Incorporating Unschooling into a Project Based School

So, with the help of the children, I have chosen all our curriculum and am continuing to pursue project based learning whenever I can.  Yet everything which pulls me towards unschooling is still pulling, whilst everything in me which rejects unschooling is still rejecting it.  What’s a girl to do?  A while ago I read a thought-provoking article from Stories of an Unschooling Family which asked if one could part-time unschool.  Sue’s answer was an unequivocal no.  She explained that unschooling is a life style chose rather than a school option.  I’m sure she is probably right, and if there was ever an example of how I would want my unschool school to look it would be her lovely family.

I used to think that I couldn’t take the extra step required to unschool because of a lack of courage, or maybe even a need to control.  But I think it goes a bit deeper than that.  The decision to unschool is ultimately on mine and Gary’s shoulders simply because we are the adults, and therefore we make the decisions knowing the potential consequences.  As a Christian, I have learnt to listen to the small quiet voice of God.  Right now it is still not the right time to abandon the work we already do together.  That said I have been praying about somehow incorporating a bit more freedom in our school.

The result of this has been the decision to home school normally for one week, followed by a week of unschooling.  This means I have to be ultra organised in order to fit in as much schooling as I can during my time with them, followed by a week of making sure I remain hands off unless needed.  I think right now this will suit us very well.  The children love digging deep into subjects and were loath to give up their history studies anyway.  We are all by nature fairly hard grafters and I think we will all enjoy a week of hard, in-depth work.

Since I have started to sleep (six months ago) I have found it progressively harder to home school as we have done traditionally.  I do not have the hours in my day anymore for such extensive planning.  The one week on, one week off will enable me to spend the week off planning for the forthcoming school week.  We will be keeping our morning meeting and lunch time quiet time during both the week on and the week off.  The morning meeting is a great time to get together and discuss what will be happening during that day and the quiet time is just a lovely tradition we have and all enjoy – a bit of down time away from our work and each other.  It’s good and it’s healthy and therefore it is staying!

During the unschooling week I will not be requiring any (academic) work.  The children will be free to fill their time with anything they wish.  We have got together and they have each chosen some topics which they wish to explore further (T12 – photography, gardening, cookery & astronomy; L12 – home making, cookery, loom band creations/art & first aid; C12 – home making, child care, bible study & writing).  We have bought in the resources but they do not need to use them.  Basically they can pursue anything they want to during their unschooling week.  Maybe it will be their chosen electives or maybe it will be something completely different.

The children will still have their normal chores and I will still expect good attitudes from them during both their school week and their unschooling week.  The unschooling week will only be different in terms of school.  I hope it will be an opportunity to discover more about themselves and hopefully a chance to find out what their strengths are (‘Train a child up according to his ‘natural bent’ and when he is old he will not depart from it’ – Proverbs 22:6) and maybe an opportunity to experiment with what they might like to do in the future.

I hope I have found a way to incorporate coming alongside the children whilst they work on their weak academic areas (schooling week) and whilst they delve into history and science in-depth (schooling week) at the same time as being given the opportunity to explore their personal interests (unschooling week).  If this works well they will be able to experience the best of both worlds.