Am I an 'unschooler'? The simple answer is no. But at a closer look....... well, maybe.
Some watercolour art Saraya created during her free time today
We do do formal lessons. Elijah has a phonics lesson with me on Monday and Friday mornings. He wants to have one every day, but to be honest I have trouble fitting that in. Perhaps next term? Saraya does a maths lesson on Mondays, art history / picture study on Tuesdays, science / nature study on Wednesdays, and literacy blocks on Thursdays and Fridays. (We did a big history block last term, and are skipping formal history this term).
However, the more I observe our children, and look through the photographs at the end of every week, the more I realise that real, authentic, very very important learning comes from within. Give a child resources, and time, and their learning is simply unstoppable.
Saraya is a reader, and for this I am thankful. I know that no matter what else is going on at home, she is reading. And we chose her books carefully, just as we do with multimedia. Her mind is young and precious, and still forming. So I search book lists for wholesome, educational, character-building books, and find them either at the library or the Book Depository - and they do so much work for me!! They feed her heart and teach her lessons which she then in turn shares with her younger brother. She read "The Family Under the Bridge" yesterday, and has since been thinking a great deal about the poor and the homeless, asking oodles of questions and brainstorming ways we can do more to help the less fortunate in our world. Fantastic!!
Every night our dinner table looks like this! The minute she is done eating, out comes her book.
We are discovering some funny, safe titles as well. Today she read "Hello Mrs Piggle-Wiggle", and this one.
It's an awful lot of reading (probably about 2-3 hours a day); but it is becoming clear that it will be a passion for life.
William hard at work - drawing little circles, spirals, then working on his snipping skills!
And doing his own watercolour art after watching his big sister
I love that aside from our little formal lessons each day, the children have so much time on their hands for freedom, exploration, reflection, rest and creativity.
I put out this big box of Wedget blocks this morning and Will built these towers all by himself! He was so pleased with himself.
Elijah completed his first big puzzle on his own this morning while Saraya and I did her literacy lesson (on abbreviations today), then began making handmade gifts for the visitors we are expecting this weekend. He wrapped each one in his own handmade wrapping paper.
Sometimes the creativity can get on my nerves. It's constant, what can I say?! And with Stuart gone all day long, it falls on my shoulders to provide the materials and the help when it's needed. But the results? Priceless.
Saraya showing me her completed toy rabbit for our little friend Archie.
On Tuesday night the children were chatting in bed and Elijah asked Saraya if she could "teach me to sew in the morning, after breakfast?". They were both SO excited and couldn't wait to get started! I gave them some felt pieces, a marker, some scissors, a needle each and some gold embroidery thread and left them to it.
Teacher and her student
And look what he made! A beautiful butterfly, for a little friend he loves to play with. We happened to be seeing both of these friends at a big play / morning tea on Wednesday morning and the children were so excited to deliver their presents.
After a very social morning we came home for lunch and rests, and what do you think the children were busy doing again that afternoon?
And I love that I didn't plan any of that. I can plan fun activities, learning experiences, excursions, lessons, cooking classes, opportunities, etc. etc. - but some of the best learning happens when the children are given the free gift of time. So yes, there is a lot to be said for unschooling. And I'm happy that for the most part, that's just what we're doing.