Although unschoolers don't typically have a school year because we consider learning to be in progress all the time, my family does like to reevaluate our learning style each August as the neighborhood kids return to school. Alexander, Sophia and I discuss whether our current style is working for us and if there are any changes we want to make. This is always a chance for us to narrow down on some new interests they have and to figure out what we will do with those interests.
After talking, I discovered that Alexander wants to focus more on his reading and writing. As the most conscientious spender in our home, I was delighted when he said he was going to spend his own money on a journal. He had seen a leather bound journal at Barnes & Noble and thought that would be an ideal way to improve his writing. Hmmmm......write more to become a better writer. Good idea! Each night before bed, he sits at his desk and writes about his day. If he doesn't know how to spell a word, he underlines it. A few days back he asked me to sit down with him and help with spelling. What I enjoyed as I watched him look over his writing was that as he found the underlined words, he would reread the sentences surrounding the word. He was self-editing. As an elementary school teacher for many years, I can't tell you how much time we spent on learning this skill and here he was doing it on his own!
Alexander also wants to learn to play some songs on the keyboard. Steve got him started on a few things and each day I hear him down there playing. Yesterday he told me he is ready for Steve to show him more.
Alexander has many other things on his list that he wants to pursue. After talking to a friend on XBOX LIVE, he asked if he could learn algebra. How many kids come to their parents and ask if they can learn algebra? I posted to our group and we now have a dad that will be teaching algebra to any kids or parents that are interested. (I say parents because as I was talking with this father about teaching the class another dad in our group came up and asked if he could learn too. Isn't that awesome? I love this dad anyhow and the example he is to our kids, but for them to see him learning algebra with them will be the greatest.)
Unschooling in my opinion is based on the belief that our children are naturally curious human beings. They want to learn. They want to do well. As my children enter their teen years, I still find it exciting to watch them, to guide them and to learn from them.