Monday, March 14, 2011

Unschooled Word Problems

We plan to homeschool our children.  More specifically, WonderMom will be doing the schooling.  I do school all day and value my relationship with my sons too much to do the schooling.  I've done enough to drive them into therapy, why compound it?  I don't want to make this post about why we will be homeschooling.  I'll save that for a different time, when I have more time.  In the meantime, here is the link to Badass Dad's reason they are homeschooling.  Their reasons don't fall too far from mine. 

Recently the unschooling movement got some bad press via Good Morning America.  I'm not going to link to it because I don't want to perpetuate their misconceptions or George Stephanoloplis's stupidity.  I'm not necessarily advocating unschooling because I don't know enough about it, but here and here are a couple of nice places to look.  I really like the idea, but I'm possibly too much of a control freak and neurotic for unschooling.  We'll see.  I like the terms "natural learning" and "experience-based learning" that Earl Stevens uses.  That makes it easier for me to consider.  In fact experience-based learning is one of the latest pushes at my university. 

So recently we brought our ball pit up from its basement storage.  It's really a pack-n-play with the few remaining ball pit balls that haven't been crushed, torn apart, or aren't hiding under the couch.  WonderMom was trying to stop the twins from simply throwing the balls all over the room, so she had the boys collect each color ball, then guess how many their were.  We moved through five colors of balls, first collecting and then placing them in a basket.  Guesses ranged from 5 to 3 million.  Twin M, on the advice of WonderMom, quickly began to assess the number based on how many balls were in the basket the last time.  Eventually Twin J focused and did the same.  For the white balls, of which there were only eight, we counted by ones and then by twos.  I'm told the twins are beginning to count by twos, but can also count by fives and tens.  It was great fun and everyone was focuses (for the most part), including the two-year old in my arms.  If you haven't figured it out yet, it was a beautiful moment of experience-based learning.  The twins were having fun and were engaged.  They were naturally interested in finding out how many balls of each color there were.  It was a fun 30 minutes or so. 

At dinner, Twin J says: E, if you've got three bowls and one plate and you take away three bowls, what do you get? 

So now my boys are making up word problems.  Who knew school could be such fun?


  1. Fabulous! My boys learned to count with poker chips! :)

  2. Yep, my son is learning addition and subtraction with the help of food at dinner! And I read your post at first as "we brought our PIT BULL up from basement storage" and I thought Uh oh, poor dog, I bet he is pissed.

  3. i love the idea of un-schooling, but like you am a bit too controlling to do it. although i don't plan on homeschooling, i do plan on doing some un-schooling type supplemental education at home. i have a constant need to be crossing things off "the list" and accomplishing something, so un-schooling will be a challenge for me in letting go of the control! i'd love to hear more about how this project goes for your family.

  4. @mjerrim: That explains a lot about your kids.

    @Amber: yes, I bet that dog would be pissed. Of course I'm not sure you could keep a pit bull in a basement.

    @Mega, Maggie, Mama: I don't think we'll do the unschooling approach, per se. But like you, we certainly will do lots of things that could be construed as unschooling. For example, we cleaned up our train track last night by picking up track and counting by twos.