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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Organized Unschooling (okay, interest-led schooling)...

image courtesy of ri-ir.org

I know, that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, doesn't it?

But, in thinking, and thinking, and thinking, about where I don't quite succeed in homeschooling (yes, I am admitting to some failure), I believe I have figured out where the problem lies, and that is in follow-through. Yes, I am very good at coming up with lists, and plans, and all kinds of grandiose ideas, some of which include unschooling, but then we tend to more or less skim by, getting just the basics done, and sometimes a little more.

image courtesy of eebrinker.wordpress.com

image courtesy of mewarnai.us
Not what I picture when I think about what I really want in homeschooling. I quoted Elizabeth Goudge once: "Education is a mosaic of beauty. The various colored fragments are interrelated" (Linnets & Valerians), and that's what I want... interconnectedness, the fragments coming together to make something more than the sum of the parts.

Now the remedy I plan to try is very simple... actually planning, and yes that includes the unschooling -- or more properly stated -- interest-led aspects. So yes, I will plan out math and language arts, because they need that strong foundation. And I will ask them to complete a certain amount of other studies... for example, half an hour daily of free reading, or choosing a documentary to watch, an online course to complete. They are already immersing themselves in some project-based learning. I will ask them to set goals with me in regards to history, music, art, science, and then we will work together to break those goals down into manageable chunks.

Mostly, I want these ideas they have, and I have, to go somewhere. If they lead to more rabbit trails, fine. If they peter out before we even get going, well... that's what I want to start avoiding. Too often, around my house, I hear "I want to learn this and this", but then in reality, that's pretty much as far as it goes. As if the road we're about to follow ends before we even really get started.

image courtesy of nalzgraphics

So for next week, and the four weeks after that (what's left in our school year), I plan to plan. I have old "assignment sheets" that I made ages ago and I am updating them (maybe I'll share them later!). I am asking The Boy to dedicate those few weeks to an actual science/computer science study (he likes the looks of this one, which yes, he started once and never finished...and this one), OR he can read a whole science-related book, start-to-finish. I want The Girl to finish her choice of Prentice Hall Science Explorer texts for the year (last chapter of Animals, and all of From Bacteria to Plants... it is pretty short, so that should be doable). I want them to each chose one novel to read start to finish. Together, we will finish our interesting study of California, and our read-alouds. And in exchange for asking them to do more, I will incorporate what they want... book choices, time periods, The Girl's unending requests to actually dissect our owl pellets and frog specimens, more art, some summer excursions/field trips.  And this whole thing will be a practice run for fall.

image courtesy of charide.wordpress.com

I think of this plan as steps up a mountain, each one leading to the next, until we find another trail to explore, or a vista to enjoy, before returning to the climb. I can't see the top yet, but I know we are heading somewhere!

Yes, I know it is not really unschooling, as I am setting boundaries and such. It is interest/child-led, and parent-led, which I think will prove a good balance.

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