One family's quest to learn together
Goodness me, we have been very tardy with our blogging this week! (Did you know we also have another site? Luckily that one’s had a bit more attention!) However, we have been very busy, and have lot’s to report. Both children, have lost a little interest with Study Ladder lately, and generally pop online in short bursts, but in true unschooled nature, have turned their interests toward other things.
Oscar had his birthday last week. Our little man turned 7 and announced to the world that he wanted to be Indiana Jones. Since we were all struggling with what to give a birthday boy who’s family is selling all that we own to travel and live out of a backpack, this added a whole new element of difficulty to the gift selection. In my greatest mummy ‘light-bulb moment’ however, I conspired with my mother and sister to all theme our presents on Indiana Jones style clothing and gadgets, that would be useful and small for packing. As a result, for his birthday, Oscar received a very cool Indiana Jones style hat, that is made from soft leather so it can be squashed in a backpack, with a pair of Khaki trousers and shirt. My mum, who is the sewer in the family made him a small shoulder bag which we filled with a compass, notebook, magnifying glass, and small tools for archaeology, tweezers, brush, scraper etc. He loved it, and spent many hours exploring our back yard, until I promised to take him out to do some real exploring on a bushwalk. Cue, unschooled natural science!
See our post on our other site, ‘Our Global Adventure‘ about a recent bushwalk in the Para Wirra Recreation Park, north of Adelaide, where Oscar got to explore and use his tools and compass just like Indiana Jones. It was a lovely, sunny day, so we also had a picnic and a play on the playground. We were lucky enough not to encounter any snakes, and disappointed not to see any Kangaroos, but we did get nice and close to an Emu 🙂
This week, the children also informed me it was high time we refilled the cookie tin with some freshly baked choc chip cookies and made brownie. Both know these recipes well now, Lucy barely needs my supervision and Oscar can read the recipe and measure correctly. Thanks to the TEDed lesson on the Chemistry of Baking Cookies they can also confidently discuss the reactions that occur when we bake. So, a morning of hard work online was rewarded with some yummy baking in the afternoon!
When not spending her ‘free time’ (what is that now that we are unschooling I wonder?) playing Minecraft Lucy is usually off with her nose stuck in a Library book. This weeks huge collection of borrowed books included titles about History (her favourite) and also a few on Science experiments and discoveries. Her new found interest in Science experiments began last week when she found a YouTube collection of experiments that can be done at home and she asked if we could have a go at some.
So far we’ve made a Non-Newtonian liquid from corn flour and water, the vinegar and bicarb volcano, and watched milk come alive with dishwashing liquid and food colouring. As a result they’ve learnt what a Non-Newtonian Liquid is (both solid and liquid), how bicarb and vinegar react, making carbon dioxide and how dishwashing liquid breaks down the fats in milk to make it move about in front of our eyes. Not bad for an afternoon in the kitchen with YouTube videos and lessons! They’ve also compiled a shopping list for me of other ingredients that they like to do other simple experiments.
Oscar and I are busy reading our way through Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone together, as he’s desperate to see the films like his sister has. The rule in our house is that the children need to read the Harry Potter books before watching the films. That way, we know that they’ve already imaginatively experienced the creepy bits before seeing them on the screen. This also ensures that they are mature enough for the films, since they couldn’t read the books with comprehension when they were little. Oscar also chose lot’s of Star Wars ‘Learn to Read’ titles from the Library which he is reading to me, and his reading and comprehension is coming on in leaps and bounds. It is wonderful to see him choosing reading material independently and taking a real interest in reading. This is so different from when he was at school, and was bringing home the ‘boring’ leveled readers from the classroom. Back then it was a struggle to get him to read each night just because he had to, not because he wanted to. He is an excellent reader for his age, but unfortunately, he still thinks he’s “not very good” because he’s still stuck in the mindset that he developed when he was comparing himself to what level ‘reader box’ he and the other children were on last year at school.
Given that we’ve also spent lots of time this week working on Maths puzzles and projects, playing games and watching videos on ABC Splash, swimming at the local pool and playing with Lego (Oscar) or making friendship bracelets (Lucy) it’s no wonder that our days feel full. I’m really pleased about this, because I was worried that there might not be enough to stimulate the children whilst we are waiting to begin our traveling (still waiting for our house to sell 😦 ). But I guess we are proving the theory that children are naturally inquisitive and hungry to learn when given the freedom to follow their own interests.
P.S. Lucy told me today that she is not as scared of Maths anymore now that she’s not embarrassed about doing it in front of the other kids and making mistakes. This statement really hit me emotionally on two levels, first a big WooHoo!! Finally her confidence is growing in this subject, but secondly I felt really sad that she’d been feeling that way for 6 years at school 😦