Conundrum

I haven’t told you about the teenager yet. After much begging, pleading and crying last year about wanting to go to school like other kids, we enrolled her in a part-time middle school program at a charter school.  In about a week, Pia will start 8th grade, going to school 3 days a week. We thought it was a good compromise. True child-led learning means you do whatever the child wants. And this is no doubt what she wanted. But then my whole paradigm shifted. Now what to do!? We are in quite a conundrum.  She is hearing about my new “way” of homeschooling this year. She is going back and forth now on what she wants. She wants to give it a month to see how it goes and I think that is very wise of her. No one has to convince me to pull her out if that is what we think is best.

In the meantime, she has been thinking a lot about what it is that interests her and what she would like to spend her time doing.  She loves make up. She recently made some make-up of her own, of which I get to enjoy the spoils. She made a lip plumper/softener and a concealer. The start of some self-directed learning. She also read Moby Dick in it’s entirety, because her dad told her to. Okay, that’s not at all self-directed, but she loved it.

As for the boys, over the last week we all have enjoyed reading Harry Potter together, watching the movies Chasing Mavericks and Heaven is for Real. We have learned about recycling, whales, why bees are going extinct, how to escape from quicksand (because you never know when you’ll be wandering in a desert and happen upon some quicksand) and testicles (which we discovered Z was calling “sockets” and we should really tell him the real name for that body part). But the BIG project for the week was the fort the boys built with dad. They each drew up a plan with measurements. They took a trip to Lowe’s. They built it to look like a modern box, because we all wish we could live in a real one some day. For now, this will have to do.

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And they were super excited to sleep outside in it. SO excited that apparently they were wandering around the yard until the middle of the night. But really, how could I be mad at that when I woke up to this?

 

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Next comes the paint.

 

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Learning All the Time

Now that I’ve put it out there, I have had many people ask me what Unschooling is.  It’s hard to explain because it means different things to different people and one family’s way of doing things is completely different from another’s.

If I had to sum it up in a few words, it is living your everyday life with the understanding that children learn in their own way, on their own time, and when it has meaning to them.  Just like they learned to walk and talk, they will want to learn things in relation to their world and be like the adults of this world.  That is the basic idea.

Our kids got a really bum deal their first years of life.  The effects of past trauma and neglect are undeniably evident.  Continuing to try and force them to conform to a system that says they have to know “this information” at “this time,” or there is something wrong with them, is ridiculous.  All it has done is discourage them, and make them feel stupid.  My youngest son literally yelled at least a couple hundred times this year, “I’m the stupidest kid!”  Unfortunately, I was the one pushing him and forcing him to do more than he wanted or probably could even handle.

As I continue to read and learn more about it (because it has meaning to me) and let go of all I have ever thought about school and life, I can see so clearly how my homeschool road has led here.  I was already practically there, just somehow missed that it was okay to let go.  Our kids are still going to be alright.  I can see this more now than I ever could see it trying everything else.  So right now, for us, it just means we are living our life and learning all the time.  On their time.

What does Unschooling look like?  It looks like Sunday.  In August.  The boys decided they wanted to try to fix a broken TV we had in the garage. They each looked online for information about fixing the problem and then got to work!

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They took it apart (I mean completely apart) and then put it back together again.  That in itself is beyond my knowledge and amazing to me!

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Dad got in the act at the end, for safety reasons, to test it out (I’m picturing explosion here).  When they plugged it in, he told them if it worked, they could have it in their room.  It didn’t work, but it did turn on! Hello??  I never could have done that!  Of course, they want to keep trying.  I’ll keep you posted on whether they end up with a TV in their room.