Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Planning for M5

“Children have more need of models than of critics.” ~Carolyn Coats

It is with that in mind and with an eye towards unschooling that I am planning this mod. We’re not there yet, but I do so love the concept and so I am working on moving in that direction. I think that a large part of my motivation for how we’re schooling right now (which is more ‘school at home’)  is fear – fear that my kids will be behind, or won’t learn as much or what they should. I found a list of questions to ask yourself about unschooling at Unschooling Ruminations, and it made me think a little more about it. So… this mod,  I am working on having more faith in myself, more faith in the boys and more faith in the process of natural learning.

One of the links I found was one to SageMama – the account has been suspended, but the quote was thought-provoking, “One of the most important concepts I ever learned was about finding our family rhythm.  But rhythm is a funny thing – no one can sell you a rhythm, no one can tell you what your family’s rhythm should be, no one can really even tell you about their own rhythm you have to live it to really feel it.” I really feel like that’s true in regard to parenting in general, but in homeschooling as well. Rhythms change – we’ve certainly moved away from the ‘desk work’ we started out with. Though there are some instances where we choose to work in the school room – and may yet again – right now, working in other areas of the house (and yard, and park, and car…) are working better for us. I don’t think that homeschooling will or should look the same in any two families. So much of homeschooling is about individuality – and I think that is a ‘feature’, not a drawback. My goal is to celebrate that unique flavor that we have, and share it.

I came across this article, Five Steps to Unschooling by Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll, and it got me thinking. I also found this joke, which made me laugh and made me see more how we’re already leaning in that direction – mentally, if not truly in body. While we’re not abandoning all our books and lesson plans just yet, M4 has brought to my attention that we’ve actually been doing a lighter version of school over the last few weeks because we’ve been gone so much. There is a ton of stuff that our community has to offer during the summer months that we’re participating in, and much of it is educational, so I’ve just been counting a lot of that as school time – which is basically unschooling – or at least unstructured learning (which isn’t quite the same thing). We usually discuss whatever we learned about in the car on the way to the next thing or home, and do something else related to a theme if possible. Listening to the comments they make and the questions they ask, I know that the kids are internalizing what they heard and not just parroting.

It was really interesting to me a couple of weeks ago – we went to see a presentation put on by the Houston Zoo’s mobile unit, and my kids had questions about everything the lady had. They had their hands up the whole time! While I’m sure it was frustrating to the her, it was nice for me to see that when their interest is piqued, they will learn – without prodding. This same tendency was demonstrated again the other day when we saw the Pioneer Lady at the library for the second time. I think I needed to see that in action.

Of course, sites like this one help quite a bit: I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. and this article, too: Unschooling Grows Up: A Collection of Interviews

Now, I am sure that in light of the above, what follows this paragraph will probably make some unschooling parent reading this slap his or her forehead with confusion and irritation – but I know “me” and I am not ready to take the leap off into unschooling headfirst just yet. So if that’s you, then bear with me – I’ll get there eventually… or not – but be assured that whatever path or mix of paths we walk will be the right ones for us. {wink}

One of the sites we’ve been using often is That link will bring you to AAAMath, but in the top right corner, there are links to AAASpell, AAAWhere and other similar sites.  Each one has a collection of lesson plans, sorted by subject and grade. It’s very easy to use as a daily thing or just occasionally or to supplement. I like it because the main lesson is spelled out, and then there’s a practice section that you can do with your child or they can do on their own, and you can print a ‘report total’ that will tell you how many problems were offered, correct and missed and how much time was spent. I’m still using the free version of Homeschool Tracker and though we’re not doing as many ‘structured lessons’, the program still allows me to see in record form how much time and what kinds of lessons we’re spending our time in. I use a lesson planner that I keep with me and often make noted while the kids are involved in an activity and then copy those into the computer later.

We’re starting the boys in the next grade ‘officially’ with this mod, and are working on Lesson Pathways‘ guided paths in math and language arts. LittleBoyBlue (who is now in 3rd grade) loves computer games and many of the math ‘work’ lessons are games, so that combo works well for us. PeaGreen (2nd grade) really needs support with reading, so we’re continuing the short lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. According to the book, he’ll be mid-grade 2 by the time he’s done with all of the lessons, so that’s right on-target. Of course, we supplement that with reading books of his choice almost daily and is gaining confidence with every book he adds to his list, so that’s nice to see.

I also found some interesting lesson plans at Discovery Education. You can choose by grade range and then see a list of completed lesson plans by subject. Neat for augmenting a subject if you’re short on material or haven’t had time to plan much. I’m also going to explore Kitchen Table Classroom more fully. Her goal is to make learning fun, and she has a segment called “Today’s Tidbit” that gives you a task to do that’s out of the ordinary, like follow a single ant for as long as possible. It’s actually a book, and though I haven’t read it, it might be worth checking out.

At our library, they have a couple of these ‘Make It Work‘ books. We’ve done quite a few of the projects in them and it makes a wonderful way to help the kids get a feel for the lesson they’re learning, especially in history and social studies.

I Love That Teaching Idea has a TON of cool ideas for livening up lessons, and making lesson activities out of everyday items. One of the best ones, I think, was the “book report TV tray” – putting the story elements into the different slots (plot in the main dish, characters in the side dishes, favorite part in the dessert slot, etc.). We’re constantly in need of new things to do with spelling words, and they have a whole list of ways to learn your list.

Web-Based Projects is a collection of lessons and really neat activities that was created by teaching students and available for free. Montessori Mom has a lot of really great Montessori-based resources, which I like, especially for younger kiddos. My boys are moving out of that age bracket now, but some of the concepts will work for us.

Patience – because I needed to read it again.

And some nifty freebies:

Have trouble remembering to bring your reusable grocery bags into the store? Get a FREE WINDOW CLING for your car to help remind you! It’s from Conserving Now, and they have a section for ideas to help teach our kiddos about conservation, too.

Ever wonder what’s in your water? Nature’s Own is offering a FREE WATER TEST KIT.

I hope you’ve found something useful in this post!




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