Sunday, December 16, 2007

Unschooling Marches On

Some of you have probably been wondering if this is a homeschool blog or not. In the past few weeks, I have been wondering, too. We have taken a break from the organized lessons that N. requested in math for the past four weeks, from Thanksgiving week through Hannukah, and to the end of last week.

What with Thanksgiving, end of term for two adults in the household, and Hannukah with final exams, it has been a crazy few weeks.

But now the Hannukah decorations are down--although I still have to perform the latest miracle of the oil and get the menorot cleaned--and the natural decor of icicles and snow graces our eaves. And although much of the rest of the world is embarking on a seriously celebratory time of the year, we are ready to take up math lessons again.

These lessons require active teaching from me, as well as study on N.'s part.

It is not that learning has not been occuring during the break.

Unschooling happens in our household every day. And for every one. That is the beauty of unschooling!

Just yesterday, MLC got a lesson in the proper methods of picture hanging, when she worked with Bruce to hang up the picture she had gotten me for Hannukah.

N. was listening in on Bruce's instructions as he placed that X that marked the spot just to the left of MLC in the picture.

And even though we are mostly done with our holiday season--we will celebrate the new year with a modest open house on New Year's Day--others have just begun!

Yesterday N. learned to make my pineapple loshen kugel (noodle pudding) for the Sandia "Geo-whatever" Group's annual holiday party.

I firmly believe that cooking real food is a life-skill that every human being ought to acquire. So Home Economics (or whatever the politically correct designation is these days) is part of our unschooling curriculum. Why should a person stop at the store on the way to a party for stale chips and canned salsa, when he can, with instruction from Mom, learn to make a really good kugel, warm and fluffy, hinting gently of vanilla and cinnamon, in about the same amount of time? I don't count baking time--after all, you get to do something else while the oven does the work.

And other more formal education has been going on during his little math break. N. has been busy reading for his life-time book list, and he has some new Zits comics--Hannukah presents--to read for fun, too. Note the formality of his classroom demeanor the right. I have never seen anyone use the one-leg-in-the-air language arts technique, but it works for N. The new moccasins came from my midwest trip--the Minnetonka Outlet--and were also acquired during Hannukah.

But tomorrow, we will get much more formal, and park ourselves in front of the TV for half-an-hour each weekday to begin The Great Courses Basic Math part II. I think our first lesson is about exponents. I will resume watching the lectures with him, and supervising practice afterwards by providing help whenever needed. No grading required, though. I have taught N. to check his own answers at the back of the book.

Another mini-unit N. has requested my help for is a study of the US Constitution. The political discussions that have been occuring with regularity around the table has piqued his curiousity and he wants to know "what it actually says." Good enough. I have a free book from a civics education organization and we will charge ahead with that, too.

And N. will continue working on Kamana II. He also recieved two Peterson's Guides during Hannukah, and he has been doing his Kamana journaling and book work in the evenings lately.

Oh, yeah, and he did complete his yellow-belt testing for Taekwando last week.

And he had an experiential lesson in the Jewish way in death and mourning. He was part of the minyan for Shiva last week, and we talked about the customs and etiquette for it.

Come to think of it, the real beauty of unschooling is that N. took a break only from formal math study for the past four weeks. But over his "break" he was still learning all the time.


Amie said...

That picture looks lovely! I could use some lessons in picture hanging too :D

I agree about cooking. The sad thing is I grew up with a mother who is a WONDERFUL cook, she even caters on the side. BUT, I didn't learn any of it!

denise said...

Exactly. :)

That loshen kugel looks delicious!