Evaluating Our Decision to Unschool

Today I decided to try making our own granola bars.  I've been toying with the idea of making more and more things from scratch and granola bars are one of those snacks that my boys eat on a daily basis.

While the boys did help me make the granola bars, I kept thinking we should be doing more school work.

I love that my boys are getting so handy around the house but I keep thinking of how Ian has asked me to start teaching them again and yet I never seem to get around to it anymore.

It's the mom guilt.  Isn't it awful?!

I love that it always pushes me to do better and try harder but sometimes I think it just might kill me.
It's so hard to find the perfect balance between housework, school work, fun & learning (to say nothing of "me" time!). 

Once again I'm looking very closely at the boys and what they do trying to find what they have learned.  

Well, imagine my surprise when Ian helped me make our granola bars and figured out how to double the recipe and measure it all out.  We needed 1 cup of oats but my 1 cup measure was dirty so he said "well if I double the recipe we need 2 cups of oats so I can just use 4 of the 1/2 cup measures right?"  He did this for every measurement; first doubled the amount and then checked to see which measuring tool to use; two 1/4 cups would equal 1/2 cup and so on.  We only dirtied 2 measuring cups and 2 measuring spoons so he did great with converting measures.

The granola bars came out looking and smelling delicious!  If you'd like to try your hand at making your own bars we used a variation of the recipe found on chocolatecoveredkatie.com or else check out my girlfriend's tried and true recipe at impermanentthoughts.  You'll find the recipes are remarkably similar (one uses butter the other used a combo of oil and applesauce).   I say we used a variation of the recipe because we didn't have oat flour (I used whole wheat flour), I used the honey, and brown sugar in place of Stevia.  Next time we're going to try cutting back on the honey and adding peanut butter since all my guys LOVE peanut butter granola bars.

While the bars were cooking Alec was quizzing the boys on all their sea animal facts (and learning new ones himself) using his interactive sea life.  

 I kept reminding myself all morning long that we had a homeschool game day planned for today and the boys would be playing all sorts of games; most of which require math, reading and other assorted school skills.

I think my boys have learned some of the most valuable skills they know playing board games.  They can:
  • add money 
  • make change
  • add up to (and even over) $1 million!
  • read 
  • problem solve
  • multiply
  • practice good sportsmanshi

Today the boys played Amazon; a new puzzle/game I got Alec for his geography fair that he was just dying to play.  They also played memory, Star Wars Trouble, and Apples to Apples.  They played fun games like Ring Around the Rosy and Trainwreck.  It was great.  They had so much fun playing with their friends and Alec swears he learned that bats live in the Amazon since he never knew that.

Once game day was over we went to return some books and pick up ones we had ordered.  By the time we finally left the library I had a bag bursting with books!  They listened to a new Magic Tree House book on the car ride home called A Good Night for Ghosts.  We're learning about New Orleans and the birth of Jazz.

It's funny, but at playgroup today I was talking to a mom who loves teaching literature and history and I was telling her how we focus on math and science and that I just never seem to get around to teaching about history at all but in listening to the book it dawned on me just how many historical fiction books we read and how much we ARE learning about history!

Alec read his whole piranha book on the way home.  He wants to read about each of the animals in the rain forest before the geography fair but he's finding it hard to find books dedicated to each animal (he feels he learns more about each animal if he can read an entire book about just that one animal).  This one was called 20 Fun Facts about Piranhas.  Since he read most of it out loud to me I learned many new facts too!

Ian was reading a book called 20 Fun Facts about Sting Rays in which he became confused when the book said sting rays can be found in every ocean and then said that they live in warm water.  Off we went to look at our map... and had a wonderful, long discussion about geography! 

 I pointed out all the oceans labeled on the map and how they connect.  I then pointed out the Equator, the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.  We talked about warm waters and where they can extend to and I agreed that the book might have been wrong since sting rays probably aren't found in the arctic ocean if they like warm water.

We talked about why the tropics are so warm and how the sun rays shine on a round object/ globe.  We compared the flat map to the globe when Ian noticed the line drawn between Alaska and Russia.  He then challenged himself to find Connecticut on the globe and starting pointing out various states.  We pulled out the United States map and checked out the shape of some of the states.  They started pointing out and reading various names on the world map with Alec filling in trivia that he knew.  "The state bird of New Zealand is the Kiwi bird!"  It was great! 

Ian went out to play in the snow (yes, it's snowing again!) while Alec and Evan played with all the toys that were still out.  They pretended they were squids with tentacles (pool noodle arms) and they were catching their prey.  They pretended they were captains sailing boats on a journey across the sea (the kitchen) as they pushed out toy boats around.

Just listening to them play I hear them applying science, math and other "learned" concepts.  
  • "Evan I'll give you as many chances as you want below 5"  "Below 5?  How about 4 that's below 5!"  
  • "I need 5 tentacles though and we only have 3 so I need to cut one more pool noodle in half and that will give me 5, even though squid have 8 I'll pretend adult squid only have 5." 
I could sit and quote all day long if I really paid attention to their playing but I'll admit I often don't!  I don't want to interfere and sometimes it's hard to just watch and listen without making suggestions or letting them reason out a problem on their own when something crops up.


  1. for a good crispy granola bar, google "ina garten granola bar recipe". it's a good one.


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