Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Structure

Here is our daily learning Routine for the kids which has evolved from the one we first put together which had just four of five things. This is for the older two who like to cover everything on the list most days. Of course as with anything that's not always realistic but my kids love a good old checklist so this is what they asked to have on it. And the definitions are what they used to describe each item.

___Read Something
___Write Something
___Created/Made something
___Got some fresh air/sunshine
___Played a game with the family
___Played a DS/Wii game
___Used Math
___Watched some TV
___Read to younger sibling
___Prayed and said Thanks to God
___Daily chores

Definitions:

Reading:
Directions on games
Penpal letters
Books / magazines / catalogs
Street signs
Words on TV shows / movies

Writing:
Letters / emails
journals
stories
lists
restaurant and other game play

Creativity:
Anything from building with blocks, setting up Barbie houses, car raceways, crafting, setting up instruments for church band, using varying art materials, craft kits, varying games

Fresh air / outside:
Play on swings
Family walks
Ride scooters
pick flowers / play in yard

Used Math:
Divide things up
count things
baking
sorting laundry
following the calendar
doing puzzles
playing board games / ds / leapster / wii / Iphone games
Life of Fred / math workbooks on shelf


They also came up with a daily routine for themselves. As far as what flow they'd like their days to take.

Skylar:
Wake at 8 AM (this is a loft goal for her)
Take shower
Do chores
Eat breakfast
Tidy from breakfast
Play
Lunch
Reading 2 hours
Writing Wed and Friday
Play
Eat dinner
Watch TV
Get in bed at 10 PM
Read until 10:30 PM



Summer:
Wake at 8 AM
Chores
Shower
Breakfast
Breakfast tidy up
Play
Lunch
Clean up
CLE Flash cards (she said these are fun) and some pages of Explode the code (she also said these are fun)
Play with Decklin while Skylar reads
Dinner
Watch TV
Get in bed the same time as Skylar


This is an addition as of 5/3/12 to answer the questions that Red Kitchen had shared in the comments section below:

Obviously I am far from an unschooling expert but I will take a shot at addressing your concerns based on my understanding of unschooling.
I'd also highly recommend reading at Joyce Fetteroll's site, which is www.joyfullyrejoycing.com . She has such a wealth of info there and covers such a broad range of questions that anyone new to the concept of unschooling has wondered about.

1) My older children are 9 &; 11, and they are used to schooling with Sonlight (which I know you're familiar with.) I don't know if we can "let it go." But, of course, they might choose to do it anyway, so then it wouldn't be a factor. ;)
My response: When you say let it go, I'm assuming you mean just tossing it all?
What I'd say is approach it differently. If your kids really enjoy Sonlight then it will not get tossed. But being willing to let them decide would be the key. I would suggest doing the summer vacation approach, which is just giving the kids off all the school work you had been doing prior. I'd also suggest you jot down in a notebook or journal for yourself what things they do in that time off without evaluating if it's “educational” or not. This will help you see what they enjoy doing, what they are interested in, what types of rabbit trails they want to go down. If you are in the middle of a book they like, ask them if they'd like you to read it to them maybe before bed or in the morning., minus the Sonlight guide of page number splits or discussion questions. Be okay with them saying no and not showing an interest. Strew or sprinkle the Sonlight books about where the kids can reach for them but be okay if they never grab for them. Places to sprinkle them might be in a basket near a bed, sofa, on a coffee table, in the bathroom : ).

2)Math...yikes!!! It scares the heck out of me to think about not doing it formally. I really don't have a problem with other "subjects" in unschooling, but math gets me! Of course since we've been using Saxon all along, they do know all of their basic facts and concepts and problem solving, etc. It just freaks me out to think that higher math won't be required...you know, like algebra, geometry, etc. But I know that if they choose to go to college, then they would choose to learn what is required. It's just that giving up that control is scary!
My response: Math scared me very much initially too. But I have been happily overwhelmed with the volume of math that comes up in daily life that I never paid mind to before. This has given me such confidence. And now I can't believe that I worried so much about math or that I spent so much money trying to find the right curriculum to teach it.
Here are some great links on math to read over:
http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/academics/math/speakingmath.html

I respect it so much that you realize that giving up your control of the situation is what is scary. But think of it this way. Trust in your children instead. Trust that you and the children as partners will explore so many more wonderful things if you trust in the process and put away the schoolish glasses.
And then also Sandra Dodd has a page on trust: http://sandradodd.com/trust


3) What if they choose to watch TV or play video games all day? And not even educational ones? What if that's all they want to do? I know that they would probably grow tired of it, but what if they don't?
My response: Here is a great quote from Joyce's website that I love:
“What if your husband controlled your book reading (or something you love to do)? What if he only let you read books that he thought were worthwhile (regardless of what you thought was enjoyable to you)? What if he only allowed you to read for a certain amount each day and you couldn't read 3 magazines in a row? What if you had the feeling he was watching and judging you every time you picked up something to read to make sure you were making a"worthwhile' choice?
What do you think you'd do if he gave you free rein (as well as no other responsibilities) on Saturdays?”

My kids go in waves with TV, just like with Barbie's. Some days we just want to cuddle under warm blankets, snack and watch some TV, other days they want to get lost in Barbie world and other days we have video game battles for hours. Last night we played Plants vs Zombies for hours. We all took turns, talked while playing, talked about the cost of the plants and planned out where we were going to place them. Video games for us are social times much of the time. But there are times when one of the kids just wants time to go play a video game alone as well because they just want some peace and quiet or they may choose to do something else entirely in the same room with the family who is playing on the gaming system.
When it comes to TV or gaming, I don't think their time would be better spent elsewhere. It's my job to make our home and our lives interesting so that there is plenty to choose from, like a buffet. If TV or video games are the only choices, that's not a great set up for unschooling. But I don't place a higher level of importance over anything else in the house
If a child has had TV or video game restrictions they are going to binge on it because they might not know if it will be controlled on them again. Not judging during this I think is key. Was key for us.
Skylar (10) and I sat one day and went through all our satellite channels and we made a list of the channel name and it's number for her as a reference and we taped that under the glass on our coffee table. This is good for her or Summer (8) who are not channel surfers but just like to go right to something specific. During the day I am there to help when/if they want to watch something. But at night the list comes in handy if they can't sleep and come down to have a snack and watch to watch TV while doing so.


4) This is a biggie, even though it shouldn't be: family &; friends. I know I should get over that, but it's easier said than done.
**You know, as I type, I realize my biggest issue is control. I am a perfectionist & a bit of a control freak, so I need help in that area. So, help! :)
My response:
If you unschool you just go on interacting as you are. No one else has to know really. And they'd only know if you offered it up. Yes, we homeschool is all I've ever said and what I still stay. Joyce has great advice here: http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/negative%20people/respondingtodoubters.html

Regarding the issues of control, Sandra Dodd has a great page on this: http://sandradodd.com/control

With control, I just try to treat my kids how I'd like to be treated. I am always a work in progress.... Always : ). And I have asked them to tell me if I'm slipping into grumpy or bossy Mom mode. 

Hope this is of some help. 

10 comments:

proud2bmykswife said...

I love this list! When I showed my dh, he wasn't sure he was willing to be that relaxed, but told me to ask each of our children 5yrs and up what they would like to do for school each day. I think he was surprised by their lists! So we are heading this direction too. I think I have always wanted to, but never could find solid guidance to do so. Your blog has helped me. We do use less technology, but I have lots of educational games, puzzles, and activities that I think will work. I have been paying attention to the things they do each day, and am amazed at the subjects they are covering, but in their own individual ways. Now I just need to figure out how to organize what they want to do as some things may not be daily (some of the lists were kind of long). And I think I need to read some books on unschooling as I don't think I ever have.

Laurie

Melissa said...

Hi Laurie:
That's great!

Awe thanks.

I have read of large unschooling families using things like a white board where the kids jot down things they are interested in. And read of another Mom who'd ask her kids their daily goals. Which she said helped her make sure she was able to offer things they expressed an interest in pursing in some fashion. Even a fun suggestion box could be a cool way to get ideas of what they want to do.
Putting them in practice, think of all the funds that are available for fun stuff when you don't have to buy curriculum : ).
I keep a journal of our days though I've been lax in that lately. But the daily journal has helped me see so much learning in our days.

The kids tend to go in waves with electronics. The Wii is a staple because we all have such a blast, but the other things come and go just based on interest. For example my older daughter rarely plays her DS but on Sunday she played a challenging game called Cheer We Go. And though it was frustrating her she was thrilled when she finally did it.

If there are books you'd like to read. The ones that have helped me the most. The last two really answer any questions that many folks might have on unschooling.

1. Unconditional Parenting
2. Unschooling A LIfestyle of Learning
3. Parenting A Free child: An Unschooled Life

Have fun! And I hope you'll let me know how it's going.

redkitchen said...

I love reading your posts about unschooling. You really break it down in a way I can understand. It sounds so peaceful, exciting, and like a truly great way to live and learn. Initially I was just intrigued by the idea of unschooling, but now I am full throttle ahead with my youngest, who is special needs. But now I am even considering it for my older children, but I don't know if I could do it completely with them. The though intimidates me!

Melissa said...

Awe thanks. I appreciate that.

It is so peaceful and so wonderful.
It's like eating a potato chip. You can't have just one. Unschooling feels the same. It's like you can't help but want to wade deeper into the pool to try new concepts out.

This post on structure was great for me in the beginning. I felt I needed a blueprint.
But we don't follow it now. I don't have any expectations or requirements for how they spend their time. And yet they have been learning so much.

What is it that intimidates you about doing it with your older children?
Also, feel free to drop me an email if you'd like to chat : ).

redkitchen said...

Thanks for being willing to discuss this with me. Here are the things that intimidate me:

1) My older children are 9 & 11, and they are used to schooling with Sonlight (which I know you're familiar with.) I don't know if we can "let it go." But, of course, they might choose to do it anyway, so then it wouldn't be a factor. ;)

2)Math...yikes!!! It scares the heck out of me to think about not doing it formally. I really don't have a problem with other "subjects" in unschooling, but math gets me! Of course since we've been using Saxon all along, they do know all of their basic facts and concepts and problem solving, etc. It just freaks me out to think that higher math won't be required...you know, like algebra, geometry, etc. But I know that if they choose to go to college, then they would choose to learn what is required. It's just that giving up that control is scary!

3) What if they choose to watch TV or play video games all day? And not even educational ones? What if that's all they want to do? I know that they would probably grow tired of it, but what if they don't?

4) This is a biggie, even though it shouldn't be: family & friends. I know I should get over that, but it's easier said than done.
**You know, as I type, I realize my biggest issue is control. I am a perfectionist & a bit of a control freak, so I need help in that area. So, help! :)

Melissa said...

I copied your concerns as an edit to the post as everything I wanted to say would not fit in the comment box. : )
Please let me know if I can be of further help.
And I meant to ask, which other unschooling books do you have on the way?

redkitchen said...

Melissa, thank you. That was so helpful. I appreciate your taking the time to respond so graciously. Lots of food for thought there!

Melissa said...

You are very welcome!

redkitchen said...

I took some baby steps this week. Our "official" school days were short this week, so the older children had a lot of free time. I was really thrilled with the things they chose to do & I could actually see that they were learning and enjoying it. My latest blog post is about our week. :)

Melissa said...

Oh that's wonderful!
I am looking forward to reading about it.