I know this page is called “Trailerpark Unschoolers”, though we haven’t really been unschoolers lately, not in the traditional sense. We’ve been incorporating some “must do” book work into all of it. It’s really where we’re at right now, and going forward we’ll see how things evolve.
However, recently we’ve been taking more of an unschooling approach. Part of that is because Oz is working overnights, which makes it hard to sleep. Me being up all night means I’m in no place to do traditional school in the mornings. Instead the kids have been doing “TV school”, which is watching PBS shows and Magic School Bus. Today was a lot of Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That. It’s been kind of nice to not worry about getting through workbooks, so much so that it’s tempting never to go back to workbooks again, which would be extra nice.
Still, I’ve gotten to the point where, listening to my kids, I have to worry. Beekee, for example, was asked by his friend why he homeschooled. He said it’s because he wasn’t learning well enough in school. He said he wasn’t smart enough to do his work. I pointed out that it wasn’t whether or not he was smart enough, he was just bored. Of course, his friend had to step in and say, “If you went to my school, you wouldn’t be bored. My school keeps us very busy.” I wanted to point out that busy doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be boring. I also did end up pointing out that Beekee was learning tons of stuff at home that he wouldn’t be learning in school, and just tried to leave it at that. It’s tough when their friends have a fancy private school education. Something about private school seems to make people think it’s better. Personally, I went to Catholic school. I know it’s not necessarily any better, but that’s just me.
And Corde finally asked me if she could homeschool again today. She’s in a voc/tech now, which she likes for the shop classes, but she really hates the academics. She feels like she’s just learning the same stuff over and over again and would really like to move past it all. Besides, she hears about all the fun stuff the boys get to do, and it would mean she could sleep in and wouldn’t have to go out when the weather is bad. Honestly, I want her to stick it out until she’s done with her exploratory, that way she can decide if it’s really worth it to stick in school for a shop she loves. I want her to at least give it a chance. I also told her to ask her guidance counselor if there’s a way she could still do the shops, but do the academic portion of her schooling at home. That may also be an option.
But we’ll see where it goes from here. I honestly feel like I may not be the most engaging of unschooling parents. I’ve kind of got the whole mentality of “let them be free! I’m not guiding them to anything!” I’ve seen in a local unschooling group that the idea is to teach kids through alternate means than books and curriculum. Honestly, I feel like teaching them is the wrong way to look at it. If they want to spend all their time watching Minecraft videos, so be it. They eventually go on to do something else. They’ve been playing a lot of Dungeon Defenders, which teaches them strategy. We’ve been reading Harry Potter every night. We haven’t done too much on the science end of things, but that’s something we’ve been observing a lot on our own. The kids are noticing the weather changing, the effect it has on the trees and the animals. They’re talking about the prospect of it snowing, and calculating how long until spring comes back around. They’re observing things from life. I just don’t feel like I should hold their hand and lead them where I think they should go. To me, that doesn’t feel like unschooling. It feels like an alternative method of teaching, changing the parameters of what “curriculum” means. I know that’s probably not what people are getting at, but still.
Anyhow, it feels more like we’re getting back to our roots. I’m going to start looking for some recipes we can bake together. Even just using the same tired cookie recipe gets the kids in the kitchen measuring. Corde, Beekee, and Sander all like to help with the cooking, though Luca is getting to the point of wanting to get in on it as well. I really need to have them help me with the grocery budget, though that will probably be more the case when we start shopping together again. Then there’s the time they spend knitting gifts for Christmas, which is a good life skill. It’s only dishcloths but still! It’s something! Then there’s all the stuff they watch videos about (they’re way into Minecraft and animals). They get a lot of education from everything. I feel like leading them to it so that they can learn from it only takes away the joy they get from discovering things for themselves. The best thing I can do for them is make stuff available for them, that way they have the opportunity to discover something new. Strewing… I’m really good at that! And that’s what we’ve been doing a lot more of lately.
So, here’s to slacking, and here’s to getting back to where we started in this crazy mess. Hopefully we can find our balance here soon. And hopefully I can have the courage to stand up and say “This is how we’re going to roll!” without worrying about what people will think. Chances are that’s going to happen right about the time we get a car and start going to co-ops in the area.