My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

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My husband and I made the decision to homeschool Aiden when he was two years old, however unschooling was not something that crossed my mind at the time. I knew we would need to follow a curriculum at some point, however I didn’t really look into it. What I did was follow Aiden’s cues, and expand on the things he showed interest in. For example, if he liked trains, then we would count trains and talk about train colors and so on.

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

While every parent of a 5 year old posts photos on social media about their kids first day of school, I won’t have any to share of my 5 year old. Not because I don’t have a photo of him, because trust me, I have tons (lol), but because every single day of his life is his first day of school, meaning every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Not only from me, but from other people and the world around him. I chose to homeschool Aiden, we are going the unschooling route and this is my first year unschooling a kindergartner.

Why Did I Chose To Homeschool My Son?

Honestly, there are not a lot of reason why we chose the homeschooling path, we just knew it would be perfect for our family, especially seeing how well Aiden was thriving and how much he was learning. I get asked this quiet often so let me list a few top reasons why we chose to homeschoool our son.

1. I want to be the one to educate my son

There is not much to explain with this reason. We as his parents simply believe that we can do a better job educating our son. He will have our one on one attention versus being a classroom full of children and having one teacher.

2. I am not a fan of the American school system

I have attended school in two different countries, Cameroon and the United States, and my husband has attended school in Nigeria, so we wanted to be able to incorporate different aspect from both as part of his education.

3. I want my son to take a different learning path than I did

My husband and I went to traditional school from when we we just three years old until we graduated high school and we did just fine. However we wanted a different path for our son. We just feel like he could accomplish so much and do so much home being homeschooled.

homeschooling

my husband and I made to choice to homeschool Aiden when he was just two years old

3. I am raising a global citizen

Travel is a huge part of our curriculum, and our goal is to raise a global citizen who is open and accepting of other cultures, as well as well traveled and well versed about the world we live in. Having to request time of school on a weekly or monthly basis just wouldn’t work for us.

4. I don’t want my son to spend all day at school

This may sound like an attachment thing, but trust me it isn’t. We don’t see any reason why a five year old should spend 6 to 8 hours at school mostly sitting at a desk doing school work when they could be sitting on the floor building puzzles, or at the park riding bikes, or out of the country of a fun trip exploing the world, or even just at home doing what he wants and what he enjoys.

5. I want my son to know that the world is his classroom

Truthfully, the world is Aiden’s classroom and he learns so much from everyone he encounters as well as all the places he visits.

Unschooling and Worldschooling

Before Aiden turned five, I slowly started researching different types of curriculum to figure out what would be a best fit for his age, but then I stopped. Aiden turned 5 on February 2018, which means he is supposed to be in Kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year (By the way he turned 5 in New Zealand and had such a blast there).

For the first 5 years of his life, we did not use any curriculum or follow any type of structure or lesson plan, and he did not attend preschool as well, however he can read, count, spell, write, and do everything else that he needs to be doing at 5 years old. I then asked myself, “Why change that now?” So we decided not to use any curriculum for Aiden’s first year of school, because he will be unschooled.

I heard of the terms unschooling and worldschooling, a while back and had slowly adapted that process into Aiden’s everyday learning as he was growing up. Unschooling simply means experienced based learning or natural learning or independent learning and worldschooling is combining learning and travel. There is no one size fits all or one way to do it when it comes to unschooling and worldschooling, and I decided to do both because I believe that they go hand in hand.

What Exactly Does Unschooling Mean

Unschooling is a branch of homeschooling, and the term was coined in the 1970’s by an educator named John Holt. Unschooling promotes non-structured, child directed learning with no set curriculum, lesson plan or schedule. Unschooling is the complete opposite of schooling by not creating a school-at-home environment. When you unschool, you are trusting that your child will learn what they need to know by giving them control of their own education. I really prefer to call it child directed learning because unschooling seems to be misunderstood most of the time because people aren’t familiar with it.

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

To read more about unschooling you can check out these websites:


Is Unschooling Legal?

Unschooling is legally classified as a form homeschooling in California and many other states as well. California laws towards homeschooling are fairly relaxed which I love. Unschooling can be achieved by Filing A Private School Affidavit or enrolling your child in charter school such as Valiant Preparatory which has very relaxed homeschooling requirements.

Aiden is currently enrolled with a local charter called Valiant Preparatory, and the only reason why I enrolled him is so that he could receive educational funds. I love that they don’t micromanage how parents educate their children, and I love that there is support offered as needed for parents who chose this route. Although we chose to enroll in a homeschool charter program we are still able to unschool because the only requirement from Valiant Preparatory is that we provide a monthly writing sample to the kids ‘Educational Coach’ (EC).

Camping With Kids In Yosemite National Park

the kids spent a lot of time writing on our camping trip – everything was self directed

How To Practice Unschooling

Aiden and his cousins, Ethan (5), Milania (4) and Avery (3) are currently unschooled. We are currently not using and don’t plan to use any curriculum or lesson plans. Our homes are not set up like classrooms and we don’t force them to do any reading or writing or learning. If you see the kids’ reading and writing, that is because it was initiated by them and not me, and they spend most of their days learning. The kids are able to direct their own learning and our job as their parents, is to expose them to as much as we can. We also don’t have a set schedule at home, and we especially don’t have bed time. It may sound like chaos, but trust me it isn’t. This allows the kids to think critically and make decisions especially knowing that actions have consequences.

Unschooling doesn’t mean that the kids watch television every day or do not engage in anything educational. It is quite the opposite; because I do not require them to do any sit-down learning, they ask to do it every single day. They love Spanish, writing, math, geography, science, history, problem solving, building and much more. Sometimes I have to remind them to take a break and go play! Because unschoolers only learn about subjects they are curious about, they tend to be very highly motivated. I don’t remember loving school work at five as much as they do. I just want them to be kids, play, explore and develop a love for learning on their own and they are doing exactly just that.

The kids also travel a lot which allows them to explore their environment, that in turn expand their curiosity to learn more; and this is the worldschooling part of their curriculum. Remember that all travel is travel; a trip to a children’s museum in another city or just simply visiting someplace new, be it near or far is travel.

worldschooling

the kids absolutely love traveling the world, learning new languages and engaging with all types of people

Educational Toys, Puzzles, Board Games And Books For Children (Homeschool / Unschool / In School)

Aiden and Ethan are currently enrolled in Valiant Prep. Milania and Avery will be enrolled as soon as they turn 5 years old and they can’t wait. The boys receive educational funds and the funds were used to purchase the items below. It is important to have at least some of these items at home for your kids. Even before Aiden received any educational funds, I had purchased a lot of these toys for him to play with. Most children’s museums have similar toys for kids, so I highly recommend that you take your children to children’s museums as often as possible.

This summer, Aiden received $500 in educational funds from his homeschool charter program. While some people prefer to use their educational funds on curriculum, I decided to use Aiden’s on educational toys, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) toys and writing materials (crayons, pencils, books) and art supplies such as (dab and dot markers, paint, coloring book) for him.

Click below to see detailed lists of what I ordered with our educational funds as well as other educational toys we have at home:

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

How To Cultivate Learning In Unschoolers 

Even though the kids are unschooled, and have control on what they love to learn, my job as a parent is to make sure they have access to the tools that’ll keep them interested and engaged. It is my job as a parent to guide them through that.

Writing / Language Arts

The kids ask to write every single day, so I got notebooks, paper, pencilsscissors and most importantly an electric pencil sharpener. I got tired of sharpening pencils all day and an electric pencil sharpener is just awesome. They write all sorts of things in their notebooks. When they go to bed, I usually look through to see what they’ve drawn or written and I am always very amazed.

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

Math

Counting cubes are great for math. The kids usually try to use their fingers and toes to count, however, having counting cubes or counting bears makes it so much easier. Pattern blocks are also a great resource for math, make sure to pair it with activity cards.

Sports

The kids spend most of their days playing outside. Outside time is very important, and I believe that kids should spend more time playing outside versus inside sitting at a desk learning. Good thing that they do love spending time outside, swimming, biking, riding scooters, playing soccer, jumping in the bounce house, playing in the sand box and water and sand center etc.

My backyard is set up so that the kids can enjoy spending time outdoors doing whatever it is that they enjoy without getting bored. Knowing that Aiden would be homeschooled, making our backyard an ultimate kids playground for him was priority. The kids also love going to the park, the beach, hiking; basically all outdoor sports and they are super active. Even more active than I am.

did someone say pool time

Science

This is probably one of the kids favorite subjects. Trying out new experiments is so much fun. My First Mind Blowing Science KitPrimary Science Lab Activity SetMini Explorer Light-up Terrarium Kit, Magnet Lab KitMy First Microscope and Talking Microscope.

Workbooks

I am not a big fan of workbooks, however the kids are. They love writing in their workbooks. My go to workbook is the DK Workbooks, and they have all grade levels. The boys have the kindergarten DK Books, Geography, Problem Solving, Language ArtsSpelling, Handwriting, Math and Science. The girls use the pre-kindergarten workbooks from the Target dollar spot.

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

Art

What kid doesn’t love doing artwork? This keeps them busy for hours, painting and coloring and cutting. For art they have scissors, dab and dot markers, fine point markers, twistable crayons, twistable color pencils and the Melissa & Doug art set. The decorate your own art is fun too. I got twistable crayons because the kids can be rough on crayons and they won’t use them especially if they are cracked or blunt. So that takes away all of that. They also have coloring books.

STEM Toys

STEM simply stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Stem toys use a combination of several things to keep the kids brain active. The kids favorite are the Snap Circuits which requires them to build projects with electrical parts. The box says grades 2 and up but the boys are five and in kindergarten, and can independently build these projects together with the help of an adult once in a while. Creative Construction Engineering and Think Fun Roller Coaster Challenge are also awesome STEM toys for kids.

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

Reading

Books are very important and the kids self taught to read with guidance of course. It just sort of clicked and they woke up one day being nosy and trying to read my texts. Their favorite books are the Bob Books as well as I Can Read series. The Big Book Of Why is one of their favorites, and truthfully, mine too. I learned things from this book that I didn’t even know. There are so many awesome kids books to choose from.

The kids have a library card and we visit the library often, however we also spend a lot of time reading books at home, in the car, basically all over. The most important thing is that they have access to books everywhere. I also carry books in my purse just in case we go somewhere and they want to read or they want me to read to them.

Building

The kids love building things and taking them apart and then do it all over again. Magnetic blocksLegos, Lego car piecesZoobGears, Engineer building set, are perfect for this. The kids favorites are Build your Own and Take Apart Kids Airplane DIY Toy and Build Your On Toy Racing Car.

My First Year Unschooling A Kindergartner

Pretend Play / Imaginative Play

The kids have a play kitchen, lemonade stand / grocery store, shopping cart, pet care play set, cash registereveryday heroes figurine toys, costumes / dress up clothes and so many other items. It is very important for kids to be able to role play as it builds their imagination.

Puzzles

Table puzzles and floor puzzles are both a big win with the kids. The key thing is to ensure that the pieces are not too small so that kids don’t get overwhelmed building it by themselves. USA map puzzle, number puzzle, jigsaw barn puzzle, wood puzzles etc. There are so many great ones.

Board Games

There are so many great board games for kids. I love board games because they get your mind thinking quickly. Some favorites are Little Red Riding Hood, Guess Who, 5 Second Rule Jr, Headbanz, Jenga, Sequence for Kids, and Connect 4. Game night is such a great way to connect with the kids and they look forward to it all the time.

Geography

The kids also love watching and learning about the solar system and the earth, and really enjoy this solar system puzzle is really fun. However, most of their Geography lessons are covered through travel, which is great.

Tip: If you are interested in incorporating travel as part of your homeschooling program, it is possible and doable on a budget. The best website to search for tickets is Skyscanner as it allows you to find the cheapest time to fly anywhere in the world. This is perfect as a homeschooler because there are no travel restrictions which means that you can travel during low season hence cheaper costs. Also make sure you download the Skycanner App which allows to track several flight prices until you are ready to purchase, the Skycanner App is super handy and my favorite. For hotels, TripAdvisor is perfect as it shows all  hotel reviews and prices for where to book the cheapest hotel, as well for attractions. It is my go to when booking hotels, or excursions in a new country.

Also check out the links below for more tips on traveling with kids.

summer time fun in puerto vallarta with kids

the kids, July 2018 after just landing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Always remember that there is no right way to educate your child. You have to do what works for your family and most importantly, what works for your child. I have seen Aiden and his cousins develop a love for learning, learn how to read and write, count, build, think critically and do so many other things on their own; with parental guidance of course. They are thriving and doing so well, and this post is so that other’s know that there are other options if traditional school isn’t working for your child.


Don’t forget to check out my other posts on homeschooling below:

 

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