Thursday, June 18, 2015

end-of-year report

Maybe it's California's lack of seasonal distinction, or just my inability to keep track of time, but it is mid-June and I'm trying to convince myself that yes, it really is summer. The latest reminder came on Tuesday when I forgot to put sunscreen on before going to Quinn's soccer camp, and then playing at the playground afterwards in the middle of the day, something that my easy-to-tan complexion normally forgives but this time resulted in a burn that aches at the tops of my shoulders.

The coming of summer marks a few milestones, including the concluding of the school year. Which means we have finished one "academic year" of homeschooling. It's an arbitrary marker, but still worth a nod. Time is odd-- wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey-- in some ways the past year has felt like it's gone by quickly, yet looking back to last summer feels like it was ages ago.

This may or may not be how we spend most of our time

So we've been unschooling a whole year now and I'm trying to think of what to say about it, and maybe the best way to express it is that I've been wanting to use the #unschooling and #homeschooling tags on instagram except I never know which pictures to add them to because really it should be all of them. I don't know how to separate the pictures showing them "learning" versus other things we do. Everything we do all day is part of our unschooling-- learning is not separated from daily life. When we first started I felt this need to "prove" that what we were doing was "working," showing off the things we did that happened to also fit into "academic" learning. I don't feel that need (as) much anymore, sure it comes and goes, but for the most part I've gotten better at letting go and just enjoying our time. Indeed, when I do that is when I feel the least stressed, the most comfortable and happy, and enjoy my time with my boys the most. It is fun to see the bits of learning that happen and take me by surprise, like when Donovan asks me a question about numbers that shows he's been playing around with them in his head. Or noticing how he's getting a bit of experience with percentages while watching the download progress bar, anxiously waiting for a movie to download. He often surprises me with what he knows, when I start explaining something and he stops me saying, "Yes, I already know that. It's because of blah blah blah" expanding on what I just said. And I've gotten better at seeing the learning that happens in our everyday experiences-- in even "worthless" activities like watching movies or playing video games.

I realize that most people look at what we're doing and how and must think we are crazy, that unschooling is a terrible idea and can ever work, etc. But honestly, this feels natural. When I hear people talk about school and their kids' school schedules and their homework and carpools, especially here in the ever-busy bay area, it all sounds utterly foreign to me and I feel relieved that we're opting out of all that. Which is not to say we will never go back to school or use curriculum, I am not foolish enough to make such long-term predictions. Or that school is "bad" or "wrong" (full of problems, sure, but has its advantages and is great for many people). Or even that I don't have my moments or days when I throw up my hands in frustration, convinced we're making a terrible mistake. But for the most part, it feels natural and good and fun and just the right way to be right now.

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