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Book Meme and Why the Switch to Unschooling

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Posted on : 12:29 PM | By : Nic | In :

"Don't feel that you need to complete every exercise if the child understands the concept."


I'm stealing this from Mon at Holistic Mama - it's a meme where you grab the nearest book, and find page 56 and copy down the fifth sentence.  The sentence above is from The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  It's a book about classical homeschooling, and Autumn is using it as a drawing table, which I find quite hilarious and ironic.

My mom had a pretty awesome homeschool style when I was younger, very hands on and also very focused on writing and reading, which may explain my love of writing and reading.  It was, at the same time, very traditional, time intensive, and exhausting.  The daily schedule consisted of Bible reading during breakfast, Saxon math, grammar studies, latin roots, memorizing geography, reading assigned literature, art studies, and many, many essays.  It was rigorous and I remember quite a bit...

But...

What this type of homeschooling did was give me the tools to study, and after the 4 hours of morning education, I would go off and do my own homeschooling for the rest of the day.  I created rock and insect collections, labeling them with the Latin names, made nature journals, wrote music on the piano, read more books, delved into archeology, astronomy and physics, researched first aid and survival, and because I was struggling in math - studied more math textbooks.  Of my own free will.

Despite this, when my kids were very little I failed to realize that my independent study was the stuff I remember - the other stuff sparked interests, but I can't really remember anything I learned from textbooks (with the exception of some of the grammar and latin roots study which I think helped me - but I had an interest so maybe it doesn't count).  I had lots of plans and I was ready to do the rigorous method I was familiar with, especially since when a child is young they don't really think of things to do that seem... educational.

The Well Trained Mind is a great book, and really it should be used as a resource list if a child has an interest and wants to really delve deeply into a topic.  I think a textbook has it's place if your child wants to - if they are interested, they will learn it.  But I no longer have an agenda, or a schedule because when I look back at my homeschool journal, we do way more interesting things when they are free to learn what they want.  It's more fun, and less like work.  

The truth is that once you've created an example for your children, they will mimic you.  I am constantly writing, reading books, and doing projects and my children now do the same, except that the great thing is that that they are old enough to create their own and I love watching how insanely creative they can be - and how much they are learning.  I suppose I need to do another unschooling portfolio. :)

Comments (1)

As an unschooler who loves the Wise Bauer book, I really liked your post. It's interesting to hear about your own years as a homeschool student, and to follow your progression of thought. Unschooling just works for us, and like you I love to see the creativity and learning happening all the time. By being parents who are always "studying" ourselves, we're modeling the joy of learning all the time.