Thursday, September 15, 2011

So we've been "back to school" for a couple of weeks now. And our life doesn't look any different than it did before we "started school." Except the neighborhood kids aren't as available for playing. Which means I've had to suck it up and engage in some light saber fights. (When I'm feeling schooly, I call this physical education.)

We've started our Five in a Row curriculum. The first week we read the book 3, maybe 4 times. The second week the kids revolted, I got angry, and we read two pages of the book one time. I decided it wasn't worth it to push, so we just let it go. This week, we read the book once on Monday and we read half of it in the waiting room at the doctor's office this morning. We're having a book themed dinner tonight, but that's really the extent of our activities.

Henry is obsessed with Star Wars/Clone Wars at the moment, and I'm going with it, but I must admit to some discomfort on my part.

I feel like I should be doing more. He's making progress in his reading. He's starting to read signs and stuff. I don't know what he's reading in books, because he's not sharing that with me. I don't have the first clue where his mat skills stand at the moment, except that he's developed a new interest in money because he wants to safe up for a rifle so he can complete his Davey Crockett costume.

I guess I need to read some more John Holt or something. Honestly, many of the unschooling blogs leave me cold. And yet I'm seeing some of the same things play out in my own home. I'm raising a Star Wars obsessed kid whose greatest skill is his agility with a light saber.

Help me find some perspective.


  1. I feel ya! this blog always makes me feel better - I am trying to read "how Children Learn" by John Holt as well, though it is slow going because I am busy :) I enjoy your blog and your thoughts on ZPD were enlightening (though my children have *no* interest at all in writing real letters).

  2. Jess, remember this is right now. Last year everything was Busytown Mysteries, he was going to be a detective. Until almost eight children look to stories to find hero and experiment with the ideas of good and evil. If you feel the need to move away from Star Wars then maybe introduce Greek Myths or Norse ones.

    Then there is the media question, if you are uncomfortable with this sort of play can find movies that you and Henry find good? You might want to think about how he came to watch these to begin with if you aren't comfortable with it.I know making choices on movies is a hot issue and each family deals with it differently.

    You might also want to talk with Henry about Helen and Thomas and how violence isn't really right for them at their age, especially Thomas who is really an aware little sponge and remind him what he would have thought about someone fighting around him when he was little.

    Finally, get out. I mean if of the house, I get three kids is a lot to take anywhere but we are out in the city and up in the mountains so much more than you guys do and I find that Alder is effected and influenced by the things we see and the people we meet.

    Okay that's just my thoughts about your situation. As for the other unschooling blogs, sometimes I feel like what ever I read about ends up happening in out life.... hmm what does this say about reading your blog then (just joking).

  3. Maybe you don't really want to be an unschooler. What is it about unschooling that appeals to you? Perhaps you can take that and incorporate it into a different educational philosophy.

  4. I've been thinking of the Five in a Row for my son....not as a "curriculum", but as something to run to when i loose ideas about what to do for fun..LOL

  5. Lesli, that's exactly what I use FIAR for. It worked well for us last year. I guess maybe I just need to wait for the kids to get bored. They're pretty happy with their own passtimes at the moment.

    Helen, I've been thinking a lot about your comment and question. I don't have an answer yet, but I think you raise a good point. I need to think about my and clarify my philosophy for myself.

  6. Let me tell you where I stand right now. Last year was really relaxed for us because it was just kindergarten and maybe I'm halfway on the delayed academics bandwagon. This year I wanted to get more serious. For the most part school takes about an hour per day. I'm not including reading books to him or playing games because I just don't. That hour is him sitting at a table and doing handwriting, math, spelling, and history. It could easily take less than an hour if he doesn't waste time. I don't feel like I am burdening him with too much school at this point. He still has a lot of time for his own interests.

    I disagree that one should only learn what one is interested in. I'll give you two stories:

    When i was in high school the PE program cycled through various sports with a written exam and practical exam on each one. One of the sports was tennis which I thought was dumb. I wanted to switch it to football instead which was 100x funner. I made a petition with some student signatures and presented it to the principal. He shot me down and I was mad. Tennis time rolled around and it turned out that I really enjoyed it. I'm glad the principal stood firm.

    Next story was in high school as well. My English teacher wanted us to become more cultured so he made us watch ballet on tv one time. I hated it. What I did like was our field trip to see Miss Saigon in Denver. We had to read the entire play first before we went which I thought was dumb. I was wrong. It was much better knowing the story ahead of time.

    I'm sure you can think of your own personal examples of things you were forced to do or learn that enhanced your life. But maybe self directed learning isn't the part of unschooling that appeals to you.

  7. I didn't mean that I don't read to B or play games. I don't include it as school time because I would do those things anyway. I consider that part of our life not part of school.