What About “Off” Days?

In our family, we are more rigid about scheduled learning from about August to November and again from January to April. That’s eight months of our year. The other four are much more delight directed. Today, being only our third week of structured learning, I had a normal day of school planned. Math, reading, writing, all of that.  I like to stick to routine, but today it just was  not going to happen. One child had a stomach ache, one has been feeling rushed all the time, and the other two are just full of play.  I hated to miss another day of lessons, so I “planned” a delight directed day. I erased our planning chalkboard where the day’s lessons are displayed, divided it into a section for each child, explained to the kids that we were having an “unschooling day” and to record on the chalkboard the educational activities that they chose for the day. They are no strangers to this idea, so the logistics were easy. At the end of the day, I will record what they have done and move my original plans to tomorrow’s space. I know how much of a blessing it is to have the freedom to take days like this. they are refreshing and help us get back on course when we feel better without completely losing today as a learning day. And there is no reason to stress over days like this. Just make the most of them 🙂

Here is what is on their lists so far:

L and E: They painted with water colors (inspired by a painting E saw last night), read jokes, watched two episodes of Wild Kratts, one on  beavers and one on polar bears. E also has a two hour dance class this evening.

A: He researched via internet pictures and videos and the encyclopedia sharks, carp,and square dancing , practiced his dance moves from the class he is taking, watched an older dance recital video for new ideas, watched the Wild Kratts episodes, designed with tangram pieces, and told me about one of the  Tom Swift Jr. books he has recently read.

B: She has not felt well today, but she watched some of the Swan Lake Ballet, read from Lord of the Rings, and will teach an hour and practice two more hours of dancing tonight.

I’d say there is plenty of learning going on during our “off day”.


Life Lessons

Life has been full lately, and we have really accomplished a lot this year, so I am allowing some alternative schooling to happen.
A neat thing happened a few days ago.  My 8 year old son was reading Calvin and Hobbes to me and stopped to ask me how many digits were in 1,000.  I told him 4, and then he asked what you call a number with 5 digits (ten thousand).  He thought about it a minute, made the mental connection, and the continued reading to me… “Hobbes, we’re flying at 10,000 feet!”  Now how is that for natural learning??
I am still making sure that plenty of reading, thinking, logic, basic math are done.  I am choosing their projects as well.  Monday, I had the kids write thank you letters to the family that we spent the weekend with.  For some of my kids this was a quick, thoughtless activity, but for 2 of them they really put effort in.  My son, who doesn’t write well, looked at his after finishing and said, “Wow!  Look how much I wrote… All by myself!” He was so proud of himself.  Yesterday we worked at tilling and preparing a 10 ft by 6 ft garden and today we planted veggies.  It took 2 hours of work, cooperation, and talking about each of the plants.  That was my plan.  Then they carried it further by reading the cereal box  that had a food pyramid at lunch time. They made up clues for others to guess the food they were describing.  My 12 yr old sketched the garden, labeled how long each would take to grow, and made little waterproof signs to put next to each veggie. After lunch we had free time and then after dinner we read for an hour.  Tomorrow I don’t have any big projects planned. I think we may play board games and math games and wii in stations.
It is not my plan to stay with this schedule much longer. I think I will go back to some normalcy and CMason after Easter, but we all desperately needed this break.