Dropping the Un from our SCHOOL

Over the years I have transitioned, tweaked, mixed and done whatever was necessary to find a system that works for us. I mixed together what I loved and created a Philosophy of Education that works for us and that philosophy hasn’t changed but my methods of implementing it has.

In the beginning I tried so hard to make classical work. It was just too much all at once with kiddos that were just too young for that kind of style. I then rebounded into public school which is far more of a traditional style (or what most of us see as traditional) and that was a miserably failed experiment as well. That was when I found Unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Thomas Jefferson Ed and Montessori.

I read everything I could find on these. I immersed myself into the theories, methodologies and implementations of each one using our deschooling period as my research time. I fell in love with so many aspects of each one that I ended up even more confused than when I began; but the two that spoke the most to my fancy were Unschooling and Charlotte Mason.

  I think that’s the trap for all new homeschoolers. Overload you with information and send you on your way with a simple phrase like “you’ll find what works for your family” and leave them contemplating each and every aspect as if their child’s entire future hinges on this one decision.

Unschool your children and you’ll either have these amazingly self-directed teens that know exactly who they are and where they’re going or you’ll have a lazy, entitled brat who can’t read. Use Charlotte Mason and you’ll have a well read, nature lover with a wicked dry brush who is ready for anything college will throw at them or a burnt out teen who can’t stand the idea of one more dusty old book and doesn’t know what they want from life. Maybe I should memorize more like the classical style or spend more time outdoors like Waldorf or …

Dude, this train of thought is exhausting and debilitating!

I was so tired of trying to over analyze every single aspect (which was totally unnecessary!) that I ended up Unschooling with a pocketful of Charlotte Mason tools for when the kids said “I’m bored, what can I do now?” and it WORKED!

Honestly it still works.

It never stopped working. But that’s not why I’m writing this. I am writing this because I decided to change things up. I started last year as we added more structure to our rhythm but instead of fixing things I started to notice some behaviors or aspects that I didn’t like and that is why we are dropping the un from our school.

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I still believe in the power of respect and freedom. I still believe in building a cooperative environment where mom and child work together towards creating the kind of education that is best for the child. I still believe that the child should feel responsible for their own education. I’m also still all about spontaneous trips or rabbit trails.

But,

  1.  I’m a history nerd and I really didn’t like how haphazard their historical knowledge was being introduced. When my 7 year old asked me if Pocahontas came over on the Mayflower too, I knew that I wasn’t doing something right. When we visited Valley Forge two years before learning about George Washington and they couldn’t connect the two on their own- that was a problem for me.
  2. Electronics were playing too big of a role in all of our lives and none of us were able to self regulate- myself included. One of the tenants of unschooling is that if you let them have all that they want they will eventually not want what is bad for them and learn to self regulate. Maybe that works for some people but addictive tendencies run in my family. We have a serious history of drug abuse, alcoholism, being workaholics and generally being unable to self moderate that runs through almost every generation of both my family and my husbands. In our family this was becoming a problem.
  3. As a part of our movement towards facing underachievement I have to require that my children do certain things they don’t want to do. This is completely contrary to unschooling and completely necessary for my family. This isn’t about pushing them to do more but rather about teaching them perseverance and grit. This is something that I wasn’t forced to do and now I struggle with this absolutely necessary part of life- I want better for my children and its far easier to break a habit when your 8 than when your 18 or 28.

This is why I am officially leaving behind the method of unschooling. However, before I completely write all of this off I want also say that unschooling gets a bad rap. Below are what I see most commonly as misconceptions of unschooling:

  1. Unschooling is not UnParenting. Choosing to unschool does not mean that you stop being a child’s parent. There are varying styles of parenting found in all styles of schooling and the same goes for unschooling. It is just as easy to find a parent with bedtimes and house rules who unschools as it is to find a free range, yes parent. That said, it is also just as easy to find a free range, yes parent in classical environment. Parenting style does not dictate schooling methods. The trick here is that if you are an unschooler with rules, usually you have conversations with your child about the reasoning behind the rules and you keep the communication open and flowing. Teaching a child boundaries is just plain safe and unschoolers do this too (even if the methods vary).
  2. Unschooling does not mean that your child does nothing! An unschooled child can take a mathematics course or use a language arts curriculum- or play minecraft, read fantasy for hours, and build forts in the woods. What makes the child unschooled is that they, the child, are the ones who choose that path. If the parent says, “I think you should take this class” or “here choose between these curriculums or this class” then that is not unschooling, but if you’re at the library and your 10 year old sees a poster for a math in minecraft class and then proceeds to tell you “hey that looks fun, can I do that?”- well that is unschooling. On the flip side, if your 6 year old wants to learn french after reading Matilda and you offer a french tutor that is also unschooling.
  3. You can’t unschool part time. You’re either in or out. You can set up Montessori stations in hopes that little fingers will choose to sit and play (and eventually they will). You can lay out great books on table tops or displays silently praying that one of your children will be attracted by the illustrations that graze the front. You can have easels, paints, paper, crayons or tools out and about enticing young eyes with their shiny gleams or colorful rainbows. You can drive to the park with a lunch and watch as your child explores and adventures. You can even lay out that handwriting book and leave it there in the same spot, religiously dusting its cover over the years until the moment when the 8 year old picks it up and uses the instructions to write herself a story. Or you can join in as your child plays their third hour of Minecraft and actually ask questions so that you too understand why they love playing this so much. You can bake or cook or garden or read…but you’re either in or out. Telling your children that they must complete one lesson in each book before free time is not unschooling. Eclectic is a wonderful word, so is interest led, use those instead. You can’t school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the claim to unschool Tuesday and Thursday. This is akin to someone saying “Oh, I’m a vegan too, well except for eggs and cheese.”- No. Just No. Choosing to unschool is a lifestyle choice. It is choosing to let your child be responsible for their entire education. Not everyone likes it. Not everyone wants to live this way. And unschooling doesn’t have the copyright on freedom of exploration and interest led learning. It’s ok to choose to use curriculum on certain days and learn through life on others, but it is not unschooling.

Unschooling can be an amazing path for some children and some families. I will never regret our years unschooling because out of this stage in our journey my children learned to love asking questions and searching for answers. We will still have a place for this as we move on but things from this point on will be planned out and led more by mom. Their opinions are valued, but I will have the final say. We are all growing and moving in and out of our metamorphosis as we move towards the unknown. Choosing to use certain methods to further your philosophy is great but don’t feel tied down by them. As a wise homeschool mom who has been in the trenches far longer than I told me, “Live what you love and leave what you don’t.”

That is exactly what I am doing. I’m following what works for my family, even if that means changing things again, but as my husband says,

‘It’s all good, kids bounce anyway. They’re flexible like that.”

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Change the Story

 2015 has been a year of change. Anytime this much change occurs in such a short amount of time there will be effects that could last a lifetime, but that’s not a bad thing either. Sometimes things that we love or things that used to work for us just stop working positively in our lives and in those moments we need to take charge and change the story.

Over the past few years we have created a lovely learning environment that was child led, interest led, and very much passion driven. It was (and still is for three of my four children) the perfect introduction to lifelong learning. We had just enough structure to get us from curiosity to exploration, just enough balance between masterly inactivity and living books all while staying true to our child led and interest led passions. For our family it was perfection, but perfection is momentary and does not last, nor should it last because as we grow so too do our needs, and that is where we find ourselves right now.

We have, for a very long time combined our favorite philosophies (as noted here) while leaning most heavily on the unschooling side of things, because that is what worked for us. Lately however, Little Man has begun struggling. He struggles with executive functioning, focus, and attentiveness in a manor that can be best described as being “an absent minded professor.” With him now at 8 years old and in what would be 3rd grade at the public school, we feel like we need to address these habits before they get any worse. We are also well aware that if he were in a more traditional setting, his behavior might be flagged as either a disorder or a disruption. We have no plans of going down the path of diagnosis unless he himself tells us that the issues are hindering him, but both his father and I feel as though we do need to do something to help him learn how to cope.

So here we are, in the midst of a major lifestyle change once again. The philosophies which we have still hold true, but right now we are experimenting with how much of each method is needed to best help him while also experimenting with diet, to see if that helps. All while trying to keep things as similar as possible for the younger three who do very well in the current environment. It may work for us to become a little more CM based as he gets older, or it may work better for us to regiment our time more often, rather than the subjects within them. I can’t say where we will be in a week, let alone months down the line or years but I trust that we will find a way that works for us and so we head into the unknown…again.

If anything, I have learned through all of this, that the first step to changing the status quo is recognizing that it doesn’t work. In this age of blogs, pinterest and youtube tutorials it is easy to see that there are a million ways to do the same thing but so often we get stuck in our pride or the ease of that which is familiar and we don’t want to admit to ourselves that things no longer work under that paradigm. We do it all the time, especially when it comes to education.

I’ve seen it first hand on a large scale, when a failing public school system refuses to allow a new option in, even if the new option will help the students.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to start a Charter school in some states?

After years of planing out a vigorous curriculum using all of the newest information about how students learn best, after months of recruiting the best teachers (who you can’t actually hire until the school has been accepted by the multiple school boards), creating a budget based on possible figures and estimates that will be scrutinized down to the penny by multiple boards, finding a building thats just right but you can’t yet lease, choosing all of the needed furniture or supplies but being unable to buy anything without funding… only to put years worth of work and collaboration before a school board, that is possibly corrupt or at the least doesn’t want to lose money from their own budgets (not every state works this way but some do) but has been labeled as a failure by the DOE. Let’s just say there is a reason why there is a lack of choice when it comes to schools in many districts. The bureaucracy is maddening and often reminds me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Even when change is needed, even when change is the only option, we stare it in the face and ward it off as if it is some superstitious evil.

The status quo makes things comfortable, I get that, but comfortable people never affect real change in the world. Recognizing that something does not or no longer works is a positive thing. It is proof of growth. It is proof of a life being lived. Worn out shoes mean the owner is well traveled. Pants that are too short mean that a child is healthy. New jobs, new homes, new cities…new adventures… all are a part of growth. Without growth a story is boring to read.

Change the story. Add a plot twist. Take charge as the author of your life and change that which no longer works, even if you don’t know what is going to replace it.

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After Chaos

Chaos and I are good friends. Ok, maybe not good friends at all, but we do go way back. I no longer have any enmity towards Chaos, although I once thought that she needed to know her place.

Yes, I completely believe that Chaos is a woman, much like a meddling mother in law- not my mother in law, of course, I’ve been blessed to be able to say that honestly. But not Chaos, no she’s the stuff other wives warn you about. Chaos enters my life from time to time without warning, rearranges everything she sees, stays to chat for a while and then leaves before I can speak my mind. Whenever she surfaces I hold on tight and hold my breath. I know she won’t be here long and often times I end up gaining something of immeasurable worth out of each visit, but each and every one of those visits are hard and some of them are downright painful!

After Chaos

After my last rant post I had a great “come to Jesus” talk with one of my mentors and she helped put things into perspective for me… which I desperately needed. I had planned on writing up a post that discussed the need for finding a great mentor to slap you when you get emotionally bogged down within the confines of your own head when my vision went wonky, I started seeing double and having light sensitivities. The vision problems caused migraines and I could barely make it through each day with all four kids fed and safe, let alone write a blog post. After two months of waiting for referrals and doctor appointments I was finally seen by an Opthomalogist at a regular appointment. He took one look at my eyes and walked me to the Neurology department, they took one look at me and admitted me to the hospital.

Chaos found her place. For two months we couldn’t live life as normal, after a week in the hospital and multiple tests the doctors diagnosed me and sent me home with medicine (I’m good now, so, YAY!) and over the course of the next week I couldn’t do anything but heal from all of the tests. That was followed by a series of family visitors and even less routine. All in all it ended up being three months of no routine. Learning was still happening here and there so I can’t say that we were not really on vacation either. Through it all we somehow managed to keep moving forward, even though craziness and unpredictability surrounded us. Until yesterday.

I don’t know what triggered the massive cold war but somehow it ended up with the Adults vs the Children in a massive passive aggressive battle of the wills. Remember, we are unschoolers, I don’t assign schoolwork, I don’t force subjects to be learned and I always respect the choices and interests of our children. However, we are also a family that lives and works in the same space and so we have guidelines that must be kept in order to keep the peace within the household. When it comes to school we have state guidelines that we have to meet and we need to show proof that we are doing this regularly. Our compromise has been that each child will do three written pages in a notebook per week. 3 pages a WEEK! They have no clue how easy they have it.

In the midst of the Chaos that permeated our lives over the last three months we slacked and only ended up doing 3 pages every two to three weeks. We did more screen based learning than normal, zero field trips (I couldn’t drive at all and the sun hurt my eyes) and we did next to no chores. When I told them earlier this week, “Now that I’m better it’s time that we get back into a routine” and they responded with smiles I really did think this would be an easy transition. I was so wrong.

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Chaos had entered our lives and rearranged our priorities. Every aspect of our lives had been touched without even realizing just how much of an impact this change had on us all. Lackadaisical attitudes coupled with a lack of ability to focus, loss of patience, and clashing over excitabilities all combined into a perfect storm. This is not the first Cold War we have endured at the hands of the meddlesome Chaos, nor will it be our last.

In our household letting go of our unschooling philosophy for a short while allows us to reset boundaries and rules. We need an intense, but short, period of time filled with structure, discipline and consistency in order to reacquaint our whole family to a system where coexistence can occur. Rules and guidelines are set in place and strictly adhered to so that together we can recreate a rhythm that works for us. The same can be said for our school environment. A more traditional and structured approach is needed after periods of uncertainty in order to re-establish a workable freedom that doesn’t overwhelm my little learners. I call this time our rehabilitation, my husband calls it bootcamp but for our children it is indispensable.

After the emotional rollercoaster that deeply effected each of them with my health issues, hospital stay and recovery, the children needed something secure to act as a foundation. I have always been the constant for them. Through deployments, cross country moves, TAD/TDY and every other up and down we have lived through, at the hands of our fluid military lives, Mommy has always been the constant, unwavering center that held everything together. This time when Chaos visited, she shook us to our foundation, and now we are rebuilding the life we have all come to love.

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Maybe, Chaos is an old friend. She teaches me lessons I’m too stubborn to teach myself. She loves me enough not to let me skate through life unchanged. Chaos grows my “Grit,” my ability to fall down and bounce back up. Chaos is just one of many tools that I need to help shape me into the leader, adult and person I want to be. I would like to think that how I welcome Chaos is not nearly as important as what I do once she leaves. When Chaos is in town I just have to tread water until she leaves, but after, after is when I have to really keep moving forward. It’s so easy to get stuck just treading water. The hard work always comes after Chaos. The hard work is swimming back to land.

Home

As I drove to piano lessons today the beauty that surrounded me was awe inspiring.

Thick purple and grey colored clouds spread out over a valley as spectrums of pink and orange were painted in the remnants of the Sunrise. Pale blues flowed like water through the outer edges of the giant puffs of cotton. The sun completely hidden but its presence evidenced by giant beams of light shining through the wall of clouds. Twenty to thirty beams of various sizes finding their way haphazardly through the blankets of purple and grey.

Below this glorious sky was a valley formed from three rolling hills. Each hill a menagerie of colors. The remnants of summers leaves nearby burning yellows, reds, oranges, and all intermixed with pockets of Winter evergreen. Like flames flickering in the wind the colors away and move over the landscape.

It is a scene that is still new to me. Still awe inspiring. The warmth of the flames fills my heart even as the temperatures begin to drop.

I didn’t grow up in this. I am not dulled to the beauty. I am flabbergasted each and every time I drive down a wooded lane. EVERYTIME. Autumn is beautiful to me. Winter is beautiful to me. Spring is beautiful to me. Summer…well summer is whatever.

As military child bouncing from Navy base to Marine Corps base and back throughout my life I am used to California coastal life. I am used to tropical islands. I’m used to dessert heats. I can easily handle 120 degree summers, 40 degree mornings with 80 degree afternoons and 60 degree evenings. I sometimes take for granted smooth sandy beaches and crystal clear blue oceans.

What I love, more than anything is a foggy morning. A crisp breeze that steals my breath as it whips through me. The change that occurs every few months as the world around you transforms before your eyes.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty of the other places. Places that others dream of visiting their whole lives. I do. I love walking along the beach. A sunset across an Arizona dessert in the spring is one of my favorite things in the world. However, it never steals my breath the way fall in the Northeast does.

There is something spectacularly fascinating about things that are different. Something that grabs our attention. At times that feeling is strongly negative and at others enticing.

Do I love Fall so much because it is different?

Is it because I’ve seen palm trees for most of my life that I do not find them appealing?

After living in Virginia for a few years my husband and I moved to Southern California.Everyone was so excited for us. Friends that have never been further east than the Appalachian Mountains or further south than North Carolina were overjoyed. My husband was excited too, having only lived there once before for three years. To me it was blah. Whatever. No big deal.

I was more excited about living near great Mexican Food and Carne Asada Fries than I was about the weather or environment. I grew up there. It was normal.

When I got there the familiarity washed over me and I loved it again but I sincerely missed having four seasons. When fall came and only one street had imported trees that changed colors with the season I made excuses to drive down that road. I pulled out my favorite hoodie and bought my first pair of boots. I think I wore those boots about six times before moving. As we were driving cross country we all watched the scenery change outside those filmy windows. From the deserts of the southwest to the rolling plains of the midwest and finally into the absolute beauty of Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland. When we made our way up into Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut to visit family I felt like I was home.

How weird is that?

Sure I was born on the East Coast and lived there for my first three years but after that I had only spent a few weeks in the summer, every other summer and three years as an adult living in that atmosphere…3 years and a few summers out of 30+ years of living elsewhere. Arizona feels like home too but in a different, nostalgic way. A home made up of memories and experiences but not necessarily I place a I need to go back to. Not at all like being in the Northeast. I feel at peace here. I can see myself living here long term. I can see myself raising my children in this environment. I can see us building an actual Home, not just occupying someone else’s house.

Retirement is close to us and maybe this idea of home is more on my mind lately, but it makes me wonder.

What is home? Some people talk about home in absolute terms and I don’t understand that. How can you just live in one place your whole life? I know thats the norm but I don’t get it.

Home has always been a sort of joke for me and all those little sayings just made it seem kind of stupid and sappy.

“Home is where your heart is”

or

“Home is where the Navy sends us”

or

“Home is where the Corps sends us”

When asked where I’m from I often reply that I am homeless. I am a military child and a Military spouse. I find comfort in the change of a new PCS. I begin to get antsy if we have lived in a single house for more than a year. I rearrange the furniture in my house almost quarterly.

The idea of a home, of an absolute location that never changes regardless of where you go or what you do scares the living daylights out of me! I don’t have anxiety over moving but retirement, living in one place, buying a house, having neighbors that don’t move yearly, having people that know your history…That terrifies me! Im talking nightmares and chills, terrifies me.

I am terrified of the idea of Home,

yet here I am feeling at home in a region I barely know.

Maybe it’s my sense of adventure.

Maybe, its that I’m older and have children.

Maybe I am just growing up but I’m begging to think,

That maybe I can get used to this…

Maybe its not such a big deal.

Maybe, I can learn to feel at home with the idea of HOME.

Maybe.

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Ah, Balance. We meet again, my worthy Foe.

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This is an experiment. Homemaking, Homeschooling, Blogging, Writing…

A social experiment that I am testing on myself.

An Experiment on Balance. Oh, that elusive concept that I struggle with so very deeply on a regular basis.

I would like to think that Balance and I engage in epic battles. Clashing swords and wearing chain mail as a Majestic Dragon (her name is Life) soars overhead burning us all in its wake.

If not, than the war is waged solely in my head and then I am just fighting with myself constantly (that makes me feel a bit unscrewed so I will pretend the former occurs, its more grandiose).

I never feel adequate. Put together. Or like I am doing enough.

I have a list…

I am quite sure that all women do, regardless of their roles or outwardly appearances.

I’m willing to share mine for one simple fact…this list doesn’t define me

(“grace y’all” as my lovely Sister in law would say)

I am not who this list says I am, I am so much more… but that’s not the topic for this post so movin’ along!

As a woman:

I am lazy. It’s a running joke between my husband and I. I am simultaneously hard working and focused yet unable to get a simple to do list finished or even remember where that to do list is.

 I am forgetful. I often tell my children that we will try out an experiment later or research an idea later on only to completely forget. Or completely forget that I put a load in the washing machine before bed on Tuesday and on Thursday need to re-wash that same load… and in a bad month again two more times at separate intervals in a month.

As a Mom:

I yell too much. I am an impatient person and I yell when I get frustrated or I do the opposite and I shut down.

As a Wife:

I am selfish.

no explanation needed, just purely selfish. I will totally drink the last can of soda while DH is at work or complain when I finally sit down and he asked for a glass of water (he is usually the one who will get up without questions to get me the same glass though if I ask).

As a Homemaker:

I am inconsistent at best.

I menu plan and then ignore the menu. I make everything homemade in a week and then don’t do it again for several months. I keep the kitchen clean for a few days and then its a wreck for a week.

You get the gist… inconsistent.

As a Homeschooler:

All of those things are magnified as a homeschooler. All of them.

As a Blogger:

I am a total NEWB! I am trying to figure out how this works? What is my style? I am in no way trying to be a Pro Blogger but I do want to put forth my best but not in a lets cover everything up kind of way because whats the point of that? I am still trying to figure out that pesky little subject I ignored in school: Grammar. Yeah, that decision came and bit me in the rear!

So…

Yo, Balance? What’s up?

What’s a girl gotta do to get you on her side?

Does it matter if I “succeed” or are you one of those “work in progress” things? You know, the ones where people look like they’ve figured it all out but really they are still just trying to make it through the day or week alive?

Are you “buddy, buddy” with anyone or just the best friend everyone wants and no one has?

“Well, do ya? punk?”

(yeah I totally quoted Dirty Harry…and you are totally thinking it in that uber raspy Clint Eastwood voice, aren’t ya?)

Any how, back to me.

Here’s what I am starting to figure out.

1) Balance is not something I have or don’t have.

Sure I can balance a scale but life is messy and all this balancing wears me out! What if balance is a frame of mind not a state of being? Because when it is a state of being I am saying that a+b+c must be on one side and e+f+g must be on the other, but what happens when a project shows up, or a child is sick, or life goes berserk? Have I now lost my balance? What if instead I look at it as a frame of mind. Instead of saying I need less of this and more of that I look at it as a sliding scale that is ever changing in the face of the obstacles that appear before me.

2) I gotta be gracious with the grace.

I HAVE to look at my flaws with Grace. I have to, or my perfectionism will tear me to shreds. Those flaws are still there and I am working on being a better person so that my flaws don’t overshadow my strengths. It is a work in progress, but that is not going to stop me from seeing the accomplishments and strengths that show so brightly to others (thank you LORD for giving me people that force me to shine my light on myself sometimes!).

So yes, I am selfish, but I’m also empathetic. Yes I am inconsistent but I am also ready to try new things. Yes I am a novice, but I have been given a gift of research and a love of learning. I may be lazy, I may have a short fuse and I may be forgetful but my unconditional love is apparent through my actions and daily sacrifices that I make for my family and everyday I stand up and try again.

So, Balance how about a chat over some Tea in stead of an epic battle next week?

After all Life is a journey, not a teleportation to the end…

that would make for a horrible story… let’s read it together.

Evolution of a Homeschooler

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If you read my earliest posts about homeschooling they are so far off from what we actually live! I have evolved into something I thought I would never be!

I used to be so rigid, such a planner… I still am but instead of planning out every minute I have come to embrace flexibility.

I am so glad that we didn’t spend a lot of money on curriculum this year. I am so glad that we are able to learn through everyday life. Trips and books have taken us from Chinatown to a coal mine, from the revolutionary war to the civil war, from dinosaurs to outer space! We spend our time watching nature, observing wildlife, watching documentaries… And it is so much more fun then reading a chapter in a textbook!

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I used to think that there is no way I would ever Unschool, I believed the lie that if you want to homeschool the only way is to go classical (nothing wrong with it I love the idea of it but in practice it just doesn’t fit with our family). I was told its the only way and its not. Then I thought Charlotte mason has more freedom but that didn’t quite fit either. So now we are an eclectic mix of Unschooling and Charlotte mason.

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How do we pull this off? How can you mix Unschooling with Charlotte mason?
For one we rely on living books, except that mom doesn’t choose them. I strew. I place out things I think the kids will enjoy, I turn on a documentary to see if their interests get sparked. We go to museums and fun historic places and when they ask questions we make a unit out of it.

We spent Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia visiting grandma and Grandpa. Friday was a historic Philly day and the kids had a blast learning about the American Revolution. So now we are doing a unit on the Revolution. We will go to the library, the kids will look up books and movies on the subject, we will check out museums in the area, go to historic places and if they want to get hands on we will build something or draw something related to it all. For math we play games, my son watches the Khan academy videos or we do workbooks. No single lesson is longer than 15 minutes and we spend hours doing nature study. The kids lead the way and I act as a guide, not a dictator. It’s an eclectic learning philosophy but its working for us!

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