Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Structured School

A while back, I posted about how we were trying more structure in our school day.  I thought I'd write an update about how that's going.

It's not.

The whole structure thing lasted all of a week, maybe two or three weeks if you're loose about interpretation.  However, it served it's purpose as far as providing a push past stagnation, so it's all good.

We are back to not at all structured.  Davan does things as the mood strikes or as she's planned in advance.  

For example, I came home absolutely drenched from my morning run in the pouring rain to find that Davan had done a few chores and was, for a change, sitting at her desk, doing math.

This is a view of her room that you don't usually see.  Her desk is inside her closet, so when the closet is closed, you can't see it at all.

She was almost late to teaching at Do Jump because she'd gotten so involved.

Yesterday afternoon, I met a friend to walk and Davan had to come with me because we had her back appointment directly after.  We met at a library so that Davan could hang there while we walked.

When I went in to collect her, she'd found a few books she wanted to check out.

She spent most of the rest of the afternoon/evening immersed in geography.  A few years ago, she went through a similar phase with US geography, but now, it's all about the world.

She found this web site and is having fun with the how many countries can you name games.

She's also been really into languages lately.  She didn't do any yesterday, but she's been flying on her French and has done a year's worth of French study as of this weekend. 

She also opted to use a good chunk of her long term savings to buy herself Rosetta Stone for German.  We found a good deal on it and it came last week.  She's been spending at least a half an hour a day on each language most days.

Additionally, she's decided she wants to learn sign language and has been using various videos on You Tube to learn words and phrases.  

My time is nearly up to write this blog entry, as Davan has already made it clear that she needs the computer to work on her languages.

Of course, she always finds time to read and do various writing projects.  She decided to add up all the hours she spends doing her regular actives each week with times for things such as sleeping, brushing her teeth, walking to and from Do Jump, hanging out with Lena and pretty much anything else you can think of.  Then she wrote it all up in her notebook.  She discovered that she has 20 hours of unaccounted for time and is now curious about what she does with those hours.  She's thinking of doing a detailed study.

Here's to the joy of learning what interests you!


  1. See this is what I want to do more of. Just totally let Keilee take control. But it scares the crap outta me! I am slowly backing off but I have moments of madness where we must do something NOW! Love how Davan is learning what SHE is interested in.

    1. Okay - this reply has nearly turned into a post of it's own, but I'll leave it here. Just be warned - I go on and on!

      We've always unschooled...with the exception of that one week, I guess, and even then it was with Davan's agreement.

      What that meant when she was younger never did really resemble what most people would think was learning. The most school-y thing she did was read.

      She always has loved books and I think that just letting her go with that - reading to her when she was young, getting her audio books, making lots of trips to the library - is what set the stage for her to be able to learn.

      One thing I've always done is strew her path with interesting things. We did a lot of going to the science museum when she was young. I would go to the library and go all through the kids' section, both fiction and non fiction and just read everything to her. I still sometimes do this for her - mostly non fiction, as she picks her own fiction these days pretty much exclusively. She'll do the library scouring herself sometimes now, but I'll find somewhat different things than she might. Sometimes she just sends them back, most of the time she reads them and sometimes she holds on to them for months, continually renewing while she devours it again and again.

      It's only been in the last year or so that her learning has really taken on the form of subjects that others would recognize as such. That is when she first started with any sort of math curriculum. Before that, it was all math by games, discussion and general observation. Even so, when she did the state mandated standardized tests, she'd test right in the 50th percentile. Now, though, that she's decided to really do math, she's already worked up to pre algebra, which would be considered advanced for 8th grade.

      And now she does Rosetta Stone, which you can equate into years of language.

      Other than that, I'd say she mostly throws herself into a particular topic and will live there for a while. Right now, it's geography. Not too long ago, though, it was DNA and genes.

      It all seems to work out, though! With the exception of the 50th percentile-ish for math, she has always tested really high - 99th overall the last couple of times. And that's all without any sort of teaching to the test or trying to cover certain topics.

      I can totally see, though, how it can scare you to let go and let it all develop. On the other hand, what if you gave it a year? Would it make a big difference in Keilee's overall learning even if she spent the year not learning anything? Mind you, I seriously doubt that would happen, but if it did. A motivated student can cover a whole lot of math/history/whatever in a short period of time. Think of kids that move to a different school with a different curriculum and end up repeating or skipping things. Usually, over all, they're just fine at the end.

      Just my 2 cents.

  2. OH my 20 whole hours....