This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Mingle

In my other guise as a romance author, I've done a few blog hops in my day...but this Monday Mingle is a first for Wonder World Classroom!

Thanks to Tough Cookie Mommy for launching this great hop.

About our unschooling family: I have seven children, all of whom are grown except the youngest, 9-year-old Bri. Almost all were exposed to some type of homeschooling at one time or another, beginning with the oldest back in 1988. None, however, were unschooled. We knew from age 3 that we wanted to homeschool Bri exclusively, and of the various forms we've tried, unschooling has worked best by far.

Our style of unschooling is rather middle-of-the-road, meaning we're not radical unschoolers, nor are we particularly structured. What IS structured for us is a mindset, a sort of radar switch that my husband Mike and I turn on every morning. That switch allows us to focus on what Brianna is doing/saying/interested in to use these as learning tools. It might be a quick lesson on calculating tax on a new toy, research on a segment we're filming for her new YouTube Channel, or a visit to the local museum. There is learning inherent in everything we do, and for us as unschooling parents, we keep on the lookout for those light-bulb-over-the-head moments when Bri is most receptive to learning a particular concept. We also watch out for the warning alarms that say we're trying too hard to impart something she is not ready for.

Anyway, we are happy to be jumping on the blog hop circuit! I am eager to meet some fellow hoppers. Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finding Social Group Interaction

One of the things we absolutely love about homeschooling  is the fact that Bri gets to socialize with kids and grownups of all ages rather than a select group of kids all the same age for 6 hours per day.  On the flip side, one of the things we struggle with in homeschooling is the fact that she doesn't get 6 hours per day of interaction with other kids. As the only child remaining in a house where the rest have grown up and gone onto other things, we have to find ways to satisfy her craving to be part of something involving groups of kids.

Several things have been tried in the past, but for various reasons, fizzled. Our homeschool group park days changed to days we're not available, a local PE program lasted for three months before she begged to stop, and attempts to contact the one and only girl scout troop in our area have not been responded to once I mentioned Bri is homeschooled.  (That will be looked into at some point soon.) She does attend the kid's club when my husband goes to the gym, but the number and ages of kids vary so much from time to time that it isn't always a good "kid time" outlet. (The last time, she was the only kid and spent her time playing with the teachers.)

Enter the dragon...or rather, the Tae Kwon Do studio by our house. She has been begging to take classes for quite a long time, and we finally signed her up this week. Not only will she be getting group interaction, physical activity, and training in self-defense, but the school has rules about students keeping their hair/teeth brushed, their rooms clean, and their attitudes respectful. She is so excited she floated three feet off the ground when she left the signup, and we're looking forward to seeing how things work out.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Brianna's Wonder World Episode 0.5

Brianna's first Wonder World video is here...sort of! Check it out and subscribe!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bri's YouTube Channel!

Bri is hard at work shooting her first video...except she experienced technical delays due to a disharmonious Feng Shui event in her room.

Here is her "coming soon" video!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Wonder Post on How Kids REALLY Learn to Write!

My oldest daughter, who has a background in early education and chose to unschool her first child, came across a blog post on another homeschool "wonder" blog, Wonder Farm. I just had to turn around and share this great post here. Patricia Zaballos' insights on the subject of teaching kids to write really provided sound encouragement.

Since my husband and I are both published fiction authors, one might actually think we had at least a modicum of confidence on the subject of teaching writing to our child. Alas, it's not true. Bri from the beginning has had difficulties with penmanship and putting thoughts to paper, in part because we suspect some issues like dysgraphic and dyslexia. 

Check out this great post by following the link below. I hope you get as much out of it as I did. Thanks, Patricia!

Monday, January 7, 2013

We're Back--and Unschooling Again!

Still Livin' and Learnin'
It's been a long while since we've posted to Wonder World Classroom, largely because of a phenomenon we experienced as soon as we joined the charter school we were part of for two years. We joined as unschoolers, a philosophy the school happily told us they embraced. Insofar as was possible for a charter whose funding depends on adhering to common core standards. 

So what happened?

We were required to show that Bri was being taught the concepts her grade level "should" be focused on, an idea which pretty much runs counter to our personal view of unschooling. Gone was spontaneous learning from the process of life and Bri's own interests. Enter mandatory essays, work packets, and (gasp) standardized testing. We struggled to show core standard instruction every month for a child whose heart (and right-brained spirit) is strongly anchored to experiential learning. And I do mean we struggled. Our membership to the local museum lapsed, our weekly trips to the library dwindled to monthly, and park trips with other homeschoolers fizzled. This blog went kablooey. In short, we were too busy "schooling" to get around to learning. And much more important, the fire for learning Bri had found with unschooling fizzled, replaced by frustration, boredom, and many tears.

It's been a long journey, and when the decision was made to pull her out and return to unschooling, there was a lot of parental guilt and soul-searching about whether leaving was the right thing, or whether joining the charter had simply been a mistake in the first place.

And then I remembered what unschooling was all about for us. Living=learning. We didn't stop the past two years. Bri has learned a great deal, even if the specific concepts the school said she "should" have been learning were not mastered. We learned a valuable lesson about the importance of unschooling at our house. It's not only the best course for Bri. At this point, it's the only course.

So we're back! And now that Bri is reading and writing, she's excited about participating herself on the blog. She also plans to launch her own YouTube channel, posting videos about what she's up to. 

It's great to be back...and wonderful to return to the process of learning with the world as our classroom.