If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What If?

What if we only did the "three R's"? What if I let the kids choose what to study? What if we follow their interests for a year, and see where that takes us?

The Boy checked out a book at the library yesterday on flight... Book of Flight: The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. After spending, oh probably an hour or so looking through it, he asked if I could find some books on the Wright Brothers for him. And so we put some on hold - hopefully they'll be in soon! I could see that interest leading to many possibilities. Right now, he's carefully sketching out old airplanes from a drawing how-to book. And discussing how airplanes get lift-- it's called the Bernoulli effect in case you wanted to know.

And The Girl found a book from one of my various stacks called Science Made Simple. So she's working on a dinosaur coloring/cut-out activity, which is getting The Boy's attention too. Both want to identify the dinosaurs they are coloring, so that they can call them by name.

Why am I rambling on? Because, the more I think about it, the less I want to plan out a whole year at a time. Our interests shift and change. Even mine do! Hmmmm.... so what I am thinking is this: focus on the three R's. Very simple. All else could be child led. History, science, art, music, etc.

I also think I want to do away with my planned "school calendar". Why put those limits on learning? It's not as if their brains shut down just because I say "no school this week". I'd like to be more flexible this year. Take advantage of museums, zoos and parks more. Take field trips just for fun, not because they tie into our curriculum, and because who knows what great ideas and interests will spring from random field trips? I want our homeschooling to be a reflection of my blog's name! Blend living and learning a little more, blurring the lines between homeschooling and life.

What do you think?


  1. Ya know (especially since you're a reader of my blog) I'm always grappling with what path to take. Initially (when Benjamin was 2 & 3 years old--heck, even as recent as 4 years old) we were planning to cyberschool him.

    Then, I got cancer.

    And, while battling cancer I read a lot of blogs. I *met* a lot of unschooling-types and child-led learning aficionados online. And, I realized that above all else...I want my child to be happy.

    I find that when I hyper-plan and overschedule...I end up unhappy and so does Benjamin. So, we now learn in a much less rigid way.

    Our school days include a large helping of reading alouds, a lot of game-playing and "Hey, I have something I'd like to show you..." type "lessons."

    Some days, the entire school day simply includes watching road construction--and discussing the way the utility company, the construction workers and the local quarry worked together.

    Benjamin is significantly happier when he is interested in a topic and when he feels he is in control of the learning. Workbooks are not welcome here. Bland, boring, repetitive discussions are not appreciated. He likes to be engaged. He loves when he feels he is being introduced to something entirely new & exciting (even if it really isn't-HA HA).

    Go with your heart...if you think your kids will be happier with a less stringent "schedule," do it!

    There is always lots of wiggle room!

  2. Hi, I'm a new follower, I found you through my friend Michelle at Old Oak School. I have an 8 and almost 6 and a 3 year old. We took the hands off approach with my daughter, even when it came time to learn to read. She just sort of figured it out THIS YEAR. And it only took her 3 weeks and gentle prodding for her to keep practicing daily. I find I get more out of her when I just don't push her. Otherwise, she knows I am "teaching" her and she resits. And I hate to argue. It gets us nowhere fast. Go with your gut, and theirs. Remember to trust your children. I always pull out John Holt when I start to doubt myself. Haven't used a curriculum yet. Check out this blog, by an unschooled 19 year old. Radical, but very cool blog called "I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. "

  3. Thank you for the lovely and thoughtful replies! I discussed my ideas with the children, and they are very excited to have more say in the direction school takes them. It FEELS right!

  4. Wonderful...I'm glad it feels right!

  5. That does always seem to be the question. I go through this every week. I want to just go with the flow, but something in me always holds me back.

  6. I think that is a fine idea. My kids have learned a lot of things on their own, without my help or prompting. Well, I guess I help by making the materials and resources available.

    The other day, after watching Henry V (Kenneth Branagh version) my 13-year-old explained to me how the movie version of the Battle of Agincourt differed from reality. My husband, who knows more than I do, nodded in agreement. I suppose we talked briefly about that battle during our formal history studies, but not to the level of detail he knows. He got that on his own, from library books. And he has plenty more of that sort of information in his head.

    Go on, you know you are on the right track.

    The word verification for this comment is (no kidding): blest.

    You are blest to have curious kids who want to learn. Keep the fire burning.

  7. I had to come back to suggest you put this post in the Carnival of Homeschooling. I think it's perfect for it.

  8. Well, G, you know where I fall in the planned vs. unplanned life. Smack in the middle!

    Due in some part to your influence we have some nature journals, "Everyday History of...", science curric, and a class or two on the horizon. Still want to read "Cloudspotters Guide" too. I love the Everyday History and can't wait to start reading it aloud to the boys!

    We will see where life leads us, however. It has a way of getting in the way, IYKWIM. Darn life! LOL.

    Thanks for the inspiring post. I love how introspective you are about your life. Glad I had a minute to read blogs today. I've been away too long!


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