Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

The Civil War, Copy Work, and a Good Night’s Sleep

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Ah, Thursday… This has now become my day of crazy. We always have things we forgot to get to during the week that have to be done by co-op. Half the time I find out about things on Thursday. I really hate this time of the week.

In some ways I wish I could be like the other co-op moms. They walk in with their binders full of neatly printed pages tucked into their protective sheet covers. They have tabs for subjects and each of their children. Their kids arrive with neatly typed up schedules in their ID badge holder or tacked onto their bags. They are the model of organization.

Then there’s me. I’m the mom with the wild hair that’s been thrust back into two half ponytail that stick out all crazy because I slept on my hair funny the night before. I have Luca barely on my hip with backpacks dangling from one arm and my bag barely thrust over my shoulder. We cruise in with barely enough time for me to get the kids to the drop-offs by assembly. The older two go on their merry way while Sanders won’t sit still so I can attach his name tag and Luca starts screaming like he’s about to be tortured because I left him. Then I run upstairs to put my stuff away and stash the diaper bag. When that’s done I cruise into assembly, looking run ragged, just in time to be seen when Luca throws a full-scale fit until I take him.

In all of this I look at the way I’m prepared. I have the syllabi on my phone for the classes I teach, and I’m mostly good on that. I have the ones for my kids’s classes too, but I’m never on top of it. We do our work at home whenever it suits our needs, but I don’t exactly follow a schedule. Sometimes we don’t even start until the day is half over. The kids are hardly prepared. We’re all falling behind. I’m starting to think this wasn’t such a good idea. What was I thinking?

Right now the subject we’re slacking on is the Civil War. The kids need to have their projects ready in one week. We’ve just started our extra reading today. The other kids have been reading about the war since before they started it in class. They already have tons of facts to load down their projects with. My kids are just starting. They don’t have the attention span to be read to and Corde doesn’t have the interest to read it herself. As a result, we haven’t even started. Okay, we did some reading today, but we barely scratched the surface of what we need to do. I found some pretty cool first hand accounts for free download on Amazon. I’m tempted to read as much as I can and relay the facts since we don’t have enough time for me to read it with them. Reading with them is like pulling teeth. Beekee is messing with everything he can find his hands on, makes sound effects, or is rolling around on the floor. I ask simple questions about what we were reading and he can’t answer them, meaning I have to read the same passage ten times over. Corde is too busy playing with any little thing she can find unless the story really interests her, and getting her interested is impossible. They both learn more if I just dump random facts on them. It’s going to be a long study.

However, there are some things about the Civil War that the kids would probably love. Corde would probably enjoy the politics and women’s roles in the war. Beekee would probably love the whole war idea. He loves fighting games and things like that. He just needs to see the interesting side, the part where we can set up some toys and stage a battle. This is why unschooling is good for him. He could learn so much just by setting up his little battle and having some facts thrown into the game. It doesn’t require sitting down to listen to books. He’ll be fine with books once he knows how to read them. He already spends hours at a time, sitting still and quietly, looking at books. If I didn’t see it for myself I’d never believe it was the same kid!

Surprisingly, he does well with copy work. He sits there patiently forming his letters. He writes in his own strange way, but he rakes his time with it. Maybe he realizes the connection between reading and writing. He didn’t do so well with it today, but he was overly tired. He never does well when he’s tired. I’m amazed because it’s not something I’d expect him to have patience for. I remember a friend of mine talking about Charlotte Mason and doing copy work. After a little research I found I loved some of the theories, but never had much ability to implement the parts I loved. She had her kids do copy work, but I could never bring my kids do something that seemed so pointless. Look at me now! We’re doing copy work with Beekee! I might even try it with Corde to improve her handwriting and spelling. I guess I do in a way. I have her dictate her writing, then she copies off my draft. Now I just need to get in some nature walks. All the other things I loved about Charlotte Mason I have covered. Since copy work seems to appeal to Beekee, I see no reason to stop doing it.

Finally, we’re trying this new, crazy thing called an early bedtime. The kids really have to get a good night’s sleep. They were horribly difficult get moving last week and had no focus. This made life challenging because they weren’t really ready for class. We really need to work on better habits.

Maybe this co-op will do us some good. We’ll all be in better habits. Maybe I can start showing up on time, a little more organized. I can open doors to new topics with the kids. We can get Beekee writing and maybe reading. It could be really positive. I just hope we survive Thursdays and Friday mornings until we can figure it out! If not, it’s going to be a long year!


Author: Fox

With four kids, who has time for much? We spend a lot of time together, which translates to a lot of knitting time for me when we hang out. We've been trying to get back to our unschooling roots. We watch a lot of videos, play a lot of games, and pay attention to the things we notice in our everyday life. It's been quite the big adventure!

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