a summer of unschool

tomorrow is quinn’s first day of school! but not his first day of unschool… it’s roughly his 2020th day of that. and counting… by the way, in case you are catching up here after a while away (i know i have been missing some posts on blogs i follow throughout the summer months) quinn is attending our living school this coming year, a radically cool school that i believe will seamlessly mesh with our unschooling life. you can read my education manifesto here, and get excited with me.


i haven’t done a month of unschool post in 3 months, so here’s the whole summer in a nutshell! this summer featured lots of gardening of course. i have found that quinn chooses to participate occasionally, and more often than not is content to let me do my garden thing while he does his thing. and this way, the times he does choose to join in seem all the more quality. he participated with abandon, for example, in planting sunflower seeds we saved last fall, and our vast sunflower crop is just about to burst into bloom!

lots of fruit was harvested- huckleberries, cherries, blueberries, and again, there were times i went off and foraged and quinn chose to abstain, while the times he chose to join me were in general very good. (grumblings of “i’m never ever coming to pick cherries with you again!” were heard, but he easily shifted back into eating 1107 more cherries off the tree with sparkle stories coming through his headphones. he’s a good sport.) he helped with other odd chores, such as picking up grass clippings, watering in the greenhouse, feeding our friend’s goats, washing and setting the table, mixing pancake batter, and more, on his initiative.

we worked on interpersonal skills. (i always find it so funny to have to label such things- camping with friends is just life, it’s not just about socialization of children. but we did do some socializing.)


we spent time with baby pancake, who is doing her own unschooling, and excelling at it i might add. (here she is working on her fine motor coordination by picking up black beans and dropping them in a mason jar.) we spent time outside as much as possible!

indoors, we learned a lot of new games! we played twister, several kinds of monopoly, and quinn has begun a love affair with chess. he likes it in a box, he likes it with a fox. he likes it in a house and with a mouse. uno was also played, which is not new, but much loved in our family.

artsy craftsy things were a constant. quinn is way into coloring and sticker books these days. we also did some collage art, some computer “paint” program, and a large t-rex drawing in a cool coffee shop that had paper and colored pencils laid out on every table for customer doodling. that last photo shows how even stickers provide real-life skills needed as a bill-paying adult. (there are some in our household who might postulate that we may be approaching sticker excess….)


literacy. solidifying his grasp of letter sounds. keeping score at a baseball game.  pretending to read the newspaper. actually sounding out a few words here and there in storybooks (but he is often reluctant to do so and i am not pushing it!) and playing dinosaur train on the computer (one day at mama’s work). books we’ve read this summer: books about dinosaurs, mrs. frisby and the rats of nimh, and my side of the mountain, as well as lots of storybooks i didn’t keep track of. nimh is an old favorite for quinn, while my side of the mountain is becoming a new favorite.


he worked on numbers. he seems to like to see them in front of him, and will initiate this type of counting (with strawberries, or tortilla chip “volcanoes”) on his own frequently. legos are a big hit right now, and i can see the way they help with number concepts, just simply through play. he does some simple grouping/multiplying at times.

how is it that i have only one single dinosaur picture from this entire summer? this one is from the laughing planet cafe, the day he got a filling (hence the expression as he tries to suck through the straw with half of his face numb), and the cafe has dinosaurs on every table. what a find! oh, and the food is good, too! i happen to know that dinosaurs remain firmly on his very most favorite things list, so don’t be fooled by the lack of dino footage. he will talk your ear off about them and you will learn a lot. watch out.

there’s always so much i forget about as the days rush by. my haphazard phone camera method of keeping track of it all misses many subtle skills learned and projects undertaken. also missed are the things that are so fleeting and can’t be photographed- like when he learned on his own that when he stuck a toy propeller out his car window, it was super awesome and spun really, really fast. i know this somehow translates into his eventual love of physics as a high school junior, i just can’t articulate it at the moment. sometimes it’s just that i forgot to charge my phone and can’t take a photo due to low battery syndrome. but looking back, it seems to me we did have quite a full summer of learning and living and loving!


(and i’d be lying if i said i didn’t feel like this last day before kindergarten was a big deal. a big deal it is, i admit it! a happy one! a rite of passage, yadda yadda. oh, the mixed emotions of motherhood!)

1 comment to a summer of unschool

  • he is just so darn cute. that last picture is awesome – the smile and the glasses. *love* him. And yes…that letting go is hard (we didn't it just for a week this summer for day camp and it was so *STRANGE*). He'll do great. *you'll do great. love to you. xo
    debbie recently posted..a magical milestone

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