Archive for the ‘unschool’ Category

Discoveries Of A Radical Unschooler

October 4, 2011

There seems to be a lot of negativity spreading through the internet these days about (radical) unschooling. I usually stay clear of this kind of talk (most of it is based on fear or lack of knowledge) and honestly I wasn’t going to post anything about it (even though it was very hard to do so) but, yes I said but, there is a thread going on ,in a radical unschooling yahoo group, about an article that is talking about whether a Unschooling child can “teach” themselves to read. Someone even commented, in the articles comments, on knowing uschooled adults who can not read.

Now I understand this is not a one size fits all question. I mean many factors play into the environment of how these children were raised. I can easily say I’ve known people who graduated high school (with a full football scholarship) that couldn’t read but I don’t dismiss the WHOLE school system as being a failure in being able to “teach” children how to read. So why is it so easy for people to form conclusions about unschooling based on a few incidents?

Well this got me thinking about what I have noticed about my girls since we have started to radically unschool and I thought I would write a post about that.

First I want to start off by saying I am someone who had doubts myself. I am also someone who thought placing limits on “screens” was needed in order for my girls not to become “vegetables”. I also heavily controlled what our girls brought into our home including movies, books, music, food, toys( I’m sure you get the drift). A year ago I might even have argued with you about movies and video games causing violence, and yes I would have been the mother that said “If I allow my children to watch television or play video games  whenever they want to, they would do it all day”.

However now I can say, with confidence, I am no longer that mom. In the very short time since we have been radically unschooling, I started deschooling in June, “I” have come to the conclusion that television and video games are not the cause of all today’s violence (what is Billy the Kid or Baby Face Nelson’s excuse) that maybe, possibly it could be a child’s environment. But I digress, we were talking about academics.

What are some things my girls have learned since we started radically unschooling?

Lets first talk about Little Sis. She is 5 getting ready to turn 6 next month.

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Since radically unschooling she’s learned how to read, spell and type. Count past 100, recognize and read numbers in the thousands, add and subtract numbers in the thousands and learn how to tell time on an analog clock (what will the big hand be on when it’s my turn, how many minutes does Sissy have?) all while playing games of her choice at KidZui.com such as Starfall, Animal Jam, and Club Penguin being her favorites.

She reads words all the time like when I am reading a chapter book aloud she will point out and read the words she knows. She will begin reading the summary of a show or movie before it loads on the Roku. Not to mention her trivia  knowledge of the Beatles( like pointing out the other day that it most certainly was not the Beatles singing Here Comes the Sun at the grocery store). Not once have I made her do any of this and not once have I needed a curriculum.

Moving on to Miss Sky who will be 11 in 2 weeks.

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I feel she has thrived the most from all this. See just because I might have gone through the motions of “school” in the past does not mean she retained everything we talked about. Yes we had spelling tests and she may have got all the words right on test day but ask her to spell one of them 4 months later and she didn’t even remember she had it as a word.

Since she has played Animal Jam her spelling has improved SO much. She likes to interact with the other kids playing and “wants” to make sure her spelling is correct.

The same is said about her math. Yes we went through the motions (and stress, and tears, and yelling) of workbooks but again she wasn’t retaining anything. Now she is in charge of budgeting her allowance. How much do I have to save to buy this, or do I have enough  money to cover taxes and what are taxes for and why do we have to pay them?

Apples are $1.69 a pound how much will 3 lbs cost? Will 3 lbs be enough for everyone to have one? While on vacation she learned what a mile marker was, how to read interstate signs(the next gas station is exit 49, that is in 5 miles). She “sees” math is everywhere not JUST in workbooks.

Is she learning what other 5th graders would be learning in school? No. Do other 5th graders know what Miss Sky does? Probably not, She can tell you what year Mt. Vesuvius erupted, she knows how many people died on the Titanic, she knows Mary Tudor  got a bad rep with the name Bloody Mary(her dad had more people beheaded, not that burning at the stake was a good thing either). She knows who Joseph Goebbels is and who sunk the Bismarck. (And there is more but for  the length of this post I will stop.) Again all because “she” wanted to.

The idea that children will not want to learn history or math unless someone “teaches” them is crazy, I see that now. If a child “wants” to learn something there is no stopping them, and that is my very long way of saying why I think there has to be more behind an unschooled adult never learning how to read. 🙂

Wishing everyone a great week!

Back In The Groove

October 2, 2011

I think we have settled back in after our vacation. The yard work and piles of laundry are finally all caught up (man how clothes pile up while on vacation). One thing I am very thankful for this year is even though our surroundings might have changed our learning never skipped a beat.( I love unschooling :)). So what have the girls been up to this week?

Well for starters Miss Sky asked if I thought she was to old to get a baby doll. This honestly through me in for a loop. One because she has NEVER been interested in dolls before (seriously never) and two because for the last few months she really hasn’t been interested in toys period. Lately its been all about computer and video games. So I was a bit curious as to why now all of a sudden she wanted a doll but not because I thought she was to old. I told her if she wanted one we could plan a trip to Goodwill and she was all for it.

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Then while laying in bed that night I remembered when I was about her age my mom bought me a baby doll, one of those that look like a real baby, that I carried around for months. I think maybe it is kind of like a right of passage for a girl around 10 or 11 when their maternal instincts start to take shape. Her individuality is definitely beginning to show.

Miss Sky has also been on a X-men (cartoon) marathon this week. She has become fascinated with Jean Gray and when she becomes the Phoenix. She asked if I wouldn’t mind taking her to Half-Priced books to see if they had any X-men comic books during the Phoenix saga. Okay like she really needed to ask if I wanted to go to a bookstore, Um YES.

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I have been having so much fun searching for comic books with Miss Sky. We have met so many people who not only know the best places to find comic books but today we met someone who has all the X-men action figures and wanted to know if Miss Sky would like to have them. They loved seeing her excitement of knowing who all the characters were and thought it was so cool that Papa and I were helping her follow her interest.

Miss Sky isn’t the only one following her interests. Little Sis couldn’t wait to get home to listen to ,I mean watch, her music.

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Both girls have enjoyed playing at Club Penguin and Animal Jam, which they like both for different reasons.

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(Little Sis playing the typing game)

As for me I made Little Sis a purse exactly like she requested

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and the girls surprised me with a gift for once(they are not the only fans in the house you know).

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Though I am beginning to get a bit suspicious as to their motives :).

All and all I have to say it has been a great week.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

Peace

Little Comments

September 30, 2011

Miss Sky:”How many more miles to Indianapolis ?”

Me: “40 more miles”

Miss Sky:”That means we have 40 minutes until we are finally home. So we should be pulling in the driveway at 8:44.”

Me looking at the clock: “That’s right.”

Miss Sky didn’t even know she was using math while on vacation :).

All’s Quiet On The Homefront

September 28, 2011

Because we were on vacation :).

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There was lots to prepare for

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Miss Sky searching the weather channel on Roku.

But we are always happy to be back home.

Wishing everyone a great week !

Oh and P.s. Miss Christine Natale,from my Waldorf days, left a wonderful surprise on my About page you must take a peek(like a PDF copy of her entire book of fairy tales).

Just A Strewing

September 21, 2011

Something else I have come to understand about unschooling (This seems to be how all my posts start lately but hey we are learning all the time right?) is why it’s not called child-led. As parents we do not wait for a child to become interested in something, instead we make our children’s environment interesting by strewing hands on learning opportunities so  new interests are available to light a spark.

At first this seems pretty easy to do. For instance I have mentioned we purchased a Roku opening up a whole new world of television shows, documentaries, and movies to be available whenever the interest may strike.

Then I downloaded a free kids browser to make available TONS of free computer games as well as opening up the internet for child-friendly browsing.

Then of course there was the addition of a video game console which I have to say has been the best purchase we have made in a long time.

Taking a bit of a detour here Miss Sky was lacking in the logical thinking department not to mention her coordination has always been a bit off too. I have seen a HUGE improvement since she started playing video games like Kingdom hearts in her logical thinking and adding a few fighting games(at Little Sis’s request, man this 5-year-old can kick some butt) has done wonders for her coordination, at one time she had problems jumping over moving obstacles. The best part though has been the closeness we have gained by playing together as a family. Then there is the teamwork aspect but I could go on forever.

Something that’s always been available is books. We have quite a nice library going thanks to Goodwill but one mistake “I” made was purchasing books from “other people’s” lists or taking advice on when or if a book may be appropriate for my children to read. I feel like I have missed *many* opportunities by doing this. So even though our home is filled with lots of books many of then don’t interest my children at all. Just because I like “the classics” doesn’t mean my children will. This is when strewing stops being easy.

Now it is up to us(the parents) to be able to find what might catch our children’s attention. In order to do this we need to find out what our children’s interests are. Some can be easier to spot like Little Sis’s love for art but it took me blogging to clearly see Miss Sky’s interest in science. Of course I knew she loved animals but now I see her interest is much deeper than that. It’s up to me to understand this so that I then can find what materials are needed to make our home rich and interesting to her.

A good example of this is once I understood why Miss Sky took such an interest in X-men and The Avengers it made my search for reading materials a lot easier (the only problem now is actually finding “stories” about kids having superpowers, and not the magic type. If you know of any, suggestions are most welcome). I noticed Miss Sky’s interest in Jean Gray’s power, from X-men, and her evolution in becoming the Phoenix.

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With luck I happened to come across a read aloud that I thought would be perfect for Miss Sky,The Girl With The Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, and boy was I right(she can even communicate with animals). So read alouds officially have been brought back off the self by her request(woohoo).

Other things that seemed helpful to have around this week were a sewing kit

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There was a need for an animal doctor.

and a subscription to Game Informer.

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I think I may finally be getting the hang of this after all :).

Wishing everyone a great week !

Little Comments

September 20, 2011

Miss Sky: “Mom come here.” Referring to the bathroom after just getting out of the shower.

Miss Sky: “I wrote you a message”

Written on a foggy mirror were the words I Love you mom with a little smiley face.

Me: speechless

Week In Review

September 16, 2011

This week has gone by in a flash I tell you. It seemed all I could do was hang on and enjoy the ride.

Struggling thoughts are going through my mind right now, there is SO much I want to say and yet I am not quite sure how to go about it.

Yesterday we met with a new homeschooling co-op for park day.  I was really hoping this would be “the” one . This is where I want to add what is really going through my mind. Instead I think I will just leave it that we did indeed have a great time playing and even had a few requests from children wanting to come home with us, seriously (sigh).

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The rest of the week you ask, well we observed a grasshopper learning that crickets are part of the same family and learned their differences.

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Then we sent him back out into the wild.

Little Sis playing at Starfall.com ( she loves the interactive stories and games).

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Dress up games seemed to be all the rage this week on the computer as well as the three of us teaming up to help each other pass levels in the Kingdom Hearts video game(yes, we are hooked).

We found a new series, Iron Man to fill in after finishing all the Avengers episodes (man I sure hope they plan on continuing these shows, they are really good. I have been singing the theme song all morning ).

Then of course  there is always lots of creating going on as well.

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Life is good friends, wishing everyone a great weekend!

Beboop 🙂

Little Comments

September 14, 2011

Miss Sky: ” Mom, can I play video games ?”

Me: “Are you going to pause your game to help me with dishes ?” Something we talked about earlier.

Miss Sky: “No”

Me trying to look like I’m thinking and not disappointed :” Okay, you can play.”

While I am doing dishes Miss Sky comes in to help rinse.

Me: “I thought you weren’t going to help.”

Miss Sky: “I was testing to see if you would get mad.”

Me: “Well did I pass ?”

Miss Sky just looks at me and smiles. I think I did :).

Little Comments

September 13, 2011

Little Sis: ” Mom, I know how to spell dress up.”

Me: ” Well let’s hear it.”

Little Sis goes on to spell it correctly.

She is learning to spell and read from typing and playing at KidZui :).

Learning Happens ….

September 12, 2011

once children get really excited about something.

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Miss Sky’s sea monkeys were a success. If only I could  bottle her excitement to share :).

Wishing everyone a great week!