Friday, March 01, 2013

What We Do All Day

Every year, I plan a whole curriculum of things we are going to do. I buy workbooks, textbooks, and determine that we are finally going to buckle down and DO SCHOOL. And this works for about a month but then life happens or we burn out, and this plan ends up abandon. I'm not sure when it will sink in that we really are unschoolers. I chafe against the term, I suppose, as I often chafe about getting lumped into a category. I resist the definition not just because I don't like others defining my family but also because I hate having to defend why I can lay claim to the term. We are not radical after all. I still make my kids do math and history but we've at least discussed why I do that. And I do make them come up with plans, and while I'm pretty lenient about screen time, I do make them get off once in awhile. I know that for a lot of people that lands me, solidly, out side of the unschooling world. But for those who do school at home, I'm also a dismal failure. Kind of like all aspects of my life, I sloppily spill out of the categories.

Yesterday, I answered an email for someone who wants to come observe what Piper does all day. She's one of Piper's teachers at the unschool so not a stranger. She wants to see how Piper uses the community for learning which of course has me thinking about how we use the community and what we do. On an obvious level we use the library (of course our favorite place) and we use the catholic center. But I realized that a lot of our learning in the community was very casual. It involves coffee shops:
And because we're a nosy curious family we get invited behind the scenes. Piper got to learn all about coffee roasting at Jittery Joe's because H was peering through the door to watch. 

We get to look at art exhibits that we find in unexpected places: 

And sometimes the art is not even part of the exhibit...just some writing on the wall:

While we're wandering around looking for art, we might find a tree growing inside a patio:

And we can try to figure out why they left it and what will happen as it continues to grow.

When we go to pick strawberries, we get to pet goats and check out chickens which with this group of kids will lead to library trips and Internet searches.

Our an afternoon walk, we often stumble into more art shows that are free! And fun! And we bump into friends who like to create art where ever they are too. So the floor at an exhibit becomes an easel.

As we explore the campus, we often discover secret awesome spots where there are Koi

and turtles that H is surprisingly good at catching.

I realized it will be hard to show this teacher the whole of what we do in any given week. It's not easy to document finding an ant hill or a bug hotel on  walk. Or how we find art in these odd spots. The way that people invite us into what they do. 

But I also realized as I thought about this visit, and what we'd show the teacher that I need to let go of my traditional leanings and embrace the unschoolers that we are. We might still do math workbooks or I like doing history with my kids (hey I'm learning too and it's cool) but that really just as much important stuff is happening when we get out there and explore. When we open ourselves up to what others have to offer. And sometimes by just living. Out there. In the world.

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