unschooling: home

most of my unschooling posts are from adventures out and about but the majority of our unschooling really happens in our home or from everyday living. a principle of unschooling i love is that learning comes from life. it comes from doing and everyday curiosity. it comes from letting my girl get into just about anything she has the motivation to. this results in an extremely messy house most of the time.

but darla reminds me often that “messy is about having fun” so we get into things a lot. and i try to use everything, all the doings of our life as teaching moments.

here are a few moments from this past week: darla drawing heiroglyphs on our concrete porch, drawing observations in her nature journal of a caterpillar she found, studied and played with for a few hours, and learning to play checkers {and re-learning for me} at our local coffee shop.

thanks for checking in on our unschooling this week.

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unschooling: batelle darby metro park

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it is gorgeous days like this one that remind me why i’m keeping this blog. i will cherish these times always.

so here is a not-so-short list of things i can remember that we discussed and learned at batelle darby:

  • architectural structures
  • rock formations
  • gravity
  • the difference between bison and buffalo {fact: there have never been buffalo in America, only bison.}
  • flower names
  • the ecosystems of a stream
  • touched a turtle and a snake {not me, but darla did}
  • practiced the different sounds a rock makes when it’s thrown in the water
  • looked at decaying wood
  • hiked in woods and prarie and compared them
  • looked at bones and pelts
  • examined feathers on bird’s wing and magnification
  • different frog sounds
  • bird migration patterns
  • bees
  • trees

and honestly, i can’t remember b/c there was just so much to take in. we spent a good 4 hours there. 4 hours and no bison, however. they were hiding for the day but that gives us a reason to go back.

i am so thoroughly in love with the metro parks system. I am hoping we have a good 2-3 more months of outdoor exploration. we still have so much to see and revisit.

i hope these posts show how truly thankful and grateful I am to have the opportunity to spend these days running around with darla. it’s hard to imagine ever doing anything differently than the way we are now but i know to take each day as it comes.

i’m just filled with gratitude and love when i look back on some of these days. i want to put that down here for my darla.

what is unschooling?

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since i’ve been passing our summer adventures off as unschooling i’ve received lots of questions about unschooling, mainly: what is it?

the truth is, i don’t know exactly. My first exposure to the idea of unschooling was on a tv program called extreme parenting. when i first saw it, probably due a bit to dramatic tv editorial, i thought it seemed very strange. but something piqued my interest and i began to poke around on the internet for more information.

i follow a couple of blogs {here and here} that employ unschooling in their homes. with the homeschool movement back in full force, unschooling now seems like not such a big leap.

what has appealed to me about it thus far is that it allows me to educate darla in a very fluid way. i don’t have to prepare intricate lesson plans. i or darla can determine an activity or adventure for the day and we “see what we can see. find what we can find.”  also, unschooling just makes sense to me. children learn by doing. children learn by seeing. children and ADULTS learn by gravitating towards their natural interests.

but i admit i am just now starting to really dig my fingers into the research. i just picked up my first two books on unschooling. i hope to follow these up with more. See, i’m unschooling myself.

i’ll share what i find out. then you can read if you want to and unschool yourself. or not.

unschooling: mythological creatures park

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if you follow this blog religiously, like you all do, then you know that we { read that as I } have a soft spot for the mythological creatures fountain near the santa maria. it has some official name but i don’t know it. we packed a picnic lunch and spent some time reading, relaxing and building houses for ants.

first, i must tell you: i made the most bomb ass peanut butter sandwiches. they were fresh honey roasted peanut butter with some of our fresh strawberry preserves. i took that picture to commemorate it here forever.

darla ran around the park for a while, then ate and ignored me while I was all crazy and trying to read books to her. she was too busy making “creations” of paper dolls and building houses for ants. i eventually scrapped the books and helped her build her ant homes. it was a smart move to flow where her natural interests were at the moment. i showed her how to make a cube and we had a nice discussion about that. we spent some time looking at the santa maria, talking about boats and portugal and chistopher columbus.

i’ll always remember this unschooling outing as it was the last we’ll have on RuJu. we also learned a valuable lesson about bike thievery while downtown. this is one of those moments that i wish this blog was famous and some bike company would swoop in with a sponsorship opportunity and give me a new one…but no. we’ll get it worked out somehow on our own.

but really that bike sponsorship thing would be handy. can someone work on that?

anyway, thanks for checking in on our unschooling adventures.

she’s obsessed with dead people

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ummm, can i talk to you guys about this?

my daughter has this book memorized. it’s kinda freaking me out. she chose this book at the library almost 2 weeks ago. she disappeared into the stacks for a minute and then came running out, hair wild, yell-talking “WE HAVE TO GET THIS!” and shoved this in my face. how could i argue with that? she also demanded we get a book about day of the dead, halloween poems and beowulf.

yes, my daughter is reading 10th grade lit.

now, all these books have been extremely wonderful. she chose some more normal things like greek mythology, ali baba and the 40 thieves and something called the legend of ohio so i haven’t had to read only dark literature to her for the past two weeks but it brings me to something that has been haunting (literally but in that figurative way) our lives for the past 2.5 years.

my daughter is obsessed with dead people.

you may now understand why i try to push artistic outlets for her as much as i do. we’ve got to have some kind of direction for the macabre in this household or else she’s just going to turn into a goth and we all know that besides chris angel and dave navarro no goth person has ever had that much of a promising future. and i think those guys were kinda fringe anyway and yeah, those examples really just sum up my point.

an artist who is obsessed with dead people has a very promising future. all other interested parties just turn goth. so we’re pressing for artist here, people, or possibly mortician.

ghosts were her first repetitive subject for drawing. she broadened it to “dead guys” soon thereafter and i’ve been told numerous times over the years “ghosts and dead guys are my friends.”  does this also explain a little about the tent bed, too?

she used to tell me she saw them all the time. she would climb up on our toilet and look out the bathroom window in our old house, which was in a very old part of town, and say “yep, he’s there again today.”  i finally asked her about it after it had gone on for over a week and what she described to me was a man who had been hanged from a tree. she was only 2.5 years old and didn’t even know that was what she was describing so sometimes I tend to believe her on this. Oh, there was the time that it had been raining for almost a week straight and she then asked me “mom, why is his body all puffed up now?”  apparently ghost bodies react to current weather conditions.

what i’m getting at is that we’ve been walking this road to the dark arts for a few years now. (yes, that is a harry potter reference because our horizons have broadened to anything involving magic, wizardry, witches, mystical beings, fairies or the like. and hobbits. lots of hobbits.) i wish i could say i’m flabbergasted by it but i’m not because i was the same way when i was younger.

i once formed a club in my elementary school devoted to turning all the 3rd grade girls into witches. i would make my friends lie down on the ground while i conducted rituals to lift their souls out of their bodies and then we would all sit around and oooh and ahhh at their souls floating 6 feet above their bodies. the principal got word of our play and quickly put an end to my heyday as head of the waverly coven. when i was in the 9th grade the senior girls told me i dress like a witch. they thought they were dissing me but in my head i was all “score! finally…” {ps. this was due to a couple of times wearing a grey a-line, knee-length skirt with my combat boots. it was a boss match up but definitely not that witch-like. they were just THAT dumb.}

so i guess we’re just in this space where my daughter is really invested in something that might be termed “socially abnormal” but i’m going with the flow because i’ve been there. if she wants to check out books on mummies, ghosts, witches and goblins then i’m all for it because she’s really invested in learning about this subject matter. who am i to squash this? learning about mummies has broadened her horizons to egyptian culture. my 4-year-old knows how to pronounce paankehnamen. do you?  i’m sure someday she’s going to take it a little too far and start a small scale cult or something but at least i’ll have the previous life experience to understand and be cool about it instead of feeling i need to step in and direct her liferiver’s course.

and, as previously stated, i’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep her from going goth. since subversion is a main principle of that i’m thinking we’ll just keep this freak flag waving out there in the open.

solid plan. yep.