Back to school blues even happen for homeschoolers

We are back at ‘school’ after almost 3 months of summer holidays, and it seems that ‘back to school blues’ even happen for homeschoolers. Funny…. this time last year the kids had to go back to real school and they were pretty much exactly like Calvin. This year we are only going back to homeschooling, but nothing much has changed!

I have to say, I feel a bit guilty taking summer holidays from what is already pretty much a holiday kind of lifestyle (despite what the kids say)… But I realised that holidays aren’t just about doing nothing… they are a punctuation mark.

Our first 8 months of homeschooling were fantastic but incredibly stressful at the same time, as we started out as curriculum- based homeschoolers, then developed our own curriculums, then we tried out unit studies, and experimented with unschooling as well. Meanwhile the kids went through every emotion possible about homeschooling… starting with elation at leaving school, followed by devastation when they realised were were still going to have to learn stuff, wild enthusiasm about the topics they loved, and outright rebellion about others they hated. (In fact there was more rebellion than anything else most of the time, and that meant me learning a whole new set of coping mechanisms). I think the only constant thing in our whole first 8 months was my driving belief that this was the best decision I had ever made.

In hindsight it was all a bit of a mess, but looking back at our books and materials as I was packing them all up before we left for Australia, I was seriously amazed at how much we had managed to do amidst such chaos.

This year is going to be more organised!! (I am pretty sure these are famous last words).

Now we know we are not much into curriculums.

We know we like unit studies.

We know we like having flexibility to do or not to do, depending on our day.

We know we want to make time for swimming, horseriding, karate and rock climbing.

We also know we want to focus on Islamic topics more.

I know that learning objectives are a big priority, to teach discipline and commitment within subjects they are really interested in.

So with all this in mind, the plan is an hour of Islam first, then an hour of formal topics (science, maths, english etc) and then an hour of personal learning objectives each day. Three hours… that’s it. Each child has started a learning blog and their personal objectives plus anything else they are interested in, are recorded here. Apart from that they have ONE exercise book each for the year, in which anything else they do will be recorded. Last year we tried an exercise book for each subject but it just felt like school, where they used to spend half the lesson writing the date in the OCD way the school prescribed.

I have joined a great science site called Supercharged Science and I, at least, am really excited about the huge range of experiments and applied learning (the kids claim they ‘hate science’ but the other day when we launched a rocket with vinegar and baking soda 50 metres into the sky, Shams didn’t seem to hate it too much). My mission this year is that they will say ‘we LOVE science now’ by the end of the year… here’s hoping Supercharged Science does the trick.

Maths will continue as before with Khan Academy and Adapted Mind and Shams will work on writing particularly through his blog and Grammaropolis.

So that’s our year in a nutshell… who knows…. this organisation may only last for a couple of weeks and we may descend back into homeschooling anarchy again, but we sure have learned a lot from last year … so onwards and upwards!

 

 

 

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The balancing act – homeschooling versus unschooling

This morning my kids are quietly playing Minecraft with their friends while I am writing and drinking tea. It feels wrong.

Usually there are complaints, tantrums, me in a frenzy trying to get all the resources together for the day, looking at the clock to see how late we are getting, more complaints, adapting to the kids who say they don’t want to do what I have proposed and general hassle.

So which of these pictures is wrong? More

Is this what they call unschooling?

I don’t think they have a name for the kind of homeschooling we are doing these days. It’s kind of the Laissez Faire approach.. maybe they will immortalise it as the Ali Shah approach!

We started out so enthusiastically six months ago, with lesson plans, weekly schedules and lots of great big ideas.

Somewhere along the way the routine went out the window, then the resources went after them. Some of the enthusiasm waned just a little, but we have settled into this kind of “unschooling” model that strangely seems to be working.

We seem to have stumbled upon themes each week. A few weeks ago it was Greece. We got all excited about the idea of unit studies and became experts on Alexander the Great after watching a 14 part series about him. Then we followed that with a week on Rome. It was cool… Shams studied weapons and history, the girls did various history related topics, and we watched a your tube series on Pompeii. More

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