unschooling: the audubon center

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darla,

one of the things i struggle with the most with unschooling is feeling the self-imposed pressure to see that you squeeze every ounce of information from the great resources we have available for free in our world. i often have to stop myself and ask is she enjoying this right now? if she’s enjoying it then she is learning. if she’s not then she is reciting information to pacify me.

this was my struggle when we returned to the audubon center last week. our last trip here was on a monday when the center is not open. i actually love breaking this park up into an indoor/outdoor experience. there is just too much to experience to fit it all in on one day. but you had been asking to return on a day when the center was open ever since so that’s what we did.

you seemed to breeze past all the things i wanted you to explore at first. i could feel myself switching into control mode and i had to take a deep breath and let it go. you really wanted to play dress up in the animal outfits. me thinks those outfits are the whole reason you’ve been asking to come back. once i reminded myself that you are learning by playing i was able to incorporate some substantial information into our play. eventually you became curious and wanted to put a little more effort into fact-finding. we spent a few good hours there playing, looking at exhibits and lunching while reading books about caterpillars and butterflies in the bird-watching library.

i will have to remember that sometimes you’re going to be locked in and intent on information intake like when we went to blacklick and sometimes you’re just going to want to put on a bird costume and run around. both are valid and important. sometimes you’re going to want to read a book and sometimes you will want to veg in front of a movie. both are valid and important.

i want this to be fun for you. i want you to know that the whole world is yours to learn from. it’s there for the taking. i know i need to put the work into myself to remove the expectations i have so that this can be fun for both of us. let’s have an adventure together. let’s let it last all our days.

ps. plus when i let you do what you want it often looks like this

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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.

first field trip

our first field trip with darla’s school was more like a patch trip, pumpkin patch that is.

on monday, darla’s school arranged a visit to nearby Circle S Farm. i was pretty impressed by their set up. lots for the kiddos to enjoy and learn from. and they enjoyed it for sure. and how. let’s have a looksie, shall we?

the first thing that made the day special was getting to hang with darla’s friend kaden and the second thing was the pumpkin donuts. yum. YUM!

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and then it was on to playing in the hay barn

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and then it was on to hayrides through sunflowers

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to pick our pumpkins

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and spy on woolly caterpillars

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then it was back to the farmyard for animals, hay maze and more jumping in the hay

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and my favorite two moments of the day

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we had a really great time. more than that, we had two tired kids who wore themselves out having a great time. score.