A Day in the Life of an Unschooler – 10/21/14


One of the biggest pluses of unschooling (or homeschooling for that matter) is that it is mobile. Learning happens, whether you are in a room dedicated to learning, or a library, or a car, or even at the local auto repair shop.

Today we needed to get our oil changed in the van, so I packed up some of our homeschool books and we headed out. We sat in the spacious lobby, turned our chairs away from the overly loud television, and got to work.

In order to give her as much of a sense of choice as possible, I always ask which subject/book she would like to tackle first. We had two books on Hawaii – a fairy tale and a basic facts book, Life of Fred (and corresponding notebook to write in), Paleo Bugs (something I grabbed off of the shelf), and Story of the World.

Hawaii First

When I had asked Emily a month or so ago which country or state she would like to choose, she asked for Hawaii so we ordered a stack of books on Hawaii – facts, history, information on the last royal family, and also a good share of folk tales.

She pointed to the folk tale book as her first choice for unschool today and opened it up and read the story.

Presenting not just the facts and dry history, but also the creation myths and more, helps immeasurably with her retention, as I will discuss later in this post. She seemed to truly enjoy the book and I didn’t lose her to the television in the background at all.

Life of Fred

“Let’s do FOUR chapters!” Emily demanded as I opened up the next indicated book, her Life of Fred math book, the first of four in the elementary series.

“How about we take it one chapter at a time, okay?” I said, knowing she would probably poop out after the second chapter. She did well in the first chapter but started to get frustrated and bored in the second one. “Let’s finish what we start, okay?” I asked and she reluctantly agreed, but definitely had some fun answering questions in her own way.

It appears that training for Algebra is starting early. The questions are introducing concepts like 3x + 4x and now in this chapter (and in the last one) there is the idea of ‘sets’. In question #1, the book asked for Emily to name a set. She looked at me with a quirky smile. I had expected her to follow the example of eggs and bacon listed in the text, but instead, she wrote my farts.

Yeah, that’s a set all right. A stinky set.

I’ve included a picture of her math work above. As you can see, she needs to work on her penmanship a bit. I’m trying to figure out how to tackle that in a non “you must do it this way” attitude that will have her frustrated and recalcitrant (two things she is extremely good at).

Paleo Bugs

I try to grab a random book off of the shelf on a regular basis (preferably daily). Yesterday it was Science Around the House which was a huge hit. I ended up proposing two Science Fun classes to one of the co-ops we belong to. I’ll teach those classes in January and February here at the house. In any case, when I picked up Story of the World Em said, “Wait, I want the bugs book!” So we tackled that first.

She enjoyed comparing the sizes of the creatures to her hand, or an adult human in some cases. I don’t think I would like to meet a nine-foot long millipede!

Story of the World

Story of the World would wait until after we returned from the oil change. I could tell by the squirm factor that Em needed a break, so we bought a soda, after she figured out how many quarters she would need to make $1.50 to feed to the soda machine (highway robbery!). After we returned home, as she ate her lunch and mine cooked in the toaster oven, I read two chapters on the Rise of Rome – including the story of Romulus and Remus.

As I read the part of the story describing the babies being put in a basket and sent down the river I could see she recognized the storyline. “Wait,” she said, “I remember this story.”

At the end of the section, the book drew parallels between Moses and also Sargon, the Mesopotamian ruler, and also Cyrus, who was raised by wolves. She definitely remembered those stories once I mentioned them.

Hawaii Last

And lastly, we returned to Hawaii. While she splashed in a tub (ha! Captive audience!) I read a book that discussed different interesting locales on the islands of Hawaii. As she started to drift a bit I did ask her if she wanted to continue studying Hawaii or move on to a different state or country. She indicated that she wanted to continue with Hawaii, so we will tackle the other two books we have on Hawaii on Thursday.

That’s a wrap for today!

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