Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Hatch School Diaries - Entry Five



It isn't exactly what you think.  And it isn't exactly what I thought or my kids thought either.  Not even what I thought it was two weeks ago when we started this whole experiment. 

Of course, experimenting with my children's education is no light hearted thing.  Actually it can be panic inducing.


For them as well.

But, since I had my homeschooling breakdown and they followed with their homeschooling breakdown, we had to change things.  We had our unschooling week.  I learned that my kids are not lazy.  They desire to learn all on their own. 

Unschoolers everywhere will tell you that kids are naturally curious and will find their individual desire to learn if you encourage and facilitate and stay out of the way.

But....even after our week, I could not reconcile letting them do whatever they wanted. all. day. long.

So we approached week two in our experiment to fix homeschool with a slightly different perspective. 

Let's go back to structure.  I would feel best if we went back to structure.

We can have a meeting where I assign weekly goals and then the kids can have the freedom to accomplish those goals by the end of the week any way they choose.  The problem with this approach was that they were overwhelmed by a week's worth of goals staring them down.  And when, by day three, they had not completed half the list, my oldest panicked and my youngest gave up.  No one completed their goals, and we all felt once again defeated.

So this week, we had a meeting.  And this time I listened.  To them.  Not my internal conversation in my head.  I asked what out of each week they liked, and I gave them each a chance to explain.  They both prefer structure, but different types of structure.  They both loved having a say in what they got to study and exploring things that interested them.  Each of them wants daily goals, and each wants a say in those goals.  Key's main concern was that he was behind, and he felt he needs to focus on ELA.  He's working on diagramming sentences this year, and he wants to refocus on that.  Kelly really wants to conquer reading.  Not because of Dr. Seuss, but because he is terrified he will become an adult and not be able to read instruction manuals.  Seriously!  He wants to read, not for stories though he does love those too, but so that he can learn on his own. So that he can build a robot out of our recycle bin without being dependent on me to be available to him.  He wants to design several structures, but he needs to know how to build other simpler structures first.  He wants to read the instruction manuals.  Not kidding.  But until yesterday, I didn't know that about him.  Now I have a clue into his motivation.  Into both boys' motivation.  Key loves writing. And Key loves structure - craves it actually - so of course he would be desiring to diagram sentences.  Kelly loves building and has trouble with verbal cues, so of course a written manual would be a big help to him.  Makes total sense now that I know.

I am slowly getting it.  This is unschooling.  Not the no structure chaos I envisioned. 

It is listening.  And asking.  And guiding.  And stepping back.  And observing. 

And listening some more.

What's funny is that we have friends already doing this method.  And because their kids learn differently than my kids, my kids think that their friends aren't doing anything.  Meanwhile, their friends are constantly explaining new things to my kids, and mine are looking at me like - How did they know that? 

Ahh.  Gotta love humans!  So open minded.  With ourselves.

The Hatch School Diaries - Entry Four

Unschooling.  Yep.  Unschooling.

When we first started this whole homeschooling journey I thought unschooling sounded a bit too hippy.  My inner dialogue sounded a lot like....

"Let the children lead the learning.  You've lost your mind.  Seriously.

All they'll do all day is play on their Nook or watch you tube videos. 

Or play the Wii. 

Unschooling.  You've truly lost your mind."

And up until Christmas we shot ourselves out of a cannon and finished a reasonable amount of math and history for an entire school year in a mere four months.  That's while also keeping up with our reading, language arts, and science.  And travel soccer.  And church.  And.....And.....

How awesome are we?!?

Yep.  So Christmas has come.  And gone.  School is back in.  And we are incredibly unmotivated.

Over the past four months I pushed way too hard at first and then eased off to what felt acceptable.  It was that first two months that we accomplished way more than necessary before I realized it was too much.  And I relaxed.  Now, I am questioning the schedule.  Why do we need to get three point four math lessons in each week until April?  If we finish early, what do we do next?  Start next year early, and keep up the crazy?

What would happen if I let them explore?  Not laze about....but pursue interests.

They jumped at it.  Of course. 

And so the unschooling experiment is started.  I have given them this week to try it. 

Here's the funny thing.  Today, I had way more stuff to get done than time, and the youngest cried.  That we didn't make time enough to watch about Alexander the Great and he has to wait until tomorrow.  That he didn't get to learn more.  That caused tears.  Seriously.  Can you imagine?