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

Monday, January 18, 2016


I have been so focused on this adoption thing lately - completing our profile, making our cards, preparing mailouts, and contacting lawyers, that I have neglected this blog. It has been neat though. S has been learning right along side us. The differences between independant and agency adoption. (As well as some about fostering to adopt.) She has learned about inducing lactation and dealing with RAD. Among other things. We gave her her own copy of our profile and I find her reading through it all the time. But we still must move along with homeschool...

This year has been something so far though. She is somewhere between little and big. And I continually find myself holding tighter to the things that once were and still are, but may not be the same soon.

I remember when I first started taking S to the library at 3 years old. We would go to story time and then she would run around finding books written by authors such as Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle and O'Conner, etc. The same is still true. Minus the story time and the addition of checking out some of her favorite chapter books - American Girl. Last week we spent an hour in the library going through the Children's books as she obsessed about find as many EC books as she could - especially ones she had never read before. She admires Eric Carle. In fact, she just did her author presentation with CHEA on Eric Carle. She loves his art style and she imitates it in some of her own books. Watching her that day...I wanted to hold on to it forever. She has already begun making the transition to the juvenile fiction, but the day is coming where the storybook section will not be her first pitstop on her list.

Seven and a half is coming up and I know soon she will start showing an even better understanding of things. We have delayed academics, but will start to pick up some math around 7-1/2 or 8. (Yes, succumbing to peer pressure because Sam is feeling thr weight of everybody expecting her to do math off the top of her head and it is killing her. While she and I both don't mind her feeling different, I certainly do not want her being resentful for that sort of difference.) So we bought the big Right Start math game curriculum set. Which is - you guess it-ALL manipulative and game based. And goes all the way up through 5th grade. I consider Sam 1st for math and will probably leave her in elementary math an extra year because we will take it slow, so we are looking at a good 5 or 6 years in something that only cost me $60 new. We have played some of the games using the basic card deck I bought her at a used book store. And she loves them. We play them in a relaxed setting and it is all about fun. Now that I have the book with over 300 games about math - from basic addition and subtraction to multiplication and division to negative numbers, fractions, and percentages, I will start explaining everything using the manipulatives it came with and the ones we have. I keep hearing a lot about visualization and I agree. She needs to see it and understand it - not just memorize it and be able to spit out 30 facts in 30 seconds. I am overly excited about this, but careful not to push it on her. I'd like to take it really slow and not go past addition until she is 8 - this September. We have touched on multiplication and fractions, but I am halting on that. She struggles in math and I don't want her understanding it on a memorization level only. Funny thing is, she only struggles with explainable math. She soars in building and problem solving, which I attribute to all her play time building with Legos and KNEX and playing problem solving one player games. Or even Chess.

Enough about math. We have a few other new things going this year. Briefly, I want to mention guitar. We have been learning together using a You Tube video series, which she thoroughly enjoys. But he didn't lead through how to read actual music. (I showed her tabs because I only partly remember sheet music from when I was younger.) So I found a DVD series specifically written for children to carry her back through as a review and teach her to read music. That was free-library resource. She remembered her chords, easy peasy. But it is painful to her on some of them and she is learning to hold her hands just right. I'm fearful to mess up her form, so that should help also. Then if she is still interested, a friend of ours will give S guitar lessons once a month. So that is going well. The holidays had us bogged down and it went on hold a bit while she just learned Jingle Bells, but she is back on top of it.

Another thing we began this semester is a co-op! A friend who lives right down the road, whose daughter is a year younger than Sam, and they homeschool similar to the way we do, and I just kind of came up with it out of a joke and then neither of us could let it go. Our girls have similar interests, so we began planning. (Even as an Unschooler I must have well written plans for things when it comes to stuff like that.) And kf course they get input. The last thing we want is resistance. The first week we assisted the girls in sewing doll skirts. They learned a lot about sewing and Sam got to use a full size sewing machine - which made me badly want one! Then during the "free play/Mommy talk portion," they read instructions and assembled some doll furniture on their own. That was Thursday. (We are moving the co-op around days to whenever we are available.) So tomorrow we will be doing a doll party. We will discuss Ettiquette (the badge they are covering during AHG). We will teach them to make tea in a kettle. They will make petit fours from scratch and use professional cake decorating supplies to decorate them. It is little things like that, things they will learn and play through that we are excited for. Some other topics we may do are going over some guitar together, doing some art together, a full board game day, a day where we swap kids and do whatever we are good at, and maybe as the weather warms up some gardening or Science days, or small "field trips" etc. Sam is just happy to have someone to learn with throughout the year like she does in the Summer. And I couldn't be happier for her. We should totally just open a Sudbury school and make loads of money while letting children run free and wild learning whatever they want.

Speaking of running free and wild, Sam is really enjoying AHG. Not that they run wild. They are actually pretty structured, but at the same time they give the girls this freedom to do things the way they want them done. They let them have their own ideas and figure things out themselves and have lots of free play at events. It doesn't have to be packed with one game after the next to entertain them. She has made many, many friends. She had her Christmas party in December. And in January - well recently - she had her lock in. They did Bible devotions and talked about God being their fortress. Then they built forts that they were allowed to sleep in - if they chose to sleep at all that night. They had floats and popcorn. And then they were able to play board games and hula hoop or jump rope or play ball or dolls (they all brought dolls and stuffed animals.) We turned down the lights around 2 AM. And some of the kids went to sleep. They slowly dropped like flies, but most of them went to bed at 4 AM. And a hand full didn't sleep at all. All of us Mom (about 5 of us who spent the night) just visited all night, getting to know each other. And in the morning we cleaned up and headed home. I got home around 10 o'clock and Sam and I passed out until 2 PM! I definitely slept well the next night too. Coming up she has Feed My Starving Children and a Daddy Daughter Dance! Both she can't wait for at all. I love the wide range of opportunities and experiences that AHG gives her. I am already a registered volunteer with National, so I fully intend to help plan some activities for next year - particularly a pro-life event. Sam is stoked. She really wants me in her class. And I adore that she thinks that is so cool, so I may do that. But I truly wish I could work with the PIPAS, which are the teenagers. They are the sweetest group of girls and they are old enough to start studying and understanding the Bible. Their discussions during devotion are so deep and they have build such strong relationships with one another. And it is evident when they all go out and do fun things together. I'd love to mentor teenagers, but maybe that is a future thing, when Sam is one herself. One of the PIPA moms is a main leader and her daughter loves it! If AHG helps us to mold S into a child like that, I will be forever grateful.

So that is it. Between preparing our home for homestudy to staying active in those things, well....I won't lie, we still have lots of down time. And it is great. Sam gets her 8 hours of play time most days and I read my adoption/child development/theory books on the Bible. Or I do housework. Whichever. This season of our life is slow, as it needs to be. Because soon I know it will be busy again.