I meant to make a blog entry last night, but fell asleep around 9:30pm. I shut all the lights and the TV so all the kids would fall asleep quickly and I could finish cleaning the kitchen and go on the computer. It worked a little too well - all of us were out cold for the night (all in my bed, too). It's great not having to jump out of bed in the morning and rush W to school this week. K's paperwork, money, and copies are all being turned in today for her 3-day trip next month. I'm still nervous, but feeling better about it. B is way more nervous than I am and is already insisting she take our cell phone. I said she'll either lose it or forget to charge it anyway (B says I'm a pessimist. I say I'm a realist. Which is it?).
I was pondering the whole unschooling thing the last few days. I have been reading a lot of posts about it on various message boards. I feel we lean very heavily toward it, but haven't actually jumped into it with both feet. J asked what "unschooling" was yesterday. I gave her the "messageboard definition" and explained how you learn all you need to learn by just experiencing life, and how there's no sit-down-and-learn, or workbooks unless she wanted them, and used words like "child-led" and "strew". I think I gave a great explanation. She looked at me funny and said she doesn't want to do that. I asked her why and she said she will never learn anything and what about the (mandatory) standardized test next year. I have said from the beginning that it's impossible for J to be taken out of almost 5 years of formal, structured schooling and be unschooled just like that. If we never put her in school to begin with it probably would have worked out fine. She always asks for the sit-down-and-learn and the workbooks.
Maybe that is what unschooling is all about. If not, then I do believe we are very child-led. I have the (district) guidelines written out and we made a weekly schedule together. And she picks what she wants to do - or doesn't want to do. She prefers to do most things with me at her side, checking and "grading" completed pages. I realize I can take J out of school, but it'll be a while before school is out of her. I am just not going to worry anymore about labeling our way of doing things. But if we HAD to label ourselves (lol) I would say we are eclectic, child-led, Charlotte Mason followers. Basically, we are just going with what works for us at this time.
J decided that since W is off that she's off, too. In her free time she has been very artsy lately and I'm just letting her go with it. Right now it is 8:30am and she and W are creating something out of cardboard, glue, scissors, rubber bands, and her dismantled diorama. I will STREW things this week because I'll admit I too need to feel she is getting something done that I can document into my quarterly summary. I will leave a workbook or two out on the table that she hasn't done any of yet. And maybe the new typing or Spanish program will just happen to be ready to go at the computer. Of course, I can always just ask J if she'd like to do some reading or math or whatever. She will usually say yes, although lately she has started to get resistant to my suggestions. I will never make her do "schoolwork" when she doesn't want to. That defeats the whole purpose of my taking her out of school. I don't need her to shut down and regress again. I really hate to keep questioning and second-guessing myself and our methods, but having her entire education in my hands gets a bit unnerving sometimes. But of course the other part of me sees J's love of learning coming back and how happy she is now and I know there is no other way but to homeschool.
Anyway, today I have a cute wooden craft project for the kids to do. They are also going to learn how to do laundry today. Gotta learn sometime, right? Hopefully J will want to do some reading later - or at least an educational CD Rom. We're also going to make brownies and continue fixing up her room. I'm in Spring Cleaning mode this week. Yesterday I finally put up our new pot rack, moved some furniture to make more space, pulled-off wallpaper from and cleaned the bathroom, changed a few lightbulbs, reorganized and cleaned the kitchen, and finally found a great spot to keep all the seldom used small appliances (pizza maker, crockpot, chocolate fondue thing, etc.). I have a ton of stuff to bring down to the basement, too. B got home lastnight after 10pm and this morning told me how he loved the way everything looked. I usually get a lot done when he's not home. I think I should be done with everything on my list by the end of this week. I still want to paint, pack away all the fall/winter clothes and retrieve the sping/summer bags, and finish reorganizing a few rooms. Everyone is so much calmer around here when the house is organized and clean.