Wednesday, August 05, 2009

School's (not) In

I could feel the palpable nervousness 4800 miles away in the phone line. "You mean you aren't using ANY curriculum?"
"And you only have to check in ONE time throughout the year?"
That's right.
"And you don't have to prove anything or have Zach take any tests or anything? You just talk to them?"

My parents have known that we were going to homeschool since I was pregnant. It's something we were sure about before we were even sure we wanted kids. They are completely supportive, but I think perhaps their idea of homeschooling is creating a school-like environment in the home.
No thank you.

If we HAD to put a label on what our style is, I'd call it Waldorf Inspired Unschooling. And although I truly believe that learning starts at birth and happens all the time, we start our official, state sanctioned Kindergarten year in a couple of weeks. This is the year everyone takes notice. This is the year people ask us why we're at the park on a Tuesday in November at 11:00am. This is the year many of Z's little friends will spend ALL day, everyday mostly indoors in a large group while we travel, play, roadtrip, field trip, fish, dig, draw, cook, and generally have fun.

So here's a recent example of life as school.

Zach LOVES beads and rocks and gems and baubles. Taking him into the bead store would be way more drama than taking a typical kid into a candy shop. So I set a budget. He got $5 to spend in the bead store. There were hundreds of little pots of beads with prices.

(photo from The Bead Bungalow web site)
We slowly spent the morning picking out this and that, me helping him figure it out. Ok you've already spent $1 and these would be $2 more, where does that leave you... and so on. He didn't know we were adding and subtracting and budgeting and figuring out. He was just thrilled that I acquiesced to bringing him and buying beads at all.

Many parents consider being a store with their kids to be a completely unpleasant experience that one should rush through and get over with at all costs. But I find whether it's groceries or beads or the marina hardware store, getting him involved and taking it slow not only helps him learn on so many levels, it makes the whole experience more fun for both of us.

Of course the real fun was at home making necklaces. He had a lava rock bead, some coral beads, a recycled glass bead, a little turtle, a bead "from my people" (he decided the light blue one looked Inca for some reason), and some odds and ends from home. He was so absorbed.

He decided to wear them all the first day, and now he has them hanging and spends time each morning trying to decide which one is just right for the day.

Who needs workbooks?


S said...

Hear! Hear! One of the things I love about homeschooling is that it really can be as simple as that.

The necklaces are beautiful! I *really* like the lava rock.

Anonymous said...

I will be following your homeschool posts with a lot of interest. We want to homeschool our son, and your philosophy sounds similar to ours. Our goal is to preserve and help him develop his natural love of learning.

Joy said...

Good for you for finding natural ways to help your son learn. I'll bet he had a wonderful time pouring over the beads. He certainly did a great job with his necklaces. I also love the lava rock. My boys would think that was pretty cool too. :)

Amanda said...

Wonderful post!

My N is not even 3 yet and my in-laws are already asking these questions. No, thank you, we don't need a PRESCHOOL curriculum... (!!!)

I'm not looking forward to the questions that will come when we reach the "official" kindy age.

Those are beautiful necklaces! Maybe he'll open up a shop ;)

Erin J said...

Yay for unschooling! Even my homeschool friends say with a gasp, "You're not using ANY curriculum?" Then they make a comment about how mine are still little enough it "doesn't matter yet". Hmmmm.... like you, when it does "matter" they might be a little surprised!

Cam said...

Schooool's out for evvva!!

Yippee! We are looking forward to all the adventures we will have this year, and we are having a 'Not Back to School Celebration'. We might take a trip to the beach, or to a state park...who knows, but it will be a blast!!

I can't wait to hear all about your adventures, too!!

Behan said...


We are having similar conversations like this with my parents, while Totem is snug in a berth in Mexico and we are visiting family north of the border for a bit. It started off a little awkwardly but they're coming around, and seeing how the children have thrived has really helped quite a bit.

I love the necklaces! Gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading all your posts. My baby is 25 now. We unschooled and she turned out great! :-) I often think about how alike Zach and Heather are.

Heather Lochner said...

Great idea! Thanks. I dread taking my 3.5 yr old into any store, but you just gave me some ideas on how to work with him, not against him.

gardenmama said...

That is exactly our 'label' too : )
Can I just hug you?! I love this post so much I share your sentiments completely! And aren't you brave sharing with your parents ; )

Rubi said...

Yay for you guys. We homeschool too. Or don't school. We just learn at home. I love the bead necklaces.

Dawn said...

Very cool... Our little lady just finished her kinder year unschooling and we are lucky that the questions about next year have not started up... I hope they don't!
Great for you guys!

G. said...

Ah, yes, the school thing. Bleh.

How fun with the beads! What beautiful beads he selected.

We're doing the shopping with $1 bills and quarters now at the grocery store, and I am finding it very useful (thanks for encouraging me when I mentioned switching from debit to cash)...

Though I have to say, when I have both kids with me, I much prefer to rush. The two start getting each other worked into a frenzy if I involve them much.

BTW, We got the package. M proudly hung everything up himself and was *very* excited! How good not to have to stress about fall. Thank you sooo much!

G. said...

P.S. That photo of the beads in the bowls is AMAZING! What an incredible display, and you have some mad photography skills girl!

sunnymama said...

We have yet to get the questions about why we're at the park at 11am on a Tuesday but we're already getting the "Is he starting school soon?" questions and sunnyboy's not quite 3 yrs!
I love how absorbed Zach was with the beads. Workbooks definitely not needed :)

Anonymous said...

I cannot thank you enough for this blog! I felt like the life I want to lead would be highly experimental, but now I KNOW this is the right path. Living, learning, connecting and having fun. Your family rocks!

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