Thursday, January 28, 2016

A mid-year review

This is really just for my benefit, but feel free to read if you are interested.

This school year has, so far, been an exercise in experimenting with unschooling.
We packed up all of our school supplies and Montessori materials in June, prior to taking a road trip through the Southwest. We thought we would have our house on the market in June, and hoped it would be sold by the time we should be starting school in the fall.

But we didn't get the house listed until August, and the house still hasn't sold, and it's January.

We had to do all of our learning without our Montessori materials. We just recently got them out of storage, and set up in a spare room.

What he has done:
Lots of practical life. Planning, making lists, budgets. He comes up with schedules for himself. He has set goals for specific amounts of money to earn, then set about working to earn that money. It hasn't been perfect, but he's practicing, and that is what I like to see. He did make his goal of $100 by Christmas to help pay for his Xbox One. And he has a plan to open a new savings account that will feed into an investment account that he has.

Any new information has come from him seeking it, and he does that mostly through online research. His focus is on science, and specifically biology, and medical science.
Here's one of my observations from work he did in September -The fact that he naturally started making detailed notes of the subject matter, in an organized fashion, and carefully spelled each word, makes me wonder if we all come to these ways of understanding information on our own. Instead of being taught how to take notes, how to organize information, we are naturally able to do it. Or maybe it is easier for this generation because of the access to Internet, and informational videos which provide it in an organized way.
Because he loves science, and I want to give him as many opportunities to pursue his passion as possible, I took him to the Pacific Science Center for the Visiting Scientist day in November. He was able to hold a human brain, and the scientist spent a long time with him, explaining the regions of the brain and their functions. We explored some other cool stuff there, including 3-D printed prosthetics, a robot, and he used a pipet to fill a test tray, like they use in a lab.
He knows how to find information. He makes connections with new information and old, and routinely pulls out his Elements book.

We added PE to our weekly away-from-home school routine. He has enjoyed PE at the YMCA twice a week. He continues to take piano lessons weekly as well.

Vocabulary words seem to excite him, the idea of learning new words, and what they mean. So he has done some of that work, especially in September and October.

This year he got really focused on small, detailed work, specifically with painting small figures. He doesn't use kits, and instead comes up with his own ideas. He painted some Lego figures.

One project has been completed, one that he has done before, but he expanded upon it this year: Deadly Spiders. Instead of a list of deadliest spiders as he has done in the past, after making a draft of what he knows about spiders, he decided to focus on one spider-the Australian Funnel Web Spider.

He has continued to work on multiplication and division, and tried a new system of his own making to try to get the answers quicker.

We've maintained our friendships with our homeschool group, and tried to continue seeing them on Thursdays for a little while, but mostly have seen them at PE.

He has learned some history, the crusaders are interesting to him, and he read quite a bit about them early in the fall. Another history lesson came when I took him to see the movie, "Suffragette," at the Grand Theater in Tacoma in November. He wasn't very interested in going, but I told him I wanted to see it, and I wanted him to go. When we arrived, he asked if he could just wait in the car for me. I explained that I have accompanied him countless times on outings and activities that I would not do on my own, but I did with him because I knew it was something he enjoyed. And that is what we do when we care about someone. We share in their joys and interests. So I made him go.

From an early age I encouraged him to take care of his own business, with my guidance, and in an age-appropriate way. He orders his own food, and in some cases orders for both of us if we go out to an Asian restaurant. He also makes his own phone calls to request information about items he has ordered on the Internet, or if he needs to get his money back for an item that was never shipped. (It probably helps that he has always had a deep voice and doesn't sound like a kid.) Recently I was frustrated with the YMCA website, and couldn't get him signed up for the next session of PE. He took over, and even called the YMCA to let them know the website was difficult to navigate, and that he needed help to sign up for the class.

He continues to draw and create on his own, and I'm so thankful that I have been able to provide him with continued art instruction through our local arts alliance. He has taken several classes again this fall, though he is aging out, it seems.

Reading continues to be a struggle, as far as novels and fiction. He prefers factual information. I did get him started on a book called "The Alchemist." He's reading it, slowly, but reading it. Most of his reading is done online, through his own research, and the history he reads on his own.

His interest in social issues continues to increase. He believes all people should have equal rights, and everyone should be allowed to love who they want to love, and pursue their own interests, education, and have access to equal pay, and the jobs they want.

This sums up most of what we've been doing for the first half of 7th grade. Now that we have our materials, the second half will be more guided.

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