Learning outside the lines

This is our 11th week of homeschooling. Since we began our homeschooling journey, I’ve had a lot of people ask me what curriculum I’m using. The answer is- I’m not. WHAT?! GASP!!!!

I did purchase the book “The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom”. I combine what I’m reading about in this book with child led pedagogical philosophies like Reggio Emilia, and Calvin-ism (What I know about my son, his abilities, and interests) to create our weekly schedule.

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We combine some traditional approaches, like reading books (15 per week), singing songs (We sing about almost everything), and doing art. But, because I’m not stuck on the idea of using a traditional curriculum within the confines of a traditional classroom, we’re able to push the bounds of what Calvin is exposed to and what he learns.

So, if I were to create my own school (which I’m not… because regulations and red tape make this a very intense process) here would be the principles upon which my school would be founded:

  • All children are creative, curious, and full of potential and ambitious desires.
  • Every child is unique in their interests and motivations.
  • Our roles as educators is to present opportunities for learning (i.e. museums, hikes, reading, games, projects) not to compel education.
  • Questions are meant to be answered.  Always seek to find the answer.
  •  It’s okay to take calculated risks, and it’s okay to fail.
  • Sometimes learning is loud & messy. Sometimes it’s quiet and organized.
  • Art is important, personal, and subjective.
  • The world is our classroom.

But, how do I know that he’s learning without a curriculum/tests?
In the last 2 months of homeschooling, Calvin has learned about shapes and letters. He’s practiced his fine motor skills, enjoyed sensory play, practiced taking turns, and definitely developed some gross motor skills. We’ve read over 100 books. He’s interpretted modern art, and made some of his own. He’s learned about dinosaurs like the spinosaurus, gigantasaurus, bracchiosaurus, plesiosaurus, and pteranadon. Calvin has learned about our solar system. He has identified birds, plants, and animals found in Georgia. He can tell you about Kara Walker & Martin Luther King, Jr, and Joseph Pujol (The Fartiste). He has learned the words “Silhouette”, “Ancestor”, “Allergy”, “Microbe”. “Experiment”, “Stalactite” and “Stalagmite”.  And there’s so much more.  The point is that I don’t need a curriculum to ‘teach’ Calvin, and I don’t need tests to tell me how much he’s learning!

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