Are you familiar with unschooling? It was one of the many things I learned when we started looking into homeschooling. I’d heard of it in passing, but didn’t really know what it was. Without going into too many specifics, unschooling takes a child-directed approach at learning. You let the child dictate what they want to learn and when. I’ve heard many, many success stories from people who successfully unschooled a bulk of their child’s education. For us, unschooling clearly wasn’t an option- my children need direction, or they’d be content to play all the live long day. While I hold play in high value here, a good education it isn’t- at least not for my little ones.
But I’ve come to realize that we are actually unschooling Science right now, and for us, this is working incredibly well. In fact, we’ve kind of been unschooling Science all along. Last year we studied Astronomy- just like Abigail wanted. We followed that up by studying birds-also requested by the kids. This year, we kind of started the year haphazard, but I finally started realizing what it was we were doing with our Science. Zander expressed an interest in volcanoes, so we spent several weeks reading books and watching videos about volcanoes- as well as earthquakes. That turned into a request to learn about weather, so we cued up the DVD player and watched a whole series of videos on weather, as well as reading all the books we could find. We read a few Magic School Bus books about tornadoes and bats, and most recently, our Science studies have taken us to the earth. Abigail has been working diligently for several weeks on planning a farm. She has been reading book after book about different animals and livestock, as well as fruits and vegetables. This week she’ll draw out her vegetable garden, and then next week she’ll plan what crops she wants to raise for money- or for feed for her stock. It’s amazing how much science she’s learning in this seemingly harmless activity- which was completely self-directed.
For Zander’s Science, he’s also learning about plants and how they grow. Next week it will be his turn to plan a vegetable garden- only his will be his garden that he will plant in the spring. We’re also going to do a bean growing project, and see which beans and legumes sprout the fastest. Beyond that? Who knows where they’re keen interest in how things work will take us. Sometimes all it takes is a meandering through our library’s non-fiction bookshelves to spark an interest and spin us off into a week of discovery. If nothing else, I have a few studies I’ve had on hand, just in case, such as a study on Geology, Magnetism, and for sure when spring finally has sprung, we’ll do some studying of insects. Unschooling Science is a perfectly natural approach it seems, because the curiosity the kids have is never-ending. I can’t wait to see what they decide to tackle next!
So we’re at the 20 week mark this week, it’s hard to believe we’re just over halfway already. With 36 weeks in our school year, it’s suddenly rumbling by incredibly fast. Abigail is digging in deeply to World War 1 for the next few weeks, and all together we’re going to continue learning a few words of the French language. Both Abigail and Zander have taken to this idea of learning a language wholeheartedly. They are loving learning French, and wish we would do it more often than we do. We’re doing it just twice a week for now, but if they really wanted to, we could probably squeeze a little in every single day. As I sat just a short while ago and planned out our coming week, I reflected a moment on how much we’re enjoying school. Oh, I get complaints here and there, and Zander tries many times during the week to suggest that we take a day off, but for the most part, learning has become such a grand adventure, that we miss it even on the weekends.