Just kidding. Not really. Just worn out tonight from a rambunctious group of kiddos at tutoring and a loooooong phone conversation with an international airline that ended without us having quite bought tickets (almost, but not quite).
I need to start answering some more of your fabulous questions before I get overwhelmed by the number of them.
Today’s questions are all from Ann on yesterday’s post about unschooling & the laws of the land.
Ann: From what I’ve heard about unschooling (and I’ll admit it’s not much) I envisioned no textbooks. I pictured it being something like the child being curious about something and then goes online or to the library to learn more about it.
Me: Yep. You’ve got it. No textbooks here. Curiosity –> Google/library.
Ann: The child is still learning, but it’s hard to plan in advance what he or she is going to be curious about which is why I had questions about submitting your curriculum plan for the year. First, can you correct any flaws in this idea of unschooling that I have?
Me: No flaws. You nailed it.
Ann: If you are relying on the student’s curiosity to determine what will be studied, how do you plan your curriculum? Can you give an example of what you would write on your brief outline you submit to the school district? (…asking in case I end doing the unschool route with my kids. I love the idea, but I’m so confused about how this unstructuredness works when you still have to submit a plan. How do you plan something unstructured?)
Me: Good question. This is what the “law” says (from yesterday’s post): Submit brief outline of the curriculum you plan to use (a list of textbooks, correspondence courses, commercial curricula, OR other basic teaching materials you plan to use).
I took the word “or” to mean what it means. OR. And it said nothing about writing out a plan. Just what basic teaching materials I planned to use.
I listed things like: iPods, laptops, the internet, pens & journals, novels from the library, language-learning CDs/DVDs, science and history documentaries, non-fiction books from the library, blogs, web design/photography training from Dad, writing “workshops” with Mom, field trips to zoos, museums, foreign countries… (I searched for my actual “Letter of Intent to Homeschool” so I could copy/paste it here, but I couldn’t find it.)
Ann: If you are using a predetermined curriculum, how does that mesh with the student-led learning?
Me: No predetermined curriculum.
Ann: What if they’re not interested in it (either as a part or a whole)?
Me: I rarely make my kids learn things they’re not interested in (this is one of the biggest beefs people have with me–how will your children ever be disciplined if they don’t learn things they don’t want to learn?). However, I do make them do things they don’t want to do. Dishes, laundry, putting their stuff away, making dinner, taking out the trash, getting the mail…
Ann: What if they are curious about other things halfway through the year? Do you have to continue with what was on the original plan you gave to the district? …or can you change things throughout the year?
Me: I didn’t give much of an original plan. I just listed the things we’d use to help us learn. And, yes, I believe you can change things. They check in with me exactly twice a year. At the beginning and at the end. What are they going to do if, at the end of the year, I didn’t do things exactly like I said I would? Tell me to repeat the year? Again, they didn’t ask for a plan; they asked for a list of curriculum OR basic teaching materials.
Ann: Lastly, regarding “Promise to provide at least 900 hours of instruction in these subjects: language, reading, writing, spelling, geography, history, government, math science, health, physical education, fine arts (including music), and first aid, safety, and fire prevention.” is the requirement a cumulative 900 hours or do you have to have a balance between subjects? If my child was really into history could we spend 800 hours on history and 100 hours on everything else (assuming my child could learn everything to pass whatever assessment was being done on those subjects)?
Me: It’s cumulative. As far as I know anyway. It doesn’t say anywhere that it has to be 100 hours of this and 75 of that and 120 of this and 110 of that, etc. 800 hours of history? Why not?
In my opinion, 900 hours is puny. That’s 180 school days x 5 hours. My girls use their brains and learn things and work on projects and what have you for about 10-12 hours a day 365 days a week. 😉
Thanks again, Ann. Great questions!
Question for you:
I have some feelings about how long kids have to sit still in school and listen to someone talk. And also about homework. Will blog about them soon.
Before I do, do you have any thoughts/questions about either topic?