Our homeschooling style is eclectic with a generous sprinkling of unschooling so record keeping can be difficult with traditional homeschool planners.
A few months after using the planning forms that I created I realized that while they were getting the job done, it wasn't a perfect fit for our style. We don't do all subjects every day, we don't limit our learning to Monday thru Friday so I went back to the drawing board and simplified even more.
So far I like it and it seems to be working better for us, it's simple but efficient. Everything is logged as it happens without having to separate by subject or type of activity.
If you are an unschooler you may find this helpful as well so I have added this new template to the list of free downloads. Simply subscribe to receive the downloads for free. If you are already a subscriber, send me an e-mail and I'll make sure that you get it too.
Hurricane Matthew was scheduled to come within just a few miles of our coast as a very powerful Category 4 Hurricane.
The reactions of the locals ranged from “the sky is falling, run for your lives” to “it’s nothing”. Thankfully our prepper skills came in handy. Since we plan early for hurricane season we didn’t have to deal with the madness of Walmart, Home Depot, etc. We live in a mandatory evacuation zone due to my front door being less than 1,000 feet from the river. Normally I would be mandated to work at a local shelter but my son was sick and contagious and thus unable to be in the shelter childcare.
I have a bug out bag with essentials so packing wasn’t too difficult and the only stress for us what where/when to evacuate. I did have an internal struggle between wanting to bring everything that I didn’t want destroyed in the storm vs. bringing just what we need to get through the storm. In the end I compromised, I brought our textbooks and curriculum as I would have hated to see them destroyed and just tried to protect the rest of the items from water if the house flooded.
We lucked out with a decent rate at a local hotel thanks to a homeschooling association discount so we didn’t have to go far. During this process my children learned a lot about the weather, hurricanes, weather forecasting, trajectory tracking and more. So while we haven’t cracked open a book in days, learning has been a continuous process.
In the end the hurricane made an unexpected wobble in it’s trajectory at the last minute that had it passing further away from the coast. We still had a sleepless night listening to the howling wind but were blessed to get through it unscathed and still having a home to come back to. Not everybody was so fortunate, that could have been us.
Now I am trying to get back to some semblance of normal, difficult as our household is in flux due to uncertainties about an upcoming move. I used to be a gypsy but lost those skills. The stress has impacted routines and affected our immune systems, we tend to be fairly healthy but not this month. For the first time ever everybody in the house is sick at the same time, that is not very conducive to productivity.
I am supposed to be packing but I am writing this instead because I didn’t want to leave you hanging. There it will be a while longer before I can get back to a semi-normal writing schedule but I hope to be able to pipe in as I am able. Meanwhile I’ll be posting on Facebook…
I had an “aha!” moment today. I had slacked off my documenting for the past 2 weeks so in an attempt at catching up before I forgot what the heck we had done I took some time to think back to what we had covered and how. A few moments of reminiscing left me thinking this:
This was certainly not part of the plan but the more I go with the flow, the more that what we do looks like unschooling. We are not 100% unschooling but as I take the path of least resistance with the boys we end up having a child led, parent supervised learning process rather than a parent led instructional model. We still have set schooling hours, but the topic and resources will vary per day.
Are we having an interest in African animals today? Let’s watch a Wild Kratts episode, talk about the animals that we saw at Lion Country Safari, read a book about lions, practice spelling and writing animal names, practice math by counting and subtracting animals and even do activities in the activity book that the kids got with their kid’s meal at the Lion Country Safari Restaurant.
The fact that I download and save practically any freebie that looks like it has a remote chance of being used at any point within the next few years has come in very handy for this because a simple search on my computer often yields printable worksheets, unit studies and other resources on the topic du jour so I don’t have to spend much time researching at the last minute.
The awesome website Educents has been very useful for this, I got a $10 credit for signing up which I used to get a 1 year membership to a worksheets website (remember that Shammy is worksheet obsessed) and a 3 month membership to an ELA website. My out of pocket cost? $0!!! They often have freebies and heavily discounted resources that are a great value and I was blown away by the quality of their customer service. I strongly recommend them so check them out!
Will we continue on this unschooling path? Only time will tell.
There is a good chance that we may continue with this flexibility for the rest of pre-K and Kindergarten but once 1st grade starts and I actually have to worry about compliance with state homeschooling laws I may feel better having a more structured approach to ensure that there are no gaps in what they are “expected” to know by the end of the year. Who knows, maybe by then I would have gotten good enough at combining the two and it won’t be a problem.
I originally planned on homeschooling 4 days a week since I work out of the home on Wednesdays. Due to life’s challenges I’ve complained about before, I didn’t have a babysitter today so I experimented with having the boys come into work with me. While it’s not something that I would want to do on a regular basis, it wasn’t as bad as I feared, specially for Shammy.
He got to see his mama in action and we got to talk about the office environment, the equipment and its function, what the office does, how they do it and why I do the work that I do. It evolved into it’s own lesson without me even trying. He also got some of that socialization that some people think that homeschoolers don’t get as he got to interact with an assortment of coworkers and clients in a wide range of ages. He then decided that he wanted to write a thank you note (he had gotten lots of practice with those after his birthday) and I was amazed at how much his penmanship improved from such an activity so I got to thinking that I can’t call today a no-school day.
I love the concept of unschooling but my personality dictates that I plan everything to the extreme detail so my mind is not compatible with unschooling full time but I can see how doing it one day a week would be fun and refreshing.
If all goes well the boys will have a new babysitter next Wednesday but the beauty of part time work is that I’ll still have a couple of hours in the afternoon to do some informal learning with Shammy before we have to go pick up Daddy at work.
Will we continue this every week? Only time will tell.