Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Unschooling at Work

I started feeling a bit anxious a few days ago that I haven't been doing anything with my 4 year-old DD that would count as homeschooling. I wasn't teaching her, didn't see any learning going on, I must be failing. Later, I talked with a good hs friend of mine and she suggested that this is just a year when I can practice my hsing technique and not worry. Really, what do preschoolers need to learn? Not all the much and DD is right on target, at least. FYI, there are lots of websites that have skills lists for different ages, so I'm not flying solo on this, I check them now and then.

While I'm not a high energy arts and crafts type, I've been thinking that my 'read only' approach is probably not enough at this point. DD hasn't really felt like sitting down for long reading sessions like she used to. My DH reads to her at night and perhaps thats all she wants right now. Maybe she was more interested in being read to months ago because she was learning to read and now she's interested in developing other skills. All I really know is that I keep checking out loads of books from the library and we're not reading them. Maybe its time to change course a bit.

Monday, we had a couple of hours at a playground with friends and in the afternoon, DD and I made pumpkin bread from a mix. We had to add 1/3 cup oil, 1/2 cup water and 1 cup of pumpkin. As we added the oil and water, I took advantage of the opportunity to point out the fractions on the measuring cup. I pointed to the various measures for oil and water and asked her which we added more of. She said water, score one from hsing mom. As she stirred the mixture, I mentally noted that she was working on fine motor skill development. I set the timer for the bread to bake and talked about how long it would take -- more math.

While the bread baked, I decided to start dinner. She got more fine motor development by mixing (the recipe is an old favorite, so I no longer measure anything formally).

Yesterday we had more spontaneous hsing. She wanted to do a leaf collage, so she collected leaves and pasted them on paper on the porch. I told her she could not bring the leaves into the house (they were moldy and disintegrating) but that if she wanted, she could make a leaf collage out of construction paper that she could bring inside. I have cookie cutters that look like maple leaves, oak leaves and acorns. For each shape, there are 3 different sizes, so I had 9 cookie cutters. While she was working on her real leaf collage, I traced some leaf and acorn shapes of various sizes and cut them out. She started playing with them. She compared the various sizes of the leaves, she sorted them in different ways -- by type, by size and by the color of the construction paper. She matched them to the cookie cutters. She had a lot of fun with all this and I never suggested any of it -- I thought she'd just glue them on paper. I was very pleased because these are the sorts of activities that are suggested in various books for learning math skills and I didn't have to force them on her, she did it on her own.

So I'm feeling a bit reinvigorated about hsing. I prefer a low key, unschooling, literature based approach. I'm all for reading and researching activities, but I have a hard time making myself do them and I really don't want to try to make her do them. Its very encouraging to know that it all works out. Even though I didn't set up the learning activity, she found it for herself.

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