Gabriel is not comfortable with unschooling. That is fine, I am not completely comfortable with it, either. Xavier and Dominic would do very well with unschooling. They learn very well using the 'scatter' method. This method consists of scattering what you would like them to learn about around the house in the hopes they will pick things up and read them. Those two always do. They also tend to think of a subject and go after it wholeheartedly and learn everything they can about it. As a result, they get a deep understanding and a wide base of knowledge about the subjects they become interested in. Luckily, they are interested in everything. It doesn't take much to get them interested. They can see a picture of a wildfire and suddenly have an all consuming need to know about wildfires. They can hear a song that includes the word 'foehn' and suddenly be consumed with the need to study wind.
This year, we are continuing to use living books from Ambleside Online. We are continuing to use Math-U-See and Life of Fred for math. At some point this year, I plan to start supplementing that with The Art of Problem Solving series. We are studying Chemistry and Physics. Chemistry, we are doing using MIT's open courseware, Kitchen Chemistry. We'll be using Backyard Ballistics and The Art of the Catapult for Physics. We'll be doing two different things for geography. We'll map out what we read about, plus do map drill work each week. We'll also be studying Latin and Spanish. Xavier will be using Minimus. Gabriel will be using Latin Prep. (Here's a plug for Ray at www.horriblebooks.com - He got my books right to me. I was very impressed by his service. I will definitely be ordering from him again!)
Now, to the part that's changing this year. What? You thought it would all remain the same? But, then how would we move into unschooling? We're using the same books that we would have. Instead of having a set schedule and lesson plan, I am allowing the boys to choose what books to read, when. I have set up their book shelves with the books I want them to read this year. These are the parameters for their school day. Daily activities: Reading ('assigned' books)- 1 hour, Spanish/Latin- 30-45 minutes, Math- 30 min, Writing. Weekly activities: Science twice weekly for two hours (this will include both the planned Chemistry and Physics, as well anything they want to study and nature study), history twice weekly for two hours (any books they want to read about history), fine arts (art, art appreciation, music appreciation) weekly for as long as it takes, geography 10 minutes weekly. Electives: Typing, handicrafts (Xavier and Dominic are dyeing to learn how to knit!), Plutarch's Lives.
The goal is to be done with 'formal' school by lunch so that they have the afternoons free to play, explore, continue something they found interesting during school hours, and do outside activities.
I'm very excited to start this schedule. Now, if I could just get Xavier to stop reading the books I have set aside for next year, I wouldn't have to buy a bunch of new books before October!