Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another Unschooling Moment

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to have gone to pot? I can’t be the only one who has days where nothing goes as planned and you reach bedtime and think, “What on earth did we do today?”
Our week has been turned upside down for the most part. It wasn’t suppose to happen like that. We were suppose to wake up on a beautiful winter morning (read, warm and cozy and more spring like) and after dropping Mr S off at the ferry we were suppose to return home and attend to our studies. I had games planned, a new lapbook to try out, and even a few science experiments lined up. What more could we ask for?

Nothing ever goes as planned though, does it? Three of the four people in this home woke up at normal times and attended to their normal morning duties. Showers were had, pets were fed, lunch(es) were made and life seemed normal. Until we realized the late sleeper wasn’t just sleeping late, but not feeling well.
That, my friends, is where things started going downhill. Chores seemed to be taking much longer then normal, especially considering we went to bed with a tidy home. So after making the labored ascent to the upstairs (my knee was absolutely dreadful on Monday) I discover the reason for the delay wasn’t because of the cold, but because my other well meaning child had cleaned out his bed.
I have a pack rat. He was born with two unusual problems. The inscent need to collect & the fear of heights. Ever seen a baby terrified of heights? It is not pretty. By the time he was two he had slowly collected the shepherds, baby Jesus, and half the wisemen from my brand new nativity set. I spent a week or more looking for those missing items and was convinced that a mouse had snuck in to seek revenge and stollen them. But no, I found them tucked up against the wall of his bed when I changed it that week.
By the time he was 4 he set off mass pandaemonium in our apartment because the two year old came in demanding to know where his brother was. “In his bed sweetie,” was my sleepy reply. My two year old was insistent that wasn’t true and was convinced his elder brother had run off to the zoo without us. I dragged myself into their room and was hit with pure fear as I ran through our tiny apartment screeching for this child. I woke my husband up and was two seconds away from dialing the emergency number when my husband started laughing. There was our Morgan all covered up by his stuffed animals, trucks, and heaven knows what else he’d pulled into bed.
By the time he was 6 he dutifully made his grandmother cry when he arrived at her home with a shoebox loaded with special items. A feather, a few rocks, a chunk of tree bark, etc. He handed her his special box and said, in a rather mournful tone, “Would you keep my box safe while I’m in Australia because Mommy says they won’t let me take!” Wouldn’t customs have had a field day with that one?
At 8 we gave him a special shelf in an effort to help contain the mess. The rule was you had to keep your shelf neat and tidy and once it was full you cleaned it up and eliminated stuff. This worked, or so we thought. It turns out that wise child had filled his shelf and then started collecting other odd items in his bed.
I walked into their bedroom to discover the floor littered with books, clothing, stuffed animals, bits of string, cards, notes, my list could go on.  I took one look and walked back out of the room, but that didn’t help. I walked in and out of their room a half dozen times, much to the amusement of Jayden who started to giggle. I can’t blame him, I probably looked like a fish with my mouth opening and closing and my eyes bulging out. 
I finally managed to say, “What happened?” and the reply was, “I’m just cleaning out my bed Mom.” It took him all morning, but when he was done his bed ever neat and tidy! The covers were actually flat and not lumpy for a change, and the following night he slept amazingly well.
Between the bed and the cold, not much else happened, but they learned a few valuable lessons like:
  • Do not store collections in your bed.
  • Do not swing from the closet door, it pops the hinges.
  • Mom can not fix broken screws; neither can Dad.
  • If we don’t finish cleaning our room in time Mom will make us vacuum it.
  • When a school day goes array, we get to watch science videos like Peep & The Big Wide World.
Our day wasn’t a total loss. The boys did get to watch Peep & The Big Wide World, another former PBS show, and they enjoyed it. All though we then had a huge discussion on deciding if Peep was a chicken or a bird. Which led us to Quack, who is a duck and a tad naughty. I’m glad to know my children understand manners even if they fail to use them at times.
While making lunch we had a “pop-quiz” on fractions. Something that’s been a big topic in our home. I asked Morgan what two-thirds would look like on a measuring cup. He was insulted by such a wimpy question. So I challenged him a bit more, or so I thought. I said, “Okay, so if I add 2/4 and 1/4 what do I get?” “Mom, that’s 3/4, but you shouldn’t really say 2/4 because that’s the same as 1/2.”  I’m in awe that he got this because I don’t remember teaching him that. “Fine smarty pants, so what happens if I add 1/3 and 2/3 together?” “Um, you’d get a whole. Are you planning to make something?”

I overheard Morgan explaining the difference between a hare and a rabbit to Jayden. Quite in depth too about the size of ears and hind feet. All though I'm pretty sure he elaborated a tad much when he declared that hares were faster, "So fast they can outrun a motorcycle!" This was great news for Jayden who adores bunnies and was delighted to know that a hare could never be killed by a motorcycle because it could, of course, just out run it. I didn't have the heart to set the problem straight.

We indulged in a few extra chapters of our read aloud, Heidi, and then discussed who Grandmamma was. There were debates amongst the boys that she might also be Peter's Grandma and Heidi would be so pleased to see her again. There were twitters over the unjust Mrs Rottenmier getting her deserves when the kittens and tortoises frighted the life out of her. There was also the discussion of marks, and how fun it would be to ask for marks instead of dollars.

Then there was a discussion about the Wedge Tailed Eagle, a bird in dire straights here in Australia. There was much discussion about the ones we had seen in an animal sanctuary (the pair had been shot in each wing..) The boys went on to discuss "The Wedge" as they were calling it and wondering what kind of Eagle it was that Heidi saw each day. They wanted to know if Heidi's eagle was endangered too..
At dinner that night, which turned out to be chicken tacos and the boys had to cook the taco shells themselves, I decide to bring up the game Digit Place with them. We’ve always played this game with 2 digits and they can’t be like double digits. (ie. 11, 22, 33, 44, etc.) I decide to change the rules and make it be a triple digit number tonight. We all had fun until someone picks the number 999, and we have to review the rule about like double or triple digits. 
Just before bedtime Morgan arrives with a pile of books he’s read. He decides that each one had something so funny, or weird, in it he had to share. I’m lost in an emotional battle at this point. My, formerly, struggling reader has arrived with a pile of books he’s actually read and I’m floored. Better yet he can actually tell me exactly what’s happened in each book.
So, just to throw caution to the wind I say, “Can you read without talking? You know read the words inside your head so no one else can hear you?” He gives me a funny look and says, “Yeah. I do that at night sometimes so I can hear Jayden reading. He’s having a hard time with his Little Bear book so I try to listen and help him.” 
As my children scramble off to bed for the night discussing which books are on the menu for them I’m standing there considering all of this. I’ve never really considered myself an unschooler. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to unschooling, I’ve just never considered myself one. Yet, I’m suddenly very consciencely aware that we had an entire day of learning without one formal lesson happening, and I can sleep peacefully.

1 comment:

Renelle said...

Hi Kendra,
We've not only had days like this but weeks like it! Your boys are learning so much, you are doing a fantastic job. I know you like order & lists, so it might seem worse than it actucally is! Take care, Renelle