This is our fourth year of homeschooling. My son is now 10, my daughter 8. This is what I wrote two and a half years ago about unschooling:
Last year Girl was in PreK at a well-regarded church preschool, from which Boy had graduated kindergarten the year before. I spent months researching materials before I bought anything for Boy’s first grade curriculum, but I bought a lot. Moving Beyond the Page, All About Spelling, Singapore Math, Growing with Grammar, Fine Arts.
Additionally, we signed Boy up for classes at a secular homeschool co-op, and Girl as well, since classes were held on a day she didn’t have preschool. And more: Boy had ballet classes, soccer, violin, and swimming lessons. I had to drop Girl off at school three mornings a week, then pick her up three hours later. I had a schedule for Boy’s schoolwork, an intense schedule. He got exhausted and started crying almost daily. There were meltdowns. He’s always been prone, but it got worse.
And things kept happening that weren’t in the schedule: doctor’s appointments, errands, a car accident. And I had so much work to do myself. Housework. Yardwork. So many meals. So many dishes. More and more, when the weather was nice, I just let Boy play outside. More and more, I just let him do what he wanted, when there was time for him to do anything.
I started reading about unschooling, but it made me anxious. Always: What about math? Boy was born to be an engineer. Whatever I did as a homeschool mom, I owed him a good foundation in math. Everything else seemed okay: he was already reading and writing like a pro, and his co-op classes were fantastic. By the end of the year, we’d made it through Singapore Math 1A, most of Level 1 of All About Spelling, his entire Grammar workbook, and some number of MBTP lessons. And I felt like, in spite of almost nothing going the way I had intended it to, he’d had a good year. He did quite well on the standardized test we administered as ‘Proof of Progress’ for the state. But it was clear to me that the following year we’d have to pare way back on sit-down work, and plan on giving him a lot of freedom. We wanted to continue with violin, ballet, and soccer as long as he wanted to.
Additionally, we decided to keep Girl at home the next year, too, to save on money and driving, and because it made her happy to go to the co-op, and be at home.
I intended to be a ‘relaxed homeschooler’ like so many of the moms I’d met and admired at our co-op.
Fast forward to this year. Boy and Girl are both at home. Boy is now in Grade 2, Girl is in PreK-4. Fall is busy for us again. Soccer 3x/week, ballet 3x/week, violin, Boy to be in Nutcracker, Girl also taking ballet, both taking classes at co-op. We have ample curriculum in the house, if the kids want to do any of it. They haven’t asked. We go to the library a lot. I read to them. They build stuff with Legos and blocks. They engage in imaginative play. They have free access to craft and drawing supplies, and they do a LOT of that. They’ve asked to bake an apple pie, to go for a hike, they help me make pancakes. They play outside. Boy reads. A lot. Girl asks me to write words for her, and she copies them.
I’ve been reading Peter Gray’s Free To Learn. It has me thinking. I’m going to try unschooling. Officially. For a year. We’re going to see how it goes.
But I might ask Boy to do some math lessons.