Thursday, March 26, 2009

Small Successes

The small successes are really what helps me trust my instincts. As I said before we've been leaning into unschooling for a while so I've really learned to be observant when my kids make progress or show interest in something. You'd think I would be used to the small successes by now but I'm always happily surprised that this REALLY works for us.

My methods of complying with state regulations is to record the activities the kids are choosing and to tally those at the end of each month. (You'd be shocked by how much they do, all without coercion from me.) Kya had a friend sleep over last night so I didn't think there would be much to observe; I figured it would be lots of Barbies, fresh air, and giggled late into the night. I did count some extra-curricular time for art and music as this went along with the games the girls were playing but wasn't really counting on her choosing anything that would count toward core subject time while she had a friend over. When we got home from playgroup I was working on a project at the kitchen table. Kya came and sat next to me with a spelling word search book that she enjoys. I like it because it not only does it encourage spelling skills (which isn't a strength for her) but the lists also have a common theme so it gives us a chance to discuss categories and grouping. Normally she likes for she and I do the pages together so I was surprised to see one of the pages finished that I hadn't helped her with. I asked her if she'd done that on her own and she replied, "No, Leslie helped me with it." So, while she had a friend over she CHOSE to do a workbook page. It is not a very unschooling attitude to be so pleased about this but I am. That's why I don't think of myself as a radical unschooler; I will always be happy when my kids choose, all on their own, to make learning a part of their everyday lives. When a workbook is just as much fun as a Barbie doll, that makes me smile.

Jace also had some success today. He decided to go to playgroup, which he hasn't wanted to do lately and we haven't been forcing him. He brought his Nintendo DS and at first he stayed in the car and played his game. I really wanted him to play with the other kids but I decided to just wait and see how it went. After about half an hour he popped out of the car, smiling and happy. He waved to me on his way by to go play with the other kids. When he was ready to go we talked to Kya and she agreed that she was also ready so we left. I probably wasn't quite ready because I really enjoy the mom time, plus he'd spent all that time in the car and I wanted him to play some more. However, I want him to come back to playgroup on his own. In order for that to happen he needs to feel like it is safe to go to playgroup because he won't be forced to play when he doesn't feel like it or to stay when he's ready to go. We tried that already and it lead to frustration for both of us; we tried something new today and we both had a good time.

All in all, a really good day. :)


Anonymous said...

Good for you! Keeping a log is a great way to build trust within ourselves that this path is the right one. In our homelearning program we write weekly reports called "Observing for Learning" which is essentially a journal entry, just like this post you wrote. One of the things I enjoy about it is that, by paying attention to what the kids are doing, I'm seeing learning happening everywhere, and in wonderful ways I never expected.

Hope said...

Thanks freelearners... Just knowing that I need to think of something to post forces me to be more observant which in turn gives me great reassurance about what the kids are learning. Its a great tool for our journey. :)