Precious Moments: Unschooling Week

This week has flown on by and in general it has been wonderful.  T12 completely took our chat to heart and worked really hard to keep to his schedule.  He managed it every day and has, quite rightly, felt completely chuffed with himself.  However, having had a week of self scheduling as well as time to ponder his future he is not entirely sure he wants to continue with one week on and one week off.  He wants the same routine every day because he has big plans and wants to make time for it all.

T has always been my most academic child.  He has a brain which never stops.  He has always been interested in science and we have known for years that this is the area he would eventually pursue.  Over the past week he has expressed an interest in engineering, something Gary and I wholeheartedly agree with.  Whilst I know this could change, really I can’t think of a career which would suit him better.  To this end he has been researching what he needs to take in order to become an engineer.  He has decided to take all three sciences, maths and English and perhaps one more subject at IGCSE level.  He is already taking Physics (possibly next January) and I have just begun Biology with the three older ones.  He has asked if he can study Chemistry with a distance learning college, so we are currently looking into which one would meet his needs the most.

The girls have had a much more laid back week.  C12 took her Music and Theatre exam on Thursday and I believe did really well.  She needed to sing two songs in character as well as explaining why she chose those particular songs:

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Meanwhile, L12 was asked to take part in the club championships in her trampolining.  She is very excited because she has only been trampolining for the last 8 weeks.  She just adores it and often takes her little sisters out on our trampoline to share what she has learnt and teach them how to do similar moves.

She has spent the rest of the week creating loom bands and reading.  She watches videos on how to do a creation and then makes it herself, often changing the original design slightly to make the creation more original.  She has been making the most gorgeous whimsical flower ‘binders’.  I don’t know what they are called, but she gave a friend of ours a small bunch of daffodils from the garden and made a daffodil from loom bands and tied it around the stems.  I didn’t get a photo, but it was such a beautiful and unusual means of making the gift even more special.

L12 and her creations
L12 and her creations

C has spent her week worrying about the exam.  Literally, she has not been able to concentrate on anything for longer than two and a half seconds at a time.  By Thursday she was near to tears all morning, until I told her to pull herself together and (wo)man up.  At which point she (quite rightly) burst into tears.  Once she’d had a good cry she was noticeably calmer and immediately began to look forward to her exam, telling me she felt so much better 😉  I’m not stupid.  She, T and Gary are all the same.  If made to blow they begin to feel better almost immediately.  All that pent-up emotion needed to be directed at something.  I was only too pleased to have been of service!  We left for the exam with a bounce in our step, knowing she was now in the best frame of mind to do her exam.

One thing the girls have done a lot of has been dancing to music.  Olly Murs has been in my living room for the last week!

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The older children have been cooking up a feast all week.  They all chose a meal to cook and shopped and cooked each one from scratch.  T made vegetables in tortillas, L made a chicken and noodles Chinese dish and C made a sausage casserole.  All three were delish! – We will definitely be repeating all three and it has been wonderful to let them take over meal prep for me!

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The little ones also had some time in the kitchen with B3 baking chocolate chip buns and A6 baking raisin buns.  Both were divine and the girls were incredibly pleased with themselves:

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They have both been spending lots of time crafting:

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with B4 in particular surprising me with her sticking power when it came to colouring, cutting and assembling some paper dolls:

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T made sure he spent some time with his littlest siblings and took them gardening, played Lego….

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….cuddled and tried to prove to B4 that he was taller than her even when she stood on the arm-chair:

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Wednesday and Thursday we had a friend round, and as C was not able to concentrate on anything I let them have a film fest with the Legally Blond videos.  So funny and such a blast from the past for me.  I remember watching them at sleep overs when I was younger!

This has been a good week but I have much to think about with regards to continuing the unschooling weeks.  I’m coming to the conclusion than I give the children so much freedom anyway with regards to their schooling that the unschooling weeks may be superfluous.  That is certainly how T feels and I know the little ones would benefit from a weekly schedule with free time built in to it.  I’ll be having a chat with the older children during our morning meeting today.  Whatever the case, I am so pleased I gave it a go.  Even if we discover it is not for us, I know that having tried it out, albeit only every other week, I now won’t have constant itchy feet to try it out again.  Unschooling, I think, is not for us.  It does not suit any of our personalities for much the same reasons I thought it wouldn’t.  We all thrive on being busy and yet when faced with screen time or working hard, screen time wins every time.  In all honesty, I haven’t seen the children pursue anything that they wouldn’t have already pursued in their free time anyway.  I just need to make sure I give them adequate screen-free free-time.

We may or may not continue with our experiment of one week school and one week unschool.  Whatever we do, I feel as though we have all scratched an unschooling itch.  It was good and right that we tried it out.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts and the children’s next week.  For now though, I’m switching off my computer and having a computer free week end.

I hope you all have a wonderful time with lots of fun spending time with people you love.

 photo 50ee37ee-4f60-43f2-83eb-bb7deb75fd49_zpsbacda61d.pngHomegrown Learners

22 comments

  1. Love your shots of this week! Looks like a very fun and interesting one! My son is one that loves science as well. He’s already talking about engineering, robotics and marine biology careers :). Have a great weekend!

  2. What a fantastic big brother. I love that he made time to spend with the youngest two. It all sounds like a wonderful week…and clarifying. It’s been a successful experiment if it has helped to solidify your thinking for how you want to move forward – so hurrah! (p.s. I hope to join you back in the posting world soon – just feels a little like jumping back onto a moving treadmill. One of these days I’ll make the leap, though 🙂

  3. Your children’s activities sound so interesting. I didn’t know that trampolining was like a sport. I am impressed by how adept they all are in the kitchen. Strict unschooling isn’t for us either but for opposite reasons. ..my kids just wouldn’t do anything!

    1. I’m very pleased we tried it out when we did. Hopefully I have got it out of my system and we can get on with home schooling in our usual way.

  4. Different styles suit different families/personalities so it’s wonderful that you’ve tried it and have arrived at your own conclusion about its suitability for you guys. Now at least you have the peace of mind to proceed in the way that works best for you. 🙂

    1. Thanks Hwee. I always enjoy your thoughtful comments. I am very pleased we did unschooling for a while, we learnt a lot about ourselves and hopefully got it out of our systems.

    1. True, and even if hasn’t worked it has been successful because we were able to learn something new about ourselves, which is always a good thing.

  5. You never know until you try and try you did. It wouldn’t work for us. We need a bit more structure.
    Hoping you have a lovely weekend, Claire.:)

    1. You know, my overwhelming feeling is one of excitement. Having done it and failed at it, we can now get on with what we know we love. I feel more settled than I have felt for a while.
      Hope all is well with you, Donna.xx

  6. I really appreciate the way you include the children in the decision process. That is a wonderful gift you are giving them. The food looks so good and the looming is coming along nicely. You must be so proud of your son. He is growing up so fast.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. They are all growing up quickly but T especially so. He is a young man now, rather than an older boy. He’s so serious about everything, especially his future.

  7. My family is very similar with the unschooling thing. That’s great you gave it shot. I’d love to hear more about the trampolining. How fun! I’d also love to know about the IGCSE (did I get that right?) tests. I’m in the states and don’t know anything about university in the UK, but am curious. It seems you prepare very young. I’d love a post on that! Your blog is something I’m always happy to see in my email, Claire! You have such a good outlook and your family is so encouraging. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tara,
      In the UK the children age 16 take between 6-10 GCSE (stands for general certificate of secondary education), as homeschoolers we take IGCSE which are an international version and 100% exam (no course work needing to be moderated). After GCSE/IGCSE they take (usually) three A Levels in subjects linked with the degree they wish to do. Their university place is based on their predicted and then their actual grades.
      Home schoolers can choose to take their GCSEs over a period of a few years instead of all in the same year. This is what we have decided to do. T will take his first in January 2016.
      Hope that clears things up a bit for you?
      Thank you so much for leaving such an encouraging comment!

  8. What great photos – the dancing made me smile. I love how proud kids are when they’ve completed a meal or dish on their own, there’s something so special about having the opportunity to nourish their family. Hope you had a great weekend!

  9. I just love L12’s loom band creations! My own 8 year old has been completely engaged with making beaded lizards – a skill she figured out by watching YouTube videos. Now she is creating her own animal creations out of pony beads as stretchy string as well – current project: a blue lobster.

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