Forget the Units

27 Oct

We were planning to study trees this week, but it’s bit of a bust. I spent about 3 hours planning the unit and it’s all just fallen apart. We read DK Eye Know Tree. Stiggy was mildly interested. He did enjoy the poem Very Tall Trees. We went outside and I just did not want to be out there. It’s so cold, windy, and I’m getting another cold. And I was grumpy.

The main reason, really that I’ve called it quits, is that I think Stiggy’s just not ready for nature STUDY. His attention isn’t there, he wants to run around and look at everything, not just one tree. The activities are geared more for 6 to 7-year-olds. I think right now I should just be getting him outside, playing, looking at things, noticing things. We can read nature books and stories, watch a few nature programmes, do some things from I Love Dirt, maybe a few fun projects for fun from my other nature activity books (Kids’ Nature Book, Little Hands Nature Book, and Everyday Discoveries), but without the whole ‘unit study’ approach. I really think Charlotte Mason is right that children make the connections themselves. I’ve seen Stiggy do it many times; I don’t need to spend 2-3 hours a week putting together a unit…on top of all the other planning I do. We’ll just read what catches our interest, look at what catches our eye, do what looks fun, and let our brains tie it all together.

I feel a lot of relief. I want Stiggy to learn about nature, and love it, but it shouldn’t be so much work, and such a burden. I felt pressured to read this book, go outside NOW, then do this activity, all as planned. It was starting to kill my budding interest in nature, and I’m sure it would have done the same to Stiggy. I was headed for home school burnout after only a few weeks.

Phew! I feel better already.

I’ve decided to divide our year into two seasons. It doesn’t correspond to my record keeping, but to the weather. From May to October we will focus heavily on nature. From November to April, we will focus more on handicrafts. I will teach Stiggy to knit, sew (see my sidebar for a fantastic link), cook, bake, crochet, clean, etc. We will still do nature study during the winter, but less. And the other way around for the summer. I just can’t spend several hours outdoors during the winter, and I think home ec skills are really important.

Here’s a great list of recommendations for handicrafts

So, we’ll dig into that, and just spend some time outside and study nature passively, purely for enjoyment. I suppose that means we’re unschooling nature. Hmm, I wonder if we’ll be adding any other subjects to that list. 🙂


3 responses to “Forget the Units

  1. Lynn

    October 27, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    good for you! He will make his own connections & develop his own relationship with the natural world.

  2. Misti

    October 30, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I agree completely with your new approach — although all is not lost. Stack all those books in hands reach and if Stig takes an interest, they will be right there. 😉

    We’ve done that with the lion’s share of books for Jack’s “units”. (In our case, it’s history, but the same idea applies.)

  3. Sherry

    April 11, 2010 at 2:12 am

    I am constantly being amazed by the connections my son makes all on his own. 🙂


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