Welcome to our new Summer Series for 2021! In case you missed our intro post outlining all our free resources and summer itinerary coming up these next few weeks, here it is!
Be sure to click our follow button so you never miss a resource! It’s free and no junk ever! Pinkie swear! (yeah . . . I’m from that era 😆 )
~The Unschooled Summer~
Discovering Insatiable Curiosity
“All people unschool to learn most of their knowledge during most of their lives. The only variables are how well do they do it, and when do they start.”Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules
There is no better time than summer to give unstructured, spontaneous, delight-directed learning a go! Discover for yourself the strange phenomenon of love and learning unleashed the moment you choose to step away from structured lesson plans and rigid schedules. This summer, consider letting your child’s inner soul lead you on an unforgettable, wild and free adventure!
TIME REQUIRED: *flexible* ; about 3 hours per day unstructured learning/activity time
TARGET SUMMER GOALS (click here for full list of descriptions):
☀️ = get outside as much as possible, embracing a healthy, active lifestyle
❤️ = inspire a true love for learning
🧠 = keep my child engaged and actively learning
🛠️ = teach my child practical-life skills and build their self-confidence
😊 = have fun, de-stress, and bond as a family
WAIT. What is Unschooling anyway?
If you are new to the world and concepts of “unschooling” you may want to check out our explanation and virtual walk-through here: 🗺️Off-Road “UNSCHOOLING”🚙 . . . when your child takes the wheel!
In the previous post linked above, we reveal:
- basic descriptions of unschooling
- what unschooling looks like for our family
- aspects of unschooling that we personally love
- areas where our family chooses to part ways with unschooling
- a virtual walk-through of various inspired learning methods
Why Summer is the Perfect Time to Give “Unschooling” a Try
So, maybe you are like me and the whole “unschooling” thing is a bit extreme for you. Maybe you appreciate aspects of unschooling and would like to allow your child the responsibility and freedom to take the compass from time to time, plotting out *portions* of your Homeschool journey. But at the same time, perhaps you aren’t interested or on board with throwing the map out the window and going off-roading with your child at the wheel. At least not every day.
Our family requires a bit more balance between formal home education and unschooling. We are a middle-of-the-road kind of Homeschool family; enjoying a little of the security that a paved road offers us, but allowing ourselves to venture off the beaten path whenever we feel that current of wanderlust rustling in the trees.
Perhaps you want to give unschooling a try, but are hesitant to trust the start of a new school year to such uncharted territory. If this is the case, an “Unschooled Summer” may be just the test-run you need to reach a decision, or to gain some unschooled skills to infuse into your “Back-To-Homeschool” 2021.
SUMMER OFFERS US A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO TRY UNSCHOOLING ON FOR SIZE fOR A FEW REASONS:
1.) We have nothing to lose.
A typical summer is practically an academic wash anyway . . . so at it’s worst, unschooling can’t pose much (if any) risk. And since it is focused on facilitating self-directed learning, unschooling is almost guaranteed to offer our kids more curricular opportunities than a standard summer spent . . . you know . . . languishing the days away.
2.) We’re adventuring anyway.
We’re already heading to the lake, taking that camping trip, and going on that hike. All we have to do is slow the pace down a bit and welcome learning opportunities as they present themselves. And they will. Just so long as we are present enough not to trample over them.
3.) We need time to unwind.
The school year can take its toll, and the freedom of unschooling can be just the welcome respite we need to recover and recharge.
SO, LET’S GET TO IT!
~15 Ways to UNSCHOOL Our Kids’ Summer~
Go ahead and plan some activities, outings, and adventures! But leave ample time and space between. Schedule blocks of absolutely NOTHING between big outings and activities — maybe even leaving the entire next day open and free. Learning needs time . . . space . . . wiggle room. And childhood needs breath.
2.) Unplug . . . everything!
Unlocking insatiable curiosity is impossible if we are . . . distracted. Let’s immerse ourselves in fresh air, sunshine, and real-life experiences this summer. Let’s unplug, and then DIG IN!
3.) Create rhythm rather than routine.
First we . . . next we . . . then we . . . after that we may . . .
The goal here (at least for us) is for our kids to be able to have a predictable but FLEXIBLE flow for their summer days.
4.) Adventure with abandon (and without agenda)!
Go somewhere. Anywhere! But plan nothing else. Feel free to prepare, but do not prescribe. For example, bring along binoculars on your hike . . . in case you choose to birdwatch, or squirrel watch, or cloud watch. Bring along a sketch book . . . in case your child wants to sketch a butterfly, or dandelion, or mountain peak. Bring a fishing pole in case you stumble upon a stream. Just don’t label your outing and weigh it down with expectations. Try to let the journey take you. Oh, and walk behind your child.
5.) Make no assignments, requirements, or expectations.
Nothing sucks the joy out of an adventure more than marrying it to an “enriching” fill-in-the-blank worksheet. Embrace the experience with your children but don’t be a slave to it. You and your kid(s) don’t owe the experience anything but relishing it.
6.) Bring your kid(s) alongside.
Just this afternoon as I was planting peas (for the second time –the first batch got scorched), the FedEx guy drove past our house and I noticed his maybe ten year old son riding shot gun. The image could have been the cover of a Norman Rockwell calendar — father and son delivering packages, the boy in the passenger seat, breeze blowing through his hair from the no-door cab, leaning forward, eyes wide, grinning. I chuckled to myself. Way to go, dad! This boy couldn’t have been happier if he were on a roller coaster at six flags. Helping dad on his route of deliveries is probably at the top of the charts for how to spend a Saturday in this young boy’s world. And I bet plenty more would line up to be in his lucky shoes. And yet . . . you don’t see this too often. At least not anymore. I see it here in our mountain valley town more than I ever have before, but it’s still not as often as I would like.
Let’s take a tip from the pioneers. They didn’t plan their kids summers . . . or any other season for that matter. Why? Because they had so much gosh-darn-WORK to do. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t spend a lot of time with their kids. Or enjoy their kids. And it doesn’t mean that they didn’t teach their kids anything. It simply means that they brought their kids alongside whatever they were already doing . . . indeed, whatever they had to! In the process, they taught their children how to churn butter, plant peas, knead bread, and build a smokehouse. Not too shabby, parenting pioneers!
So, how do we apply this as modern parents? I say, let’s parent like the FedEx guy! Before we put on a movie for the kids so we can do . . . whatever it is we have/want to do . . . let’s take a minute to brainstorm how our kids might join us.
Consider bringing your kid(s) alongside and . . .
- cooking together
- cleaning together
- working together
- crafting together
7.) Facilitate. Don’t Dictate.
Let’s parent and homeschool like beekeepers –giving our kids all the raw materials they need to grow and flourish, and then getting out of the way!
“What do my children most need from me? The answer is [often] humbling: They need me to let them be.”Ben Hewitt, Unschooling Rules
8.) Celebrate process over product and journey over destination.
Take in the beauty of watching your kids engaged in an activity and forget about the results.
Not every seed will come up.
Not all the paint will stay in the lines.
Not every bird will be identified.
Not all of the dough will make it into the loaf.
It’s ok. In fact, it’s lovely.
9.) Buy, borrow, and breathe books.
Make books readily available throughout your home, and read together as much as you and your kids desire. I encourage you to keep a record of books you read and mark the favorites. But please, oh pretty please, don’t log minutes! Bleh. I can’t think of a better way to suck the joy out of any activity than having it . . . clocked.
Have a child who hasn’t fallen in love with reading yet? Check out our 📚 21 Ways to Help Your Child Fall in Love with Reading this Summer! ❤️
10.) Explore. Experiment. Experience.
Discover the wonders of creation with your child this summer. Get an ant farm. Build a model volcano. Scout out a cave. Grow caterpillars. Fly a kite. Press flowers. Go gold panning. Launch a rocket. Get curious with your kids and feed their interests!
11.) Ask and ye shall find.
Clear your schedule for a morning, afternoon, or an entire day and simply ask your child one or more of the following questions:
- What would you like to learn today?
- What is something you have always wanted to try?
- If I gave you total control of today’s schedule, what would we do?
- Is there something you would like to make with me today?
- Is there a skill you’d like to practice with me today?
- Is there somewhere you’d like to explore today?
12.) Welcome REST in place of RIGOR.
Let me start by saying that restful and lethargic are not one in the same. You can be at rest while you do lots of things . . . even active things! An afternoon spent shelling peas, painting, reading, weeding the garden, or even going on a hike can be very restful and restorative. But it needs to be slow. Unpressured. Voluntary. And quiet.
“‘School days’ should have extensive downtimes — that is, stretches without scheduled activities and even without the context of impending homework. Admittedly, one of the scariest things for all of us is to be left alone with one’s thoughts. But it is ultimately scarier not to be.”Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules
13.) Enter your child’s world.
14.) Be a breath of fresh air in someone’s day.
Visit a lonely friend or neighbor. Drop by and visit an elderly family member. Don’t squeeze it in. Make it the main event of the day. Your kids will learn so much from visiting with Great Aunt Mildred, and seeing your kids’ fresh, rosy cheeks is sure to be the high point of her week . . . or month. The very old and the very young have the capacity for a unique and inexplicably special bond. They can offer each other so much. If only we take the time to give and reap such a gift.
15.) Choose EXQUISITE over EPIC.
Have you ever taken your child to a zoo or theme park that you spent an incredible amount of time, energy, and money to make happen . . . and when you got there all your child wanted to do was chase a chipmunk or play leap frog over the orange cones in the parking lot? Our kids often want the simple over the spectacular. Often a game of Uno, Battleship, or Capture the Flag is as exhilarating to them as going to a carnival. Sure it may be less grand. It may not be as big, or as wow. But that doesn’t mean it has any less merit or is any less exquisite of a choice. Indeed, an afternoon spent running through the sprinklers or demolishing dandelions is just as divine as a ride on a Ferris wheel.
Slow down. Trust. Savor.
💛🤍💚 💛🤍💚 💛🤍💚 💛🤍💚 💛🤍💚 💛🤍💚
Thank you for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~