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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flexibility in Unschooling

Unschooling gives me much needed flexibility in my busy schedule. Here is an example of how I've weaved William's math into my busy life.

The great thing about unschooling is that you can concentrate on one area at a time or themes. Although, I we are covering Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts year round, mostly informally and sometimes with lots of structure, we haven't concentrated on structured Math. It was my intent to have William start virtual 6th grade Math in the Fall. HOWEVER, when I realized I still had to take my exam, I was not in the mood to put up with outside accountability (more stress) for something as silly as math curriculum. I was also concerned that he wouldn't be able to work at that level without prior structured instruction. I am not sure that I would be able to help him.

Solutions seem to come together. William has rejected math workbooks up to this point. We finally found DK Math Workbooks. Lots of work sheets that get right to the point and not a lot of BS. Each work sheet introduces one new idea. I had him start with the 3rd grade one and do six pages a day at least. He finished it in no time. Much of it was easy, but I also know now he didn't "miss" anything. Then he started the 4th grade version progressively increasing the complexity. We are about to start the 5th grade work book. He is going to continue them through the month (when most kids are on break). Why interrupt some great learning momentum for no good reason? By the end of January we are scheduled to begin the virtual school 6th grade Math curriculum. By now I am confident that he'll have all the skills he needs for success (I'm more confident that I know what he needs to know) and I should be able to keep him on pace. It's a lot of math all at once, but he is not responsible for other academic classes at the same time, so he can truly focus.

I see how much he has progressed. With so much concentration on math, the skill has overlapped onto his other activities and the younger brothers have picked up some extra understanding of fractions and angles. William's handwriting and fine motor has improved noticeably.

The flexibility is an element of unschooling that I appreciate I am going to start Scott in these workbooks soon. I am certain I would not enjoy madatory school attendance.


Mama K said...

Great post. I like the informative, real life example of how unschooling works at your house. I have chosen to use more structure this year, because I was not confident everything was being covered adequately. Son is taking a driver's ed course right now and did great on a test... so there you go - he was learning how to study all along, and I just didn't know it for sure. Having more of a schedule is helping my days, but we still have to be flexible in how much gets done daily. Sometimes real life dictates what happens... in case I get to thinking I am supposed to be in control. (-:

Marie said...

I love reading about your unschooling. In one of John Taylor Gatto's books he says that basic math and reading only take 100 hours to learn. Your son is "proving" that. I think if we let kids focus when they're ready (instead of forcing upon them in small chunks over and over when thye're not ready) it can preserve a love of learning and a love of that subject, and we can be thoroughly impressed with how "smart" they are. Keep up the good work!

Tammie said...

I have been amazed with how much math my children learn just with everyday living. I also try really hard to help them see the reasons for learning math. When they see that there is a point to it they are willing to spend some time studying it! The workbooks sound fun too! I will have to check those out!

Annie said...

I pretty much unschooled my older two....LOVED it! We did so many amazing things! School can provide great memories, but I bet Aidan and Lydia have more and richer ones. Plus - they learned what they needed with a lot more joy and less stress.

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