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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Birthday Post

So I know the birthday post is coming a few days late this year, but Hubby took vacation time from work and I decided to just enjoy the week with him and S. Of course my dishes suffered throughout the week. And whew, could you tell from the smell in the house until about 30 minutes ago when I finally finished washing them and putting them away. But it was well worth it. Seven is pretty big and I feel like I can't afford to miss a minute of it.

I told J last night..."One more round of "7 years" and she will be 14." The years passed by so slow, yet so fast, and I feel like I can't waste any time. I had my fingers crossed hoping the next set of 7 years will go a bit slower since we don't have as much "junk" to deal with. You know, being new parents. Newly married. Trying to figure out life. But I have a feeling that no matter what we are going through, good or bad, it is still going to go just as fast. So no more counting the weeks until Christmas. And no more wishing the week away for the weekend.

I know I'm making a big deal about time passing, but this year is a little harder than the rest. I'm usually excited. But this year
... She's reached the age of reason. The age of independence. She knows exactly what she is saying when she tells me she loves me-which is at least 20 times a day. (No complaints.) She knows what she is interested in.  What she wants to learn about our do.

Her interests vary greatly. I Love that about her. She is a Jack of All Trades. Like her Daddy who can literally do anything he sets his mind to. She will study a little of this. A little of that.  She might set it aside and come back to it later. She likes to take lessons in one thing. Then when she's had enough of that, she'll try another. She has stuck with art for awhile. Anything art really. Right down to music.  She draws, paints, creates inventions, edits videos,  loves theatre. (Although she would rather watch than be in one.  She says the preparation is tedious.) She enjoys looking at sculptures, interpreting abstract art. Heck, she enjoys Play Doh. But the other side of her...the Daddy adoring side of her lives for the outdoors. She admitted to not liking camping recently, but I think it is because all the bad experiences we had with camping or...attempting to camp this Summer. But she said fishing has become way more fun now that she is older and is catching more. She enjoys hiking. Rock climbing. I'm sure she will enjoy Ziplining this October! And nothing gets her quite so excited as anything that has to do with boats or water. Her two Loves. Recently she has become more athletic ever since learning to ride a 2 wheel bike. She really enjoys doing that with me weekly as well as playing tennis. She is improving, but definitely needs more work. As do I. She is a Science Lover - as I'm sure I have made that clear in part posts. And she likes all the normal kid stuff too. Bouncy houses, roller skating, toys...

She spend a HUGE chunk of her day, every day,  playing with her Legos and American Girl Dolls.  I can hear her through her door. Her Legos are shouting out. Carrying out their plans in an emergency to save animals. When she isn't playing Legos,  her dolls are "playing music on stage," doing each other's hair, or "talking" about traveling and other exciting stuff. If left undisturbed-and many times she is-then she could play for hours at a time. Where used to she didn't even step foot in her room.  And if she played,  she would drag her toys to the living room and beg me to play. Which I did.  Most of the time. But I never did play dolls. I just can't get into it.

She's so creative too. When she decides she wants to learn about something,  she initiates it and gets these crazy ideas.  Sometimes they are too insane for my taste.  But who I am to take away her hopes and dreams. I just don't say anything. When she first decided to learn about Egypt she said, "We could fly there and tour the pyramid and see if somebody could show us how mummification works - in real life!" Wish we could have.  But eventually she said,  "Books! Check out as many as you can! Then we can Google You Tube videos and for my History Fair Project I will just mummify you! How much toilet paper do you think I will need?" Guess we laid a good foundation because now she doesn't even need me to learn unless I'm a prop in one of her demonstrations. Wah. It is a little bitter sweet. I've been waiting for this day. But now it is here and I'm thinking maybe I could have waited a little bit longer.

One thing I do really like about this age is how much she cares for her friends. I mean,  she always cared. In fact,  she is so sensitive to the needs of others,  she cries if she even thinks she upset someone-which she has done. She isn't a perfect friend,  but she is a darn good one. Especially lately. She has matured to the point where she cares what others say.  She had a sweet friend call her on her birthday. I could hear Sam asking about her tooth that she just lost. And I could see her listening intently to her friend and asking her questions. It was an elementary conversation,  but a great demonstration of growth.

The older she gets,  the more sensitive she is. But she has this personality that shines so brightly. She is one of those kids that is easily looked over and forgotten in a group. But when she sits down with an adult and talks to them, they adore for her Love for others. She is a chatty girl. Didn't used to be. Never thought she would be. But she is now. She'll strike up a conversation with anybody that is next to her for more than 5 minutes. She tells stories and asks questions about their life. She genuinely cares.  She always has a smile on her face. And her own stories are always so animated and detailed. You know what else people love about her? She's selfless. Within the parameters of a normal 7 year old obviously. She probably wouldn't skip a meal to feed someone else she's never met. Most of us wouldn't.  But she did give her only cash dollar that she cherished to a local food bank with absolutely no coersion. In fact, I never even suggested it. But she picked it up and said she felt like Good was asking her to give it. So she did. Feeding others is her passion. She always talks about opening a non profit. She'd love to have a food bank or do mission work to feed people in other countries. She has even made plans to begin collecting clothes and canned foods so she can start one "by time she is 9." She is reserved about her Service but LOUD about her Love for God. She has unshakable Faith.  Sometimes though I worry if her innocence and naivety will be her downfall as she gets older and her Faith is challenged more. But God will deal with her Heart when she gets there.

She may be growing fast,  but she is staying young.  I couldn't ask for more. Gone are NOT the days of tea parties and dress up. They are still there. Gone are NOT the days of baby dolls. Those are one of her favorite toys. The days of boys have not come yet. She teased about 2 boys being her boyfriend in the past, but admitted she was not ready for that and it was just that. A joke.  (Because it drives Daddy crazy.) She still Loves the playground and coloring books.  Martha Speaks from PBS is still one of her favorite shows on PBS. And if I made "ooze" today she would be the happiest girl in the world. So while it makes me sad to think if all the years "gone," it makes me happy to think she is still young. No matter how big she seems to me. Happy 7th Birthday, Samantha-Anne. I can only Pray for 7 more.

Side Note: I have been given special permission to include this in her birthday post. After 3 years of trying to pick a girl name, we have finally done so. I have been set on a set of M names with Marie as the middle because Marie is my second middle name and Lucy's only middle name.  (Sam has my first middle.) I've suggested Mercy Marie, Molly Marie, Madilyn Marie, Maygen Marie-That was a name J suggested after S was born. But S and J did not agree on any of them. S insisted on names like Ashlee and Olivia. J had nothing to say except he didn't like those names.  Then the other day,  while riding down the road,  S insisted that the name start with an S like hers. I protested. Then J piped up for the first time and said,  "I always liked Sarah Marie." My heart instantly changed. "We can't change it now," I said, "that's the name. " If we ever have a girl, that's her name.  The name struck a chord with me for 2 reasons.

1. The story of Sarah and Abraham in the Bible where God promised Sarah a child even though she thought she couldn't have any. If God gives us a baby,  I'll feel like Sarah.

2. Lucy's name is in the credits of a movie called,  "Arise, Sweet Sarah." It is a movie about abortion and a bittersweet one at that.

I doubt J knew that would be "the name," but some how, on his first go, he got it right. Without even following my "list of requirements." He got it.
Sarah Marie Mays.

Now for pics of the Birthday Girl: 2 More Days Until Part Time!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Unschool is...a DUH

I'm sitting here waiting on a CHEA member to meet me in the WalMart parking lot to buy a at curriculum we tried-breifly-last year. S is sitting in the back drawing and humming 12 Days of Christmas. (Apparently she is ready for Christmas.) She is explaining to me the parts of her drawing and the story behind it. We just left the library where we checked out 20 more books that S picked out. From story books to books with the short life stories about artists. And even a book she picked out for her Uncle to look at on cougars. (We are going to pick him up for swim soon.) I will take them to the playground beforehand. And that will be most of our day. But I'm not worried. I'm not panicking in the slightest.

I don't know what happened really. I just don't feel like we need to do what we have done in the past. Sitting at the table for hours, forcing learning while claiming to unschool because "she picked the topic" and I gave her a little say in whether or not to do whatever prefabricated lesson I came up with. And then making sure to record anything that could be counted as educational by an educational institution.

No more.

This year has been a lot about spending time together reading just whatever, which she is really enjoying. We finished 2 chapter books in a week's time. Mysteries as usual. We are currently in another Boxcare Children and a Kit Mystery. And it has been about staying active. We are always riding bikes or playing tennis or swimming. It has also been a lot about Heritage Girls. Getting to know the other members and participate in whatever they have planned. The more opportunities, the better.

I've been able to put more free lifestyle principles into practice. Remembering to think, "Is this hurting anything?" Before I blurt out, "No." And just remembering play in general is okay. In fact, it is way better than any lesson I can find on Pinterest. I don't mind if S plays music in her room while she stares at the ceiling for hours on end. I don't mind that S would rather bike ride than write letters to a penpal. I'm finally able to...*breathes out* Let Go.

No more worries. No more keeping long drawn out journal entries listing every book she laid eyes on that week. No more guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach saying, "What if...I fail her?" Just Life.

And to my surprise, she is still growing. Like thriving. Her reading has improved immensely. She is always asking for a turn now when we read. I catch her all the time burried in a book reading aloud when I am not around. Her math - impressive considering the fact we don't practice. Today in the library she added 18 and 9 in her head. And in the car she explained WHY addition can go in any order but subtraction can't. (I have never explained that to her.) We talked about using the Science supplies we got to do a rain experiment sparked by a book we read. So soon we will do that and she is researching and learning to conduct her own. (She always wants to do her own experiments.) Her physical activity has exploded and she is always wanting to learn more about different sports. Her ability to draw has improved as she adds more depth and texture to what she is drawing. Her curiosity is still there. Unscathed. (I'm currently watching her play on the playground before swim class. Digging in the sand and asking questions.....Oh! And they just found a grasshopper! I took a Blogging break and they made a quick You Tube video giving facts about grass hoppers and encouraging viewers to pick the name each of them wanted for it.) She will never stop asking questions. I Love it. It is like I still have a preschooler. Hundreds of questions a day. I'm seeing her care for friends. Her character is growing. Although she is still learning boudaries and tends to take things to far. Like jokes. She is paying attention to the world around her and demonstrating knowledge about things she has seen in passing. Like car parts and behaviors of younger children.

She has a new fascination with toddlers. She loves Spending time with them. She also has a new music obsession and enjoys interpreting songs. And her love for animals has really grown into a passion. She is making new friends in Heritage Girls. Completely and totally on her own. I don't attend class with her. But when I look in the door I see her laughing and playing and hugging her teachers and helping them. It is sweet. But as soon as she climbs in the car she has a million and one things to say and it has only been two hours!

This year has been such a blessing to see her do so much. And our schedule is perfectly balance with Hubby working 4 10 hour shifts during the week and activities being later in the day. There is so much home time to be had. And we definitely take advantage of it. This will be a year of REAL learning. All the time.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ahhh. I feel so refreshed. My precious 6 year old (for 11 more days) lies asleep in the back seat. My fishy smelling Husband puts his hand on my leg in the front seat. It doesn't get much better than this...

After a long day "kicking off" Heritage Girls with new friends (and old friends). Laying in the grass with my eyes closed listening to the water and hearing kids running everywhere, screaming, and laughing, swimming all over the place. Getting to spend some time playing with a toddler that belongs to a good friend of mine. Man, I Miss the toddler days. Dipping feet in and out of the water. Counting with them. Exploring. Everything so new. I also spent a good chunk of time watching my daughter fish with her Dad, riding bikes together, seeing her playing with friends, and learning more about how to canoe - which she decided she still doesn't like. My Husband next to me catching fish after fish with a friend. Weighing them. And me taking pics while a crowd gathers. The weather. Perfect. Windy. But not too windy. Warm. But not too warm. Just. Gorgeous. A perfect day.

Camp has been so laid back. It is like a giant group of unschoolers getting together and saying, "Let the kids be free!!!" Let them run barefoot. Let them spend their day making bamboo forts. It's okay if they don't want to participate in certain activities. They will do what they want on their own time. Want to feed the baby cow? Okay. Let's go! Want to ride the golf cart and Gator back and forth. Who is it hurting? Why not sit in a circle with an interesting adult while they tell you about catfishing, photography, or whatever else you want to know more about? Ride bikes? You got five hundred acres! See you later. Play with friends all day. Come back when your feet are blistered and you are ready for a nap. Eat when you want. Sleep when you want. Cook s'mores all day if you want. Climb trees. Set out everything you got and share. Chairs, food, toys, tents. Tend to each other's children. Do what you want. When you want. Learn how you want. And we will just be there to facilitate. Never has S felt so free with so much room to run and play and ride and live! I can't describe the feeling I know we all felt today. We wanted it to never end.

We didn't get to camp unfortunately. Unforeseen circumstances. But no complaints from me. Im feeling to positive. Camping is not in the cards for us this year and that's okay. We didn't let that ruin the day.

We are home now. All exhausted. Hanging in the office. Jessie on Minecraft. S drawing. And I'm blogging. About to do more of my puzzle. I'm so glad that S is getting to experience such a close knit active group that puts so much emphasis on service and God.

Next weekend - National AHG Day of Service.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Unschooling Blurbs

Life has become more interesting since we began totally unschooling. Our days are filled with even more laughter and play than before. And I can tell a difference in the way she is learning. (Summer really seemed to be the start of our decompression time and so we have had the last 3 or 4 months to get in the habit of not being required to do anything. I don't even enforce the schedule we started with in August because we all feel she is doing enough completely by her own desire.)

Anywho, unschooling makes the day unique and the things I hear from the mouth of a "free child" as many unschooling advocates call it, are - to say the least - different.

Here are some from today.

*Wakes up* First Words.

"Will you read me a billion chapters in my mystery book?" "As many as you will sit for, Baby."

One chapter later....

"I want to play some math games instead of reading." "Okay. I'm going to work on our puzzle."

This has been a Blessing. Both of us being able to pick seperate activities and work at the same time in the room together. Seven is great.

While transitioning between "activities" S usually gets bored. So today she goes to playing with scrap paper laying out on the table. She folds it into a paper airplane and says,

"Do you mind if I stand on the counter?" " I don't care." "Good. My paper airplane needs to make it to the moon. Astronomy, Baby. Astronomy."

After crashing them into the floor for the millionth time while trying to find the perfect tragectory...

"Um. Excuse me, Lady from Astronaut Planet. Will you pick up my 5 aliens? I'll pay you in space money-5 moons. That's equal to 5 of your Earth dollars."

While trying to explain to S why learning about acids and bases is applicable, she shakes her head and pats me. Tells me it is okay and that,

"It actually wouldn't matter in normal life, but since I am preparing for my life as a Scientist, it is important."

Total relief on my part because it was hard for me to find an explanation on why it mattered enough to take an hour out of our day to learn it. Whew.

While cleaning up. She likes to set out anything she worked on during the day to show Daddy. This time she says,

"We will let Daddy figure out which of these PH papers goes with which substance. He He He. He won't know which is an acid and which is a base."

Yea. You go you mischievous genius. ;)

While mixing her chemicals while I wash dishes,

"Okay. Bored with that. On to the microscope. "


"Mommy, who holds you down when you had me?"

This one is funnier if I don't explain it.

"Peach or barf? No way!...I'm not eating baby wipes either!"

While I am bathing she tends to feel the need to sit beside me on the toilet and strum on the laundry basket.

Because, "I am trying to find which makes a higher pitch. You know, like we saw on How It Works: Music Boxes. Oh that was cool. Nerd Squad!"

"My turn to teach you."

"You look cute. But...when you have your clothes on you look even better." Thanks....Sam. Children are honest - even when they aren't unschooled. lol