Sunday, May 5, 2013

unschooling thoughts

Friday, we unschooled. Same for Shabbos and today. I did not say anything till tonight, just watched what the kids did. Now, in my sleep-deprived post-baby brain fog, I have not been keeping a careful log of all the activities kids engaged in, but I saw enough to give me confidence that they will learn and work on their own without a script.

The boys have been digging a pit in the backyard. They finally found a digging spot where they are not blocking a walking path, not a danger to others, and are not destroying landscaping. They dug this pit with full-size shovels. It is about 3 feet deep. It is alternatively a clubhouse, a hideout and an underground succah. They used it to make mud bricks. Yesterday it poured the whole day. Today they told me how the pit was flooded and they made ditches to drain some of the water. They are scheming and plotting, planning to make a roof and install sponge-like floor to absorb the moisture.

Since yesterday was so rainy, they did not go anywhere. My husband got called up to a delivery in the middle, so we were definitely staying put. They took a bunch of rubber bands and spent hours sling shooting them. The trick was to avoid snapping your fingers. After a couple hours, they all got pretty good.
All three playing with train tracks and building blocks

They read quite a bit.

My friend gave me sandy Montessori letters and 3 yo, upon seeing them, took them out and wanted to know what they are. I named each letter as she brought it to me. I showed her how to trace one with her finger, and then she did a bunch on her own. She found a letter that her name starts with, "p" for Publix, letters for her brothers' names and a few others.

The boys watched a few more tutorials on how to draw various Pokemon. They are aware now which sites give the best directions.

They caught a katydid and made a habitat for it. I was adamant that the boys release it before it dies. 7 yo casually asked how long they live. I suggested looking it up online. He said that it won't help since we don't know how old it is.

I found my letter!
7 yo used abacus to figure out how often Yovel year comes up. He knew it comes after seven cycles of Shemittah, but he did not know what that would be. He counted out the beads. I showed which beads would be shemitta and which are yovel.

The boys did their usual chores: dishwasher, laundry, set the table for shabbos, etc. 

9 yo finished 1000-piece puzzle of the periodic table. He has been working on it on and off for the past two weeks. He chose the puzzle himself in Costco, and assembled it all. I don't think he has done anything larger than 100 pieces, and this was not easy, as it was all writing. 

We learned about Nasca and their line art from Story of the World. The activity that was suggested was to draw with white crayon on white paper and then paint watercolor on top. This way you are drawing "blind", like Nasca, who, due to the scale, could not see what they were creating. When I suggested it to the boys weeks ago, there were no takers. Today, 9 yo decided that he will paint his Pokemon just like that.

For working on word and number puzzles,
the best vantage point is on top of the table
So we will be unschooling till the end of May. I will watch and assess. I am worried about Judaics, as we are nowhere nearly as immersed in that learning. I am worried about writing, as neither boy writes much, and not spontaneously. I am not worried about reading, math and science; these come up all the time, and are so easy to tie into each other. I am not worried about social studies or phys.ed: the boys do those all the time.

I am awaiting tomorrow to see what they boys will do. 9 yo is planning on science since we do not do enough of that, in his opinion.

I am also realizing that by unschooling I am "freeing" my own time. Instead of being a slave driver, I can do whatever needs to be done around the house, run errands, do museum and park outings, and not worry whether we are missing on some formal learning that we should be doing instead. A unschooling friend told me that all K-12 curriculum could be self-taught by a motivated high school student in 18 months. As she said, it is worth the risk. I know the world will not end if we fall one month behind. 


  1. It sounds like you are cautiously excited!

  2. Thanks for sharing the details. Amazing and inspiring to see how your family is growing and changing.