Monday, July 9, 2012

A little tending....

For new readers to get to know us a bit better.....

Please introduce yourself.
I’m Kim.  I have been tending my garden for 8 years.  The hubs and I have one spunky little adventure girl who is 5.  Bear is our joy and why we have taken this journey and the path we are on.  We also are the long time parents to one loveable fur baby, Ollie.
What is your typical day like?

Our typical day begins at about 8 am when Bear rolls out of bed.  We spend time playing, cooking together, reading together, watching a few select TV programs and learning how to be polite and kind to others (i.e., manners).  Our big focus this past year in what is typically called Preschool has been manners and learning more about sharing and why we need to listen better.
Generally the Hubs handles Bible study, but we haven’t been as formal as I would like with this area.  I plan to be more formal (as formal as I can) this next year.  This means more daily devotionals and more Bible stories during the day time hours.  Still pretty loose.  I do plan to use the felt board though. 
Bear has asked to learn to read and so we are starting with some simple things and "Bob" books.  Right now we are still focusing on letters and sounds and how they make words.  We color a lot and dig in the dirt daily, especially now that summer weather has arrived, although even with our rainy weather we bundle up and head outside even when it is rainy with a typical Northwest winter pattern.  I think in terms of teaching the “whole child” and our subjects just really intermingle now.  I can’t keep them separate.  I suppose as Bear gets older things will change and become less hands on as her interests change and grow, but I don’t see this happening now or in the foreseeable future.

What do you call your homeschool method? Is it unschooly?

I think we have (ok, read I) been dragged into child led learning kicking and screaming, well not literally but it isn’t what I envisioned when we decided to homeschool Bear at two years old.  I envisioned an area with a desk, structured learning routines … well, a school experience at home.  It started last year at just 4 when I tried work sheets with my daughter.  Before this the only experience I had with the term unschool was negative.  Growing has a way of changing how you see things though. 
We homeschool differently. I like to say we (and I think most homeschoolers if they sit down and look at it this way) are somewhere on a homeschool spectrum. We are not 100% “unschool” but nor are we 100% school at home. I would guess that we are somewhere, thus far, in the middle, between 50 and 60 percent. It can change daily, and I expect it will change as Bear gets older. I really feel like we are more child led than anything else, labels never really work well, and I tend to not like putting them on.
I see “unschool” as child led and hands on and we parents are the facilitators of education or learning.  In our home we will continue to loosely follow some schedule and routine, because we need this in our family and Bear functions better having some sameness during the day.  Frankly I work best that way as well.   All spring we toyed with joining an ALE (Alternative Learning Environment) but the more we learn[ed] the more we know in our heart that it isn’t us.  We need the freedom and flexibility, and despite what some might attempt to make us think, we are 100% capable of teaching our child. 
No one knows what the future brings, but right now our future is a child led/hands on education learning environment, and this just more closely relates to unschooling.   

Both my husband and I were educated in a brick and mortar school building.  Bear has never even been in daycare much less a brick and mortar school building.  I don’t think more highly of myself because we have chosen to homeschool, or with the method we have chosen to use.  I think it can be different for each child as well.  Maybe child one is very unstructured, even from birth and child two not only wants but literally craves structure of some sort and a routine.  So many “unschoolers” could go completely the other way and ignore that child, which craves structure and routine, catering 100% to the child that is very flexible and shows the epitome of the unschool definition.  If this happens are you any better than the parent that you scorn?  I know that we will change as we grow.
I know that parenthood is hard, and judging another parent for whatever choices they make in educating their children is pointless and destructive.  I don’t believe that God put me on this earth to be destructive towards moms and dads.  We each have different paths we must follow because each of our children are unique and a special treasure to God. 

What are some of the benefits of child led that you have seen?

Flexibility and going with the interests that our child has is a big plus.  We find activities based on her interests and plan activities that seem like they will interest her.  Often times the activities promote or show a new concept and the biggest thing that has surprised me the most, the fun I have learning right beside her.  I am not just pulling out a premade curriculum and teaching from work sheets but we are hands on learning.  This might work great for some though and some kids may really crave and need this.  I say you use whatever works and really what we do is what works with our child and her learning strengths. 

Favorite definition of unschooling:
Earl Stevens wrote in an “Unschooling Unmanual” (see my review here):   “Unschooling does not mean that parents can never teach anything to their children, or that children should learn about life entirely on their own without the help and guidance of their parents.  Unschooling does not mean that parents give up active participation in the education and development of their children and simply hope that something good will happen.”  If more people would understand this, there would be less negative stigmas on people who do label themselves as “unschoolers”.  We are facilitators of our children’s learning experience. 

Tend your gardens well my gentle friends.

On July 18 We linked up with What Works Wednesday

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