Sunday, May 14, 2006

Curriculum Withdrawal Pangs and Remedies

Cindy of Dog Day Afternoons is making a list of alternatives to lesson plans and curriculum
She is welcoming suggestions.
Thanks Cindy.

This is the time of year when I really MISS laying everything out for next year. It is so much fun to gather all those new items, break them down into little charts, fantasize about the next year. Right now I'm trying to use my curriculum-gathering energy to look for resources that will make our home better in general. DS 18 wants to learn about the political aspect of history and DD 16 wants to learn ASL. DS 10 *reaallly* wants a pet. Well, what he is requesting is a boa constrictor. We'll see! Do I have space in my life for a boa constrictor?


Decatur Area Homeschool Network said...


I'm still unable to release the "laying things out" method of homeschooling. Not that we don't take pauses for self-directed learning when a new interest or passion arises, because we do that frequently. I have observed your unschooling journey and think it looks beautiful. Was there a moment when you knew you could do without "the plan" ? I thrive on checklists and anything linear and sequential. Maybe I lack the temperment to unschool?


Cindy said...

AYEE! A Boa Constrictor? Willa, we have had hamsters, rabbits, dogs (of course) and even rats.. but nothing cold-blooded yet. If you go for it.... I will be your cheerleader as I had many friends shiver at sight of our rats (who were actually very socialble and cute)-- but.. oh my.. don't know if I could do it.

Keep us informed!

TXmomofmany said...

Yikes - I don't know you, except online, but I DO KNOW that boa constrictors are a whole different thing than, say, hamsters! For many, many years my eldest son wanted to be a herpatologist (I think I got that right) - someone who studies snakes. We had various 'visitors' reflecting his passion for reptiles, and they invariably got loose, no matter how well I believed them to be secured.

When the thought of that darling boa slithering between your feet while you sit at your sewing machine no longer fills you with horror, go on and fulfill your son's fantasy. Remembering, though, that boas are tough to dump on unsuspecting friends...or foes ;-) My husband is a veterinarian and we have 'shared' our home with some pretty incredible species: pygmy goats that HAD to live in the house through the winter, gazillions of snakes, lab rats, a rhesus monkey, 'naked' Amazon parrot, etc. Right now, I'm down to 3 anti-social mutts, a pushy cat, 7 teenagers, and two 9 y/o darlings.

On second thought, trade the teens for a boa - you'll come out WAAAAAAY ahead! :-)))) -mary in TX

WJFR said...

Wow, 7 teenagers, Mary! I have 4 and don't even know anyone else who has as many as I do! With the animals thrown in, I bet you could write a book!

Thanks for the feedback on the boa, everybody. We have had anoles, and parakeets, and hamsters besides our dogs and cats. The anoles were by far the easiest to take of, but not very cuddly.

I'm trying to encourage ds to consider a rat, Cindy : )

WJFR said...

Maureen, there was not a particular moment when I knew I could do without a Plan. I made plans last spring. Then I spent last year trying to let go of the plans just to see what would happen. At first I called it a 6-month sabbatical and we kept up math and Latin.... the discipline subjects. I still have qualms, but I've seen lots of good things happen, too.

I guess I do have a very general Plan but I am trying to look at it over a broader view than day to day. To take a food example -- when we bring strawberries home in spring, they are a treat and the kids eat lots of them. But during winter they eat other things. Over time they get those nutrients, but not in the same way, in the same order, all the time.

About unschooling and temperament:
I don't think that matters quite as much as what you think God wants for your family. At least, that's how I see it. I'm not super-structured by temperament but I do have a craving for things to be tidy and predictable and "safe". Unschooling in that way is for me about "letting go" a bit -- difficult but has helped me grow. To try new things rather than get locked in.

Unschooling is essentially, the way I understand it, about keeping your eyes on the learning process of the child rather than the teaching process. Personally I think any homeschooling mom can benefit from looking at that aspect of it, sometimes, even if they aren't "unschoolers". Just looking at the kids and how they see the academics and how high their retention and motivation is. Some moms do this naturally and the language of "unschooling" is less necessary for them, perhaps.

I find that letting go of my structure has helped me see theirs, the kids', more clearly, but it took a little time to get past the panic of "nothing is happening". When I started doing this, I was glad it was summer so I could relax a bit about it! But it did take some time for me.

I could go on and on but this is already too long for a comment : )