2015 is coming to an end so this post is a review of what our unschooling journey looked like in the past 12 months.
Overall, it’s been a challenging year for our family. Unschooling has literally helped hold us together. I cannot imagine how much more difficult doing some of the things we’ve had to do this year would have been if school was an added factor in our lives. Instead, we had the freedom to make choices where the JOY of our family was our only consideration. We grew, we learned and we certainly journeyed. Here is a snapshot of the year that was –
We started the year off in our own home, playing, connecting and enjoying our space.
Hannah and Blake became proficient at swimming through simply having access to the pool (they’ve never had swimming lessons).
We re-commenced our weekly meet-ups at Brisbane’s inner-city community farm space after a break over the Christmas period.
And our fortnightly meet-ups with another group of friends at the creek.
In February we sold our home. This process held many lessons for us all. Letting go, and realising that memories are in our hearts and not in a place, was a big one.
We road-tripped to Goondawindi to visit friends, and then to a little town near Bundaberg in Queensland to see baby turtles hatch and make their journey to the sea. This trip was full of happy memories and connection for our family. Seeing the turtles make their way out of the nest and into the ocean was truly awe-inspiring and something we plan to do again in the near future. Being there and buying tickets actually helps pay for the conservation project and the amount of information that is given by the guides and in the museum was excellent. Travelling really does bond us and experiencing new places together makes for moments we won’t forget.
Daisy weaned which was bittersweet and full of emotion. But overall it was the right choice to make at the right time for our family as a whole.
Planning for our trip overseas went into full swing and all sorts of geographical learning became a consistent feature in our life. Every few days we would discuss another region we planned to visit, or one of the children had a question that led to further information seeking. Often with unschooling the interest comes from the child. But sometimes it is a whole family interest, and they are the ones which really shine a light on the knowledge we’ve all acquired during the process which is a beautiful part of this journey.
Hannah began to seriously focus on her desire to read and it slowly began to come together. I do have a post coming up about how this all occurred but suffice to say, it has been an amazing journey to watch unfold. I never doubted that my children would learn to read without direct instruction, I just wondered how it would happen and to be a tiny part of that experience for her, has been very special indeed.
Easter came and we celebrated by going camping with Brian’s side of the family to a little island that his family visits every easter. Again, just being able to be together without the pressures of work was blissful.
Nature as always featured very heavily in our adventures and explorations all year long.
And this was balanced with lots of unstructured time at home.
In May it was finally time to begin packing for our trip to Europe.
We finally left on our holiday and had amazing experiences every single day. Truly the best 6 weeks of our lives!
When we came back to Brisbane our world was turned upside down as Brian lost his job and we decided to re-locate to Mount Isa as a new opportunity came up. We lived in our caravan while we got to know the isolated outback town but in the end the job wasn’t suitable, and we moved on.
We didn’t leave Mount Isa without a very special souvenir though – our new puppy Echo who we adopted through a rescue agency.
And by August we were settling into our new home in Rockhampton. This was such a big adjustment for us, especially as Brian began working away. To be honest we’re still adjusting to it, so I’ll probably do a post with more reflection about what moving here has really meant to us in a couple of months.
One of the best parts of moving to a new place is making new friends and discovering new places with them and we’ve certainly done that.
There’s one friend though, that kids have always known, and she’s extra special. Brian’s 95 year old Nana (the children’s great-grandmother) has lived here all her life and we really love the fact that the kids are getting to spend so much time with her and make lasting memories together. It’s been a really nice twist to this year that they’ve been able to spend more time than usual with both their great-grandmothers this year – mine in Croatia and Brian’s here in Rockhampton.
And finally, this is the place we spent an extremely large chunk of our year driving all around our state and (in a different car) in Europe. I asked Brian to roughly calculate how many kilometres we’d spent in the car this year with all our trips combined and we’ve driven over 15000kms together this year. Brian estimed that that is equal to about 30 DAYS of driving (not including the normal everyday driving around)! So when I jokingly say we ‘carschool’ I’m actually not joking…! We are often asked what entertainment we provide the kids with in the car and honestly, we don’t! We don’t have in-car tv screens and we don’t give them the iPad in the car because there’s only one. Hannah and Blake are expected to remember to bring their own backpack filled with whatever it is they think they need for the trip and we bring a few dolls and toys for Daisy but of-course she gets bored with them quickly. I provide snacks and great tunes to listen to, and nature provides imagery out of their window. They get bored but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. We talk a lot about all sorts of stuff and they often ask some of their biggest questions in the car. They rest and sleep and use their imaginations and yes, cry. But it’s totally worth it and something that is part of the very fabric of us as a family.
Of-course I cannot possibly photograph all of the learning that occurred this year. That would be like photographing every moment of every day. Suffice to say, we’ve done a lot and we’ve done a whole lot of not much too. Lots of movies and reading books and pottering around outside, trips to the park and pool and to visit family and friends, that’s how we spent the majority of our days. It’s a journey we’re constantly grateful to be living and choosing and unschooling really is the right lifestyle for our family.
We’re very much looking forward to what 2016 holds!