Saturday, July 12, 2008

Year Round Unschooling

So many people have asked my girls if they are glad school is out. Alea will tell them, "We are still doing school. I'm a natural learner." People often misinterpret what she is saying and think she is bragging about how easily she learns. Let me explain. Natural learning is learning from the things around us, and turning our experiences into a learning experience, as opposed to learning from a curriculum or worksheets.

The biggest difference between natural learning and school is that you don't turn your learning on and off. We don't take summers or weekends off. We discuss, look up and learn from daily experiences. We use movie watching as a jumping off point to learn about history. We use vacations to learn about cultures, geography, science, and take advantage of everything around us. Kids that go to a traditional school often see learning as 'work', so when they are out of school, they are off work. And they want to shut off their minds. My twelve year old niece made a comment about shrimp being her favorite fish. I told her that it wasn't a fish. My six year old pipes in "It's an invertebrate." Said niece rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips and said "well it swims in the ocean so it's a fish". This opened her up to learn that there are even mammals in the ocean and actually very few ocean creatures are fish. She told me that she was out of school, so she didn't have to learn anything, so she didn't want to hear any more. She actually covered her ears! She has never been taught that learning new things can be fun and exciting. We were designed to experience life, not just go through life. And all of the new things we experience and learn are the seasoning that give our life flavor!

So we choose to learn all the time. And it is working! We don't sit down and memorize times tables, yet even my six year old is multiplying. My eight year old (that is now 8 11/12 - deep sigh!) is writing books and has a business going where she makes and sells bookmarks, and donates 80 percent of the sales to our church. They are learning plenty. We are currently researching bats because......bats are cool! and interesting! We may finish up by making a bat house. Or ten! The property we are purchasing runs along a large creek so we may need ten bat houses to house all our friendly furry mosquito eaters. Did you know there are resources on the web to teach you how to make a bat house more desirable for our bat friends? I didn't either. But now I do.
Here is last week's fun learning project. We made lip balm. The girls picked the scent. They designed the name and the label. They poured the lip balm and applied the labels. We found a recipe that needed to be divided in half, so we worked on division. The recipe used decimals, so decimals were discussed. It was listed in ounces so we talked about units of measure and the metric system. And they weighed them on the digital scale. They even asked questions about the different oils and butters used, and we looked up ( and they read ) the different properties of the oils and butters we used, and why we chose them.

And here is what I have learned. I LOVE this lip balm. I have been making lip balm for over a year and tried several recipes, but this is the smoothest, creamiest lip balm ever. So, they have now developed my new lip balm for my new company! I might change the label though. And they are talking about a product line for girls. And they have discovered a new gift they can make for their friends. Who knows what this could turn into? All because we didn't take a summer vacation.

1 comment:

Sherlyn said...

Your children are very smart! I think it is awesome that you use everyday life experiences as learning experience. I think back to all them years ago and what we were taught - and really how much do we actually use today?

We didn't learn in school how to create a budge for your family, how to plan your trips wisely to ensure best use of gas, how to make a dollar stretch and not be wasteful, how to recycle to save our planet, how to preserve our own food, etc.

Todays life is hard. If we were to have an indefinate power failure - many people would have no clue how to survive. Most would probably not even realize that you can survive without electricity, cable tv, phones, etc.

I think the way you are teaching your children is wonderful, biblical, and the true way of life. Keep up the good work!