I unschool my kids… no, that’s not right… My kids unschool themselves.
What is unschooling? If you don’t know you may want to click the link to find out: Unschooling, what the heck is that?!
If you already know what it is you also know that it’s MY job to nurture them, support their efforts, and facilitate their learning. I know I’m doing a good job if my kids are always happy and engaged in an activity of some kind (but it doesn’t really matter what kind, as long as they aren’t hurting themselves or property). Even playing Minecraft or watching TV can be learning, as long as they are engaged. Yeah, I hear your brain-gears turning… you’re wondering “well, how do you know if they aren’t engaged?” Ah… the golden question. Well, they’ll tell you. Listen for the clues (usually in the form of irritating whining): “Mama, I’m bored.” “Mama, I need something to do.” “Mommy,… *sigh*… I’m tired of playing…” (?!) Also, you may experience their behavior reflecting anxiety or irritation, especially with each other. If your kids are getting aggravated and not playing nicely this could be because they aren’t engaged in learning any more. Children who are in the middle of discovery are excited, happy creatures! They want to share the knowledge with each other and, believe me, they want to play. Learning is like fuel to kids; you will recognize if they’re running on “empty”.
Anyway, I realised that my kids were getting bored when they became fussy with each other. Usually it’s time for a field trip when this happens. I like to take them out into a new environment and expose them to new things that spark new interests for them to delve into for days, weeks, months… Alas, I’m broke. 😦 Woe is me!! What’s a learning facilitator to do?!
Hmm… what’s free and full of new information? The library! We have an awesome library, not because it’s huge, but because it isn’t. It’s actually the size of a small apartment. Why’s that good? Because no matter where I am in the library I can keep an eye on my littlest kids, they aren’t out of earshot, and I can always see the door. But I digress…
We went to the library and I discovered that they had the entire collection of Magic Tree House books! Did you know there are over 50 of them now?! My oldest one just turned 12 and has finished the Lord of The Ring series, so the stories aren’t really as gripping as they once were, but she still enjoys being read to. Who doesn’t, really? I saw that the first book was about dinosaurs and the Cretaceous period. Excellent. There were plenty of dinosaur books of all reading levels, so I grabbed Magic Tree House #1 and two arms full of dinotastic learning and we headed home to begin our own journey into the wonderful (albeit frightening) world of the Cretaceous period! I read to all five of them. They soaked it up. When I emptied out the library book bag it was as if I rang the dinner bell. Those little carnivores grabbed at the books like oviraptors at their prey. I was so proud.
You can really do so much with so little. All it takes is a bit of inspiration. While two of my kids could go on learning more and more about dinosaurs, the other three have already had their fill. I’m going to start the next book tonight; it’s about knights and castles. I’ll make another library trip tomorrow to see what I can dig up on the middle ages and medieval times. If you have any suggestions for crafts, games, activities, food, or books to go with that I’m all ears! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted.