Learning with Blueberries

This fall, V will turn five. Apparently, that means that I need to start freaking out Right Now about Kindergarten. Of course, with a fall birthday, the first decision is whether she starts this year or not. And then the questions start coming as to where. Public or private? Nature school, Waldorf, Montessori? The local public school, or get her into one of the other ones near by that might have a better program? Or don’t fight the arbitrary deadline that she misses by two weeks, and wait until next year and talk about preschool?

Nope. She starts right here, and she starts four and a half years ago.

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Okay, long story short (ha!) we’re planning to home school, and the flavor of homeschooling we prefer is called “unschooling”, “self-directed learning”, or “natural learning”. There are many brilliant people who have written about it more thoroughly and eloquently than I have, so I will leave you in their capable hands.

This is our plan:

  1. Fill out the appropriate forms with the county to declare that, this fall, she starts Kindergarten.
  2. Arrange a couple days a week of awesome social time with like-minded families.
  3. Let learning happen the way it has for thousands of years, without rigorous educational systems, worksheets, standardized testing, and mandatory attendance sheets.

I mean, okay, there will be some filling in along the way, but these amazing girls have gotten this far and learned this much just on the basis of us trusting that children are built for this sort of thing.

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Today’s field trip was to an organic blueberry garden, along with two other families. Among three adults (and nine children, who probably picked almost as much as they ate), we left with a collective twenty-four quarts of blueberries. That’s six gallons of blueberries. V picked at least a full quart all by herself (which…did not make it out of the rows of bushes). And after the children had eaten their fill (I mean, got bored of picking. We’re not just eating them all, we’ll pay for some, I promise!), the little ones just plopped down in the rows with us and started playing in the dirt. P was probably the messiest (because, of course), but she certainly wasn’t the only one to head back to the cars with a head full of soil. I am fairly confident that, by the time we left, her pigtails consisted of nearly as much dirt as hair.

They had a blast. So did we. And they learned! They learned how to work with others. They learned the value of working hard for something you enjoy. They learned about where food comes from, and the physics of throwing dirt. And P and I learned (yet again) that if pale people spend too much time in the sun without any sun protection, they come home pink. Oops. Obviously, we haven’t learned that one well enough yet.

Guess we better go back outside and try to learn some more!

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