Science at the Park....a day in the life of an unschooler

My favorite years of homeschooling are the elementary years.  Now that Amber and Noah are in high school, we have to be a little more focused on academics and completing required high school credits for their transcripts. I am a lot more flexible and carefree with Samantha who is in elementary.  I enjoy going on field trips, homeschool events, park dates, going to the library.  My high school kids still go on field trips and homeschool events sometimes. When they were all little, it was quite often we'd all be out together. My husband would sometimes ask if we were homeschooling or roadschooling.

What I didn't realize back then is that what we were doing was unschooling.  We were not at home following a schedule and working from textbooks or workbooks. That's fine for some families, but it's not a good fit for us. Even though Amber and Noah are high schoolers and have more structured curriculum, I would say we tend to lean more toward unschooling.  When they were younger we used workbooks at times, but not on a daily basis or on a schedule.  Even now they don't have a schedule for each subject they need to finish daily.  They know what they need to complete by the end of the week and they get it done.  If my son is repairing his airsoft gun, building something in his room because he likes woodwork, or working on a drawing because he likes art, I'm not going to tell him he needs to stop to do his History lesson.  He'll make time for it before the end of the week.  He's learning to manage his time.  The same with Amber.  She loves horses and there are days when she volunteers at a ranch working with horses and kids with special needs all day.  I think that's one of the beauties of homeschooling.  They have more time to pursue and develop their individual interests.  

The only set schedule that we had for a few years was going to the park every Wednesday at 2pm to meet with a group of homeschoolers and the park ranger.  For a couple of hours the park ranger would 'teach' on different subjects while taking the group on a short hike followed by a short sit-down talk/teaching.  She would talk to the kids, show them pictures or have them color or draw.  One time she brought dead bugs for the kids to study.   We learned about flowers, plants, bugs, birds, trees, animals.  Wednesdays were our day of science.  For Amber it wasn't just science, it was also photography.  I think she enjoyed taking pictures of the bugs more than studying them.  On the way home from the park, we'd stop at the library and get books.  Whenever possible, we'd find a book or an educational movie that covered the topic we'd learned about that day. When we got home from the park, we'd read our book or watch the movie on that topic we'd just learned about. The kids would talk to me about what they'd learned and what their favorite part of the day was.  This made it easier for them to then journal about their day while Samantha played preschool games.  

So unschooling doesn't mean we're not learning.  Even mom is learning new things.  As I reminisce on those science days at the park I'm thinking I'll call the park this week and ask if a park ranger would be available to do that with us again. Maybe the same park ranger is still there.  I know Samantha would enjoy it, and it would be so good for her. I think families in our homeschool support group would love to participate in Science at the Park.  We've got a very active support group with families who like to get together and learn together.  If you're an unschooler, I'd love to hear what your kids are interested in and what unschooling looks like for your family. 

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