Our fairly relaxed approach to learning

Wait, it’s Saturday! That’s not a school day!

Except, in our new reality, it is. Or at least as much as any other day is. Today, we woke up early and went to breakfast at Shady Maple – where we’d never been – to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. We explored their gift shop – more like a mall, really – and Sarah fell in love with the unfinished wood pieces made by Amish craftsmen. In fact, she loved them so much that she wanted me to buy her the $50 handmade train.

Or, uh, not. So we searched the whole place, hoping to find a small call or one train car or something, made the same way. No luck.

Here’s where brainstorming sets in. We finally figured out that what Sarah loved wasn’t the train. It was the feel and the smell of the freshly sanded wood.

So off we go to Lowe’s, where, bless the good people in the marketing department, they sell a Lowe’s-branded “build your own racecar” kit for about $10 – complete with unfinished wood pieces. SCORE. Crisis averted!

Later, my best friend Nina and I took Sarah, and Nina’s son and stepdaughter, to an indoor “zoo” at the Farm Show Complex, where they rode an elephant (!!); then, we went out to eat. An incredible day. And when I thought about it later, I realized it was as much of a “school day” as any other. We tried new things. We talked. We used creative problem-solving. We spent time with people of all different ages and backgrounds. We had a good time. And, yeah, we learned. That sounds pretty good to me.

I originally described this blog as “relaxed homeschooling in Central Pennsylvania.” That’s true – we’ve made the conscious choice to be as relaxed as possible. I’m a little nervous to label us as followers of any particular style of homeschooling… in fact, I found out later that both “relaxed” and “eclectic” – my other choice for a descriptor – are actually pretty specifically defined in some parts of the homeschooling community. In a lot of ways, I think we’re closest to being unschoolers – a label I’ll talk about more in the future – but, again, I hate to paint us into anything in particular so early into our journey.

But here’s what we are, and what we’re not.

We ARE informal.
We ARE trying to grab teaching and learning moments as they come.
We ARE letting Sarah make the decisions in as many cases as possible.
We ARE trying to find what works for us, and are willing to change as we go if something isn’t.
We ARE actively engaging with our daughter and with the world around us.

We AREN’T using any “textbooks” at this point.
We AREN’T judgmental about other schooling approaches, including public school.
We AREN’T worried (well, at least not too much) about what goes into our portfolio at the end of the year.
We AREN’T comparing our days to what Sarah would have done in her former school.
We AREN’T experts.

So, with that framework in mind as an introduction, I hope you’ll hang around as I figure out more about what we are and aren’t as a family of learners.

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2 thoughts on “Our fairly relaxed approach to learning

  1. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts. Your style and mine sound very similar. I stopped calling myself anything than pins me into a certain style of homeschooling because then people expect certain things from you (even on my blog….) which I find odd. If I write about something that we are doing which is very different than what we have done I will have someone question why we are now choosing a different path. We are following the path that works for us and it is always evolving.

    • Jessica, thanks for stopping by! I am so glad you did – and so glad I’m not the only one who has trouble “defining” our style in a way that fits everyone’s expectations! We’re just us – and we do the best we can! 🙂

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