Impromptu Unschooling: Buck Creek State Park

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yesterday was a simple, fantastic day. it was a beautiful day for a drive. i love to be on the road. when i read Lolita i actually loved the thought of traveling the US and pulling off at all the brown signs, every roadside attraction. it seemed like such a great way to see the beauty of this country. the rest of the book…not so much.

so this summer i’ve made a promise to myself to see more of ohio in just that way. while driving home from Dayton we decided on the spur of the moment to investigate Buck Creek State Park and we found a beach! sure it’s a little man-made beach that we get here in the middle west but it served as a great unschooling opportunity.

we talked about rocks we found, counted boats, talked with other folks and even examined a dead fish washed up on the shore. i had to squash my conventional instincts of telling darla to get far away from it and not look but i reminded myself it was a teachable moment. we talked about what kind of fish it was and talked about having respect for deceased life.

darla befriended some older kids who were digging a castle and moat. some kids were digging and some were hauling water. i sat down with them and darla and pointed out the similarities between the sand structure and the man-made lake and then explained to them that the lake was made in almost the exact same way that they were constructing their castle moat. it was great to see how proud that made them of their work.

all in all it was a really great way to spend a perfect sunny day. we weren’t prepared for swimming so we’re headed to a closer lake today per darla’s request.

if you’re skeptically sitting there saying “it sounds like this unschooling stuff is just elaine taking her daughter places and then talking to her about it” then you got me. you’re exactly right. since this is the way my daughter has learned everything in her life thus far i don’t see any reason to change things up and make her memorize or take place in structured activities. maybe someday. but not today. and ummm not yesterday either.


Unschooling: The Grocery Store

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i‘m not going to lie to you, 10 minutes before these photos i was trying to negotiate my daughter into going to the playroom at the grocery store because, yeah obvious, but when you’re child answers “mom, i hate to say it but i don’t like kids’ activities” it’s hard to keep pushing. {or is it?}

so i tried one old tactic – bribing her to stay in the cart with a sucker – and then a new one: turning the trip into an unschooling exercise. so this is not anything new. groceries and markets have long been places of learning and exploration for little ones. i’m not tooting my horn about that, i’m simply here to tell you it worked. she stayed by me, she helped and she only asked for about 50 additional items which is a sharp decrease from her normal 200.

background info: darla will tell me to go eff myself if i try to encourage her to do something because it will make her a “good girl” but she’ll be right there if i am framing it as a need for a helper. {i’m thankful she’s given me these insights into how she would like to be raised along the way.} as my helper today she read all the PLU numbers to me while i wrote them on our reusable containers in the bulk section. she helped me locate items, dish them out into containers and we discussed how much each thing would cost per pound. in general we took a more in-depth look at our food items, discussing how they smelled and looked and felt. this directly resulted in us purchasing some peaches that darla rubbed against her face. can you blame her? cause, gawd, peaches feel so good!

i think her favorite learning point was the ginger root bin. she had picked out some crystalized ginger in the bulk section earlier, so it was a nice dot-connector to find and examine it in the raw.

i’m thankful for these new unschooling outlooks to outings. this plan might just keep me more calm + collected.

praying that i keep up the practice.

unschooling field trip: park of roses

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this is a series where i’m going to try to document our unschooling field trips for the summer, in which i will get lazy halfway through and fail at the documentation. sounds good.

we packed a lunch today and headed to the park of roses here in columbus. we take an annual trip up there to see the beauty in bloom. we spent a whopping 4 hours browsing the blooms and various growing things. the thing that suits me so well with unschooling is that with minimal planning darla and i filled 4 hours of our day with outdoor learning and guess what, at the end of it she took a nap. bam! that’s my kind of education.

we of course learned about roses and took time to smell the different kinds and examine their differences. i love to take her places where she can explore and be in charge of what we learn next. the most fortuitous learning discovery was the herb garden which provided plenty of horticultural information. after examining some of the herbs darla has requested we grow chamomile and chives so we’ll be researching those together tomorrow.

we brought along her nature journal and drew pics of our favorite roses. then she decided we were in a pyramid and the drawings would be gifts for the mummies. sure. fine. wherever her imagination wants to take it is good.

the day was relaxed and fun and i really feel we learned a good deal. and the thing is, we learned it together. and that’s what i keep coming back to with this unschooling thing. maybe i can do this after all.

we shall see.