For those who are thinking about unschooling, let me put a few myths to rest. Unschooling doesn't mean letting your child run nilly willy through the forest, naked and dirty. Unless that is what you're okay with! It doesn't mean they spend every waking hour in front of a computer or tv, vegged out on Judge Judy and My Little Pony reruns. For each family it will look different but for the most part, unschooling means the opposite of real school. At least to me, hence the 'un' attached.
Wikipedia defines it as, 'An educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses make occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling and maximizing the education of each unique child.'
I was afraid of the unschool 'label' until I read this definition and a whole pile of unschooling books (I'll make a list of my favorites to share.) This is so us! She is doing things she wants, she's also taking classes she wants and we're doing some things together as well. This year has been much more relaxed. Okay, for this hermit mama who likes to stay home, it's been a bit of an adjustment since a lot of her interests take us out of the house. But I'm dealing. ;)
This is what unschooling looks like for us. And I'll tell you some about each thing and I'll group them according to traditional subjects:
Language: Dd is writing a book. Hoping to edit in spring and see about publishing. She is also working her way through a few Analogies logic books which I requested because it will help her on the PSAT/ACT/SAT, whichever she decides to take. She gathers new words from 'Word of the Day' app, Webster dictionary and what she's reading at the time. She tries to use the new words in her writing. She researches new things like analogies, metaphors, gerunds and uses in her writing. We play scrabble.
Reading: She is rereading the Lightning Thief series (there's 2 sets), is currently elbow deep in Les Miserables' and on the pile of 'to read' are Robinson Crusoe, The Outlaws of Sherwood, Jane Eyre, The Pickwick Papers and Count of Monte Cristo to name a few. I'm sure The Hobbit will reappear in December to get her ready for the final installment movie. 'No Fear' Shakespeare books are also favs.
Math: Here is her only requirement from me. I asked her to study to take the PSAT/ACT/SAT sometime this year. Just in case she does want to go to college sometime, she needs a testing score to shut the colleges up. She agreed and studies a few times weekly on Kahn Academy and in an SAT book. If she ever wants more formal study, I've already purchased and have waiting the Saxon Advance Math set.
Science: Her only want for science was to 'blow things up'. I told her that's Chemistry and before we use our kit to blow things up we might want to go through the book to make sure we don't blow US up. So 3x a week we read through the Apologia Chemistry book, discussing what we read and doing any problems out loud. If she can answer all my questions, we call it good. I don't test. We're enjoying that. So far she's too lazy to get the chemistry kit out and figure it out so this might be all we do. I may arrange a tour of some Chemistry lab in the area or visit a Chem lecture/lab class at a local college one day. She talks sometimes about going to school to do pyrotechnics which I told her is engineering and she will need to brush up on Science and Math. It's in the back of her mind, back burner dream for right now. We also got chicks this year, yes we finally did. So chicken learning and care is high on our science priority list. Pretty soon getting them and the coop ready for winter will be our next task.
Social Studies/History: This subject is a mixed bag and we're still formulating. I count most any volunteer work for the community under social studies. She volunteers at the Ronald McDonald house twice a month for 4 hours each time with her grandma, cooking, baking, organizing, helping in the office, gardening. She also volunteers in the children's department at church twice a month 1 1/2 hrs each time, teaching the lessons. She does volunteer at the Harvesters garden (they provide food for those who have little) downtown twice a a month with grandma and they learn what's what from a Master Gardener, so that drops under Science in my opinion. We also started Sonlight's 'History of the Christian Church' curriculum which covers all of history really. She loves history so she agreed to this. The biblical portion had 4-5 books she was having to read out of each day and it got overwhelming so we're only doing a couple at a time right now. We're reading through Westminster Shorter Catechism 3x a week, really defining what we believe. She's also reading More Than A Carpenter right now. She requested to study up on Ancient Greece and Rome so we got a few books from the library but Great Courses also has a college lecture series called 'Classical Archeology of Ancient Greece and Rome' which she is watching. She loves it. In fact she draws or drags out her playmobil while she listens.
*** As you can see, this is specifically tailored to my un-high schooler. It will look different for everyone. My post is getting mucho long so I'll share our 'non-core' subjects in the next post. Unschoolers unite!