Unschooling: there is no plan

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By Jen

Something we are getting to grips with is that there is no plan with unschooling and it’s not a “now we are unschooling”, “now we are off” sort of day or week. We have been very quiet lately doing a bit of deschooling, which coincides with the school holidays, and I think that has been important. After a lifetime of external scheduling of what we ought to be learning at any given hour during the day, in a particular year of life, it’s tricky to switch off and go with the flow. Moreso perhaps for us as parents.

This is what our week has looked like, mid “summer holidays”. We had a “mini plan” because I couldn’t resist the temptation to plan something. I will learn. Katie and her friends Nair and Galaad are organising a fundraising sale for a new elephant haven near where we live (the first attempt in Europe to address where circus elephants will actually go after they are banned from performing – not many people have thought through where these retired ladies are supposed to live for their remaining 30-odd years or more – the charity is founded by Sofie Goetghebeur and Tony Velhurst www.elephanthaven.org). It’s on Thursday in our nearest town, Aubusson. Lots of stalls and car boots are due to congregate for an evening market.  But the way, there was a big piece in the Sunday Times this week on the area, the Creuse, or what the French call la France profonde (deepest, darkest France).  It’s a BEAUTIFUL area, and in some places time has stood still.

So they had a meeting to count how many charity wrist bands they had already sold, and how many were left to sell. They decided on the best way to set up the stand and whether or not they should price the things that have been donated to sell – or whether they should leave the price up to the buyer and how much it is worth to them. They discussed why they shouldn’t get anything for doing the sale and agreed that the elephants needed the money more.

Making a display board for the market.
Making a display board for the market.
The finishing touches.
The finishing touches.

They made display boards and discussed how best to word it in French that 100% of what they received was for Elephant Haven. They made a spelling mistake and discussed how best to cover it up or change it. Katie got a bit upset at this point that the signs were ruined, but having slept on it, things seems less bleak.

That’s also perhaps to do with the fact that a bit of perspective popped up when she needed it. One of our sheep, Dolly, ran off a few months back and met up with the next door ram. The culmination of that summer romance appeared on our grass at the front of the house this morning in the form of a gorgeous black midget ball of wool. Midget not because she/he is a lamb, but midget because she is a Ouessant sheep like her mum and dad. You could nearly fit her in your pocket. These sheep were bred to be small on the island of Ouessant in Brittany so that the women could handle them whilst their fisher partners were out at sea.

More photos to follow I'm sure :)
More photos to follow I’m sure 🙂

All Elephant Haven display board art work has been temporarily suspended.

At a breakneck speed which is nothing like her tidying her room speed, the garden has been lamb-proofed by Katie (moveable electric fence moved in case baby gets caught up in it, some straw to lie on and some water for mum). Mum has coaxed her baby over to the shade by a tree for a snooze, the dog and cat are wondering who on earth the newbie is, and breakfast had to move over to beside the sheep so that Katie could check the lamb’s mum was letting baby suckle. She looked almost as shell shocked as us, I’m sure the ram told her everything would be just fine and to go home and forget about her dalliance.

Art work has still not resumed because Katie started googling on the Internet to check sheep gestation periods. We know goats are 154 days give or take, and elephants 2 years, so she was guessing sheep were nearer to goats.   They are.  Then the phone rang. Nair on his mum’s mobile from Aubusson.  He’d been into the gaming shop right in the centre of town and managed to “reserve” a space in the shade right outside the shop for their stand tomorrow. Clever lad!! High footfall, lots of shade, lots of young people.

It’s just been declared that Shaun is the lamb’s name. Katie has checked and thinks the bits look pretty much like a goat and if this were a goat it would be a boy (she has been helping on the goat farm next door with the kidding season for years (mis bas in French – sounds ever so romantic in a French accent but actually means to “drop down” or plop out). By the time we woke up, Shaun was already clean and cordless, mum’s instincts had kicked in. I need to take a lesson from Daisy and trust my instincts about unschooling more. Come to think of it, yesterday and the day before our dog refused to take the shortcut through the side of our field where the sheep was “chilling” (ha): he must have sensed she was in or about to be in labour.

So we have a bit of recycling to drop off in the village and brambles to pick for jam – and 16 jars from the past couple of days to label. And the official letter to post to the Academic Director for the department: the post box is around the corner from the recycling. We hand delivered the other official letter yesterday – to the Mayor – all in terms of Article L131-2 of the Education Code, and await the certificate to allow us to educate Katie ourselves in terms of Circular 2011-238 of 18 December 2011. Phew.

Anyway, back to the lamb and the jam and the Elephant Haven market – it doesn’t feel like school, but it feels…….. right.

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2 Replies to “Unschooling: there is no plan”

  1. I will be interested to learn about how your homeschooling works out.

    1. So far so good :). We will take it a step at a time.

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