This first picture is from April, 2007. As you can see, Whinnie is a wee one…only about 4 months old. Nic seems so much younger too, even though it wasn’t that long ago.
The second picture is from Monday…the building just never stops around here. That’s fine with me. Sometimes I think that they have created their own curriculum focused on becoming structural engineers. πŸ™‚
Yesterday was such a cool day. The weather is almost wintery this week in the DC area, so Chris has been taking the van to work.
There was a time when I couldn’t have imagined being in the apartment with the children all day without getting a break. But yesterday was a wonder. We listened to classical music for a long time…both boys tell me that it is the best music to listen to while painting or drawing or building. πŸ™‚
We had some Sesame Street dvds from the library that we had in the computer at times…Theo is really enjoying those these days.
Nic worked on some long division problems — he enjoys that.
Theo asked me: “Mama, what is four plus five?” So we counted fingers and then I showed him how we would write that down: 4 + 5 = 9. He loved it. He said that he liked learning math. He has been walking around the apt for the last few weeks saying “2×3=6” and “2+2=4” as if in a trance. I think his brain is working out the details of early math awareness. Yesterday it just bubbled out and he wanted MORE.
And then he sat at the table where I was working on some research. After a moment he said, “Mama, how do you spell Matthew?” We don’t know any Matthew’s, btw, but that’s beside the point. I spelled it for him and he wrote it on his paper. This is a child who has absolutely resisted anything that looks like writing for months now…And he wrote it very well, each letter was well-formed. Then he asked “How do you spell IKEA?” (Can you tell we went there recently?) And I spelled that for him. Again…well-formed letters despite any lack of practice.
I love unschooling. I deeply believe that all small children deserve the freedom to follow both their own interests and their own timeline. I believe that given time and space (which IS freedom) they will come to that which you would require, but with willingness and true learning.
Now I do have curriculum for both boys. I purchased Oak Meadow for each. With Nic, I use the Oak Meadow as a skeleton for ideas. This gets me past my crisis of imagination and creativity. πŸ™‚ And as much of it is review, we skip portions that he already knows. There is NO busywork here, that’s my creed. πŸ™‚ And we spend time on those foundational elements that he may need to reinforce to move forward. And we still unschool.
How do I reconcile that? Using curriculum AND unschooling? I don’t believe that unschooling requires that one use no curricula…nor do I believe that that is what John Holt meant when he coined the phrase. Rather I believe that unschooling is about using any and all resources to help a child get where they wish to be. Refusing to use curricula that the child is interested in is not respecting their needs and wishes anymore than forcing it on them is.
Nic helped to choose Oak Meadow and he continues to provide insights into what is and isn’t interesting to him. There is nothing rigid about how we approach this.
Theo? I utilize Oak Meadow 1st grade curricula with him. That is not to say that HE uses it…I use it to help me think of ideas to introduce ideas in developmental and appropriate ways. So Theo is mastering first grade topics and becoming proficient without even knowing it. (I put away the Oak Meadow kindergarten as Theo’s abilities were already beyond its scope…)
So that’s how we do unschooling. I make sure that they have much of their day open for free form play and exploration and….of course….building. But I have things on my mind that we can do that move them along curricularly if they are interested or want ‘more.’
Right now? whilst I type? Theo is building with legos. πŸ™‚ Whinnie and Nic are at the table putting foam stickers on construction paper. Whinnie is enjoying the tactile experience…Nic is spelling words. And all is well and quiet.