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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Unschool Encouragement

Sometimes, as an unschool mom I need a little encouragement, a small reminder that says, "You are doing the best for YOUR child."

Seeing my daughter progress and learn on her own terms and love learning too, that is usually enough for me, but the days when I am really bummed and really wondering, "What if?" (Usually the days I go into my little brother's school and see all the "work" they do...) those are the days I need gentle little reminders that my child WILL thrive. She will flourish in whatever God has called her to do. She will be just fine!

Here are some quotes and encouragement I have found helpful. And in a few years, as I continue to see her flourish, I hope that I will not need these anymore. But for those of us who are still struggling to swim up stream, trying to unschool ourselves while we unschool our children, well, maybe this will help.

"Too much of what is being considered education in America is keeping busy for the sake of being busy. Monotony does not equal creativity. Repetition does not equal knowledge, and being busy doesn't always mean being productive." -Unknown

"There is no difference between living and learning... it is impossible and misleading and harmful to think of them as being separate.” ~ John Holt

"All I am saying...can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we are not to be trusted." -Johl Holt

And lastly, 

"Birds don't go to flight school." -Linda Dobson

Also, just a quote on bedtime for those of us who extend our unschooling lifestyle into the bedtime realm. 

"I can't help noting that no cultures in the word that I have ever heard of make such a fuss about children's bedtimes, and no cultures have so many adults who find it so hard either to go to sleep or wake up. Could these social facts be connected? I strongly suspect they are." -Sandra Dodd

Lately we have been enjoying the fresh, warm outdoor weather. Samantha will not take the word "no" when it comes to going outside on a pretty day, and I can't say I blame her. I don't remember the last time I told her she couldn't when she asked. We have been enjoying her trampoline. It has provided the whole family with hours of fun and I expect that it will continue to. It has also provided her lots of gymnastics practice, which is what is important to her right now. We have also been focusing on our Geography Fair project about Oceans, which she enjoys. Other than that, we are just doing our own thing-most things on the trampoline like playing board games, reading Little House in the Big Woods aloud, and drawing pictures of nature as it peeks through in these ending days of February. All the while she is flourishing in everything she does. Not just in each "academic" area, but in everything she does. She is learning to read and understanding measurements and money better without any formal sitting down. We just measure things for fun and for things like cooking or cutting. We shop, look at prices, calculate totals, and pay for items. She is practicing her gymnastics so much she is mastering many skills in a short amount of time. She is learning to be a better friend when she sees her friends. She is being curious about God's world and trying to figure out the answers to her own questions. She is baking and cooking dinner with minimal supervision-of course, this is when she isn't outside. She is free to be her, and I like the her that is free. Such a joy to be around. 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Picture Post Experiments

Volcano Experiment

Making Spaghetti Noodles

Making Stickers

Geography Project

Don't Break the Ice Spelling

Nature Journal

Stall Bars

Our New Chicken, Buddy

Oceans Report

Valentine Box


Fizz Bath

Baking Cookies

Snow Cream



Making a Comic

Pen Pal Letter

Pen Pal

Just a few reasons this "school year" is shaping up to be a great year....

Sam is exploding with her reading abilities. She is reading signs, books, any kind of text. All the time! Words I didn't even know she knew! After we took a little break from reading in December, we never went back. I couldn't force her to read books she didn't like and possibly make her hate reading. I decided to let her read on her time, and she did. We dabbled in reading. Read some play scripts and cookbooks. Wrote in a journal. Sounded out random words we saw. And now...it us just all coming to her.
Speaking of reading, we are almost done with Trumpet if the Swan. Then on to Wizard of Oz, or more Little House. Her choice.

She is getting fast at her subtraction facts. She has already mastered her single digit addition. She didn't like the change from addition to subtraction at first. It confused her. But she has really improved. I recently found out that she is an auditory learner, so together we decided it would be best for me to shout out the math facts in the car or while we are cooking dinner. That way she can HEAR them rather than see them on the computer games. I have seen a real improvement in her attitude toward subtraction since we started doing this.

She is a Mad Scientist! We do experiments every day. From Ocean experiments to making our own Bouncy Balls. She is making educated guesses and explaining why or why not something worked. It's amazing the concepts children are able to understand.
Sam has also been using her professional paints to paint in her Nature Journal. I am hoping this Spring will bring some fresh new ideas.

Living books have been a real joy to dive into and learn from too! "The Trumpet of the Swan"  has so much Science and Geography! We have taken several trips to McKays lately and bought some Classic Literature, New Berry Medal Winners, Poetry by Whitman, Frost, Poe, and Dickenson. We even got some reference books. Sam loves Eye Witness Books about anything and everything: Oceans, Horses, Electricity, Weather.
She also got some comics, her newest interest.
She is improving on Geography too. She knows all her Oceans, Continents, and States by shape and location. What a year it has been!

Aside from "academics," gymnastics is going well. They are learning so many new things! She mastered a handstand on the first day! Her teacher says she has great form! She isn't even afraid of the stall bars anymore. She loves them now! I have seen her pike ups and tuck ups on those things! You have to have serious ab control to do those!

Here are some things we are looking forward to the next month or so:

Valentine Party February 14th: As mentioned before, Coolest Party Ever. We will be having it at the Skating Rink. Most of her CHEA friends will be there. Over 100 people have signed up. They will be doing a Valentines swap games, food, and skating.

Pen Pal: Sam has really improved on her reading, spelling, and writing, as I stated before. I thought having a pen pal might encourage that and make it fun! So I got online and found her a pen pal.
The woman who replied to my post has a 5 year old girl. They are a Christian family. And her daughter has a lot of the same interests as Sam, camping, swimming, music, dancing, art. Of course they also have some differences. Which is good too.
This with be a great learning experience for her. She will read, write, spell, learn format. And hear about another state. They can write letters, draw pictures, make each other small items. And I definitely want to do the "13 Ounces or Less"activities around the holidays. The best part is she will gain a friend!
An added bonus is I now have an email pal. Another homeschool Mom to talk to when we struggle. Send pictures and updates to. And even give advice to myself when they struggle.

Geography Fair March: Slow going. We are taking our time, but having fun studying the globe, drawing on the tri board, conducting experiments, and looking for ideas for our big project.

I think the rest of today we are going to write her pen pal, finish some Valentines, play Math Mat, read "Trumpet of the Swan," and dump out her giant basket of books to see what we will discover!

Some other things we have done lately: Valentines and Valentine Box-She made a turtle with hearts on its shell. Her idea. She loves the ocean. We have done Ocean experiments. Made Ooze. Had a Fizz Paint Bath. Played in the snow. Made Snow Cream.  Baked cookies and made noodles and tortillas from scratch. She wrote a super cute comic for my little brother. Complete with a title pages, cartoon boxes, and talking bubbles. We got a new chicken and she cares for it daily, along with her other chores. And so much more!

I am going to do another post-pictures only. The Blogger app keeps freezing when I load pictures on posts and then I lose everything. Big pain.