Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unschooling? . . . Nah, It's Just Called No School

We are trying to prepare our house for sale.  All of the little fixes and repairs that would have been nice but were deemed unnecessary over the past several years while my husband was in school are absolutely necessary now.  Things like replacing the broken basement window with something other than cardboard, fixing the leaky shower drain, replacing the screens with holes in them, painting the interior walls after 10 years of kids using them as art surfaces, installing the baseboards in the little girls' room, and so forth and so on ad nauseum.

At least the list makes me slightly nauseous.

In January I reduced our school plan to about 2 solid hours per day.  I still did preschool with H3 and A5 and still did language arts activities with A5.  I also worked on completing our Old Testament reading/study/journals with the older kids.  On their own they had to do math, their choice of workbook subject matter (more math, reading comprehension, grammar, whatever), and work on their individual elective:  Latin for E12, First Aid then Africa for M10 (now M11!), Goats then spelling bee preparation for S10, and Horses for J9.

The rest of the day was devoted to cleaning, painting, shopping, and otherwise prepping our home.

It still wasn't enough time.

We do have to eat.

And there are kids to take care of, after all.

We just had my dad out for a week.  He's a former general contractor, and he spent 5 days helping us solve problems that were just too big for us to solve on our own.  We did no school, but focused our energies on the urgent tasks at hand.

We were working hard, but then I got sick again.  I never get sick like this!!!  I've been out of comission for too long and the tasks are piling up.  Progress I've made is getting undone by just living life.  The kids can't walk around with their hands at their sides not touching anything!

So I gave a little speech yesterday:

"You're on your own for school until we get our house ready.  It is your choice to do school or not do it.  I'll be available for questions and help if you need it, but I will not remind you to do schoolwork and I will not require it of you.  If you don't want to fall behind where you want to be or forget what you've been doing, it is up to you to pull out your books when you get bored enough and do the work on your own. You may reserve library books.  You may do research online when I can take a moment to supervise your web-surfing, but I am not requiring it of you.  I will require you to help by watching the little kids, doing  chores beyond your own, helping with meals, and by doing house prep jobs that must be taken care of.  I expect you to help.  That is our priority right now."

I actually spoke a little longer than that and fielded questions the big girls had, but that's the crux of it.

A giant snowstorm was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon, so we ran to the library and the grocery store in the morning.  I borrowed about 12 science videos in the hopes that if I put the kids in front of them when I'm frantic with projects, I'd feel less guilty than if I put them in front of Disney videos--though I think Bill Nye the Science Guy is produced by Disney, so . . .

There's no "school" at my house these days.  I'll be watching the kids to see what they choose to do as the days and weeks unfold ahead.  In all sincerity, I hope they learn a lot about life and work and good choices.

This in an interesting season.

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