Faith over at Dumb Ox Academy listed her top ten resources that make unschooling work for her family. After feeling overwhelmed by the extensive lists of homeschooling resources and goals that were being shared in the blog world, it was very centering to read Faith’s list and remind myself that we, too, have our “extensive resources” that we draw from on a regular basis, although it looks differently than many. So, in order to cognizantly remind myself, I decided to think about my own list of top ten resources that makes an unschooling foundation work for our family.
At first, after looking over Faith’s list, I thought I was going to end up repeating most of hers! So much of what she wrote is very important in our lives, such as conversations, read aloud time, movies and videos, and inspiration from each other’s interests/hobbies. But, as I started thinking it over, more things came to my mind and I decided to share these different resources instead, although some of what Faith wrote as her top ten are right up there in our lives as well. So, in no particular order:
1. Books and magazines. Great fantasy series like Redwall and The Borrowers. Great historial series like The American Girls and Dear America. Eyewitness books. The Classics. Great children’s read alouds like A Cricket in Times Square and Watership Down. Atlases. Poetry like A Light in the Attic and Hailstones and Halibut Bones. Great pictorial books like Children Like Me and Come With Me To Africa. Collection books like D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and Uncle Wiggily’s Story Book. Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard. Kid’s Discover and Zoobooks. National Geographic World and Boys’ Life. Nintendo Power and Guide Books. And on and on and on . . .
2. Zoos and museums. Well, being a large family, it’s SOO worth getting memberships at such things as zoos, science centers, and museums. Because we lived our first 15 years as corporate gypsies living in five states, we were able to enjoy these types of offerings in each region, being willing to travel up to two hours one way wherever we were.
3. Our backyard and neighborhood. Our best science programs have existed in our own backyard. Over at Salamander Creek Habitat in her post called Life Beneath the Surface reminds us of the great surprises and wildlife at our disposal. So many of my children noticed the intricate workings occurring within the insect world in our backyard. Many questions were asked, books read, information gathered and applied, and a strong appreciation for nature garnered. In fact, Eric never had a formal science program ever, and at age 14, I decided to have him take the science part of the CAT test that is required in our state, and he scored in the 99th percentile. In addition, the neighborhood has often been a good source for social interactions, citizenship and physical education as they have learned to ride bikes, rollerblade, or skip rope.
4. The Computer, Internet, and computer games. Oregon and Amazon Trails. SimLife and SimTown. Jumpstart and Math Blaster. GeoSafari and GeoHistory. America Rock. 3-D Body and 3-D Dinosaur. Living Books and Living Letters. Blue’s Clues ABC and Disney Toddler. Lego Studio and Lego Loco. Rollercoaster Tycoon and John Deere American Farmer. Star Wars Galaxies and WarCraft. Canon Creative and PictureIt. IMing and MySpace. Homestar Runner and Legendary Frog. Installation videos and arcade games. Google “spelling program”. Creative CD covers and homemade cards. Computer programming and 3-D graphics. And on and on and on . . .
5. Our community and local homeschool group activities. There have been different seasons for these types of things. I was much more involved in local homeschooling activities in the early years than I am now. We did things such as park days, classes, group learning opportunities, swim and gym, and youth events. We more get involved in the community offerings through our groups these days. We have attended things such as gymnastics, skating, 4-H, and theater shows.
6. The Video Camera. Having and giving access to the video camera to my children at a very young age produced a lot of creative expressions besides the valued form of writing. Home movies through the lens of a child is so much more raw and real than anything we adults tend to focus on. Several of the children created their own “shows” (“Happy Time with Abbey”, “Spunus and Indiana Jones”, etc.) that capture the depth of their personality at that moment that I treasure like gold. Entertaining storylines, developed characters, and amazing behind-the-scenes workmanship emanated from the many movies that were created by various children utilizing neighborhood friends, our pet managerie, and family members.
7. Collections. Star Wars figures. Littlest Pet Shops. The Complete Works of Curious George. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures. Legos. Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Ceiling Fans. Power Ranger figures. Sonic the Hedgehog Comic Books. Pokemon cards. Children’s Dictionaries. John Deere tractors. Technics. Eyewitness videos.
8. Drawing. It appears that Eric set the stage for all the other children to enjoy the benefits of learning and understanding through drawing. Eric started drawing pictures at 3.5 years old and escalated his time commitment from there drawing hours a day resulting in a natural gift. Abbey later joined him in order to develop their relationship and she is a prime example of “learned drawing skills” through constant exposure and desire. Because his older siblings shared their inner stories and other interests through drawing, Eli gravitated toward using the drawing medium to share his inner world with his siblings. Although Alex didn’t take to drawing as well due to his struggle with autism, he enjoys having his older siblings draw comics for him incorporating his favorite topics of ceiling fans, the cats, and garages. William and Joseph now enjoy a similar relationship with their much older siblings through drawing requests of their favorite topics, particularly during church services. They both have a desire to develop their own abilities. Overall, drawing has been a strong medium to express each person’s inner stories (writing) and explore their interests.
9. Video Games. Sonic the Hedgehog to comic book making. Legend of Zelda to writing a novel. The Lion King to movie making. Mario Brothers to ColorForm creation. All role-playing games to public speaking. Pokemon to character development. Math. Historical research of cultures, weaponry, and apparel. Writing. Computer programming. 3-D graphics. Problem solving. And on and on and on . . .
10. Alone Time. Most of my children inherited their father’s introverted personality and enjoy their solitude. Although we have a large family, living in a home that will accommodate the need to find one’s own space was important to us. Being alone is when my children develop their talents and gifts as they devote energy and focus to projects. Being alone is when concepts “perculate” and become clear as they use their preferred medium of exploration to play around with ideas such as building a pyramid out of Legos or creating machines out of the same. Being alone is when the children re-energize themselves in order to be able to enthusiastically engage in outside learning opportunities and interesting social options. Being alone is where each person thinks and ponders and imagines and creates, and amazing products emerge from those quiet moments.