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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Vent-It Has Been Awhile

Let me start by saying, YES, my kid writes some of her numbers backward.  (Particularly 2 and 5, but that is beside the point.) The point IS-NO! I'm not having her checked out! She doesn't have a disability. And NO, I'm definitely not going to have her sit down and force her to do worksheets until she gets it right.

A few points: 

1. Technically,  she should be in Kindergarten this year.  (Some qualities,  including her complete lack of understanding numbers, although is quickly improving on its own,  shows her brain is still maturing like that of a child who is in Kindergarten or early 1st grade. She is 6-1/2 while most kids in 1st are now 7. 6 months makes a MAJOR difference in brain development.) And I know plenty of Kindergarten children who write their numbers backwards.

2. To a child,  a number is a number. To them,  they should be able to be written both ways. A dog is a dog whether it is facing left or right.  A tale is a table and a chair is a chair. So why not a number be a number?

3. Honest to God, she does so many other things and people want to knit pick over a backward number?!!! Like everybody. Not just one or two people. Everybody rolls their eyes because I'm allowing her brain develop in time instead of forcing it and they don't realize everything she does because if they knew they would know they are wrong to think their way is the only way. Yes, she spends much of her time drawing. More time than most parents would allow indirectly because of scheduling restrictions. But she has improved leaps and bounds. She has gone from stock figures to sketching beautiful scenaries and drawing cartoon figures with her favorite B6 pencil. When we go places, she takes her book and pencils and water colors. And she stops. We get to talk all about the plants and birds and research them. We get to use the binoculars. And Daddy teaches her bird calls sometimes as he day dreams about hunting that weekend. She just sits and studies nature for awhile as she notices the shape and texture of the leaves or the fact that the water is flowing a certain way leaving the ripples flowing in that direction. She has spent her time studying artists from the past and learning about their lives and inspiration for painting.  Then she mimics them and their styles,  trying to find her own. She has read about the different art eras. She sees the reactions the paint and water make and she calls it just THAT-A REACTION! Then she explores to see what other reactions she can make in nature to include in her art.
She spends a lot of time playing Legos, which to most people,  except homeschoolers, are just toys. (I haven't met a homeschooler yet who didn't have a giant tub of Legos in their bedroom.) And she builds and talks about the symmetry and she problem solves on her own. (Something a lot of employers complain about employees lacking these days.  Something also which they find directly correlates with our amount of play time as adults AND as children.) In her other free time,  we read anything and everything we can access. (I'm hoping eventually she will look on the pages with numbers and see which way a 5 faces. lol) She volunteers and sees things she has learned being applied and she applies them herself.  Adding up cans for the food back bags.  Dividing them between people. Reading the labels to know what goes where. All this,  naturally.  Because she knows days are not just for wasting away. They are for doing something productive. Something you love. Something that helps others. Something you learn from.
And for those who are directly academics and numbers/lists oriented...She reads on a 2nd grade level.  She knows how to add,  subtract, and do very base level multiplication, division,  and fractions.  She has studied the History of and knows about the Native Americans,  Christopher Columbus, Pocohantas, the Civil War, the Victorian era, The Great Depression, and many more topics-including Bible History. And more than just cut and paste sheets or textbook paragraphs. I'm talking about living books - auto biographies and biographies, storybooks-which we take for what they are worth,  documentaries, museums, debates on the TRUTH behind the History. Oh. Science? My apologies. Almost forgot.  She has studied a variety of topics, hands on with experiments, some of which she came up with herself, conducted with assistance,  and recorded her findings. She has also learned through her own exploration, as well as some reading/research.  Starting with her first unit at age 2: Butterflies. And yes, she still remembers it. She can tell you all about the anatomy and the probiscus and their behaviors.  Their life cycles. She had studied the human body: knows her bones and the different organs we have and why. She studied weather.  She studied plants outdoors and knows how to identify them. She is currently studying birds.  She is beginning to read maps.  She knows geological features.....
Okay. Seriously.  At this point do I have to go on?  I think I've made it pretty clear we have better things to do than worksheets that correct her hand writing!!!!!!!!

Between reading,  playing, doing art-preparing for her gallery, and being in the great outdoors hiking different areas and studying their wildlife.  Learning to canoe or rock climb.  Meeting new people at the Appalachian Trail shelters and listening to their stories.....Who has the time to correct a 6 year old's writing? Sure, I've mentioned it in passing. She corrects it that time. But it hasn't clicked with her yet and that's okay.  Why harp on her when it will get fixed in its own time?

Oh. That's right. Because some people think children can't possibly learn things without someone consistently pointing out their mistakes and grading their every move.

Some people are so ignorant that they call this negligent parenting,  but It. Is. NOT. We are sticking to our philosophy of education. Negligence would be me not helping her on anything ever because I don't feel like it and not caring what she ever learns.  But do you really think at 7 or 8 years old,  once she reaches the age of reason,  with an average brain and good home life,  she won't realize by then which way is the correct way?  Who here thinks at 30 years old she will be writing checks with a backward 2 on them?

Good Lord. The nerve of some people.  To think just because she "lacks" in one area-AKA-"isn't ahead in" her math,  does not me she doesn't have rich experience in other areas. Academic or not. And they may not be on the government's "educational timeline," But who cares?  That changes every year anyway, so why can't we make our own?

And another thing,  just real quick.  I'm tired of family not having anything to do with S's education because they don't agree with it. She never gets asked what she is working on.  Nobody goes to her events. Nobody cares to teach her things-except my MIL-It is like the elephant in the room.  They ask my brother how school is and skim right past asking Samantha anything.  Urg.

Anyway,  it is getting time for S to wake up and I have laundry to fold. Forget all that. We are going to spend our day reading the Kit book and writing out a newspaper for her Daddy,  who actually cares about her day. Then a playdate outside with her friend,  Emma. Wonder what they will teach each other today. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Too Pretty Days

Ah! Things are picking up.  We have left the drear of winter behind us and we are back to more active learning. (Passive learning is okay sometimes, but sometimes it gets old. Reading on the couch during a cold wet day, as she follows along and reads much of it herself. Watching "How To" YouTube videos repetitively - although she can tell you right down to the smallest detail how to make a Grumpy Cat cake. Drawing-constantly- although her skills have improved a lot. Her gallery is coming along slowly.  Looks like it will be Fall when it opens however. S is really enjoying the Spring scenes and wants to paint and draw a lot of what we see while we camp and while we are out on the water this Summer. Wow. I guess we did achieve a lot this Winter.)

But Spring....that's where it is! It has only been about a week or two since the nice,  warm weather hit. And we have done so much!  We ventured out to Lego Land as our last "cold weather" trip. (I say cold weather because it had rained the day before and our was only 50 degrees outside. In combination with the rain and mud it was not a good day to hike.  She learned about how Legos are made. And she built with Legos-the ultimate educational activity.  She saw a 4-D movie and we read about the science of it afterward.  And then she had some good old fashioned playtime fun riding rides and running off with some random kids on the playground. That Wednesday we made last minute plans to drive to our favorite spot in the Battle Field where we climbed the tower-Samantha even climbed it once by herself because nobody was there! She stood at the top and waved at me, looking at me through her binoculars. And looking at the clouds. She asked what kind of stone the tower was made of-good question that nobody seems to know the answer to.  This lead to conversations about bugle boys and the very last battle of the war which was fought in Texas.  She drew pictures.  We read books.  And bird watched together.  Rather, critter watched.  We saw a lot of squirrels. S saw two wrestling and we talked about the importance of play. She learned how to use her binoculars for her upcoming Birding event with CHEA tomorrow. We referenced a field guide,  which she was absolutely giddy about. Last Monday we became Adventure Members at the Chattanooga Nature Center where they have trails and events and animal presentations. A butterfly garden. And best of all, unlimited canoeing for the membership we bought. So we canoed. We all went through orientation.  And learned how to put on our vests and figure out what size oar is best for our body build.  And what strokes to use to make the boat go where you want it. They told us we could go all over the creek until we got to the TN River, which is several miles out,  but if we turn left when we leave we will get to go through an old train tunnel and then at the end we would see a beaver damn. Samantha thought that was the coolest! (I was absolutely beaming because she takes so much interest in this sort of stuff.) We got in the boat and S started using her field guide to identify the bugs she saw.  She learned about displacement.  (Which I doubt she understood so I am working on finding a child's explanation of it since she wants to know why canoes float.) She learned about why beavers build damns and how it can change an entire eco system. (That was Daddy knowledge. Not mine. She learns so much from him! ) Yesterday I spent the morning packing up and we left the house as soon as S was awake and ready. We spent the day with my sister-in-law and niece at a new playground.  I deem this one of the top playgrounds of our area.  It is just so educational and requires creative thinking and imagination. They have a cut and dry section with a few slides and ladders and such.  But the rest of it is just these crazy looking twists and turns of metal.  S decided some parts were money bars-which I guess they were in a way.  Another part they stood in to spin. There was a rock climbing area that lead to the metal, which became their royal tower and sometimes a cliff.  We packed a picnic and were there for 3 hours until we had to leave for gymnastics. We can't wait until it ends in 3 weeks. S agrees it is eating into get pretty weather time and next year her only day activity will be swim which isn't until 3:30. Heritage Girls is a night time activity (6-9 PM) and they spend a lot of time outside anyway learning camping skills and rock climbing and such. Just how she wants to spend her time anyway.  Anywho, we have been fishing every night. Hubby comes home.  I make sure dinner is done. We eat.  I clean while he packs. And off we go.  Last night S brought 2 friends with her. They fished and J taught them about Bream and Cat Fish. He showed them how to hold a fish.  And why.  They studied nesting Geese.  Played in a small creek where they caught menos and picked up alge with a sick so they could "paint" on rocks. The past two weeks we have spent some days outside painting.  (S wanted to paint close up flowers after being inspired by Georgia O'Keefe.) Playing games. Reading books.  (We have started the Kit American Girl series (about the Great Depression) and finished the first book.) Soon we much start our potatoes!  I keep forgetting!!

Yep. Things are picking up. Soon we will take our first Spring hike and boulder again. Next week.  Fish some more. Take out the canoe again on a date. Celebrate Easter.  And before we know it we will be camping and swimming in warm water. S will build sand castles that are way more detailed than years past. She will show off her swim skills she learned from class. She will ask questions about the tide and the sand and the plants in the water. She will learn more about building fires and identify plants in the Appalachian Trail. She will vacation with family.  Go to the aquarium.  Hike in the Smokies again.   She will tube and she white water raft and learn about rapids. Yes. I do believe Spring and Summer are the season for unschoolers.