School’s Out! (Almost)

I probably should post an update about school, since we are wrapping up for the year. Let's see… this is where we are:

Grammar— Finished FLL4 with both Peeps, while Peep #1 supplemented with a grade-level grammar workbook.

Math— completed Saxon 5/4 and 7/6.

SOTW— finished through chapter 40.  Still have two more to go.

Spelling/Vocabulary— Peep #1 is finishing up Vocabulary from Classical Roots; Peep #2 is working on Spelling Workout E, but probably won't finish the book by the time we wrap up the first week of June.

Latin— both peeps continue to do Latin with my Dad.  They are almost finished with Minimus (Peep #2) and Learning Latin Through Mythology (Peep #1– he's completed Minimus and Secundus)

Science— we didn't do a formal curriculum this year.  We finished up a semester-long unit study on the human body in the fall/winter, and concentrated on life sciences the second part of the year.

All this in addition to piano lessons, book clubs, karate, tennis, art lessons, and various monthly homeschool programs offered locally over the year.  I feel really good about what we've accomplished.  The Peeps worked really hard, and it is so worth it to be able to finish up a bit early and enjoy the nice weather.  We're doing real world math activities now, as well as math based games; science is mostly nature journaling/plant and insect identification as well as some kits; grammar is journaling, letter writing, and history reports from SOTW.  It's a great way to wind down the year! 

I'm planning on doing something really different next year… I'm a little nervous about it but think it's time:  we are going to try a year of unstructured learning ((gasp!!))  (I hesitate to use the term "unschooling" because it won't exactly be that.  For example, I do plan to do some workbook type activities and will expect some written reports on what they're doing, lots of outside classes/activities.)  But generally, I'm going to let the Peeps choose the subject matter and the pace for the year.  When else in their lives are they going to get the opportunity to take a year and study what they're passionate about?  I'm really so excited about it.  I feel like the time is right;  we've covered all four blocks of history with SOTW, the major branches of science as outlined in WTM,  and have achieved a solid foundation in grammar and mathematics.  Now I want them to apply what they've learned… write about it, use it in everyday life (in the case of math).  For instance, we haven't done a lot of writing.  At all.  Well, this will be the year.  Writing writing writing… whatever they want– stories, poems, letters, essays, letters to the editor, etc etc etc. but WRITING.  The math acumen they've acquired… they will USE it.  Budget for groceries, balance a check book, figure out how much oil we use in a year, travel schedules and so forth.  They are also interested in taking our soon-to-be plethora of excess eggs and having their own little egg business.  They would be responsible for operating it, including factoring costs/labor and that kind of thing.  Along those same lines, we will be covering a lot life skills areas.

I can't wait!  I've always wanted to do this, and have admired unschooling/unschooling-type learning from afar, but didn't have the confidence to try it.  I was so afraid of them getting behind.  Well, a couple of friends went back to school this past year, and I have seen clearly that that simply is not an issue.  The kids catch up–quickly! 

Additionally, we struggled a bit with motivation in terms of school work this year.  Maybe it's the age– but I've been hearing similar stories of dissent
from their friends' parents (homeschoolers).  For instance Peep #2, who previously loved math, began to complain about doing it.  I got moans and groans about the length of the history reports, that writing wasn't "fun" anymore… that kind of thing.  RED FLAG!!  The whole point for me in doing this homeschool gig is to raise people that love to learn.  That never stop questioning and critically thinking about things, that never stop wondering why things work or happen the way they do.  With that in mind, I'm hoping to rekindle a little bit of what I fear we've lost this year.   

Now, Peep #2 is going to THRIVE with this style of learning.  She is my little butterfly, flitting around constantly finding things to discover and learn about.  Curiosity is one of her greatest assets.  However, Peep #1… he is much more like me in personality **cough** Type A ** cough**.    He loves his little check lists, finishing workbooks, making corrections, getting grades, and most of all — knowing exactly what needs to be done.  (And not only with school… this is the kid who has been asking me every single night since he could talk:  "What are we doing tomorrow?"  He wants to know the what, the when, the how– everything to be lined up for him.)  He is going to find it challenging to fill his own time and being in charge of his own scheduling.  This will be a real opportunity for growth for him! 

We'll see… we're going to run with it for a year and see how it flies.  We may go back to the more structured style next year.  Or, if it's working for Peep #2 and not Peep #1, I may let just her continue to do her own thing and go back to our usual MO with Peep #1.  I don't know… I don't know what to expect or what the next year will bring–only time will tell!

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