“The Unschooling Guinea Pig” Part Two

24 06 2009

Part One

NOVEMBER 1996-FEBRUARY 1997

– She experiences her first “sleepovers” with DiDi and Nana. Away from home overnight, she is excited and adventurous with no traces of homesickness. Several months before, Rebecca from next-door was invited to spend the night with FavD but had a classic “stomachache” very suddenly about 9:30pm necessitating her return home, to FavD’s disappointment and concern. Rebecca is three years older than FavD, so it hadn’t occurred to any of us there would be a problem.

Thus we grownups were standing by if FavD should have such needs to run back to home base.

She packed for a week! — and exhausted DiDi long before she tired herself out enough to sleep. During the second or third evening, Daddy did respond to a bedtime phone call for “CindyBaby” who somehow had been overlooked in the comprehensive packing. But in another more impromptu stay, neither CindyBaby, sleepers nor even toothbrush was with her, and she stayed happily until lunch the next day.

– We record the Christmas pageant performance on videotape. She watches the tape with pleasure, and talks about the memorization process of the poem she recited in her big scene. Everyone else with any lines to speak of, was considerably older than she. POINTS BROUGHT OUT: work pays off; she’s exceptionally good at many things; accomplishment feels great; fear and excitement are related. Mainly, she’s the one who draws out these observations.

[LMAO! says mom in the present day. “Mainly” the six-year-old should’ve been keeping this journal herself then!]

– As we design the new house on the lake, she learns to use a “Kid CAD” computer design program and a Barbie CD-ROM program with complementary features. We notice that a Madeleine thinking skills program has a room design segment, and she independently designs, prints and redesigns fantasy bedrooms and backyard play projects. She begins to write stories and scripts which she then illustrates.

Though she becomes quite self-sufficient on the KidWorks and other story/script programs, she often chooses to do her creating with paper and pen (why has she never liked pencils?) See portfolio.

– Spelling begins to interest her as she does more writing. We talk about it and why it has certain conventions to help people know what the writer means — this includes phonetic rules, homonyms, proper names and punctuation, at her instigation. When she is satisfied, we stop until the next time she brings it up. She asks me to give her written spelling tests, so I dictate a list of three-letter words. In one week we have six spelling tests.

Then she stops asking for them. In reading her stories and letters, I notice few three-letter words. She begins to call out to me while she’s writing, to spell words for her: restaurant, magic, report, classics, gallery. I realize she wants to spell everything correctly right now, not spend time practicing on small throw-away words. Will our “immersion method” eventually make her a great speller, or a frustrated one?

As a child I read and wrote widely and early, but I also had all the public school spelling tests — we’re proceeding on the premise that she’ll learn whatever she wants to know and use.

She has enough confidence for both of us.

-to be continued in another post-

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7 responses

24 06 2009
Crimson Wife

The funny thing is that doesn’t look all that different from the majority of our day. Except that kind of informal learning doesn’t make it onto my log, only the formal work. does So my log might read (this is today’s):

Religion
Saints for Young Readers for Every Day “Birth of St. John the Baptist”
Jesus Our Life Chapter 20, Lesson 3
Jesus Our Life Activity Book pg. 72

Language Arts (Spelling)
Words Their Way List #84

Mathematics
Right Start Mathematics Level C Lesson 89
Right Start Mathematics Level C Workbook pg. 60

History
Seasons of Splendour: Tales, Myths, and Legends of India by Madhur Jaffrey
DK Eyewitness: India by Manini Chatterjee

That satisfies my very “schoolish” minded DH (and keeps him from insisting we enroll our oldest in a traditional school) but it misses so much of our homeschooling.

24 06 2009
JJ

Good point CW. We used to say in education lobbying, that politics was the “art of the possible.”

Well, so is homeschooling and unschooling.

24 06 2009
JJ

Have you ever thought of um, keeping a double set of books? 😉

24 06 2009
COD

Keep books? When we first started Michelle got a computer program to dutifully track every worksheet completed and every book read. In year two, as we realized that government agents were not going to break our door and demand to see the kids permanent record so we got a little slack on the record keeping. In year 3 and ever since we simply don’t keep records.

24 06 2009
JJ

Same here, Chris. It’s almost like real life! 😉

25 06 2009
Crimson Wife

I was supposed to have written up a list of detailed educational goals a la the CA state standards. And I was supposed to have given standardized tests (which are not required under the homeschooling option we have chosen). Periodically I hear grumblings about why haven’t I done these things yet. But they’ve gotten less frequent over time. I’m hoping eventually he’ll get over his skepticism about homeschooling and then I can tip the balance even more towards relaxed homeschooling.

28 05 2010
Snook Animals We’ve Known and Loved « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Guinea Pig part two […]

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