Thursday, August 18, 2011

A FRESH new year and a FRESH new UNschool!

It’s that time again, time to wake up early and get back into the rhythm of education.

Last year, our first year at home schooling we decided a typical classroom environment would suit us. I wanted Georgia to truly feel like she was in “school” because I felt I was denying her something Miriam had a chance to experience. This year I decided, I don’t want to do that , a “classroom” is purely mental and since I don’t intend on my kids ever being a part of a public education system they don’t need anything resembling a classroom. I want us to focus more on hands on education, free of worksheets, free of the stress of an academic system that puts too much stress on our kids. Lets face it, Miriam will be never be a child who will sit down and fill out a math problem on paper, she won’t ever learn to color in the lines and she certainly isn’t going to be able to see a logic worksheet. Miriam is not only blind but she is very much autistic, she can and will learn as she has shown us she can do but she isn’t going to do it by the book. She CAN’T do it by the book. I don’t see any point in wasting printer ink when I can be teaching her with things in the home that she can actually touch, feel and relate to.

I want to do things like taking my children into the kitchen to bake and cook our meals together, we can use food to teach all kinds of things from logic to math. I want to take them outside the house and let them learn everything they need to know by experience not by just reading about it in a book. I want them to learn how to read because we do it together as a family not because I am shoving flashcards in their faces. I want them to learn logic and math using things in our home not by using a different worksheet. How often in real life will they be handed a lady bug and told to count the dots? Last year I spent a lot of my time printing out worksheets, building weekly curriculum, keeping track of tests and numbers. It interfered in valuable family time together and I honestly feel limiting things like worksheets will help bring us together. It will also help me to teach our kids even better social skills by interacting in a hands on setting.

We will only be doing partial UN-schooling however, which for us means 4 days a week of 99% UN-schooling. Each day we will still be working on our phonics reading program for about half an hour and one day a week we will “play school”. We no longer have a classroom, I got rid of it and turned it into a play room but I did bring some of their classroom equipment/supplies into the living room where they will be utilized on Friday each week. We will do everything you would do in real school including worksheets and flashcards. We will utilize it to pull everything we learned the previous 4 days together. It is a chance for our mainstream children to physically see what they have learned and be physically rewarded for their work with stars and stickers like any other home school or classroom.

Here are a few things we want to focus on each week this year,

Cooking / Baking together
Silly play
Phonics reading
Number & counting
Out door fun
Logic activity
Educational Toy learning
Arts & Crafts
Music appreciation
Reading together
Spiritual education
Meditation/Relaxation time
Hands on Science
Exercise - Physical play
Health education

And much much more! This of course doesn’t include the one on one education we will need to give Miriam by herself such as speech and tactile activities.

In all I think it will be fun coming up with new activities we can do together to really push the aspects of UN-schooling. I want our entire day to be educational from the second we wake-up to the moment we go to bed. Television is going to end up being VERY limited as we find things we can do together instead such as board games and puzzles. Tom and I are both going to be working this together instead of just me taking the reigns. He can really teach the girls what it means to work with their hands with building projects and such. Someday when they are much older he can teach him his own craft. Needless to say, I am so excited about this coming school year!!!

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