Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Guided" Unschooling

I really like the principles of unschooling and letting children follow their passions and go as deep or not deep into a subject as they like when they want to.

But I also know that children aren't going to be interested in things they aren't exposed to.

During my homeschooling existential crisis, I went through and read all the California standards for kindergarten. This took longer than you might think since the standards are published by subject, not by grade level. I had to go through all the various subjects and pick out the kindergarten stuff. Let's just say it took me a while.

I made a little list of the things Margaret has not had experience with yet, eg. California state symbols. I found this "standard" amusing because I remember being a kindergartener in Dallas, TX and coloring the state flag, mockingbird, and blue bonnet. Looking back, I wasn't sure if this exposure to state symbols was a general standard for all states or if Texas was particularly enthusiastic about themselves. But it seems California students learn the state symbols in kindergarten as well.

So now I have a little list of things that I will try to expose Margaret to in the next few months or so. When I was at the library last week, I happened upon a book, Our California, which takes you through a rhyme about various cities and areas in California and then at the back has the pictures of the state flag and other symbols. I checked it out for Margaret and we read it this past week.

She wasn't very interested in the book, so it was returned this week, but that's how unschooling goes. I know that at the least, I exposed her to the material, and maybe in the future she'll be more interested in it. Maybe we'll do a California birthday party on September 9.

So that's how I'm doing "guided" unschooling. My kids might not be interested in American Indians during their "third grade" year or multiplication in their "second grade" year- maybe it'll happen earlier or later. But I'll try to at least bring in books and movies and field trips to see if it interests them at some point.

So we're not using the standards strictly: if something comes up, we'll follow that instead. I consider them more of a guideline than a rule. And if we get in a rut, it can give me an idea of where to go next.

I'm really amazed at how much Margaret picks up in general. One of the kindergarten standards is to recognize national symbols like the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore. Last week when the National Park Foundation solicited a membership from us, they gave us a map of all the National Parks. Some of the parks had little pictures beside them: the Grand Canyon, the St. Louis Arch, etc. One caught Margaret's eye and she let me know, "That's the Golden Gate Bridge!" Recognizes national symbols? Check! We may do an "America" unit come Independence Day. Or we may not. Depends on how proactive I feel at that point.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for writing this! I am just realizing that I don't think public schools are right for my family so I am excited to read everything you have to say about un/homeschooling. I especially like reading about what you bring home from the library.


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