Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Unschool

One of our veggie gardens, earlier in the summer
This summer has been both more and less unschoolish for our family, and I've been enjoying observing the different kinds of learning fostered by less and more structure.  We didn't have a formal "last day of school" but just dwindled into less structured days as scheduled activities such as art class and ballet class ended and other events began to disrupt the regular order of our days.  Then N. went to a day camp for a week, which wrenched us all suddenly into a more regimented rhythm for a few days (we had to get up early and pack a lunch!  How do people do this every day during the school year?!?), and now we're back to free-form days for a bit.  I'd planned to write individual posts about some of N.'s summer activities, and maybe I still will, but meanwhile, just a brief list and thoughts...

Summer unschool so far means:
  • Lego day camp for 1 week (the main example of more structure this summer)
  • More or less weekly piano lessons (depending in the teacher's summer schedule) and daily practice
  • N. is doing research to build a model railroad layout in a year or two
  • N. is writing and illustrating a long adventure story 
  • N. has gotten obsessed with a huge treasury of New Yorker cartoons and reads from it almost daily
  • N. reads nearly daily in Trains Magazine, as usual
  • Math workbook once a week or so, per N.'s request
  • Once or twice a week Tim reads N. from their current read-aloud, Bertrand Russel's autobiography
  • After I read him Great Northern? by Arthur Ransome, N. spent a few days reading about birds, looking up the birds that feature in Ransome's books and listening to bird calls  
  • N. has been reading library books about Paris
  • I read N. The Great Brain which led to some great discussions of ethics AND N. requesting to have more regular chores assigned to him (!)
  • helping Tim in the vegetable and flower gardens
  • listening to a "History of Jazz" Great Courses program and listening to lots of music
  • PLAY: alone and with friends; outside; inside with Kapla blocks and legos and toy cars and paper airplanes, model trains, etc.
  • daily drawing
  • house guests and long play dates = good social and creative time
  • weekly walks to the farmers' market, summer cooking together, lingering suppers and conversation outside in the screen house...
So, despite the lack of a regular daily routine, which all three of us crave during the academic year, N.'s learning doesn't look too different in summer than it does throughout the year!  Except for that last item, which feels to us like the height of summer luxury every night.

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