unschooling: blacklick woods

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i’m determined to have our unschooling take us through as many of the columbus metro parks as possible this summer. we added blacklick woods to our list of faves this week. last week was pretty light on unschooling adventures. friends were in town so our lessons for that week were mostly about “hey when you’re besties fly in from the westies you drop everything and spend time with them” which i happen to believe is very good subject material.

so, monday brought us a really beautiful, perfect day for being out and about in the woods. our very first “lesson” was talking about how to read the map and determining our path. blacklick had a perfect length loop hike and a great nature center. darla decided we should visit the nature center before and after our hike. the center had all sorts of information on wildlife native to the woods & insect inspection stations. you can see we spent some time at the touchable objects station where D examined fossils, rock samples, horns and feathers.

the entirety of the hike took us about 25 mins. it would have been shorter but we stopped to make friends along the way, checked out fungi, frogs in the bogs, and even got to see a hawk on the hunt from extremely close up.

our visit ended by spending some time at the observation window which lines the entire back of the center. furry, feathery animals of all kinds come right up to the windows and eat undisturbed by the human folk. d got a real kick out of a momma racoon with her 3 kits and sang the pompoko theme song to them. personally, i favored the numerous chipmunks.

you know, this whole unschooling summer has felt kinda like girl scout camp to me. and that’s a pretty good feeling. i loved girl scout camp! i feel such a calling to this way of bringing up my daughter. i’m looking forward to seeing where else this path where take us.

thanks for checking out this unschooling outing of ours. good luck in your educational endeavors.

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acrobatics

we’re going through a serious acrobatics phase over here. even more than usual. i’m guessing she’s just grown again and can now reach some things she wasn’t able to before but, geez, every time i turn around she’s on top of something new.

i do, however, appreciate the certain dramatic flair she’s got going on while performing these climbing acts. better’n cable television, i tell ya.

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unschooling: harmonious homestead

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darla and i spent a little bit of time at the harmonious homestead open house on saturday. i bet you can tell what darla’s favorite part of the outing was. she wants chickens and her momma does too. she held just about every one of them. it worked out that even though i tried to interest her in the gardens and grounds she was confined to the chicken coop, by choice, so mama was free to roam around the gardens as she pleased. mama likes to do as she pleases.

i learned about hugelkultur and darla learned how to successfully chase down a chicken. i’d say that’s a good day of learning.

unschooling: cherry picking

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we had cherry trees growing up. i used to sit in them for hours and eat sun-ripened tart cherries by the handful. i jumped on the chance to take darla cherry picking this week. if the trees hadn’t belonged to someone else I would have let her climb on up so i could look back on myself as a kid because i’ve somehow figured out a way to reincarnate myself before i’m even dead.

we compared the difference between picking cherries and strawberries and just had nice conversations about the orchards. darla was more interested in meeting new people so i let her do her thing, reminding myself that it’s important she learn from others. it’s always fun to sit back and listen to her discussions with other kids and grown-ups. it’s a built-in assessment opportunity.

and who can pass up the opportunity to have fresh cherries for 4th of july? hello cherry cobbler. darla requested we make some cherry jam b/c our strawberry jam is flying out of the fridge and into our mouths at an amazing pace. i’m also thinking of trying to dry some using the car window method.

one thing is for sure, we’re hooked on these food field trips. i can’t wait for black raspberries!

thanks for checking in on our latest unschooling efforts.

climb thoz treez!

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my daily moment post prompted some thoughts about tree climbing to start swirlin’ around in my brain space so i thought i might as well dump that here too.

oh gawd. that was getting long and preachy and stupid so i just scrapped it and am starting over by saying what i really want to say.

i was a crazy monkey child growing up and darla is too. i loved the feeling of mounting the obstacles. i loved the satisfaction and pride it swelled up in my tiny, gangly body. i can see it in darla too. can you see her face right there? maybe not because it’s hard with the sun {or is it jesus?} shining right down on her. but she’s really good at it and even though she’s small, i’ve let her from a young age.

and i don’t mean that i’ve helped her. i mean that she’s been climbing trees {and various other items} on her own for a couple of years now. i feel it’s really important for her to see that i trust her and that she can trust herself and her own body. i just think that’s where all the magic happens during an ol’ fashioned tree romp. for a lot of kids, it’s the first big risk they get to take and come out successful and triumphant. who am i to deprive her of that by hovering too closely and directing her from branch to branch. of course i’m nearby but the act is all her 99% of the time. plus, remember when falling out of a tree and getting a bump, bruise or… gasp…even a broken bone was just part of life and learning lessons? not that i want my child to get hurt but i know it’s not my job as a parent to prevent anything bad from happening to her. it’s my job to show her how to recover from the bumps, bruises and breaks. and it’s my job to show her that 99% of the time they do not happen.

we can trust our children. if we trust them more now when they are small we’ll be able to trust them a whole lot more when they are big. that’s just my opinion though. check in with me in 12 years when darla’s climbed out her bedroom window and the jack daniels is missing from the liquor cabinet.

ha! we don’t have jack daniels or a liquor cabinet. squashed that little plan of yours there, missy. you can’t pull anything over on this hawk squaw.

oh anyyyyyyway…

last summer our neighborhood festival brought a rock-climbing wall for the kids. darla was only 3. i could see the desire in her eyes and she quietly told me “mommy, i really want to make it all the way to the top.”  i told her to be brave and never give up. well, her turn came quickly and she proceeded to climb all the way to the top. even when she lost all footing and was hanging on by just one hand. even when the bigger kids around her gave up. she did it. and she came running to me with a huge triumphant smile after. the folks working the climbing wall said they were amazed that she was able to do it but i wasn’t. i was confident that she would.

ok, so that last paragraph was some parental boasting but everything before that was me just putting it out there how i feel about letting my girl get up in a big ol’ tree, or sometimes small ones, and figure it out on her own.

my tips for letting a child {in this case mine but could be yours if you like what i’m puttin’ down} swing from the boughs:

1. don’t do it for them.

2. don’t do it for them. i repeat this. even from the beginning. getting up into a tree should be the child’s effort entirely. that is what makes it an important part of childhood.

3. do help them spot and locate a safe branch if they are stuck. this is different from giving them a play-by-play on how to climb. if she needs help, i direct her and reassure her on which branch to try next.

4. it’s ok and probably best if they don’t wear shoes. our feet are designed for this kind of stuff and have better gripping potential than any sneaker. i have witnessed a surprising number of parents yelling at their child to get down out of a tree for not wearing shoes to climb. this is usually initiated by the fact that my child is running around barefoot so other kiddos follow suite. but this leads me to…

5. don’t yell at your child while they’re up in a tree. this could scare her and cause her to fall. even, if i’m scared or surprised by her climb, i calmly instruct her to come back down.

6. let go and know that it’s going to be ok. i let her try for herself even if it makes me uncomfortable. we’re both learning from the experience in that way. and even if she falls, or has a close call…i know that it’s all going to be ok.