Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer "unschooling".....of sorts

I have met more and more parents over the past year or so who "unschool." For those who are sitting there saying, "Huh? What is that?", unschooling is a more organic form of homeschooling in which the teaching is led by the child's interests, curiosity, and questions about the world around him/her.

I haven't really aimed to teach my kids much this summer, truthfully. That sounds bad, but what I mean is, its their break; their time to kick back and play and rejuvenate before heading back to school in September. So I have tried to take it easy on them. However, I have noticed my kids learning more and more over the summer, just following their own curiosities.

We have had a horrible infestation of butterflies or moths....we weren't sure which...over the past 2 weeks. Joy is afraid of them, which makes things interesting. She won't go into a room if she sees one on the wall or ceiling, and it has led to many sudden crying outbreaks over the past few weeks. Anyway, Seth was the first to see one. He woke up one morning and there was one on his bedroom window. We spent a few hours that afternoon searching butterfly and moth identification sites trying to figure out what it is. Finally we gave up, but Seth's persistence prompted my mom to help him figure it out this afternoon, and they were able to find our little guys online. Turns out we have an infestation of Small Magpie Moths. Seth further went on to find out that the Small Magpie Moth primarily feeds on nettles and mint. As far as we know there isn't any nettle around here, but we have lots and lots of spearmint in our planter boxes! So, we have a bit of a Magpie Moth's paradise in our yard.

Here is a picture of one of our moths on our kitchen window. This makes it look like Mothzilla, but I assure you, its really a pretty small insect. (Oh, and please excuse the view out our window. Our neighbor is a bit of a packrat/old car junkie. What can ya do??)

Another thing we are learning is plant identification. As we clean out the planter boxes and spruce up our yard, we are finding all sorts of plants. We found some California Poppies about a week ago, and Seth thinks they are awesome because orange is his favorite color. He asked me why it grows in Oregon if it is a California poppy. Truthfully, I don't know, but I told him I thought some of it may have to do with our climate being very similar to the parts of California where the poppies grow.

I mentioned this in a previous post, but we also have a TON of Morning Glory all over our property. I did some research on how to kill it, and one natural approach is to densely plant sunflowers to take up root space and shield out the light from the Morning Glories so that they die off. As I was explaining this to my dad, Seth asked how that was going to work, so my dad (who is a teacher and also a big science nut) and I got to explain to him about photosynthesis and how and why the sun is so important to plants.

I could go on and on, but what I am getting at here is, so many people think that a child has to be in a classroom in order to effectively advance and learn, and that learning is on pause during the summer months. But I believe if you have a child who is curious, and a parent who is willing to guide them to learn new things, then just as much learning can be done during the summer as a child plays, as it can in a classroom. I have to admit, it has made me better understand, and appreciate, unschooling. (Even though I still highly doubt I will ever homeschool/unschool my own kids. But then never know.)

1 comment:

Mama Bear said...

Really good idea, Megan. I've been thinking about how to incorporate some learning into the summer. "Unschooling" is the perfect way to do that.