Our Unschooling Plan for the New Year
I know, I know. Unschooling your kids means that you go with the flow and allow their curiosity to guide what activities and learning we will be doing on any given day/week/month. I am on board with that concept, but I also think it's important to have some sort of guideline as a family and mini-society to utilize as we think about the upcoming year. Below I'll detail our Unschooling Plan for 2018 and the thought process behind it all.
Traveling While Unschooling
One of the benefits of homeschooling and unschooling your kids is the flexibility it allows you for traveling. Joe travels a decent amount for work, so we will be able to piggy back off of some of those trips to see new cities. Free hotel room? Yes, please. Plus, we have earned enough points so that we have a companion pass with Southwest. Which means a 2nd person gets to travel for free whenever Joe takes a flight!
We got the kids involved in this process, which was good and bad. Townes has very strong opinions about traveling. To the point where Joe and I decided maybe we'll just make the travel calendar and not tell them until we're ready to leave LOL
We jotted down a general idea of places we want to visit, conferences we want to attend, and work trips we will tag along to.
There is a 100% chance that our actual travel log will look different from this, but it was nice to get the wheels turning. I mean, we have the flexibility--there is no reason we shouldn't be out there gaining experiences and learning outside of our home (and State!)
Kate was game for whatever, as usual! Although, usually, her favorite part of any trip is the hotel room (just like Townes). Maybe this year will be the year that they turn into the travelers we want to be with our flexible homeschooling approach.
Our family doesn't attend church. I was raised a Mormon and Joe was raised a Christian, but never attended weekly services. I left the church in high school and while the experience kind of ruined me on organized religion, I think going to Sunday School is an easy way for kids to learn about morals, ethics, standards, etc. We obviously try to incorporate that into our day-to-day just like everyone else, but since we will now have more time with our kids, we should be able to incorporate it more and with hands-on examples.
I'm thinking this is something we can try to bring into our regular family meetings (more on those below). Here is a quick list of ideas on things we can cover:
- Gratitude, etc
Unschooling Finances and Chores
Do you have a system for chores and allowance? Are they intertwined? I would love to hear how you manage this in your home.
We have given our kids an allowance for about four-ish years now and after doing a lot of research on it, we decided to give them a weekly allowance based on their age (a 7-year-old would get $7/week). Once they hit double digits, we capped it at $10.
The allowance is something they get and they can decide if they want to save it, spend it, or give it away. We don't give them any rules. From what I read, it's best to let them learn by doing and let them make mistakes when it comes to their allowance.
Family chores are something that we do as a family to support each other and are not tied to allowance. Extra chores or paid jobs are in addition to allowance.
While I agree that kids need to have their own money to fool around with and 'make mistakes', I don't think that's really what is happening with our kids. Saving happens by accident because they forget they have the money in the bank. They suddenly remember if we are at Target and then Townes usually says, "how much money do I have". Typically, I guess and then he proceeds to spend what my guess is.
And because I feel like we're holding up the line with multiple transactions, I sometimes hastily just tell him I'll pay for it with my tab and that I'll transfer what he owes us out of his bank account. Guess how often that happens? Yeah.
I have had many plans of printing off their bank statements week to week and reviewing them during our 'family meeting'. But the family meetings happen so rarely and I NEVER remember to do the statement printing.
Now that we are unschooling, I will have more time and headspace to incorporate this idea into our weekly routine.
Anyways. I would like to tweak the system a bit. I think by reviewing their bank statement every week and tracking their spending, they will have a better grasp on things. Plus, I think we will require that they use this money for fast food trips, including treats like Dairy Queen, etc. Usually, the allowance has been used to buy candy or toys. And we pay for fast food. Usually because I don't want to cook. But sometimes they ask and I go for it because: LAZY. Maybe we'll have them pay for their happy meal if it wasn't part of the plan and we'll pay when it is part of the plan.
I think making this small change will help them think about a) eating fast food/treats and b) budgeting.
Regular Family Meetings
We have started and stopped weekly Family Meetings for about the past year and a half. If I put some thought into it, I could drill down to the reason why. But off the top of my head, the reasons they haven't been 'regular' is that our weekend schedules are always different (class? hair cut? golf? playdates?) and/or one or more of us is just not motivated to sit and have a family meeting (bonus reason: at least one of us has a hard time sitting still). No names mentioned.
The goal is to start having them once a week and it just makes sense to me to do it on a Saturday or Sunday. That's the perfect time to look at the calendar for the week ahead and get those things on the calendar. We have also tried to incorporate discussions on how to better our family and talk about being a good citizen, etc. We even had a family mission statement that we would read at the start of every meeting! I need to dig that bad boy out :)
Perhaps we could incorporate them into one of our regular family meal times. More on that below:
Regular Family Meals
I grew up in a busy household as the 7th of 8 kids. My mom had a hot, full meal on the table every night (by my recollection) or at least 5-6 nights a week. How she managed to do this is beyond me. Literally, BEYOND my level of comprehension. Just coordinating a hot meal to be eaten with everything at the correct temperature at the right time is a challenge for me. There are so many things to remember and coordinate--I find it extremely overwhelming. Never mind doing it for a family of 10!
So I value the concept of family meals, but not enough to sacrifice my sanity to make it happen. Cooking is not something I enjoy.
Lately I've been really trying to coordinate our meals, despite not having a hot, full dinner prepared. The kids might be eating grilled cheese and tomato soup while Joe and I have chicken stew (or nothing at all! He practices intermittent fasting from time to timel). The important point is that we are breaking bread together...and connecting as a family.
My goal is to have two family meals a week. I know that sounds pathetic, but with our schedules, it's the reality. Sunday afternoon/night and maybe Saturday morning?
Start small and build from there is my thinking on this. That philosophy can be applied to everything we want to do in 2018. Keeping realistic expectations will help us maintain some sanity.
So that is our unschooling plan for next year. 2018 will be our first full year of unschooling and by putting together some loose ideas, it will help guide us, so we aren't a complete rudderless ship ;)
Follow along on Instagram to see what we're up to: @kristiinacraven