Yes, we are still doing the home/road/unschooling thing.
School starts up here next week – their Catholic school friends will be back in the classroom on Monday, their public school buddies a week later. This past spring, the Alabama legislature passed a law mandating that public schools start back no sooner than 2 weeks before Labor Day. The change would give the opportunity, it was argued, for more tourism dollars to be spent. Fine, except passing the law after school districts had already set their 2012-2013 calendars was….let’s say..typical.. Catholic schools may or may not conform to that law – ours aren’t.
Doesn’t matter though, because we’re just still hanging out. Not worried about uniforms or meetings or schedules. Ees very nice.
As I’ve said before, I am not sure where we’re going to fall on this homeschool spectrum. I am philosophically almost 100% on board with unschooling, with two caveats: First, there are subjects I believe should be directed and planned – math, grammar, other languages. (So, I guess that probably takes the “almost 100%” claim down to about 82.5.) Secondly, you can’t just take children and a mother who have been involved in institutional schools forever and step right into unschooling. None of us would have any idea of what to do. So, a period of “deschooling” is probably required.
The other factor keeping us in suspended animation is the question of how long this will last. We have never done this before, we will be doing it under rather unusual circumstances over the next few months, and it very well might be that one, or perhaps both of them will vote for returning to school in January. Or maybe I will vote for it. Who the heck knows. For that reason, at this point, I think it’s wise to keep them on track with their school curricula. Not slavishly, but just generally – at this point. So I’ll be meeting with the principal tomorrow to get a sense of scope and sequence and so on – and then we can proceed full force with our weird mix of “what Mom thinks is important – today” “What we want to learn about” “What the moment is teaching us and inspiring us to learn more about” and “What we need to know so we’re not too far behind if we go back to school.”
So, we’ve been doing a little bit of this and that by way of math skills reviews, and this:
Last week (was it just last week? Yes…sheesh)..on our quick trip to DC, we went (of course) to the Air & Space Museum. They have a really fine Wright Brothers exhibit, so inspired by that, as well as by the also good children’s-science-museumy hall of “How Things Fly”, we returned this week to build on all of that, being all respectful of varied learning styles and all. Just a little bit every day – their independent reading, drawing, studying those four forces of flight, and doing some simple experiments.
b. They each had their own Wright Brothers book (again, just checked out from the library) appropriate to their reading level. For Michael (age 7) - a DK Reader.
c. For Joseph (age 11) this one. I had seen a copy of this in the Museum Shop, and was impressed by the depth of the text – just right, not overwhelming as well as by the attractiveness of the layout. It seems to be a good series of biographies – Sterling is the publisher.
d. There is no dearth of online resources on flight (or anything) but I finally settled on this site from the FAA to reinforce the concepts. It’s simple and clear and makes so much sense, even I now understand that flying is not magic.
e. Again, no lack of “how to draw aircraft” books – but many are rather complex. This was simple enough for both boys to use.
f. Kid-made quick sketch, demonstrating the four forces.
g. Better drawings.
h. Not than anyone around here needs an excuse to make a paper airplane. But this one was made with the back reinforced by layers of tape so it would be strong enough to launch with a slingshot (fashioned from a forked stick and rubber bands) to give it more (class???) thrust.
Not pictured above. Umbrella and crumpled papers used to understand drag.
We’ll probably hit this place in the next couple of weeks, too – it’s five minutes from my house, and we’ve never been there. Shame on us!
So that’s it for the um-that’s-really-not-UNschooling part of our program. Right now, they really are unschooling as they try to figure out what the baby lizard they captured will eat.
They have settled on roly-polies and observed that the lizard seems to eat out the innards and leave the exoskeleton. Good for them. They can unschool in that fashion all they want. I’ll be in here.