Fall Has Come to New England
Happy October from beautiful New England! Showers of leaves are falling from brightly colored trees. My daughter and I have been enjoying fall-themed music in the car as we complete our errands, and this afternoon we joined her cat in looking at the beauty outside her window from her sill. Skye is my daughter’s new pet, a “ragdoll” cat. They are the gentlest, cuddliest breed of cat, and the two have spent lots of time bonding over the past week.
Beginning Our Unschooling Adventures
My daughter began the school year worrying about whether she’d fall behind her peers by home-schooling. I gave her the option to attend seventh grade at our local public middle school, so she created a chart of the pros and cons from her own POV for each choice: attending school vs home-schooling. She concluded that she’d be happier home-schooling and has committed to making it work.
I let “C” know it was my intention to approach our home-schooling with less imposed structure on my part because I have my own work from home I need to accomplish to make the arrangement work, and that she’d need to keep a record of her completed reading and other activities in a notebook. There is a word for this approach in the world of home-schooling: “Unschooling.” She was in charge of designing her own curriculum based on her own interests and learning goals.
Since my daughter absolutely loves reading, I know that language arts is a breeze for her. She reads voraciously and her taste in books is widely eclectic. One book she completed recently was The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe. Next will be an audio recording of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She is currently listening to the fourth and final volume in a series of history books for home-schoolers — Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer. For Science, she is reading Gray’s Anatomy and making slides from pieces of natural objects to look at under a microscope, as well as conducting inspired experiments. She also loves to write stories via Google Docs. For exercise, she walks neighbors’ dogs, climbs, runs, and practices archery. For math progress, she has been working through activities available online by Khan Academy.
In addition to covering the basic academic subjects, she is also learning French, cooks and bakes, sews, dances, produces videos and creates comics. When her friends arrive home from their days at school, she plays with them. Two of her friends here in our co-housing community also follow an unschooling path toward education, and she often plays or completes projects with them.
Parenting and Unschooling
Home-schooling, especially of the “unschooling” nature, complements my parenting style, especially when it comes to encouraging my daughter to follow both her heart and her natural curiosities. When she needs my help in certain aspects of her learning, such as demonstrating math concepts, I spend the time giving that to her. I’ve been listening to some of the history CD’s with her. Otherwise, she enjoys her independence and thrives on it. Below is a comic she created around a conversation between her cat and her hamster, Sir Doctor of Tardis.