know to be true, for us. My children are always learning. Learning from experiences that happen every day. There are too many examples to even outline here. It is all in the way we percieve things. One mother who is with a charter was describing their days and things that they do and talking about having to pick up the school resources and how they have been having so much fun and learning so much during the summer, that she really wasn't looking forward to it and wasn't sure what to get. I think she heard herself say, that they are learning more during the summer......anyway, that's what I heard! Another friend, told me recently she is only with the charter for the resources that she is given. I can only tell them what is working for us. I know that the testing that they require for children starting with grade 2 is detrimental to many. It hurts their self-esteem to be compared to others, to be measured as a success or failure dependent on their scores. It creates competitive natures (I know, some people think that's a good thing, I don't! Why do you think so many people have to be 1st at store lines, cutting you off in traffic, 1st to buy this game or that game!) I know the schools need it for their charters to go on. But, at what costs? I've seen children hurt by it. Charter resources are a bribe. Resources are found in many different ways. We pick up books, games, toys, cdrom games for next to nothing at thrift stores. I frequent book sales, library book sales, warehouse sales for deals. We watch tv programs, play on the computer. We do LOTS of art! We have get togethers with other homes/unschoolers for different projects, that the KIDS have asked for; drama club, book club, High School Musical premiere party, tea parties, science camp, American Girl club. These activities do not have to cost a lot of money. We pool our resources. Work with what we have. Use the internet for ideas. We have girls scouts, 4H, and many, many play dates and park days! We create our own field trips, often with other homeschoolers. Discounts are available at most places, and many places offer free tours for homeschoolers. As far as math, examples include; Violet was nominated treasurer for her play group (they are putting on a production of Rapaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and they will be making their own baked good and refreshments and be selling them at the show. She wants to buy a wii, and is figuring out ways to raise the money to buy it for herself. She decided she will create a new blog and sell some of her artwork on it. She also decided to sell one of her Nintendo games and went on the internet to determine what the going rate would be for it. She cooks. She made us yummy chocolate chip pancakes this morning. She asks me questions, and I sit down and listen and show her how she can figure something out. We count her money quite frequently. She may not learn the multiplication tables at the same time as her school peers, but I am confident that when the need arises she will memorize anything that she feels that she needs to (you should hear her name off all the Pokemons and their stats!) I never make her write anything. And yet, she frequently writes letters to friends and family, she makes menus, she writes in her diary, she writes comic strips. Olivia has started writing over the last few months, and she does not read yet (although I'm sure she recognizes quite a few words already-she read "Cold Stones" quite easily the other day!) She writes her name on her own. She asks me how to write something and I help her with it. She looks at words and copies them. She loves arranging things, and playing matching games on the computer. She also, like her big sister, loves to draw and especially loves to cut paper! She loves to put together and take apart things. She loves to help her daddy! Natural learning occurs ALL THE TIME!!!!! Even when we don't notice it. There are several books that I've read over the last few months that have really helped me see this. Here are a few:

Parenting a Free child an unschooled life by Rue Kream, Moving a Puddle my Sandra Dodd, Teenage Liberation Handbook (not too early to read it, even if you don't have teens yet), has some really great ideas for kids to do to follow their dreams and passions (and adults too!). Some other great books; How children learn by John Holt, Dumbing us down by John Taylor Gatto, Why Johnny can't read by Rudolf Flesch

Sounds like a lot, huh? But, I just want to show how it works for us, and am happy to share it with others who have questions about it. Mostly, it's fun to hang out with your kids everyday and get to see the learning and growth occur within them. The love of learning that occurs. The special moments, like seen above in the rain picture. It's not for everyone. But it is for us! : )


Rabbi Phyllis Sommer said...

that first picture is priceless! i have one like it of my son and i just treasure it. i love the free-spirited-ness and the pure joy...

Melody said...

An excellent post and proof that life is indeed a learning experience. I find myself doing a much more relaxed homeschool approach, not true unschooling. But I keep thinking about it.