Our Unschooling day 8/19/2016

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Today I had to get the kids up a bit earlier than usual because we had a chiropractic appointment. It was a bit of a rush to get out the door, and we were still 15 minutes late. We walked in, the kids didn’t have shoes on (they were with us but I couldn’t get them to put them on quickly and we were already so late), the baby has a crooked onsie snapped on by one button, and I was clutching the now lukewarm coffee I had not finished. At least we made it! You have to laugh at yourself to get through this life. Appointment went well as usual.

It was a really nice day out, and we had not been hiking much this past month due to the heat. We decided to head to a nearby metropark to play and hike. The kids played for a few minutes with the logs. Winter thought this was super cool.

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Elijah and Hailey pretended they had an office, with a kitchen I believe is what I was told.

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Hailey found a slug. We looked at it but didn’t touch it. She remembered how difficult getting slug slime off was from the last time she found a slug.

 

Elijah found a walnut in the shell and noticed that the smell was quite interesting. He asked me to smell too. Before today, I do not think I have ever smelled one. Smelled kind of pine like.

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We headed off to hike. The sun came out and we were not under shade for a few minutes, so it started to feel like a mistake, and the kids were not happy. We persevered though, made it to the shade and everyone was better. We came upon a creek. The kids played in the water a bit, pretending rocks were fish. When they were finished playing we had a snack. Hailey asked Papa questions about rocks, and Papa was more than happy to talk about rocks, the earths makeup, the age of rocks, etc. We kept on hiking. The kids pretended to be Pokemon while we finished hiking. We stopped for drinks of water, and the kids played in the water a bit. Winter loves the water so much. He laughed at the sight of the water fountain.

After we were loaded up in the car we headed to a store to get a few things I noticed were on sale. We drove home, making sure to hit some Pokestops. At home, Elijah helped me make dinner and asked if we could make banana bread with the super ripe bananas on our shelf. So after dinner, he helped me bake that.

Papa downloaded a flight simulator and played with the kids for a few minutes. We read our new library books and got in Pj’s.

That was on unschooling day! Feel free to share about yours in the comments.

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Choosing connection instead of control

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Today we were going to meet with some friends at a nature play area and creek. Hailey (6) was not really wanting to go our of the house but agreed. She brought her tablet along to keep herself entertained doing.

At first I looked at her sitting to the side of everyone playing and thought “she is really missing out.” I wondered if I should tell her to put her tablet down and play at the nature park with her friends. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted, but I held my tongue. I stepped back and seen that she did not feel like she was missing out on anything, and she was happy.

It didn’t stop there though because we walked down to the creek and everyone was looking for crawdad’s. I knew she would love it but she didn’t want to go in the water unless she could bring her tablet, which obviously not a good idea, so she chose to sit to the side and keep playing on it. The voices in my head crept up again. “She would love this, if I just told her she had to put it down, she might be frustrated at first but would probably have a good time.” Once again, I stopped myself. She was choosing what she would enjoy most at that moment from the options she had. She didn’t even feel like going out today, but got ready without hesitation because she understood that everyone else wanted to go.

It started to rain a little, but everyone in the creek didn’t mind. I told her that tablet might get wet, and this might be a good time to put it somewhere safe. This time the words were not coming from a place of control, but a place of love. Kids can usually tell your heart; they know the true intentions behind your words more often than not. She understood that there was a legitimate reason for my suggestion and she agreed. She put the tablet away and played in the creek. She used the net to help catch some crawdads to show the littler kids. She had fun.

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She was able to enjoy herself the entire time. I was able to stop myself from making choices that were about control instead of connection. Everyone had a good time and all were respected for their choices.

 

Our Unschooling day 8/6/2016

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Today started with breakfast, and coffee for the adults of course. Hailey had an appointment so I took her to that. Meanwhile, Papa stayed home with Elijah and they got the grass mowed.

After cleaning up the house some, I asked Elijah if he wanted to help me make the peanut butter pie for our family reunion tomorrow. Of course he said yes to that. He used his strong muscles to help me crush the graham crackers for the crust, measure out the ingredients, and mix it all up. There was some taste testing in there too.

While we were busy making that, Hailey was drawing pictures and having us guess what they were. She asked me to get her some colored pencils the other day, so she could practice her drawings. I don’t have a picture of today’s but this was the other day before colored pencils.

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The kids had picked me a flower they found in the backyard.

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Papa helped them put it in some water. After a few hours we noticed an interesting phenomena occurring. The stem was splitting in many different directions. We all examined that for a bit.

Hailey and Elijah played for a bit. She helped make him a name tag by doing her best to spell out the names he had picked, and asking for help with the words she couldn’t get all the way.

We headed over to my Dads house for a few minutes. We had picked him up a little treat to help him celebrate his birthday. Hailey showed him her tablet and her games. He showed us in broken leg and talked about his recovery.

We then headed downtown because our city was holding an adventure night that we wanted to check out. We got to see people repel off of a 30 story building, which is an interesting sight.

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We checked out some booths, had some samples, watched people paddle boarding, listened to the band, and watched some martial arts demonstrations. We then walked around the city catching Pokemon. We stopped for a break by the fountains. Elijah loves watching the water and Winter enjoyed it too. Elijah noticed there was money in the fountain so we told him about making a wish, and gave him some pennies. He made some wishes and tossed in some pennies.

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We came home for dinner, books, and bed. It was a good, fun day around here.

 

Our Unschooling Weekend

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We are in the middle of an extreme heat wave with excessive heat warnings out. I don’t handle these types of temperatures well, and neither does my oldest. Considering when we are out and about, I have an already sweaty baby strapped to me, I have not been in a hurry to get out this weekend; Even more so because Papa is working and I don’t have his help chasing after the little’s in this heat. So we have taken this as a sign that we needed some slow down time.

Saturday, Elijah and I started to make strawberry ice cream using yummy local ingredients. I forgot to chill the ice cream maker bucket so we didn’t get to finish it at that time. Winter found some hidden chocolate around the house and had a taste while I wasn’t looking. I had a good laugh about it.

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We watched some videos that a friend put of a baby squirrel she has been taking care of. Then we read some Bird and Squirrel book together. Hailey really likes this series. Elijah had a bath with all the toys to clean up from a bonfire with friends the night before. Hailey wanted to play “school” which was a hilarious take on what she must think public school is like. She quizzed me in math questions, that I got “wrong” and she had to teach me. I also got punished by being sent to kiddie corner. I thought it was interesting that she had an idea what time out might look like since we have never done that. We watched some Pokémon, read some more books, and just relaxed until bed.

Today, has been kind of rough. The kids started out in a fight. I lost my cool for a second, but gained composure and we handled it, and all agreed to start over. Elijah and I have been working all day to make this ice cream without the ice cream maker, since it wasn’t working. We laughed about the idea of learn nothing day. We watched a video of a baby bat.

The kids wanted to get face paint out. So I helped Elijah and Hailey painted herself.

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Pikachu!

We made snack plates. Elijah pretended to be many different things. At one point he was a vet and I was a dog who he was checking up on. At another point, he played dress up.

Captain Judge

Hailey wanted to play a drawing game in which I told her things to draw, and then she had to draw it and create a picture around whatever was the main thing. She made a bunch of drawings. She asked how to spell some words she was putting on her pictures, and sounded out others. She loves art.

 

We finished Bird and Squirrel. That about sums up our unschooling weekend. What has your unschooling days looked like lately?

Unschooling Today 7/2/16

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Today has been a pretty relaxed pace kind of day. After a week of being out hiking, geocaching, appointments, library programs, festival, fireworks, and playing with friends, we really needed a down day.

We were outside enjoying the very nice weather and we noticed something interesting on our van.

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We were trying to figure out what this little thing was and just watching it wiggle and move across the van. The kids were fascinated.

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We moved it over to our bush, figuring the wind blew it there and it would much rather not be on the van. Elijah completed the rescue mission. This brought on an interesting conversation and what a chrysalis is and the differences from a cocoon. Some googling and discussion later we were all satisfied.

We are helping take care of my Mom’s dogs for a few days, so we walked the few blocks down to her house to play with them and let them run around outside. All the kids took turns on their favorite activity at her house.

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Even the baby loves to hold on to the rope while I let him think he is swinging on it. The dogs enjoyed the company too.

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After a while, we walked back home. The kids watched some Garfield for a bit. The baby napped on me while I picked up the house. Elijah played outside and pretended to cook with leaves and sticks. Then we all made some strawberry lemonade.

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Elijah helped me with the dishes and I made dinner. We are going to walk back down to my mom’s in a bit. I am guessing we will read a bunch of books before bed too.

 

What did your day look like?

Learning to embrace our nontraditional lives

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We have always been kind of nontraditional. My husband has worked many different shifts during our marriage and because we unschool, we have more freedom to arrange our routine around, so that the kids still get time with their Papa no matter how strange his current shift is. I seem to go through periods of time in which I embrace this, and then other times it is like I almost forget that we have always lived our lives a bit differently. I don’t know how that happens, how something I have lived for years just slips from my mind.

This year, my hubby has taken a new job and he works Saturday, Sunday, and Monday really long hours, but the rest of the week he is home. When most people ask what his schedule is like and they hear that, they seem to recoil in disgust. Ha. And I get that, for the average family that kids go to school (or even summer camp this time of year), that would mean they get to spend very little time with their kids. For us though, it works. We not only have more time with Papa around, but we have the weekdays during the school year when most places are close to empty, and more days to do family stuff. It has been working well for us.

We are night owls around here too. Going to bed is not always an easy thing to make myself do, even though I love sleep. Hubby is the same way. So we stay up late, and get up when either the baby or 3-year-old wakes up, which isn’t as much sleep as I might want, but it is just how my brain works right now.

Recently I have suffered from that whole things slipping from my mind syndrome. I don’t know what I make myself learn the same lessons over and over again. Some kind of self-torture is what that is. But it was as if I forgot that we live on our own schedule. We do not have to have dinner at 6, and kids asleep by 9. All of a sudden, I was stressed that things were not going by this typical societal schedule. That schedule just doesn’t fit us. We are a busy family, often out having fun and exploring new places, hiking, playing with friends, and any other adventures we can come up with. Because of our sleep schedules, and the fact that it is not fun to be stressed in the morning trying to get out the door in a hurry, we often don’t start our adventure until 1 or 2. Most of the time, the kids are not done after an hour or two. My kids tend to really dive into something and be super invested for a long time.

So when we walk in the door at 6 or 7 (or later even), then I was suddenly feeling stressed that dinner was not done yet and it is late, and we have to hurry hurry hurry. Hurry is just not a good word. It creates bad feelings. It tempts mom to yell, and kids to cry. I don’t like it, and I am purposely setting up our lives so we have to be in less of a hurry most of the time.  Then I just give up on making food and get the kids a quick snack, and I just stuff my face full of potato chips. That is fun the first few times but then it gets old quick.

Then, suddenly the other day, the lightbulb went off (again!). We do not have to eat dinner at 6 o’clock. Heck, I don’t have to cook dinner at all as long as everyone has food to eat, even if everyone grabs something a different. My kids are not in bed by 9. That is not our life and it really never has been. I am putting pressure on myself for not living up to an idea that does not fit our family and never has. I gave myself permission to cook dinner at 8:30 at night. My husband walked in the door at 9:15 and I was just finishing up. We all sat down at the table (we don’t always do that) and enjoyed our family meal, and then I did the dishes. It was so relaxing, so freeing.

I can’t have my foot in two separate lives at one time; not happily at least. I can’t have one foot planted in the traditional 9-5 American family on a school schedule side, and the other on the radical unschooling, untraditional schedule that honors our individual personalities side and feel peaceful at the same time. I don’t have to conform. It feels good to embrace that. Now next time, I have to learn this lesson I can go back and read this and hopefully remember it a little faster.

Unschooling doesn’t stop on Saturday

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Once you realize that learning happens every day, and let go of the idea that it has to look like school, then you comprehend that unschooling doesn’t stop just because it is the weekend. There are not set days of the week that learning has to happen. We play and do our normal things that work for us every day.

Saturday we went to a program that I registered the kids for. It was Minecraft themed, and I just knew Hailey would love it. The first activity was making bow and arrows out of hangars. This was such a neat activity; one I never would have thought of. They spent a lot of time on that, and even more time with it a home.

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Then we inflated balloons with baking soda and vinegar. It was interesting experiment, but Hailey and myself talked about ways we could recreate it at home. Hopefully, sometime this week we are going to see if we can get the balloon so big that it pops.

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They played with Lego’s and made some crafts. After the program, we walked around a bit looking at the nearby river and the fountains. We were starving, and had the rest of the day to kill, so I messaged some friends and made a plan to meet up at Chick-fil-a to eat and let the kids play. They play for a few hours and had a lot of fun.

Back at home, Elijah was watching TV and Hailey brought me a library comic book over and had me read some with her.

She then wanted to take a bath and see if she could float in the bath water with her life jacket like she did in the big pool.

Elijah found a book that had a picture of stamps. He asked me if I would help him make a letter. So he drew a picture for his Papa, I helped him get an envelope and stamp, and write the address down. Hailey wanted to join and wrote one for a friend.

They wanted a before bed snack, and asked if they could experiment making one. They ended up tearing pieces of bread, spreading them with peanut butter, and placing a chocolate chip on each one. A tasty treat for sure!

Since Papa had to work on Father’s day they elected to give him his presents when he got home from work. The kids worked on cards for their Papa and my Dad.

Sunday, we took it easy in the morning. While I was laying the baby down for a nap, Hailey took it upon herself to find a sturdy butter knife and cut up an entire watermelon. I was shocked, but she was so happy with herself. Even Elijah told sissy “I so proud of you”.

We then headed to see me Dad for a few minutes. They don’t get to spend much time with him, so they were happy to see him, even if only for a short while.

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Then we met up with my Mom to head to see their great grandparents for a bit. It was nice to visit and chat, and of course have ice cream sandwiches.

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Back at home we made homemade Chinese food and read some animal facts in a book we borrowed. We ended the day with some audiobooks and cuddles.

We had a really fun weekend filled with friends and family, and of course plenty of opportunities for learning.

 

Attachment Parenting to Unschooling

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Even if we arrive at a similar place, everyone’s journey to get there can look very different. If you are reading this blog, whether you unschool, homeschool, or send your kids to school, I am assuming that you either already believe in gentle parenting and children’s innate desire to learn or you want to believe and learn more about it. So how did I get here? Check out my post over at Whole family learning.

I love her blog and her Facebook page, so go on over and check it out.

How did you get here? Please feel free to share your journey.

Unschooling this week.

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Back again for another peek inside our lives. We have been out and about so much recently, I have not been able to keep up in documenting it for you. Here is what we have been up to.

Monday we took the morning very slow and relaxed. In the afternoon we headed to a library program with some friends. The listened to a story, made crafts, had snack, and played dress up.

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We played outside for a bit before headed home.

Tuesday we went strawberry picking. This was a lot of fun.The farm was so beautiful.

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The place we were at was very family friendly and told the kids to feel free to snack while they picked. They all didn’t hesitate on that, especially the baby.

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Yummy! After that, we had a few errands to run and we stopped for some lunch as well. We headed home and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Wednesday started off by Hailey finding a workbook we bought a while back. She loves those and sat at the table for a bit with it that day, as well as almost every day that week. We met a bunch of friends at a park for a surprise party and playdate for a friend. We ate snacks, played all day, and had cake. Fun day all around.

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Thursday I had an eye doctor appointment. The kids walked over with Papa to get ice cream while I got checked out. Then we headed home in a hurry for an unexpected vehicle repair.We headed back out to our very last nature class that is taught by my friend. It was just us and her kids so we mostly just played. The kids made bird feeders.

Then we took a hike. A toad was found along the way and they took turns holding and petting it.

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The kids threw rocks in the pond and gathered the biggest ones they could find. Some of the grownups had a headstand contest.

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Today was grocery store day. The kids have their own little bags of money that they wanted to bring so they could pick out something and pay for it with their own money. At the first store Hailey picked out a croissant with chocolate in it. Elijah picked a nitrate free beef stick. At the second store, Hailey and Elijah both went for a chocolate coin and a tiny little dollar container of ice cream. They both helped count out the money and hand it to the cashier. I loved their faces, beaming with excitement. Hailey was so thrilled that she had her own receipt.

Share your unschooling adventures in the comments!

 

Our unschooling today 5/20/16

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We are not morning people in general. I try to find us activities and playdates that are scheduled a bit later. There are some field trips however, that are just too cool sounding to pass up, especially if we get to go with friends. A good friend set up a field trip to an ecological center and apiary. So we got up super early and made the 90-minute drive.

The first portion of the class was the Apiarist explaining why bees are important, how they do what they do, sharing some pictures, and explaining to the kids how to keep the bee’s and themselves safe. Some of this was a bit too complicated for my 6-year-old, and most of it was too much for the 3-year-old. But they made it through.

We headed to the hives. I will be honest; I was a bit nervous. The kids put on their hats and nets and were fearless.

We watched as Apiary Dave handled the bees.

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We got an up close look ourselves. We were even able to taste fresh honey.

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They were much happier when we were able to get outside. We checked out the pond and some of the farmland. The kids found some tadpoles and Papa helped them all take a closer look. It was such a beautiful place.

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We had a picnic lunch with our friends. Then we checked out the animals and let the kids run, play, and feed the chickens.

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This is actually a picture from yesterday, but isn’t he cute?

We also checked out the children’s garden next. They had an area where the kids could dig up dirt and plant seeds. They had a well water tap and watering buckets to fill and water the garden. Hailey really loved that.

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We packed up for our drive back. Unfortunately, we got stuck in a traffic jam on the highway and used up all of our baby is sleeping instead of crying in the car time. When he woke up and we still had over an hour to go, we decided to make a stop. The kids were asking for ice cream. A quick search led us to a locally owned ice cream shop. The ice cream was homemade and the people were friendly. It was a great find. We let the kids run and play in a grassy area and then headed back to the road.

Back at home we read some new library books and settled down to relax. A long, fun day.