It's been a while.
I find that as the years, months, and days fly by, we shift to more of an unschooly lifestyle. We'll probably never fall under the category of true unschoolers, but we're even more "relaxed eclectic" than ever. We still set goals and make plans, but these are negotiable and fluid. As always, we do whatever works for us at any given point in time, and we're never afraid to shift gears or direction. The main difference these days is the shift from planning ahead to documenting the work as/after we do it.
As I've mentioned here before, we've been including more project time. Instead of once a week, my oldest now has project time daily after she finishes her math and any other required work for the day. She's learning how to make goals and lists of project steps she can take. She has her own project notebook, and I finally got my act together and set one up to record what both girls work on. For now, I have a simple system. I have a page for each child in the front, where I keep a running list of their interests. Potential projects. Then, once they settle into one, I start a page just for that and make notes on all the related activities we/they do. I'm not very good at this, but I'm trying to get better. I'm trying to take notes and take photos more often to document their learning. Not because we have to. Because it's useful and because I want to. (For more info on project notebooks/journals, Lori has some great posts on this. I'm trying to catch up.) My project records are a bit of a mess right now, with photos and notes and lists in different places, but I my goal is to set up a centralized system over the next few months.
I'm still also using a traditional-style weekly planner, with blocks to fill in by subject; however, instead of filling out those blocks with plans for the week, I print out the blank forms and jot things down as we do them. We decide each day what to do, so if it's not feeling like a math mammoth worksheet kind of day, I can write in Khan Academy or a Life of Fred chapter. No erasing, scratching out, or squeezing in a "missed" lesson on another day. I've always been extremely flexible with our planning, but changing up our paperwork has freed me from the stress of shifting things around. And even on our sick days or "lazy" days, I can still write down all the things we do and see for myself how much my kids are learning, instead of circling all the things we didn't do. Focus on the positive.
Since we're planning less, we have more time to do what we want whenever the opportunity strikes. Like last week, when it was unseasonably warm and finally dry, we spent an afternoon cleaning up the garden. The girls asked to each take over a separate raised bed, so they learned how to read the packets and learned how to plant seeds at the correct depth and spacing. They also learned what happens when you don't follow those planting guidelines. When those radish and beet seedlings all came up in huge clumps a few days later, we talked about how the roots need space to grow and how to fix our mistakes.
We had the time and freedom to take advantage of an opportunity. But as I write this, I realize that I didn't write any of it down. Not in my planner. Not in my project notebook. But I took photos and I wrote about it here. So that counts, right?
Like I said, our system isn't perfect, but it is a shift in the right direction. For us. At this point in time. It allows us to focus on our current interests, instead of trying to fit them into some preexisting plan. It allows us to live completely in the present, while allowing for goals and plans. It's flexible, functional, and so very us.