Math doesn’t have to be scary.

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I’m in local and not at all local unschooling groups. A question that I often get asked, or see others ask is “How will they learn math?”. Those of us who have been through the school system, oftentimes see math as this scary thing. We can easily carry these feelings into adulthood.

We don’t seperate life into subjects. We learn from living, and it cannot be divided into “math” or “history”. Everything just sort of interweaves together. Many times, I can’t always see the connections, but they are there.

Back to math and numbers. My 6 year old has taken an interest in many things numbers this year. He is the kid that keeps a countdown of days until payday (minecraft map money time!) or the next birthday. If you say Grandma will be here in 15 minutes then he’s watching the clock and counting down the time. He wants to know how much things cost and how much money he needs, and why numbers are rounded up. $4.99 is called $5.

Last night, while laying in bed next to me he starts adding numbers again. “Mom, 5+5=10, 50+50=100, 500+500=1000, 5,000+5,000=10,000, 50,000+50,000=100,000, 500,000+500,000= 1,000,000, 50,000,000+50,000,000=100,000,000, 500,000,000+500,000,000=1,000,000,000.

We don’t call it math. It’s treated like every other interest. He loves figuring this stuff out. It’s on his timeline. It wouldn’t matter if he was 6 or 10 or however old. It might look like this, or it might be totally behind the scenes and I couldn’t “see” it. Each kid is different really. My 9 year old didn’t approach math this way. He isn’t approaching reading the same way she did. These journey’s are as unique as they are.

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Following the Rabbit Trails of Conversation

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One of my favorite things about our unschooling days has to be the chats that evolve into unexpectedly deep conversations. We have the time to let one topic naturally lead into another, and end up on a rabbit trail that leads to new discoveries. I never know when this is going to happen; it isn’t something that can be contrived.

After one of these talks, it is interesting to reflect on what topics we touched. How can we start out talking about tea and end up exploring religion, geography, morality, drug addiction and thoughts on the afterlife? I come away from these conversations, not only with new ideas for me to consider, but with a greater understanding of the people my children are blossoming into.

This very thing happened today. I sat around the table drinking tea with the kids. One chat flowing into the next, almost seemlessly. I’m not directing it here, I have no agenda. I love seeing where this goes. I find it amazing to learn more about the values and opinions the children are developing. The topic of heaven and hell gets brought up, which religions believe this, what differences are there in each belief? What do you believe? Good and bad people? What makes someone good or bad? I watch as new ideas form as they talk through it. What starts out as black and white becomes more gray as they explore the possibilities outloud.

My oldest remembers an app that gives backstories of people and we are to sort them into heaven or hell. How do we decide? One person killed their countries leader, but that leader was a genocidal madman….not so simple. This person has lived a fairly simple life, but has battled drug addiction. “Mom why is it an addiction? Are you a bad person if you are on drugs?” I don’t present as having all the answers, just my own experiences. Each person from a different country, bringing up questions about where that is, or what’s going on there because that might influence the final decision.

I couldn’t have predicted this afternoon’s tea time would include these important conversations. I can’t even know all the learning and connections that were made, or what connections will be made in the future because of this one afternoon. What I can do is create a life that prioritizes the free time to have these spontaneous discussions. I can hold a non-judgmental attitude, encouraging my kids to examine their own thoughts around these ideas. I can let go of expectations of how these conversations will develop, letting them flow where they may. I can keep my own mind open, because I walk away from the chat processing new thoughts too.

Summer days!

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We’ve been busy living life and enjoying our summer. The reality hit me today, while watching my kids run around in the sprinkler, that summer is ending for many kids in just a few short weeks. I’m so thankful, and feel so privileged to be able to continue living this life without school.

I wanted to update with some things we’ve been up to latley. If you want to see more follow me on Instagram.

I had my interview with Pam Laricchia, and we dived into my deschooling journey. It was so fun and I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to do it.

We’ve don’t lots of hiking and exploring this summer. My oldest has taken an interest in insects, and they a love animals, so we’ve been looking out for critters and creatures.

We’ve explored so many new (to us) trails.

Got inside a little cave.

And had to hike back in the rain one time. The kids laughed and pretended it was a in real life roblox game.

We’ve spent many days at home. One of my kids has really needed more home time this season. That has meant many days of YouTube videos discovering new channels, lots of roblox & minecraft, movie days, Sims 4, and Pokémon. Deviant art has been a favorite pass time for Neon.

All that time at home also means days of slime, homemade Playdoh, baking cookies, flipping pancakes, building legos, and paint.

It’s also meant finding creative ways to burn energy. I’ve been diving into tons of research on creating a sensory diet for my kids that need it. My 3 year old needs a lot of movement. Today we piled up blankets and pillows to cannonball off the couch 🤣.

We’ve done lots of running around our own back yard catching fireflies, a playing in the sprinkler, and hours of pretend play.

We adopted two kittens from the animal shelter. They have quickly become part of our family.

Our days out of the house have often been spent at the pool. The kids are learning how to swim. We usually go with friends so that adds an extra layer of fun.

We’ve had a few meetups with our local unschoolers group. I love watching the kids get lost in play with friends.

I think that covers most of what we’ve been doing. Summer isn’t nearly over here, and when it is, all that means for us is less crowded outings and cooler weather.

Do you want to go home?

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Imagine a scene for a minute. A few kids are playing at the park. One kid keeps having some big feelings, maybe arguing with the others, raising their voice, and overall having a tough time. Their parent is nearby says “do you want to go home?”. What do you picture? Maybe, like me, you usually imagine the parent saying it in a frustrated tone. It may have a thinly veiled tone of threat, sending the message “I will make you go home if you don’t stop”.

This is not an uncommon scene at all. In fact, something happened around here today. Being in public when your child is having some problems isn’t easy. You feel the pressure of the people around you watching. The pressure to be “a good parent”, whatever that means. Maybe even the pressure to attempt to control their behavior to make or more socially acceptable. I will admit that these thoughts still cross my mind.

However, I’m trying to reimagine those same words. “Do you want to go home?”. I see it in a different light. Not a threat. Instead, it’s an offer. An offer to help someone leave a situation that isn’t meeting their needs. A check in to see if they are hungry, thirsty, or in need of connecting. An invitation to partner with them in changing the environment to set them up for success.

“Yes, I want to leave”, my child answers. She knows she isn’t being threatened, she’s simply being asked. No undertones, no veiled threat. I put aside the internal thoughts and offered help. This time i remembered to breathe first, see behavior as communication, and remember that leaving a difficult situation shouldn’t be a punishment.

Acceptance and expectations

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Today was a good day to practice letting go of expectations. We had some fun low key options for play today, but after the kids stayed up super late last night with fireworks and friends, they were all tired and easily irritated today.

A few years ago, I might have felt disappointed that things I had planned or looked forward to were canceled. I’ve learned that peace is the best gift I can try to facilitate in our home. So the pool can wait, we can see friends another day, because today is a day for TV, cuddles, big breaths, and going slow. Not so surprisingly, whenever I accept the situation for what it is, everyone usually starts having a smoother day. They sense my inner acceptance.

Unschooling today 6/24/2019

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Just a quick post about our day. I’m trying to give a good balance of our at home days versus our out of the house adventures.

Today started out with making breakfast while the kids played on their tablets for a bit. Neon (In a previous post I shared that Hailey has asked to go by Neon) played Sims 4 on the computer. Elijah was having a tough morning.

After breakfast, we had a mostly relaxed morning. I laid the baby down for a nap, then the boys played for a bit together. They kept going from playing to fighting, so I had to be right with them.

Winter then wanted to watch a dinosaur video. I used this time to spend some one on one time with Elijah. I told him to pick something to do together. He asked to play roblox with me. We played superhero tycoon for about an hour. We teamed up 😎. I was able to get in some quick cleaning too.

I made lunch. I asked my 3 year old if he’d like to play with Playdoh. My 6 year old joined him and they prentended to make cookies and sell them. I bought many expensive cookies 🤣.

I asked Neon if she wanted to help me out away laundry. She said yes, but her help consisted of tossing clothes at me. I challenged her to a dance battle. She got to pick the music. I say I held my own and got a good cardio workout in 😏.

The kids found an old dart board in the basement and tried to play a game.

We all went outside for a bit and they played in the rain and drew with chalk on the porch.

Neon came up with a pranking game. The premise was simple, siblings teamed up to set up pranks. The more pranks, the more points. There was one unique rule though, you had to dress to represent your favorite country. This was an interesting discussion. She named countries for her brothers to chose from. Then we had to look up some fashion styles and select our clothes. This is an ongoing game and I’m a little afraid to discover the rest of the pranks they have waiting for me 🤪.

We are about to dinner. We will probably read some library book the kids picked too. We have a goal of helping get Neon’s costume for anime convention adjusted tonight.

Feel free to share about your day in the comments if you’d like!

Unschooling around here lately

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We’ve been up to lots of fun lately. Hailey has asked to be called Neon, and has been very certain of it. We’re doing our best to remember. She celebrated her 9th birthday with a cat themed day.

We’ve gone to our favorite museums within an hour or so drive, in the past month. Lots of fun playing, looking at dinosaurs, dragons, exploring caves and ocean areas and much more.

Neon has enjoyed hiking and nature a lot more these past few months. We’ve used any nice weather days hiking, exploring, and bug spotting.

Our mulberry season began and we’ve all enjoyed picking and snacking on them daily.

We have went creeking a few times this season. I love headed to the creek. You never know what you’re going to find. The kids really enjoyed seeing water snakes and giant tadpoles.

We’ve spent time baking and cooking together. Pancakes, stir fry, and homemade bread. Yum!

Many evenings have been spent hanging around the back yard, catching firefly, eating ice cream, squirting water guns, and swinging/climbing.

Lots of messy play too. We pulled out the kinetic sand for a few hours in the last week. They made edible slime again last week. We made oobleck today.

We’ve had lots of big conversations around here lately. I am loving the topics that get brought up more as the kids grow older. We’ve had lots of conversations about conflict resolution too if you catch my drift 😏. Today we practiced some mindfulness exercises to help us all calm down before talking it out.

As always there have been lots of Minecrafting, youtube watching, dancing, and library books in our weeks too.

Check out my Guest Post! What is Whole Life Unschooling?

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Real Homeschool Whole Life (1)

A local blogging acquaintance runs a blog that has been publishing a series on the many methods of homeschooling, and she wanted radical unschooling to be represented. She asked if I would write an article explaining what exactly is our “homeschooling style” and what it might look like in practice. This was a challenge! How do you summarize your life philosophy in the span of one blog post?! I did my best to rise to the challenge, but I would say this really is just an introduction.

So come check out my post Whole Life Unschooling with Multiple Ages.

Unschooling today 4/22/19

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Browsing Instagram, it can sometimes look like all people do tons of outside of the house, nature based, super cool activities. We try to do plenty of that, but we have lots of home days that flow with what everyone wants to do. Today was one of those.

Hailey and Elijah were the first ones up today. Hailey walked Elijah through creating a character for a gacha life story she is working on. I made breakfast for everyone.

Elijah spent most of his morning browsing minecraft addons, and trying a few out. Winter slowly ate and watched dinosaur videos. Hailey spent most of her time playing our newest game for the VR headset. It’s called vacation simulator and she loves it. She probably played for for 3 hours or so.

I asked if anyone wanted to do a science experiment that someone had posted about. The boys said yes, and Hailey said she’d come for the end of it.

While the water for our experiment was cooling down, we headed outside to help the time pass faster. It was a really nice day. Elijah noticed a bee buzzing around. We talked about how bees pollinate and how they do a little dance to communicate with other bees. We sat in the shade and picked dandelions and took silly pictures.

We went back inside for our expirent. It was supposed to be rainbow water in a glass but it was a flop. We tried a few different ways to make it work, all unsuccessfully. It was a little disappointing.

Elijah took a turn on vacation simulator for a bit. Hailey napped because she had only slept for a few hours the night before. Winter watched a show, while I used the baby’s nap time to clean up and prep food.

Elijah asked for ice cream comes and we took them outside so we wouldn’t wake up Hailey. They wanted to play in the water for a bit. It was play then fight, then play again type of deal.

Back in for dinner and welcoming Papa home. We then watched some americas got talent–the champions. The boys showed us their talents of headstands, picking up heavy boxes, and jumping off the couch.

Most of us are winding down now. Hailey is playing a game on the computer and having a late dinner after waking from her nap.

Collecting Adventures interviewed me!

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If you haven’t heard of Collecting Adventures Community, you are missing out. I first discovered them on Instagram. I loved the theme of sharing adventures with others. So inspiring! When they asked if I would be willing to do a community spotlight question and answer session, I was immediately excited. Admittedly, I was also intimated because there was so amazing global adventure collecting people featured.  It was a lot of fun to write up my answers. Come check my interview out!

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