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

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Report... The Almost Unschooling Balance...

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you've seen my off and on struggles with the idea of unschooling/interest-led schooling (interest-led sets off less alarms with anti-unschooling people, I don't know why). I wrote numerous posts about it, including my What If post in 2010 (yes, that long ago, and truthfully even longer ago than that), and more posts about it since then. I have struggled with the notion that unschooling can really work, despite the fact that I live in a very unschool-y area, and have seen numerous successes, and honestly, very few failures.

So, as you can see in the post linked above, I debated what I considered a more balanced approach, with certain subjects being non-negotiable (besides what book/approach we were using), and everything else being up for grabs, with a healthy dose of life skills tucked in there. And despite all attempts over the years in between to assign book lists, return to a more "classical" approach, etc., we keep drifting back to almost unschooling.

So what does that look like in practice?

This week, The Boy:
  • Did two more lessons in Jacobs Elementary Algebra (non-negotiable subject, but he chose the book). He had a few struggles with multi-part problems, so we sat down and worked a few together, and then I saw the lightbulb go on!
  • Made some new vocabulary lists for his German studies (interest-led, language studies), and worked on endings for plural words.
  • Completed an exercise in Thinking in Threes (non-negotiable subject) that had him come up with his own three word advice tips, based off familiar phrases such as "Act your age", or "Knock on wood". He said he really enjoyed this exercise! Next week, in the same book, he'll be working on writing a strong thesis, which is great, because one of his goals over 8th-9th grades is to be able to write solid essays (yes, I am glad this coincides with my goal for the same for him).
  • Worked on some soft body dynamics with Blender (interest-led, computer science). At his fencing club, there is a 22 year old computer science major that also uses Blender, and frequently gives The Boy advice on how to apply new elements of the program. This week, The Boy learned to make fire!
  • Read another few chapters of The Maze Runner, and spent hours pouring over his "new" antique book (interest-led, though I do ask the kids to read a minimum of 30 minutes daily).
  • Wrote in his journal most evenings (interest-led, writing).
  • Watched another episode of Big History with Cassia and me (somewhere between interest-led and non-negotiable, as I put it on, but he loved it). We never realized how much influence the horse had over the development of human history!
  • Helped with some weeding in the garden; learned how to start the barbeque; and how to roast a chicken (life skills).
  • Skipped fencing this week, since he had a cold and didn't feel well enough, nor did he want to pass it on to anyone at the club (normally this would be physical education).
And The Girl:
  • Worked through some multiplication, word problems, missing subtrahends, and number lines in Saxon 6/5 (non-negotiable subject, her choice of text). She is really enjoying the mixture of problems she gets to tackle each day, versus other programs we have used in the past that focus on one type of problem at a time (spiral versus mastery).
  • Is enjoying her Writing Skills book (non-negotiable subject)! She categorized nouns this week, and copied sentences with corrections. I like that she never resists doing her work in this book!
  • Started working on her Valentine's cards for our annual homeschool Valentine's Day "party" (interest-led, writing/art).
  • Made a number of sculptures centering around food, Valentines, animals, and so forth, before mashing them all back up, since she didn't create anything she wanted baked hard/permanent (interest-led, art).
  • Read from The Hunger Games and some of the comics she picked up recently (interest-led, part of her 30 minutes a day).
  • Watched Big History with avid fascination, since she loves horses (see above, history). She also watched an episode of Life of Mammals -- she loves David Attenborough! (interest-led, science)
  • Helped my mom finish sewing a skirt; helped me clip the chickens' flight feathers; assisted with making roasted veggies to go with the roasted chicken; cleaned and rearranged her guinea pig's cage; and helped pull weeds (life skills).
  • Roller skated in the kitchen and dining room, since she got new (and good!) skates this week, in preparation for derby next week! (physical education)

And yes, they also watched some "regular" TV; we played Clue again; we headed out to the coast for a few hours; I read to them from The Hobbit and My Book House (literature); they spent some time looking at slides under the microscope (more science!); played catch in the front yard; and today we are going for a hike, as our closest park day friends are ill at the moment. And my kids probably did a half dozen or so things I am currently unaware of!

What I'm Planning for Next Week:
Math and language arts will continue as is, though I am looking through all my Brave Writer Daily Tip emails to find a fun, one day exercise for both kids.

We might finally try reading aloud from An Everyday History of Somewhere. Maybe.I know we'll watch some more Big History.

The Boy starts his first edX online course, in Scratch programming, so I need to clean out files, unused programs, etc. from our dinosaur of a computer. Speaking of which, any recommendations for a good family computer that can smoothly stream video, allow for some computer programming lessons, and maybe some gaming? And that won't cost us a fortune? He also wants to get back into reading his Conceptual Physics book, and I put two books on hold for him at the library (The Wizard of Quarks and The Art of the Catapult), for a different approach to physics.

The Girl, as part of her bird studies, might dissect an owl pellet, and she wants to study feathers under one of our microscopes. She also wants to get back to daily readings from All About Birds. And she is finally back to derby practice next week!

I'll wrap this up with two of my favorite pictures from our beach trip this week...

 Have a good weekend!

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