• HOMESCHOOL

    The Best Homeschool Week We’ve Had in a Long Time

    Wow, what a difference once week can make! And I mean that in so many different ways.

    In the middle of last week I made the decision to officially switch to unschooling my kids. I know the term unschooling is a terrible name, it’s not really as hippie as it sounds, I promise. And it was like a weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders. We ended up having the best “homeschool week” we’ve had in a long time.

    Also, a week ago we were hanging out at one of our local museums where we have a membership and now they are all closed.

    A week ago many of our friends and family sent their kids to school and by the end of this week they are all going to be at home. I honestly can’t even wrap my mind around that.

    If you are one of those who are finding yourself suddenly homeschooling and in need of a few tips and suggestions you can check out this post also, seeing our weekly homeschool reviews like this one may be helpful as well.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple and Relaxed Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    OUR HOMESCHOOL WEEK IN REVIEW

     

    For reference, here’s the low down on the kids:

    Raeca – she’s 9 and in grade 4
    Ephraim – he’s 6 and in grade 1
    R2D2 – he’s 18 months (he came to our family via foster care in February)

     

    HERE’S OUR WEEK IN REVIEW:

    Actually, the week is starting on Thursday here, that’s when I decided to officially switch to unschooling and somehow that’s when our learning actually took off for the week.

     

    + we spent a morning at a local museum that we have a membership for, it is set up like a 1910 boom town and the kids love it. We just hit up all the places that looked interesting to them and skipped the parts that didn’t. I didn’t have any ulterior motive or things I wanted them to learn but they were chatting about which job would be best suited for their personalities and my nine year old even decided to take her own notes as we walked around. My favorite part about her notes was “Old jail cell and toilets are really bad. Trains are creepy.” 😂 She’s not wrong!

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + I am not the kind of mom who plans an activity for her kids to do each day but with the pressure of feeling like I had to do something I suddenly felt inspired to plan some activities (I’m a rebel through and through). One of the activities I had planned was a DIY mini escape room. It was simple but they had so much fun. I am planning on having a post up later this week where I share exactly how I set it up. (It’s up! You can check out our DIY Escape Room here.)

     

    The Best Homeschooling Week Ever - Unschooling

     

    + at one point one day I gave R2D2 a wooden spoon to use as a drumstick and some cereal boxes to pound away on and of course the big kids wanted to play along. So, I asked them if a cereal box with stuff in it sounded different than an empty one. They were surprised to find that it did and they went off seeing how different materials made different sounds (in a controlled way, they weren’t tearing the house apart with a wooden spoon though one did break . . .).

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + my six year old loves all things STEM, sometimes I search on Pinterest for ideas for him and one day I came across this idea: I gave each kid 15 plastic cups, 20 popsicle sticks and they they were supposed to see how tall of a tower they could make and have it sturdy enough for a Lego mini figure to stay on top. All varieties of structures were created! Then, when they were tired of it I set up a bunch of towers and they flew some paper airplanes they made into them.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + we spent a little bit of time this week talking about their interests and strengths and what future careers they may be interested in. Now, I don’t expect my kids to have this figured out right away but I do like to pay attention to both their strengths and interests so I can provide opportunities in those areas and help them grow. As a jack-of-all-trades who would love to be really good at at least one thing I want to help my kids have a step in that direction.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + we are so fortunate to have really good homeschool friends who live on our block (and a couple of blocks over), one afternoon the kids were creating potions of all sorts of spices and things from my cupboard. I mostly gave them spices I don’t use and it was a good wake up call to the number of expired spices I have. 😂

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + one day the kids were a little antsy so I gave them each a handful of mini marshmallows and toothpicks and let them have fun. I didn’t give them anything specific to do with them but they made houses, stick/marshmallow people and a snowman. Plus, they got to eat the marshmallows afterwards. My six year old got so attached to his stickman that he made another one the next day – though, not so attached that he refrained from eating him.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + when choosing to unschool kids are left with more downtime than if you try to follow a structured school-esq daily schedule and I love seeing what my kids do with that time. This week my daughter spent a lot of time looking through the Maps book and looking at all the different flags and she also read a lot of WWII history from a visual encyclopedia I got from the library.

     

    A Peek Inside Our Simple Homeschool Week - Unschooling

     

    + our audiobooks are still The Warden and The Wolf King at supper and Wonder at lunch.

     

    VIDEOS

    We also like to make use of YouTube for education. Here are some of the different videos we watched this week:

     

    Ephraim enjoys some of this channel’s videos, this week he learned about color mixing (by watching monster trucks smash together, right up his alley!).

     

     

    Raeca and I were talking about something and I mentioned someone being Mormon and she asked what that was so we watched about half of this video to answer her question (half because she felt like her question was answered in the first half).

     

    Both my kids love Lego and knowing how things are made, they thought this video was interesting!

     

    Ephraim asked something about how you don’t get burned when you quickly put your hand through a candle flame and the conversation evolved into fire walking so I show him this MythBusters video I remembered:

     

    And there you have it! That was the majority of our week! (Well, Thursday to Sunday anyway), I felt stress-free, the kids learned about things that interested them and we had a lot of fun together. I am sold on this unschooling thing and can’t wait for the weeks to come!

  • HOMESCHOOL

    Why I’ve Been Scared of Unschooling and Why We’re Officially Switching

    We are close to closing out on our fourth year homeschooling (!!!! How did that go so quickly?!) and it’s time to make some changes, officially.

    There are a variety of homeschool methods, including one I wish I could do but just doesn’t suit my personality and our life. For the past four years I have thought we were in the “eclectic spectrum” of homeschooling, pulling from a variety of different methods but there is one method we always default to.

    That method is unschooling.

    Now, before you start freaking out and thinking I am not going to teach my kids anything, let me just say that it isn’t how it sounds.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    WHAT UNSCHOOLING IS

    First of all, what it is not, is unparenting, our family still has rules, limits on screen time, bedtimes, etc.

    What unschooling is at its core is child-led learning.

    It involves listening and watching your children and figuring out their interests and strengths and diving into them.

    It allows room in the day for boredom for kids to be pushed to find things to do, to be creative, to use their imaginations, to see what interests them.

    It involves supplying them with resources and information on topics they are interested in.

    All in all I’m not a huge fan of the term “unschooling”, I prefer to call to call it homeschooling as a lifestyle (that’s my own made up term), but the well known term is “unschooling”.

     

    A Week in Our Homeschool

     

    WHY I WAS SCARED OF UNSCHOOLING

    I feel like there were two major things holding me back from jumping into unschooling officially, even though I knew it would be great for our family.

    One of the reasons was my own public school education. Do you know how hard it is to get the idea of what school is “supposed” to look like out of your head when you’ve gone to school for 13 years (well, plus a few more for college and university)?! Chances are you do know because you probably went to school as well. Even though I know school is not the most conducive environment for learning it is hard to convince yourself of that when that’s how you were educated.

    Another reason is my love for check boxes. In some ways I would love to follow a completely laid out curriculum where I can check the boxes and know I am doing “the right thing”. There are no check boxes with unschooling.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    WHY WE ARE SWITCHING

    Despite my fears I know that unschooling is such a good way to learn.

    I mean, it’s how I learn! What do when I want to know more about a topic? I research online, read books, ask an expert in the area, etc, the same thing one does with unschooling. So, since I unschool myself, I realized I can unschool my kids as well.

    We naturally default to unschooling in our home. In more difficult seasons, like when we had Buzz and Woody, we tend to naturally fall into unschooling.

    Jared and I both see every question the kids ask as a teachable moment and will often help them to figure out the answers to their own questions – that’s unschooling!

    I have read a lot about unschooling and watched some really informative videos as well (I’ll include them at the bottom of this post) and every time I am just so on board and agree with (almost) everything.

    Honestly, it will look like life.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    HOW IT IS GOING TO LOOK

    You won’t see us sitting down to “do school”, unschoolers learn throughout the day, every day of the year.

    I will look like a lot of free play.

    It will look like us using everyday questions as learning opportunities.

    It will involve finding our kids’ strengths and interests and helping them find books, videos and resources on those topics.

     

    What Unschooling Is, Why I Was Scared of Unschooling and Why We Are Switching to It

     

    RESOURCES

    Here are a few of my favorite unschooling resources:

     

    One of my favorite books about unschooling is An Unschooling Manifesto by Marla Taviano.

     

    There are some great videos on YouTube as well, I found myself nodding through this entire video:

     

    You can also see an unschooling day in the life of that same family (these are the only two videos of theirs that I have watched, just an FYI that I’m not endorsing their entire channel):

     

    If you have any questions about unschooling, leave them in the comments below and I’ll either answer in reply or create another post with some FAQ’s. If you unschool I would like to hear about your experience and any favorite resources you have.

    Let the (official) unschooling begin!

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