Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Accidental CM-Unschooler is Going Green

Today I was thinking about how I've become an accidental CM-unschooler.

I'm reticent to use the full term of unschooler because I truly don't know what it means. I should probably Wikipedia it, but that takes time and I'm too busy blogging to look up definitions! (CM stands for this)

Anyhow, my journey to becoming an almost CM-unschooler started because of my closet.
It's true.
Closets have that kind of power over people.

I was new to homeschooling and had just finished reading this book by Lisa Welchel. (Great read!) And then I read A Well-Trained Mind about a classical education. While the book was well written I came to realize that I hated Latin and Greek and started to squirm at the thought that I would have to teach these subjects.

Then I read up on Sonlight and I didn't like the price of it.

Then I read about Charlotte Mason. They recommended reading six volumes of The Original Homeschooling Series. I dreaded the thought of reading six volumes and searched for a Cliff Notes version--thank you Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and Catherine Levinson.

I liked the Charlotte Mason method because it is about nature study, short quick lessons and laying down habits. I was really excited about that part because...I wasn't too good in the routine and habits part. As in, I didn't have any...routines or positive habits that would be building blocks for the future.

I'm a run-by-the-seat of my pants, follow the idea that pops in my head kind of girl.

And then came time to choose curriculum.


And I couldn't do it. I read Cathy Duffy's Top Picks and it gave me an idea of where to start but when I totalled it up it came to $1000.00...for grade one! I believe in investing money into my child's education--but what if I spent $1000 and found out that it didn't suit her learning style?

So I did what every other mother has done when they are too chicken to make a decision...I did nothing (which turns out that it is a decision, whether we recognize it or not). I couldn't fathom spending so much money on a book or curriculum that my child may or may not resonate with because I may or may not have matched them up correctly.
The pressure was too great--so I cracked.

And then I saw my closet.
My kids closet.
The one that was stuffed with paints, arts and crafts, a magnifying glass, some wacky science experiment books my sister sent me and a whole lot of string.
And I thought...what if I could homeschool for very little money? Like, what if...I could go green and use what we have in the house to teach my kids about life, art, music, science and everything else?

Suddenly it was a challenge to me. Could I empty my closet of all it's resources and cover the basics of learning with my child? It was game on. Remember I'm a run-with-the-idea-you-have kind of girl. And I've been running since in an unschooling kind of way.

The only curriculum I've ever purchased is Math-U-See. I like the blocks and I like mastery. But we spread it out with tons of other math things.
The all from my closet.
In the spring I take $20 and go to the town rummage sale. That's what we do for spring.
In the summer, we live outdoors and plant a garden and follow our noses into all sorts of wonder.
In the fall, I panic and think I need curriculum, but then my girls birthdays come and everybody buys them tons of supplies for creating and learning.
In winter, Christmas comes and we're inundated with more things to put in our closets.

Now I spend money on our library card...and (sigh) the fees that we sometimes end up owing!

But the fees haven't ever cost me $1000.



Cathy said...

That was about the order of my homeschooling discoveries too. Although I personally liked the idea of learning greek and latin roots, I didn't end up (in practice) like the idea of my kids doing repititious phonics, etc. activities where they rewrote answers to things they already knew and got bored out of their minds.

I'm don't think I'm such an unschooler as you I like to have a plan. But, my plan involves the purchase of living books rather than textbooks or worksheets and I kind of follow the four year history rotation when picking out my books (like the Well Trained Mind). I probably could use the library, but I like hand-picking my books and am not good at getting them back on time.

Anyhow...I relate. Although, I don't think you are truly an unschooler, because it sound like you direct your kids activities rather than the other way around.


Camie said...

I relate too, I have at times, called myself an unschooler as well. But I did purchase thousands of dollars worth of curriculum...Yup...And it wasn't necessarily worth it.

Cindy said...

This was so funny to read! I'd love if you'd submit it to the CM Carnival!