Archive for August, 2012

“There Never Was A Time When Everybody Was Rushing Through Coming Out Good Readers”

August 29, 2012

Well this time instead of “reading a little”, I am watching a little. The quote above is from the school reformer himself, John Holt.

I am an origins person, someone who likes to dig into history to see where inspiration might have originally come from. Like before Michael Jackson there was a guy by the name of Cab Callaway. Or Before Jerry Lewis there was a guy named Stan Laurel and before Stan was Charlie Chaplin. Well before Sandra Dodd there was John Holt.

I always am amazed how people from my generation (I was born in the 70s)  constantly complain about the negative state our country is in (which I agree with them that it is). However I don’t think many take the time to research back in history to see how negative the state of our country has always been. How many remember fuel rations?

Well the same can be said for school reform. I think every president the United States has had, since public education became mandatory, tried to reform education, and guess what? We still have children who fail and drop out. There still is a committee of people trying to come up with ways to get children reading. Why do you think that is? Could it be maybe because there still are children who don’t follow the one size fits all educational system? I am even going to go out on a limb here and bet that after all 3 of our girls are out of “school” age the educational system will still fail lots and lots of children and there still will be kids who have trouble learning to read.

*Adding in my own personal opinion that as long as children are shamed into feeling stupid because they learn differently from the rest of the class, this will always be a problem.

I speak as someone who was put in remedial math just because I wasn’t the first person to get a math problem on the chalkboard right.  I am someone who was labeled “slow”. No one took into consideration that I was *incredibly* shy and hated to be called out in front of the class.*

I really like this video interview of John Holt and wish there were many more of them. So grab a cuppa tea and enjoy. 🙂


A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ The Ladies Of The Rings

August 24, 2012

Well this week flew by in a flash I tell you. Busy, busy we were. The weather has been wonderful and even with our family now unschooling with all kinds of “screen” technology we fully are aware fall is just around the corner.

Fall is *the* season in our household. There are apples that need picking and walks that need taking and wood that needs stacking and freezers that need filling oh and birthdays too. Yes my production senses have stirred.

So this week was all about walks to the park (we even managed to do a little rain dancing), fires in the backyard, trips out to see farmer friends, to start working on filling those freezers I mentioned(beef, pork, chicken, chicken broth, corn and pizza sauce check), and a visit to the Optometrist.

If you couldn’t tell Miss Sky has grown right out of her glasses so an appointment was way overdue. Papa and Miss Sky were up first and I can’t help but laugh at this family of mine. From the moment we walked in it was question after question. While we waited Miss Sky got caught up in the video they had playing about all the different procedures you can have done now to your eyes( because they are way more interesting than their DS games). ” Wow mom look at how they can fix your eyes with lasers”, honestly I don’t know what was more exciting learning about how your eyes work or the fact that you can use lasers on them, I just hoped our doctor was in an answering kind of mood (and thank goodness she was). 🙂

Did I mention apples? Ah yes the girls seem to have an extraordinary keen sense to apple season. This past year we didn’t follow any type of “seasonal rhythm” (except that of our own) and yet somehow they still knew the time was near. While searching through our bookshelves Little Sis pulled the story The Apple Cake for a reading, which I very much obliged. ” Is it time to make our apple cake yet?” After a quick internet search I found that indeed it is time for a visit to the apple orchard. Little Sis also thought playing a few rounds of Disney Apples to Apples might be a good idea too, so we did. As well as more Wii Party Globe Trot and Friend Connection.

Kingdom Hearts? Yes, yes and yes. Miss Sky and Little Sis have been playing the video games and decided to reread the manga series. They each have been busy on Disney Create making even more characters in which Little Sis invented Sad Girl. They even made Kingdom Hearts Mii characters.

There has been more reading ,

Little Sis could not wait for me to start the Jenny and the Cat Club series, this girl loves cats(again found used on E-bay), and Miss Sky has been rereading all her Ology series (I think triggered from watching one of her most favorite movie series).

Movies? Well after all the busyness earlier in the week we decided to kick back and relax for the rest with a little telly. We watched The Little Travelers in Bali and Miss Sky suggested a viewing of one of her favorite series was in order, because you know there is a new release coming out this year. 😉Yes we are a family of fantasy nerds. I was raised with the wonderful storytelling of Tolkien and Lewis(Thanks dad 🙂 ) but it was Big Sis who got Miss Sky hooked on The Lord of the Rings movies.

We go back and forth between Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Narnia, with Miss Sky adding the Marvel movies to the list( I wonder what Little Sis will add?) but Lord of the Rings is by far Miss Sky’s favorite. We have watched these movies so much we are able to spot the goofs but we still always manage to find something new, especially with Miss Sky interested in special effects.

What else is left to say but life is good, wishing everyone a great weekend!

I Could Tell You Where Tanganyika Africa Use To Be

August 20, 2012

Yes it is tea time again for me (Chai this time), time to do a “little reading”. Over at the Always Learning Yahoo group created by Sandra Dodd there is a discussion going on about gaps in ones education.

This seems to be the most asked question, right after socialization, that I get when finding out we unschool (which to us means living as if school doesn’t even exist), “What about gaps?”

Which I then look at them puzzled and say “What about them?” I don’t think those asking the question even understand what they are asking. Gaps in what, learning? Well everyone has gaps.

Lets say I went to college and received a bachelor’s degree in education, well that does not mean I can change the muffler on my car, or operate in surgery. Just because there are 25-30 children in a classroom all learning the same thing does *not* mean they all learned it. Just because you remember something long enough to pass a test does not prove you *learned* anything(except how to retain information temporarily to “cheat” the system and to fill in a blank).

I still remember how to spell Mississippi as well as all the rest of the states but really it is not very essential to my life. I mean I probably would have learned how to spell them without school eventually.

How do you think you would do taking a test right now with 25-30 other people who are all the same age as you? How would you feel if your worth was measured by that score?

I loved this quote in one of Sandra Dodd’s replies

“Tanganyika–I learned about this African nation in 8th grade geography, and how
to spell it, and it’s neighbor Zanzibar, too, and drew maps, and passed a test.
By the time I was grown, it wasn’t a country anymore. It’s  likely that there
were people who learned about it even after it was gone, because our state would
use textbooks for five or six years, and by the time a textbook came along, it
had been in preparation and production for a year or two (or more). Tanganyika
was only a country for a few years. Oh. 1961 to 1964, says Wikipedia. Well hell.
I learned about it in the 1966/67 school year. It wasn’t my geography teacher’s
job to dispute the textbook, though. That would’ve been current events, and not
his field.”

You can read the rest of her response at her site. (Please note *If you are not a member yet and want to be please read the description page, this group is not meant to be a “support” group but a group to dissect and talk about *ideas* relevent to radical unschooling.*)

“It’s Just Life”

August 18, 2012

There is a movie soon to be released about unschooling and thought I would share the trailer.

It is so exciting to see unschooling spreading around the world. I love hearing about those in countries where homeschooling is illegal, like in Germany, who are working so hard to get the word out.

You can find out more about the movie here. and Becoming Film

“Kind Of Like Cocaine”

August 16, 2012

Well, I received an old, very “popular” Waldorf e-zine in my inbox this morning. One that I was trying to unsubscribe and unfortunately got baited into reading a certain article about children and technology.

“I’m worried about studies showing that the more time children spend with TV and video games the less well they do in school and the more calories they consume.”

The quotes, including my title, come from this article written by Susan Linn.

I wasn’t going to bring this here at first because usually, I laugh these type of articles off, I mean I have a child who learned how to read from playing video games, but comparing what happens to a child’s brain while playing them to “cocaine” just downright pissed me off.

These are exactly the types of articles that flame parents fears and give them more of an excuse to be control freaks.

Like this quote “A few years ago, one survey of 8- to 18-year-olds found that almost one-quarter said that they “felt addicted” to video games.”

(Notice it never mentions how *many* kids were surveyed, was it 500 or 100 or 10?)

Did anyone ask these kids what kind of upbringing they had? Maybe these “one-quarter” of kids HAD to escape reality. Maybe they had parents who didn’t give a crap about them!

Or that maybe, just maybe it’s hard for certain kids to be kept indoors for 6-7 hours a day getting information stuffed down their throat and when they do get home they *need* to unwind. I don’t know very many adults who come home after working that many hours that don’t need to unwind, so why would we not expect children to.

What *I* do know is my kids are NOT “addicted” to television, or video games, or the computer. My kid’s brains are NOT mush. They are very bright individuals who realize THEY are the ones in control of how much they do these things.

Stop giving into fear, watch *your* children, listen to them! See *them* and all they are doing. Watch television with them, play video games with them.

Really, in my opinion, what children are lacking today is love and attention from their parents. So be kinder and loving to them! Tell them you love them every day, do things with *them* that make *them* happy and bring smiles to their faces. Laugh and play *with* them.

Kindness begets kindness and violence beget violence the choice is ours and always has been.

A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ We’re Moving On Out, Outdoors That Is

August 14, 2012

Yes the heat wave has broken, for how long I really don’t care because right now is wonderful! The windows are open and we even could hear and smell the pitter patter of rain. *Not to self, do not ever, ever complain about the rain and cold again. 🙂 *

I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for all the school kids who are stuck indoors all day now that the temps have finally dropped. I know how antsy I felt being stuck indoors this summer, I can only imagine being a kid. Well there is nothing I can really do about that but I can do something with my family, and we have too.

Like walks and the park have been added back into our days along with playing freeze tag and red light green light in the backyard but hikes, yes that’s what we really like, are back.Of course there are premade paths already laid out for you but what fun is it to travel were everyone else has. Besides that’s how you miss all the good stuff. 🙂If your clothes are not dirty by the time we leave then something is very wrong.

Once home from our day of exploration homemade pizza and a movie seemed to fit so I went through my “secret Disney movie stash”(that I have been collecting from Goodwill) to see which movies the girls haven’t seen yet and Fox and the Hound seemed just right. However the girls did not agree. “Wow this movie is filled with too many stereotype messages for me to enjoy”. Just a warning, once you begin your journey into radical unschooling your movie watching days will never be the same again. 😉

I guess after watching the movie now that I am an adult I can see why it never made it onto the Disney “greatest hits” list but seriously I don’t ever remember thinking about stereotypes at their age. What I will say is this movie caused a very long discussion(like still going over breakfast the next day) about hunting for sport and food. Let’s not forget that one of Miss Sky’s most favorite animals are foxes.

Speaking of movies the girls and I started watching the series Fruits Basket again. Now that I am reading the manga, which they did leave out a lot in the series, I am able to pick up on more of the clues. Well I thought watching The Little Travelers Japan might be fun and the girls agreed(*they* really like The Little Travelers DVDs). How great it was to watch this after Fruits Basket. It opened the door a little bit more into japanese culture. Add this with having a WWII paratrooper veteran right next door who still has his photos of Japan and we struck gold(but more on that next post).

The girls recognized right away how the school uniforms in the anime series where exactly the same as in the documentary. We also learned why it is proper to exit a room backwards (which you see a lot of in the anime series too).

We did play the game Life on the Wii and the board game Sorry this week but Kingdom Hearts is still the big news around these parts. Little Sis bought the DS game Kingdom Hearts 358/2. It takes place in between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2.She is so excited because this really is her first game she has been able to read and play along with all on her own. She has carried her DS around the house with her wherever she goes. Oh am I worried about her being “addicted” to a “screen”? NO WAY, she is reading on her own! Can’t you see her happiness? Why would I not *want* my child to be happy? I don’t know many *happy* addicts.

Besides I have seen first hand everything the girls have not only learned because of the Kingdom Hearts video game but are doing. Miss Sky has been busy inventing her own charactersand that red notebook is filled with her story ideas.

I asked if they wanted a how to draw anime book and both answered in unison, “No, we like drawing *our way*”. You know what, they always have too. 🙂

Life is good!


A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ Not Back To School Week(Thank Goodness!)

August 8, 2012

This week the kids in our area went back to school and like every year when I see the kids walking down the street with their new clothes and backpacks on to catch the bus, I like to take a moment to look back over past posts to see how we are doing.

Around this time last year, our family made the decision to toss Waldorf education out the window and started unschooling. This time last year our family pledged to put our families relationship first. This time last year our family began our “deschooling” journey. Do I regret our decision? NO WAY! As cheesy, or corny, or crazy this may sound, radical unschooling has changed our life! We finally have found *our* way.

I love reading back over past posts and seeing what was going on in my mind at the time. I love the fact that I am able to go back and *see* when “deschooling”  for us had ended and unschooling began. I always tell people who find out about my blog that *I* am my biggest reader :).

While taking a stroll down memory lane, I began to notice a pattern in *our* learning. I say us because Papa and I have learned SO much about ourselves as well as how we learn best. So many people question whether unschooling can truly work and I can not write enough about how important “deschooling” is for *you*, the parents because once you understand how *you*, yourself learn all the unschooling pieces come falling into place. What I noticed most about our journey into unschooling is all the different topics *I*, myself have taken interest in learning.

One topic was the Tudors and King Henry the eighth. It all started by me picking up a copy of The Other Boleyn Girl, then by watching the Showtime series, The Tudors on Netflix. While watching the series I had to stop many times to look up on the computer who all the characters were and how much truth was behind the series. I found other movies, books,  and documentaries on the topic and learned all that I wanted before moving on to the next topic. I can see this same pattern happening with the girls. Miss Sky will find a video game, like Ice Age, and before you know it she is doing internet searches on the topic and we are watching the movies, documentaries, visiting museums and then she will ask lots and lots of questions. You can literally see the light bulb go off in her brain when she has made a connection and then she is ready to move on.

I noticed from my notes this week that our game playing has died down a bit. I believe the reason for this is because Little Sis has found herself able to read. It’s pretty much what she could be found doing all week. In fact, it’s pretty much what you could find both girls doing all week.

Our season of game playing is over, at this point in time anyway, while Little Sis begins to connect new pieces of her puzzle. Well, it’s not completely over, I mean there will always be a game played here and there before dinner or in between readings. For instance, we did play a few games of Wii Party together this week.

*On a side note, I highly recommend this game. There are SO many great games and each one has become a favorite. This week it was Globe Trot, which is great for learning geography and more Friend Connection.*

And I believe Minecraft and Animal Jam will continue to play their part in our weeks as well.

Movies have also played a big part in our week as we watched the anime movie The Cat Returns, as a family, in which Little Sis has declared it her favorite anime movie thus far (she LOVES cats). Then the girls thought it a good idea to watch the Disney movies portrayed in the game Kingdom Hearts. They still enjoy watching them in Spanish and love to figure out what the Spanish translation of words are, and they could be heard around the house repeating Winnie Poo in their best Spanish accents (Have I mentioned how much I love these girls of mine?). 🙂

Miss Sky and I watched The Stan Lee story on Netflix and what can I say but my respect for his creative spirit had grown SO much more. I found it very interesting that when comic books first came out they were blamed for juvenile delinquents and asthma because children would be found indoors *reading* instead of playing outside. Kind of sounds like the cynical claims some have of television and video games today (hmm)

Last but not least last night Miss Sky called me outdoors, “Mom have you seen this sky?” So outside I flew with camera in hand to enjoy the sunset with my little girl.“Isn’t it beautiful mom?” As I stared up at the sky a proud mama tear began to form in the corner of my eye, that what some would call my “spoiled” daughter (who we choose not to shame, or punish, or spank just because they were not born with the same knowledge as what we have as adults or because they may act differently then what we did as a child, or that is allowed to watch all the television and play video games for however long she would like) could take a moment of her time and pause long enough to admire true beauty when she sees it.

Folks, indeed I truly do love this life of mine!

A Week In The Life Of Unschoolers/ A(n)- Outing We Will Go

August 3, 2012

We finally have seen a break in the heat this week. We have been able to turn our air conditioner off a few times and hear the sounds of summer (oh how I miss the smell and sound of the rain). I for one can’t wait until fall. I am SO over this heat we’ve had this year. Next year I definitely am finding a nice outdoor pool to belong to.

Well this week was all about getting out of the house for a while and with the temps only making it to the high 80s a few times just made it that much better. For starters we packed us up a backpack full of food and drinks and walked down to our small park to take in the fresh air.It felt so good to get out and stretch our legs. Speaking of stretching our legs, if you have ever been (or lived) in the state of Indiana you would know motor racing is pretty big here, thanks to the Indy 500. This past weekend our state hosted Nascars Brickyard 400. Papa is a *huge* Nascar fan, okay he loves cars period. If you have ever watched the classic Christmas movie A Christmas Story, which takes place in this great state of ours, you will be familiar with the scene where Ralphy says the mother of all words while helping his dad change a flat tire. In that scene it explains how his dad always pictured himself down in the pits during the Indy 500, well that is Papa. This past weekend Papa and I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with those pits as we were given tickets to the Brickyard.This would be my first time to actually see a race at the track and if you have never been, it is something I think everyone should do at least once(but bring ear plugs). There is so much more to racing then just driving around in a circle.The girls and I thought it would be a good idea to make a trip out to JoAnnes to stock up on some supplies, like some more burlap and muslin. Little Sis has taken an interest in learning how to sew and burlap is the best material for beginners to practice with.She got started making a cat right away.

While out and about that way we stepped into Half Price Books to have a look for any Fruits Basket manga. The girls and I have finished the anime series and I read that much was left out from the manga so I want to see what was missed. Yes the Fruits Basket manga is for me but of course the girls can read it too if the want. 🙂 We were in luck and found a few books in the series.

Speaking of manga the girls received their Kingdom Hearts manga in the mail and was thrilled!Little Sis ran in all excited, “Mom, mom I can read these books! There are some words I still have trouble with like mushroom but I figured them out.” I recommend these books 100% to anyone who has a Kingdom Heart fan and beginning reader. They have given her SO much confidence.

On a side note how exciting it is to see Little Sis SO fired up that *she* figured out she could read. I can not even begin to explain how much this boosted her confidence toward learning. Seriously I have seen a few negative posts lately about unschooling and parents taking joy in the fact that they are the ones “in charge” of their children’s life. Speaking from experience as having a 22-year-old daughter, what a wake up call it will be when you find out how false that really is. I can’t help but feel a little sad for those children. It is obvious they have never seen the pure joy on a child’s face that has learned something all on their own.

Let’s see there was more Rummikub and Wii Party where we took turns playing The Friend Connection game. Little Sis and I came in last place, in fact we broke the record for worst couple score ever getting only 1 question right. Miss Sky and I were the most compatible, man she is such a mini version of me.

There was more episodes of Martha Speaks and we watched the movie Ponyo as a family which wasn’t bad but I still like Howl’s Moving Castle better.

Yes there was more Kingdom Hearts, actually Miss Sky has made it halfway through the game Kingdom Hearts 2 already. Her gaming skills have improved SO much. Now I call for her to help *me* pass a boss. She and Papa played more of the game Begone on the computer and both girls spent a good amount of time playing Animal Jam this week I think because they added one of Miss Sky’s most favorite animals, foxes.

Last but not least Little Sis and I worked a puzzle of the Impressionist Edgar Degas’s painting (Dance Class)and found out we were missing a piece.

Well now to get back to my manga reading. 🙂

Life sure is good!