April 18, 2012

10 Days of Accidental Unschooling - Day 3: Out of the Box

New series coming soon... Looking forward to blogging it! #hsbloggers #homeschool

NOTE: This is Part 3 of a 10 day series on Accidental Unschooling. If you are OCD and want to start from the introduction or Part 1, hop to the bottom of this post and use the conveniently provided links!

If you have just tuned in, I'm sharing my transition of homeschool methods over the years from Traditional, to Unit Study, and then to Eclectic-Charlotte Mason with a heavy dose of Unschooling. If you were to ASK me what my methods were, I would most certainly tell you I was an Eclectic Homeschooler. And in all honesty, I would most likely tell you that I was the one being homeschooled - because my kids have been great at pushing me OUT of my box.

The great thing about being a homeschooler, though, (well, one of the great things) is that you can feel free to do things the way YOU see fit.

For example:

You could mix a little Traditional (use a textbook for Science and Math)

...a little Unit Study (do some art projects and a writing assignment on Bees, bake some honey-cookies and take them to the librarian, check out picture books on bee hives for your preschoolers, take a field trip to a local honey farm)

... and a little Charlotte Mason (take a nature walk, sketch some flowers and insects, read 'The Story Book of Science' by Jean-Henri Fabre, and listen to “Flight of the Bumblebee”).

After a while, you will start to feel like you are hitting your own stride. The methods begin to blend as you go with your children's tempo in the symphony of your own homeschool journey. Pretty soon, you'll find that the method isn't as important as the result: that your children are enjoying learning.

Did you know that it is really hard for learning to take place when a child is stressed, angry, or sad? Enjoying learning is truly hinged upon the learning environment. I thought I would throw this little tidbit in because it is important no matter what homeschool method you utilize. Check out this article by Jessica Hulcy (one of the authors of KONOS) about Laughter and Movement: Fertilizer for the Brain.

Quote from the article:

The latest brain research has identified cortisol, the hormone released in the brain during stressed or agitated states, as the one brain chemical that prohibits information from sticking in the memory areas of the brain. Cortisol is released during times of stress and anxiety into the brain by the adrenal gland. Cortisol functions as God's protection to keep one from having bad memories following a stressful encounter by blocking memory, but it acts as weed killer to learning. A mother who dashes into a burning house to pull her baby from the flames may have no recollection of going into the house at all. When asked to describe her heroic feat, she may respond, "I don't remember." ~ Jessica Hulcy

All roads aren't equal.

During my journey through the Unit Study world, using KONOS as my springboard for all of our studies, I found that I was comfortable branching off on rabbit trails and adding in my own personal flare. Sometimes it was just an activity or field trip that wasn't in the curriculum that I had dreamed up or just an art project to enrich their studies. We were doing more of an eclectic thing without even analyzing it as we went along. I used to keep a list of all the subjects handy and try to make sure that we covered something in all of them - which would lead to a lot of fun enrichment to our learning that looked much like the above example. We were blazing our own trail.

As with all of life, change is inevitable, though. Children grow up and their tastes and needs change. The drama and dress up days, the hands on projects, and the messy timeline wall charts begin to seem like child's play eventually. I found myself not only in the middle of very difficult life situations (a move, a miscarriage, a loss of homeschool co-op partners, a new pregnancy, bedrest, a new baby, another pregnancy, a hormonal tween, a kid with chronic pain and health problems, ... always something), but my kids were getting older. It sent me in to homeschool-method limbo. On more occasions than I care to admit, it left us just skimming by with the basics (and compared to our previous fun style, it left much wanting). <-- note: that's a key sentence opener for tomorrow's post!

The more I read about Charlotte Mason, the more I thought I would be able to implement it. One of my favorite books is by Cindy Rushton - A Charlotte Mason Primer. In the book she describes how her family practically applied a 'CM' method of learning - the how-to that I needed (if you haven't noticed, I'm a list type of girl). I needed the short lessons, the easy pace, the nature and art; a refuge for a mom overwhelmed. It turned out to be more than I was able to handle - the transition - the year we tried strictly Charlotte Mason. Well, I say a year, but it didn't last long! I learned that there was a good deal of planning - as much as a unit study would have warranted - to stay on top of the CM Method. [It's funny, now that I look at that statement, because where I ended up going - to Chronological History study - is probably the largest planning expedition I have ever taken on.]

While we still implement some CM (I'm a sucker for art study and pretty a nature journal - and wish we made more time for them... and I adore twaddle-free literature), we are certainly not what any purist would call Charlotte Mason. Not by a stretch!

Tomorrow, I will talk about what we ended up doing after mom came to the end of herself and almost gave up. Before then, you might want to read about what caused us to feel so burned out for so long. And just so you know, there are some burned out spots still... but we're praying through them!

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.   ~Lawrence J. Peter
- - - - - -
Below are links to the rest of the series so it's easier to navigate for those that surf in after the fact. There is also a handy button on my sidebar to bring you back to this series later, should you want to read at leisure.

Introduction to this series
Day 1: Not So Super
Day 2: Morphing Methods
Day 3: Out of the Box
Day 4: Learning From Life
Day 5: Grace is for Homeschoolers
Day 6: Taste and See
Day 7: Grease and Sugar
Day 8: Carschooling and Fieldtripping
Day 9: Reading to Succeed
Day 10

Be sure to join me each day. I'll be giving away a prize to a random winner in my comments section on these posts. Each comment counts as one entry. I love comments! Even if I don't have time to answer every comment or email, I cherish them and enjoy getting to know my fellow homeschooling moms.

This post is a part of the 10 Days of... Series at iHomeschoolNetwork. Check out the other amazing homeschool bloggers who are participating in the writing challenge by visiting the landing page there.

Thanks for joining me!

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Phyllis said...

I love the description, "Eclectic-Charlotte Mason with a heavy dose of Unschooling"...that is what I am!

Priscilla - The Wheelchair Mommy said...

I *THINK* I'll be a lot like you once we dive in and get started. A little of this and that to make it all work ... I hope with the local and online support network that is out there, that I've been so blessed to be a part of even BEFORE I'm a part of it... I think I will pull this off with grace.

homeschoolchris said...

We Home schooled three of our children with the totally unschooling method. They read and studied whatever they wanted and were encouraged to explore the world. All three of them have grown into successful happy adults who continue study and read often. This may not be the best way for everyone but it worked great for us!

~~Audrey O.~~ said...

I could keep reading so much longer. :) Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. I have been interested in knowing more about the Charlotte Mason method, but havent been able to look into it enough to understand it. I slightly like the thought of unit study and learning through play, but I dont really like the thought of SEVERE planning. I am already up until 2 a.m. regularly trying to "plan" for the next days or so. :/

Ms. Sweets said...

I am loving this series! I really needed the encouragement! Thank you !!!!

Belinda Letchford said...

I'm loving your series too. I'm right where you were in this post. I'm actually going to start sharing my journey next week. My older two have graduated and what we were doing isn't working for my younger two - they've grown up some and things need to change. Look forward to sticking with you over this series.

Jenn said...

Thanks for these posts! I am a mom of a 2 year old exploring the vast universe of home school. I'm overwhelmed and excited!



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