I've recently become more involved with a Christian unschooling group on Facebook. There has been some talk about schedules and transitioning from being a "schooling" family to being an "unschooling" family. I've found my system to be very helpful for me and my family and so I offered to blog about it. (If you'd like more information about the group, I'd be happy to fill you in.)
Do I think that organized unschooling is an oxymoron? Absolutely not. Many successful people organize themselves and their days. Many people find a check list or a to do list vital for keeping them on track when working towards goals or simply when trying to make it through the day. I happen to be a person who thrives on organization and on being able to see what all I have accomplished. I have lists galore. I set goals. And I think that helping your children set goals and then work towards accomplishing those goals can be a really effective way to unschool.
I have one tool that has helped get me stay on track when it comes to organizing my unschooled home. That tool is my dry erase board. Every Sunday I clean off the board and I fill it back up with the following week's information. The way that I have used this system (which started in January) has evolved some. At first I was writing down each day of the week and listing everything I wanted us to do in each day under the day and date. Now I have moved onto an even more relaxed list due to the changes in weather. Since it's warmer and Hunter is able to be out and about again, our days need more flexibility because there are simply things that come up that we'd rather do! I have changed the system to include a weekly list for each child (and then over to the side I include a few general goals and maybe even a notation for myself as well).
Currently, this is what my board looks like. As you can see, Hunter and Ronin's list are very different. Both of the children seem to have hit a brick wall with Math U See. They are starting to hate it and so we're going to put those books away for a little while and maybe bring them back out in a month or so. Both of them have a new workbook to explore anyway. Hunter is working on Headsprout and Cub Scouts (he will earn his Bobcat Badge this Saturday) so I include those things on his list to help me remember to have him do them. I have also included exercise for Hunter but in a week or two I don't think I'll have to do that because it seems to be happening naturally for him. I've included praying on the list because I am terrible about remembering to pray aloud with these kids. It's Friday and I've still not remembered to do it this week, despite the board. Hunter has said that he wants to practice reading but each time I've approached him about it this week, he's refused. But at least it's on the board so that maybe I'll remember to keep asking him about it.
When cold weather comes again, I'll probably revert back to an even more organized board but for the remaining warm days, my guess is that it will continue to look something like this. We do much much much more in a week than what is listed on this board. And quite often we don't get to everything on the board. My rule of thumb is to have the list available so that when we have some free down time while the baby is sleeping or playing in the yard then we take full advantage of it and no one is bored or yelling or hitting or making each other crazy. But if the list is ignored because something else came along (like spontaneous play dates or trips to the park) then great, we just leave the list alone. The list doesn't run our lives. It's merely a suggestion... a hint to help keep me on track so that when I am faced with "hey, you have a couple of toddler free hours to spend with the olders, what are you going to do with it?", I have an answer without having to think too much. Because heaven forbid my poor tired brain be expected to perform at the spur of the moment.
Now that we have returned to church and Ronin is about to move up from the preschool department to the elementary department, we'll have to start adding church related goals to the list. There are Bible verses to read and memorize. Hunter remembered himself that he needed to learn his memory verse just last night.
I'd love to know how you unschool yet still remain organized. What goals are your unschooled children currently working towards?