The year has just begun and so much seems to be starting. As long as I can remember my life has followed the September beginnings of schools. Yet now we are falling into a January to January rhythm. We’ve been in our house a year now, Kevin started a one year job commitment yesterday, and I have a few projects that are getting started (or restarted) with the beginning of 2011.

late is better than never

One project I started a few weeks ago is a learning binder for Alder. In it I’ve made sections for all of the traditional subjects as how they fit into our lives. I even wrote a little about how I think we’re going to approach them. I don’t actually believe in doing discrete subjects, and I think most learning happens through the flow of our lives. But I think it is important for me to understand what my approaches are. Right now my main goal (for lack of better word) are exposure and following his lead.

Already I know that he really wants to learn how to read, he gets frustrated that there is so much out there he can’t access. Yet I can also see from my experience as a teacher that he isn’t ready yet. But knowing him he’ll barrel through despite my belief. So it is my job to create a space for this to happen. One where there is lots of joy and pleasure and no pressure.

I waiver on Unschooling, not the child-led part. I feel that we need the rhythm of a learning time, a point in the morning where the table is cleared, music is on and we are focusing on doing things together, whether it’s a game or project or letters.  Finding that is important for us as a family, like dinners. These moments of calm and coming together create who we are together. I know that words like Unschooling are so loaded in our society that I avoid them, instead I see in us learning that just happens naturally within the rhythm of our life.

Personally this beginning is more about my own education, learning what works best for us as three people and as a family. I know a great deal of this will involve preparation. Having things on hand and organized in a way that when we want to explore them we don’t need to go searching for bits and pieces. As a teacher I was never fully prepared, it was difficult with so many students and external requirements. Now with only Alder and a good sense of who he is I feel like it is easier to bring it all together. Doing this has to become a habit, returning to an old camp counselor rule of the more structure you have behind the scenes the more freedom the children can have.

The other part of preparing myself for this learning journey is understanding how best of create a record of the learning, again this is something that needs to become a habit. I am exploring this now while it is more for me than anyone else.  Part of me feels safest with a spread sheet with the ‘common’ subjects represented where at the end of the day I find how what he has explored fits into the categories.  But I would rather be creating some dynamic journal full of pictures and notes, observations and questions. Again all of this has to do with habit, right?

I feel that our learning journey has reached a new stage. Or perhaps it is that my life is coming into a new era. While I am discussing everything very piece-meal it is all part of a whole life change I am creating. At some point I will have words for this larger picture but for me now I will focus on small pieces because they are approachable.

And in all of this it is my own emotional barriers that need to come down. I need to be taking on those everyday little dreams that need no more than motivation to begin. I can see so many places I thought were mountains are just prairies seen at different angles.

There is something about 2011 that just brings Opening to mind. Stephanie asked what were our words for the new year and I said rhythm, gratitude and freedom, and they are my personal words but opening is the word that belongs to the year itself. With all four of these words in mind I will walk further into this family journey of learning we have chosen.