Friday, February 5, 2016

Weeks 17-21: Unschooling

And we're back! I know, it's been a month since I last wrote a blog post and you've all been anxious to know where we've been. I titled the last blog post "All the time in the world" in reference to my recent discovery that I need to teach more patiently, allowing more time for my son to go at his own pace and for me to not feel desperate when he isn't interested in moving forward. Combine that with a very hectic work schedule for me last month and a family vacation to Ohio in the middle of it and we've not done much schooling lately. In fact, I haven't done any formal schooling and during that time I've seen what it might be like to follow an "Unschooling" philosophy. For those of you not in the know, Unschooling is (essentially) a homeschool method where the parent let's their child discover things on their own by making sure they have the resources necessary to do so. And that is basically what DJ has been doing the last few weeks.

DJ started the month by creating his own science experiment - studying changes in matter from a solid to a liquid. He basically poured all of our ice cubes onto a plate and watched them melt. As the plate filled with water, he poured it back into the ice cube tray.

He continued to explore his geometry puzzles and watched a Netflix movie on Antartica. While watching the movie, he placed a penguin miniature on his continent globe. The movie, titled Antarctic Edge, 70 degrees South, was very good and showed a lot of the culture of the scientists who live and work on the 7th continent.

We then prepared for our family vacation to Ohio, which is the farthest DJ has ever been away from home. He was going to meet a lot of family for the first time so I printed pictures of everyone and we played memory games for DJ to get familiar with their faces, names and relationship to him. My husband appreciated the activity as he was meeting most of these people for the first time as well.

DJ had an awesome time playing with his little cousins and he fell in love with his "new" grandparents, aunts and uncles. And I think he stole all of their hearts as well. He was truly sad to return home.

After we returned, DJ really got into the "Unschooling" mood. He worked with the Color Box 3 for the first time in a long time and even did the Spindle Box again. Remember when we were working on the spindle box together and he was refusing to do it?

Then one day, he was playing on the iPad that has "Intro to Cursive" installed on it, including a digital sand tray. Before I knew it, he had pulled out the sandpaper letters and practiced tracing several letters before "writing" them in the digital sand.

He also tried to read a cereal box for the first time ever! Unfortunately, the capital letters and non-phonetic words confused him, but he was interested which pleased me.

On another day he worked on the Trinomial Cube, which he can mostly do without trouble now. He also completed several of his animal puzzles and worked with the Life Cycle charts. Don't you love our mini-trampoline propped against the piano in the 2nd picture above? I have such a love-hate relationship with that thing! I love that it gives DJ a physical outlet in these cold months, but I hate having it in the middle of our tiny living room! Oh how I'm ready for warm, dry weather!

DJ has been doing amazing things with his Magna-Tiles since he received them for Christmas. He almost always has the Geometric Solids out along with them. Just the other day he held up two of the triangles and asked me why one of them could make a square and the other couldn't. It was the perfect opportunity to explain to him the concept of right angles. I showed him a square and pointed to a corner. I said to him that a right angle is the only one that can make a square, any smaller or larger and a square isn't possible. Then I laid the right angled isosceles magna-tile triangle up to the corner of the square to show him the two angles were the same. Then I held the equilateral magna-tile triangle up to the corner showing him the angle was too small to make a square. He compared the two for a moment, said, "huh...okay" and went back to playing! Geometry in preschool. Who would have imagined?

And then, just as I was feeling guilty for not doing more formal schooling and anxious that I had lost my way and wouldn't be able to get back to our preschool rhythm, DJ comes to me and says, "I want to do addition". And so, we did. The dice rolled high numbers and we added 4,054 + 5,586 = 9,640. And DJ still loves to do a goofy face in the final photo.

So, unschooling has done well for us during my busy month because DJ has the resources available to him to keep exploring without me. But I can't really imagine building an entire homeschool curriculum using that method. Particularly with introducing new concepts. It's nice for the serendipity to be able to teach right angles without a plan, but most of what I need to teach needs more of a plan than least for me if not for DJ.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome month!

    We do a lot of this too - quite a while with nothing "new", but living life and continuing according to my son's interests ---- then a flurry of new presentations (or sometimes just one of something new) and back to the "unschooling" portion. ;)

    That goofy face is face is beautiful!