Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Without a Plan

I wake up most mornings without a plan. By time I wake up DD, I have been up myself for 3-1/2 hours. Cooking, Cleaning, doing my Bible Study, getting something done on my "To Do" list. It is 8:30 when I wake her up most mornings. Which is reasonable considering she usually passes out around midnight.

We might lay next to each other and cuddle or talk before we grab something quick for breakfast, usually a fruit, cheese, granola bar, or toast. Some mornings we make homemade pancakes. Yum.

Whatever we decide to do, it usually leads to something else. Making pancakes leads to science experiments or doing more with fractions. Which might lead to board games. Which leads to computer games. Then lunch. Then a tired girl who wants books. Then there are mornings like yesterday. We have random items laying around for use. After a quick breakfast of cinnamon bread, (baked two days before) DD noticed I had finished wrapping gifts which meant empty wrapping paper rolls. Oh....the endless opportunities! She opted to make her own road map. Yes, Geography done! We have two left. She wants to make a giant roll out card for Daddy. Reading/Writing! Then she got bored so I showed/taught her to make origami hearts, which lead to further research about that as well as her creative plan to make a butterfly out of the hearts. (She decorated it with stickers of bikini tops, bottoms, hats, a purse, etc.) Then she remembered we never finished her most recent issue of High Lights magazine her Nana sent her. Filled with reading and games. We finished it. And so of course that lead to more reading and practicing reading scripts for her audition next Fall. We have a long way to go...and so on. This morning Grandpa will be here shortly after she wakes up. I know we'll make brownies for the librarians tomorrow, exchange gifts, go over some state quarters and post cards he is bringing her and work together on making a family dinner. No telling what else. Some mornings DD wakes up asking to bake or build an air plane. Some mornings we do nothing but play games on the computer or build blocks. Other days I might have in mind an activity we can do for our unit study, which she is usually more than willing, but can decline nicely. There are the days at the Center. And days we have gymnastics. Or like lately, visiting relatives, holiday baking, Christmas parties, wrapping, homemade gifts, and special lessons on Jesus' birth. All of it relevant. We just let the day take us wherever and juice as much from it as we can.

I have seen the results in my child and I like what I see. One day we may be more structured, but right now, I like learning as we go.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From a Tired Homeschool Mom and Super Wife

Before anybody gets judgemental about what I'm going to say, let me clarify. What I am saying is, "I am tired FROM." These are the things that make me tired inside. Things that require me to need some reenergizing. In no way am I saying, "I am tired OF" anything in my life. I wake up every morning and Thank God for all I have and everything I have the time to do: teach my child, care for my home, help others, be there for my Husband 110%. And the list continues. I wouldn't change what I do or who I have become for the World. But with all the time I have and everything I do that people consider me "another one of those Super Moms that has to be better than others," which is NOT why I do what I do...I get tired too. I sometibmes say, "Play on the computer as long as you want." while I retreat to the bath. I sometimes allow late sleeping in the morning so I can have "just 30 more minutes" to shop online for Christmas. No matter how great it looks on the outside, none of us can be Super Mom all the time...

I am tired from teaching. From making everything a lesson. From going to the grocery store and not being able to go in and out quick because it has to be a lesson. From not being able to watch TV without it being educational. From having to have meaning behind everything, especially holiday celebrations. I am tired from not saying no to reading her a book-ever. And from double checking she knows her math facts forward, backward, and everything between.

I am tired from using my nice words and soft tones. From saying, "That's okay. Next time we will make sure not to drop the whole batch of brownie mix on the floor." From saying, "I feel like we need time apart. Let's go to separate rooms." From having to continually put myself in somebody else's shoes and understand everything. From not being able to YELL OUT the way I feel.

I am tired from caring for someone else 24 hours a day 7 days a week. From clothing someone else in the morning to making that extra plate at dinner. From not being able to just sit down for 24 hours in pure silence. And sleep or watch TV. I am tired because my child has no bedtime. Because I can't just clock out at 8 PM and be on call for nightmares or sickness only.

I am tired from cooking. From buying organic and watching what we eat. I'm tired from making big, from scratch meals with fresh vegetables and homemade seasonings.

I am tired from cleaning all the time. From making sure there is no dust on the hardwood. No dog hair on the couches. I'm tired from mopping the floors by hand and keeping the laundry caught up. From making sure the drawers are organized at all times. And that the window sills are paw print free.

I am tired from making all the calls and paying all the bills. From making sure the budget is just right and everything is paid off right on time. From being the bad guy who says, "We can't afford that this week. Look what we spent here, here, and here." And from being the one who scrambles to keep us debt free, while the other half-my Husband, likes to see how far in the negative he can make us go, as long as we get that new phone or flat screen.

I am tired from driving everywhere. From one side of town to the next. And "After we leave here, we need to stop by two stores before we head home."

I am tired from helping others at the Center. I feel like I give it my all, but maybe that isn't enough. Maybe I need to do more. I'm tired from telling them, "It will be okay. Here is my story. Here is what God says." And even then sometimes, they still make the decision to end a Life.

I am tired from not having alone time to do what I want to do, not clean or pay bills, but bake without feeling, "This could have been a Math lesson." From not having enough alone time with my Husband. To resorting to sending DD to her room for 30 minutes a day on the weekend just so we can cuddle, talk, start a movie in peace and quite.

I am tired from not being able to ride in the car and just think or listen to music. From having to always have a conversation or play the Guess Animal game.

I am tired from being everything for my Husband. From getting up at 5AM after going to bed at midnight. From cooking the same breakfast for him every morning, oatmeal and two eggs. Then on to boiling the soup for his thermos. Making him a protein and creatine shake. And making sure to set out his vitamin and two BCAAs in a plastic Rubbermaid and a 1/2 gallon water bottle to wash it down with.

And at night, cooking dinner for an hour, cleaning for an hour, and then setting our all the clothes, vitamins, and breakfast to make the next morning. At which point I am too tired to moved or do anything else.

I am tired from upholding this image of "perfect." From having to make sure we are always learning. From having to prove even though my kid is homeschooled, contrary to popular believe she IS smart, involved, and NOT socially akward. From having to be involved in everything. From knowing everyone in the community and having to carry on intelligent conversations with them, which I generally enjoy, but would like to just have the option to be quiet for once. From having to know the ins and outs of my Husband and serving his every last need, no natter now trivial. Does he expect me to? For the most part, yes. And he appreciates it. Do I expect him to work and support us? Yes. And I appreciate it too. I'm tired from going to church every single Sunday and being at every meeting. Every event. Every invite we ever receive. Dressed and ready with homemade goodies in hand.

I Love what I do. There are no words to describe the joy and fulfillment I have. But some days being the best person you can be at ALL times you can be it, it will make you tired. And you just need to wind down.

For those of you who haven't noticed, this is how I wind down. I write every thought in my head. I ramble. And I reason. But now I feel much better. When I look in the mirror, I like who I see. I like the family environment my Husband and I have created. And I like the lifestyle that we live. But sometimes we all need a little sleep. So that is what I shall do.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Random Thoughts and Goals

Just a few goals for next year I have been going over in my head.

-We will start with our Ocean Geography Fair Project.

-We will study the History of Epiphany and Celebrate it.

-Start focusing more on subtraction, memorizing quick facts.

-Sam picked Wizard of Oz as her new chapter book. (She is auditioning for the Wizard if Oz play next Fall.)

-Incorporate more Bible time because of Sam's sudden, intense interest in the Bible.

-Group activities, field day especially.

-Start Organic Garden

-Learn to Can Together

-Paint with Nature

I will add more as I think of some goals.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Party

So my first official project with CHEA went A-MAZING!!

I worked with the board to get everything together. We met twice as a group. Once on a board meeting. Once on a field trip. And a few times alone at individual houses and the party location.

We divided up the responsibility. Larissa took over party games and location. (She was able to get a large room at her church for free.) Nekey craft. Penny, entrance game. (Guess how many candies in the jar.) My job? Supervise. I made sure everybody did their part, kept count of adults and children. (We do sign ups on the forum.) Posted updates. Made sure we had enough supplies. Etc. Etc.

It was so easy. And as cheesy as it sounds, I now have the CHEA Christmas box in my garage and I am the keeper of said box until summer break. I feel as if that was my initiation into the group of Moms. All of it. Planning the party. Going to their houses and planning/chatting while Sam played with her new friends. And keeping the box! They trust me to hold on to it. They know we aren't going anywhere. In fact, I was recently offered a spot on the board next year. My dream! It's like PTO, but we plan everything! Or at least help others who want to initiate something. Fieldtrips. Playdates/Socials. Parties. Field Day. (I recommended next year we do a Christmas float. They LOVED it! So next year we are on for that.) I just want to be 100% involved for Sam. Not TOO involved. But still...Involved.

Now I know I sort of got off on a tangent about me, but as a homeschool Mom, it gets lonely at times, and so it really has been nice to gain that acceptance and finally have this group of friends where we sit and chat about, "How long have you been homeschooling?" "What style do you use?" and joke about how we all put addressing Christmas cards in the lesson plan book under reading/writing. So selfish as it may sound to anybody who does glimpse into my life and read this, I need friends too.

The party itself went very well. We spent an hour setting up. All the kids helped. The younger ones like Sam set out food, hooked ornaments, spread out bowls, etc. It was nice to see Sam get involved in it and kind of learn what it is like to set up a party. It gave her a sense of contributing and made her feel proud. 

Afterward, since we showed up 2 hours before the party, we had an hour to sit and chat and make sure everything was just right. Samantha sat with her friend, Julia. They played their iPods, practiced cartwheels, played games, talked about books, and giggled about who knows what. Some kind of elf stuffed thing I believe. 
Once everyone arrived with their dishes-everyone brought something-we welcomed, prayed, formed a line, and started serving. We ate. Sam sat with her friend Julia and 6 other girls. I sat at a table with a few other Moms and teenagers. (Age 10 to 16.) It was interesting to hear them talk about volunteering, applications, reading, schoolwork, and family.

The craft was simple (marshmallow snowman ornaments) so everyone did it at their table.

Everybody enjoyed the games-Decorate the Human Christmas Tree, Snowball Fight, Rudolph Nose, and a few others.

Then we worked together to sort out the food donations for families. (We did that as opposed to a gift exchange.) We had enough to feed 30 families 3 meals apiece.

People began leaving after they did their part of the clean up. (When you sign up, you have to put weather you are helping with set up or clean up. This is nice because it is easier and faster to get things done.)

All the kids were exhausted. We were the last ones to leave. Once the doors were locked, we headed home just in time for dinner and Sam passed out until 9 o'clock. (At which point she woke back up, ate, read some books, played on the computer, and went back to bed with us.)

I'd say we had a good time. Turn out was amazing. 75 People. I haven't seen that many CHEA families together at an event since the Picnic.

This was the last gathering of 2013. Definitely a great way to close out the year. Next year will be full with more playdates, Valentines Skate Party, Geography Fair, History Fair, Science Fair, Field Day, Field Trips -including one to News Channel 12, Homeschool Days at Lake Winnie, Six Flags IMAX, and the Aquarium, Curriculum Fairs,  and more that hadn't been planned yet, but I'm sure it will be.


Monday, December 9, 2013

How Fast Things Change

Oh man. How fast they grow. How fast things change. Things today will be different tomorrow. We start new traditions. Learn new things. Come up with new interests. And life just keep changing. So we savor ever day.

Last night's trip to a local church's Christmas play drastically changed Samantha's point of view in two areas. (And I was afraid she wasn't listening because she sat with her friends to watch the play.)

We attended a Live Nativity and church Christmas play that retold the story of Jesus's birth, something that has been retold to her regularly,
Over the years. However, something about this play, maybe the environment, the other kids, the way it was portrayed, caused something to click inside of her brain. She started making connections and before we knew it we were at home reading the NLT of the Bible, starting with Matthew Chapter 1. And she got it. The basics were told to her beforehand and with that all the little details being revealed to her made complete sense. This was it. This was the story of Jesus. Not the little cut and dry kiddie version, but the real story. And she couldn't get enough. So we read until she fell asleep at 3 AM (Of course we didn't lay down until about 2.) Then we read again tonight. At five years old, I'd say she is read to continue on into unfamiliar stories, with explanation beforehand, but we will get there after we get through the gospels. I just thank God she is so interested in the Bible and in Jesus and living the most Christian life she can and I hope she doesn't stray from that. (I hope staying in strong Christian environments all of the time-home, church, Center, CHEA-will help to foster that.)

The second spark the play ignited is her desire to act in plays. She used to be in dance before gymnastics and keeps begging to do both just to get back on the stage. Imagine her surprise when she realized children could act! (Her Forte.) We called the local performing arts center and they said each play is different for age restrictions. The one taking auditions right now is 6 and up, as are most. She needs to be able to read a blind script in order to audition.

I told Samantha and she is more ready than ever to keep on reading. I printed off some simple scripts in order to get her familiar with the format and acting and to practice reading in a fun way. She is doing well so far and her reading is progressing daily. (She read High Five magazine by herself today.) I truly believe she will be ready to audition for their production of Wizard of Oz next Fall around the time she turns 6. *Fingers Crossed * Now we have a goal to work toward, which always makes the process more fun. Next "semester" is going to be a blast!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We Called Pause

In one of my last posts about Sam's reading, I mentioned that I struggled getting her to read. She used to love it until it got harder-level 2 area. Something more than cat, bat, and rat. I would keep saying, "Focus!" And she'd say, "Do I have to read it?" And I'd say something like, "If you want to play Freddi Fish."

So...after much thought, I decided we would take a month off. So we did. I felt guilty at first. That is what a lot of my posts about feeling lazy were about. But we started enjoying our "time off," as I read to her more and more chapter books. At first I thought, "She is just going to expect me to read to her forever." She indulged the first week and did nothing but listen. I was patient and let her decompress. Then she started pointing out words or punctuation and saying things like, "Quotation marks mean someone is talking!" (Which she learned by asking questions when we read.) When we went out, she pointed out words and read them, not the brand name site words, but words like "wings" and "buy one get one free." Then yesterday, she asked to read a book to me. It was called, "No More TV, Sleepy Cat" and She. Showed. Me.

She whizzed right through that book with words like "turning" and "night" "fuzzy" and "kisses." She tripped up a few times, but figured it out herself. I was very proud of her. She read it again last night to Jessie and he was very impressed. It was obvious by the way she sounded out some words and pointed at each one, she did not have it memorized. The morning she read it to me was her first time reading it. (Library Book)

I can't wait to see how her reading progresses now! And I know to watch for signs of needing a break and she WILL learn during that time.

So far this year, by state law, we have have completed a semester. Not only has she mastered another level in reading, but she knows single digit addition like the back of her hand. She has learned about Native Americans, TRUE Thanksgiving History, not the diluted mumbo jumbo some people teach. She has learned about Christmas History, not just the Bible story, but WHAT are some of the old traditions?  WHERE did they come from? WHY do we do them? She has learned about the Ocean, which we will continue for her Geography Fair. She has learned all about the Human Body. Done many, many nature studies with walks and sketches. We talked about everything we see. Look up what we don't know. She has learned a lot about office work, compassion, and discipline through being at the Center. She has mastered Level 1 of gymnastics. She can do cartwheels, beginning stole bars, beginning trampoline and tumble track. She has a good grasp on the first steps of a head stand and also the pedestals. Despite never going to daycare or school, she has always sat well during class and has earned the favor of her female teacher, Grace. Samantha has done so much else this year, from beginning subtraction, fractions, and multiplication. To learning how to follow a recipe and bake a cake on her own. Comprte with recognizing the fractions on a measuring spoon or cup and adding up how many 1/4 cups we need if the 1 cup is dirty. She is also learning to make tortillas, breads, and hot drinks like tea and hot chocolate. She loves building and spends lots of time on Minecraft measuring out houses and making plans to build. (Looks even cooler now that we have a 100" screen to play on through the projector.) She has also enjoyed lots of art this year. She got some cool kits for her birthday. One of her favorites was make your own markers. She learned a lot about mixing colors and the process through doing that. It has really stuck with her. She loves watching how things are made-especially the TV show and clips. And she can explain how things actually work.

She has also had a lot of hands on experiences this year. The library has always been an important resource for us and hands on researching books on their computer card catalogue has taught her a lot about typing, spelling, categorizing, and finding her own books. Not to mention she has had field trips to the Bodies Exhibit, Nina and Pinta replica Ships, and Pioneer Days-which we thoroughly enjoyed. And our family trips to places like the Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch, Live Nativity, Christmas Plays, Improv Plays, etc . Lots of fine arts. Next year, once she turns 6, I would like to see her become more involved with the homeschool classes at the local nature center, but I won't push. (Although bird watching and digging for wildlife in the pond, sounds pretty cool and rich with learning opportunities.)

All this made possible without even pushing. Pushing made things hard. Letting go made it possible for her to take huge strides and initiate her own learning. There were so many "pauses" I felt, this year in homeschooling. My brother lived with us for awhile. Jessie hurt his back and was out of work and in bed for a few weeks. Keeping my little brother when he is off school. Not to mention this being her "first year," so we are trying to figure each other out in the way she learns/I teach-slightly more formal than before. And trying to balance being in a homeschool group, new friends, gymnastics, the Center. Now the holidays. And most recently, Sam's cold that keeps her sleeping several hours a day. Despite all this, in a mere 3-1/2 or 4 months, she has accomplished and learned so much. She has developed new, real interests as she has gotten older.

I have so much planned for next year. Although Sam may decide to take it in a different direction. I would like for her to keep progressing in her reading and become fluent in her subtraction at the very least. And continue learning, naming, and locating each of the states, continents, and oceans. We will also complete our project for the Geography Fair. I know she'll have an awesome Valentine Party with her Homeschool group at the skating rink. And some more field trips I'm sure. I plan for us to start an organic garden this Spring. From there we will see what new recipes she learns and what she gets from canning. Maybe she will learn to assist me more in my preparation for the Recovery Bible Study. Maybe she will decide to learn about the Medieval Times or Ancient Egypt. Maybe she would prefer to learn more about our state we live in. She might focus more on gymnastics or decide to put more time into art. Maybe. We'll see.