Archive for June, 2012

A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”

June 25, 2012

Whew, I am glad it’s Monday and the start of new week. These last few weeks have been pretty stressful as *many* things seemed to rear their ugly heads all at once. Finally though, it’s all good.

So what ever have the girls been up to? Like most of my posts I try to pull from a common theme and this past week, “Mom do we have any bear books?”, is no different.

Little Sis discovered The Tangerine Bear movie on Netflix and has declared it her favorite movie. I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed her favorite movie after having watched it with her almost every night, it is a rather cute movie.

Something else that the girls have been keeping themselves busy with these last few weeks is pinning on Pinterest. I created them each their own board on my account and by golly they have been filling it!

(Little Sis adding more Corduroy books to her board)

I actually am happy about this as it gives me more opportunity to know what the girls are interested in or what they want. This helps me to feed their interests better and I am all for making our household better. After noticing a few of the girls pins I knew a trip to Half Price Books was in order.

Not only did we find a few of the Corduroy books on Little Sis’s list (to add to our collection of “bear stories”)but Miss Sky found something she has really taken great interest in as well, like Manga. Miss Sky has discovered the Anime channel on Netflix and we have been checking out the shows Fruits Basket and Spice and Wolf together. This new interest was brought on by her new-found love of Kingdom Hearts and her research.

Taking a little tangent here, I feel like I have passed some kind of unschooling test. For the first time I walked into a book store without any intention of trying to sway the girls into purchasing a book. I no longer see books as being any better of a choice to learn from then movies or video games. I wouldn’t have given it another thought if instead both changed their minds and bought a video game. I can truly *see* all the learning that is taking place in our home.

Not only has Miss Sky been reading manga or watching anime but she has been drawing, drawing, drawing up a storm (completing 3 notebooks full already)as well as creating anime at Disney Create. We also have Hayao Miyazaki’s movies all lined up to ship from Netflix for our next family movie adventures(now that we have caught up with all the Avenger movies 🙂 ).

Getting back to Little Sis we have spent many days snuggled up in bed this past week reading from our new collection of bear books. I surprised her with one too.

Yes, The Tangerine Bear was a book before it was a movie and Little Sis could not wait to read it. She stopped me many times to tell me how different the book was from the movie but was extremely pleased to add it to her collection.

Games? Yes, more and more of Frog Juice, Rummikub, Go Fish, Toss Up, Sherlock, Spot it and Wizard Junior. Video games? Yes, Mario Party 8, Family game night(2 and 3) and Wii Party (all as a family) with Swap Meet quickly becoming one of our favorites as well as Spot the Sneak.

Minecraft? Yes and playing games at, and thanks to our neighbor an indoor herb garden.He found it for $1 at a local DIY store and thought of the girls. “Strewing” from neighbors, I love when that happens!

Yes even though some days I need to be reminded myself, it is a good life!


Little Comments

June 24, 2012

While playing Frog Juice with Papa I over heard Little Sis talking.

Little Sis: ” 60 minutes make up an hour.”

Papa: ” Yes, that is right. Okay then how many minutes are in a half hour?”

Little Sis: ” 30 minutes.”

Papa and I looking amazed at how fast she figured it out.

Papa:” Yeah, that’s great you just divided by 2.”

Little Sis: “No I figured that 3+3=6 and if I make the 3s 30 it would equal 60.”

Have I mentioned I love my girls :).

How Do You Know Your Kids Are Learning?

June 20, 2012

” “How do you know they’re learning?” The people who ask that question are looking at the world through school-colored glasses. Those same parents knew when their children could use a spoon. They knew when the child could drink out of a cup. They knew when walking and talking and bike riding had been learned. ”

It’s tea time for me right now so that also means time for “reading a little”.  I love this quote from Sandra Dodd’s Playing page and wanted to share.

Me, well I know my children are learning by having a “real” conversation with them. 🙂


A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ “Who Let The Dogs Out?”

June 12, 2012

Cheesy? Yes I know :).

So I write a lot about how our weeks look and I try my very best to be as completely honest as I can( with the exception of keeping things private my girls don’t *want* me to write about). I don’t write much about negativity or having bad weeks because we really don’t have many of those. I end my posts with life being good because it is! Once you begin to *see* your children (partner, husband) each as being  separate, individual human beings each having their own likes and dislikes, you learn not to do the dislikes.

Think of a world of everyone doing what it is that makes each person happy (Okay I am talking about people who have the common sense of right and wrong here). Think of everyone knowing and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. A world where you know and understand what it is your body needs as far as nourishment and sleep goes, well that is what our home looks like.

Though I do want to say this is not how it has always looked, it is this way now because *we* (as a family) took the time to do the *work* needed to get here. Papa and I needed to understand each others way of communication, what he took as nagging from me was the only way I knew how to communicate with him. I have since learned how he likes to be talked to and vice versa. My point is I do not in any way want to make it sound like getting to the place we are as a family *just* happened.

I write *all* this in the first place to help “set the scene” of how our week played out (I am pretty good at taking the long way around to get to a point 🙂 ).

In our household the girls are not *made* to do any chores. I don’t have cute little chore charts with each persons name on it and they each get an allowance with *no* strings attached. Everything they receive as gifts or buy with their money is considered *theirs*. I do *not* take any of *their* things away as “punishment”. I don’t control how much they are “allowed” to play with their things. I consider *our* home to be *our* home not them living under “my” roof. I respect who each person is that lives under “our” roof as an individual. Papa and I just happen to be the adults who have more experience and in all honesty we were the ones to *choose* our lifestyle, so why would it not be our (Papa and my)responsibility to maintain it? (We are “radical” unschoolers after all.)

Oh how will our girls ever grow up to be hard-working adults you ask? By Papa and I being their examples of hard-working individuals :).

Well this past weekend we were having friends over so I spent most of the week cleaning, straightening up the house. I didn’t mention anything to the girls about cleaning their rooms. Well while I was cleaning Miss Sky came up and said “what do you think about our room?”. So I followed her to her room, she had picked everything up and even made the bed. That was not all though. We are in the process of rearranging our “schoolroom” into a game room for the girls and it is a bit, okay very unorganized with things literally “strewed” everywhere. She took it upon herself to straighten it up too! She did *all* of this without me even asking her to help. Her reply, “I wanted to help you so we would have more time together as a family.”

When we give our love and respect as a gift to those we love*without* expecting anything back in return what a wonderful surprise it is to have the same favor returned. I have NO doubts what so ever of the adults the girls will become (because I *know* who they are now.)

So what does dogs have to do with this? Oh right, Little Sis loved Miss Sky’s Nintendogs game on the DS so much she bought one too.

She bought the Dalmatian one and both girls spent lots of time with their dogs playing together and buying gifts for each others dog. I found a copy of the Nintendogs companion guide for $4 on E-bay that I purchased to surprise them and to help “feed” their interest. They loved it as it had a list of all the dogs you can raise and tells about each one and the care they need.

Games? Are we that predictable? 🙂 Yes Papa and Little Sis played checkers and lots and lots of Frog Juice.I found Wii Party at Ebay for pennies and we all have played several times together as a family as well as some Mortal Kombat too. Mario Party 8? Yeah, and lots and lots of Rummikub. We even introduced our friends to it and to Disney Apples to Apples.

Miss Sky is still on a Kingdom Hearts kick and has made a Kingdom Hearts world on Minecraft. She has found spoof videos on YouTube that she has been watching and both girls have been turning the TV all the way down while watching their favorite shows making up new storylines (not able to use your brain while watching television huh?) and laughing up a storm.

Miss Sky has also been spending time at creating more superheros, checking out other people’s art work and researching more on X-23. She even created an isolation space at Minecraft in her Marvel world (she has created “several” worlds in Minecraft).

What can I say, life really is this good!

Discoveries Of A Radical Unschooler/ Why I Pay For Virtual World Memberships

June 11, 2012

I have already wrote a post on what reading looks like in our home so some of this may be repetitive.

When first making the transition into radical unschooling it can be hard wrapping your brain around how children will learn certain things. Trust is a word you will hear a lot and if you have not taken the steps to properly deschool *yourself* you may miss the beauty of seeing a child learn these “things” all on their own.

I can understand the confusion (and fears) some have of not believing a child will *want* to learn to read, write, do math, chores, and any other thing you could throw in there as having been there myself. Just like both of my girls learned to talk and walk when the time was right for them, children*will* learn to read and write too.

I hear and see those new on this path struggling with buying computer games or cute little curriculum packages that promise your children great results but you do not NEED any of this stuff for a child to learn. They will learn naturally by doing the things that interest them the most.

So for the sake of this post, what *is* reading?

Many people, especially in the homeschooling world, get caught up in the idea that reading means books. However that is not *just* what reading means. I love how Sandra Dodd explains the process of when her children first learned to “read”. She explains that if a child was not able to read a note that she had left on the refrigerator then they were NOT readers. Being able to recite Green Eggs and Ham does not mean a child can read.

Out of our 3 children (22, 11, & 6) 2 of them are “readers”. One is still making connections to the written word but is not a reader. Little Sis *knows* lots and lots of words but still struggles with some too. Instead of spending TONS of money on a reading program, because you can *not* make a child read before they are ready(you can not *make* a child learn anything if they are not interested. Regurgitating information for a test is not *real* learning), I bought a CD of all the funny Letter People songs($10.00), watched episodes of The Letter People on YouTube with her(free), invested in some refrigerator magnets($5.00) that the girls like to use to leave messages with, we play games with her, follow what interests her and help facilitate more things she might like.

All that money I saved from buying curriculum materials and supplies I am able to spend on the things she loves like virtual world memberships (like Wizard 101, Animal Jam) , video games, card games, magazines, puzzle books and Elephant and Piggie books.

I facilitate the love of reading by snuggling in bed when she wants to read a story and giving her my time to help answer her questions. Oh and I DON”T place negative judgement on her interests. (We are living in the 21st century we need to get past the idea books are the *only* way to enjoy a great story! Have you followed the storylines of any video games lately? Man how far they’ve come since Pac-Man.)

When she asks how to spell a word I don’t say “sound it out”, or “look it up” or spell it by stretching out each letter sound, “Pen, Pah Eh NNN” , how annoying that would be if someone did this to me every time I asked how to spell a word, we spell it for her. After a few times she has it down. When she needs help reading something on one of her games, we help read it for her. After a few times she figures it out. When she needed help on Animal Jam talking with the other kids or spelling out messages, we took the time to sit by her side and helped with what she needed.

The more she does what she loves, the more she *wants* to read, write, and spell all on her own. The more supportive, peaceful, and loving her environment is the more she learns. This goes for *all* of us and for all “subjects”!

Children *love* to learn. The problem comes when *we* start getting ideas in our mind of *how* that learning should look. We begin listening to so-called “experts” instead of listening and watching our children.

I have yet to meet anyone who is exactly like me, why would I assume my girls would be?



Strewing Or Feeding An Interest

June 7, 2012

A thread was brought up in the Always Learning radical unschooling group (created by Sandra Dodd) about strewing. There seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding the differences of feeding an interest and what strewing means to unschooling (myself included 🙂 ). I could not have written this any clearer than Joyce Fetteroll herself (author of the website Joyfully Rejoycing ) and thought I would share.

“What you described is supporting their interests.
Strewing is something different, something separate from their interests. Sandra coined the term as it applies to unschooling. And it’s not a good one to use to apply to supporting their interests and explorations. The ordinary use of the word strewing suggests disconnection. And moms should not be disconnected from their kids when they’re supporting them in exploring.
Strewing even in its common use is not done to or with someone. It’s done to the environment. And that’s what strewing is in unschooling. It’s leaving interesting things out where people might stumble across them. They may pick them up for a moment or an hour or ignore them entirely. Periodically they’re cleared away. Periodically new things are strewn.
Supporting requires being connected and interacting with them. Being aware of what they’re doing with their passions enough to be their support and ask interested questions and understand what they’re talking about when they share.
There are several parts to creating a rich, vibrant atmosphere for learning:
1) Support their interests, as much as *they* need. Which involves getting them the stuff they want and need. Share what you know. Run related ideas through their lives. Listen to them talk about their interests. Be interested in their interests or at least appreciative of their passion. *Not* taking over their interest 😉
2) Connect with them outside of their interests. Do things together. Have conversations. Tell them stories of their childhoods and yours. Go through old photo albums. Invite them to do household tasks with you, go shopping.
3) Take them places. Introduce them to new things. It doesn’t need to be big deals. Grocery shop in new grocery stores. Drop into thrift stores and antique stores. Farmer’s markets.
4) Be curious yourself. See the world through your kids’ eyes. Wonder about things.
5) Strew. Sprinkle their environment with things to stumble across. (Bathrooms are particularly good for this.)”

A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ That’s Incredible!

June 3, 2012

Incredible indeed that the temperatures here in Indy went from the 90s to the 60s in a matter of a few days. The first day of June felt like fall. So that meant the swimming pool being drained and put back up for later in exchange for time outdoors playing games, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over an open fire in the fire pit.It also meant more snuggles inside while Little Sis read to me from her most favorite series Elephant and Piggie and I read her stories from (one of our most favorite and most read books after Ellen’s Lion that is) the 20th Century Book Treasury.

This books holds *many* of the girls(and my) most favorite children’s stories. One in particular though that had an impact on this week was the story of Madeline. Little Sis found the movie My Fair Madeline that we watched together instantly on Netflix and she loved it.

It is very interesting to see each child’s individuality emerge. I mean they have always been like night and day but Miss Sky never took an interest in Madeline when she was little. She was never into “girly” things like dollhouses or Barbie (even the natural Waldorf ones). Actually when Miss Sky was little dolls scared her. They reminded her too much of dead people with their blank, lifeless glares staring out into space (as weird as that sounds it’s true). Instead Miss Sky was all about, and still is, animals (Build-A-Bear was perfect for her). Of course now that she is older, dolls are no longer scary to her :).

I myself could be described as a “tomboy” as I never liked to wear dresses. In fact I have a funny childhood story about just that. I went to a private school growing up and for our 8th grade graduation I had to wear a formal dress. My mom took me to get my hair and makeup done and when I got to my graduation one of my friends (not my best friend but a pretty close one)was talking to me and asked if my sister was graduating tonight. She did not even know it was me!

It’s been fun watching movies with Little Sis that I never got in with as a child or that Miss Sky never took an interest in. I am definitely being stretched outside of my comfort zone.

Let’s see there was all the usual game playing of Frog Juice, Wizard 101, Minecraft, Memory, Go Fish, Mario Party 8,, Uno, and Rummikub(which is great to play outdoors 🙂 ).

Besides all the other stories, Little Sis and I snuggled up and read her new High Five magazine too.

Miss Sky has been busy playing Kingdom Hearts and both girls spent time playing with Notebook(on Windows) practicing their typing speed and Little Sis has been writing sentences with the words she knows how to spell.

This weeks family movie was the last in getting caught up with the Marvel Avenger characters, The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton (who did an incredible job!). Miss Sky loved it and the whole time was picking out funny clues spread throughout the movie like “Oh look it’s the Hulk’s purple pants” or ” look that’s the Leader”. She really knows her Marvel, Stan Lee would be proud :).

She bought a new Nintendo DS game, Nitendogs Dachshund and Friends which she loves

and received a new Nintendo Power magazine in the mail. She was very excited to read of the new Super Mario Brothers 2 coming out.It really is a good life!