It’s been a long time a’coming but finally, I have to admit, that I embrace many of the basic fundamentals of unschooling. You see, we’ve spent the summer struggling to maintain some semblance of a school day structure but have been constantly falling short. My daughter hasn’t been unhappy with the sporadic-at-best lessons, in fact she has rediscovered the art of playing by herself for hours with the occasional addition of a kitten, dog or friend.
Simply watching my almost-9-year-old play with her blocks, a couple of huge cardboard boxes, her toy animals and such makes me happy. I treasure these last few sweet moments of innocence and true childhood magic.
A few days ago I read this post over at Organic Sister and suddenly realized that we haven’t lost our rhythm this summer. We have found it. Learning hasn’t stopped, our lessons have simply changed shape. There was another element to my epiphany, it came in the form of reading up on what Waldorf 3rd graders should learn about. One of the biggies is learning to care for farm animals, raise and preserve food and to bake. Hmmm…
I think that we have adequately covered the farm portion, including the part where she knows that cotton grows on plants and wool comes from sheep.
We have also enjoyed spending time at the Virginia Zoo, the Virginia Aquarium and the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. She is reviewing Latin with a little prompting and reading everything she grabs that she likes. She’s also reading about Astronomy and Reptiles, a few of whom she has studied in the flesh. Her older siblings went on a road trip and this has provided an impromptu geography lesson about the states they have visited as well as the ones they drove through. We’ve learned about chemistry thanks to our swimming pool and the value of a good night’s sleep thanks to my pointing out how staying up too late detrimentally effects our days. This falls under the health and physical education department for those who might wonder.
We paint, we draw with block crayons and we knit. Borrowing an idea from Twig and Toadstool, yesterday we made these fabulous mushroom caps from a salad bowl set we bought at the thrift store. We changed things a bit by first painting the bowls white, cutting out masking tape circles and sticking them on and then spray painting the bowls red. Once the paint was dry, we took off the tape and voila! Poison mushrooms.
Martina spends a good bit of time with my parents and their spouses. My parents are very conservative, white, Southern and elderly. She understands that things they say are okay for them and that we don’t need to offer our opinions on every little thing that we happen to disagree with them over. She is very comfortable with her grandparents and loves the time she has with them. It helps that they also kind of worship her… We also spent a weekend at Wayside Center for Popular Education where we were around a lot of incredible social activists. Martina’s comfort level there was close to what we have here at home. Shhhh, don’t tell my parents!
School this summer has included being buried in sand at least twice. Falling off of a pony at least once. Her first solo performance at a horse show. Seeing a baby giraffe and a baby water moccasin. Learning that Pluto was a planet, that there was another one added then both Pluto and that one were removed and now we are down one…or is it two? planets.
Learning? Yeah, if you allow it to, it happens all the time.