Monthly Archives: May 2016

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.

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Why many “educational” homeschool activites don’t work for us.

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I am pretty luck that the area I live in is very homeschool friendly. There are not only lots of neat parks with programs that welcome all, there are also lots of programs available that are open to homeschooled kids. Since my children are still so young, it is my responsibility to find programs and activities that I think they might enjoy and sign them up to check it out.

We have found lots of neat local places this way, discovered new parks, met new friends, and discovered new areas of interest. We have also tried some things out and figured out that it was not for us for one reason or another. As the kids get older, and they can express to me what programs they want me to find, and tell me what ones they don’t even want to bother trying.

One thing I have been coming to realize is that there is a certain type of program that just does not work for us. These are the activities where there are timed activities, and when the time is up on one then they are finished with it and must move onto the next activity; often due to time constraints, a more structured facilitator, or the belief that there must be as many activities packed in as possible for the most “learning” opportunities.

I found a really neat sounding activity on our local metropark site. The program was supposed to be about Legos and Lego challenges. My kids have both recently discovered Legos, and we do not have many at home, so I thought it would be a lot of fun for us to check out. I didn’t realize until we were there that it was set up with strict time constraints on each challenge, and when that one challenge was over the children had to move on to the next. My kids were not particularly happy about this, but this was the program rule so we followed it and they chose to stay.

They both still had a good time and enjoyed completing each challenge to the best of their ability. They were glad that we tried it, but would have preferred to be able to continue finishing their creative vision of the project they were working on and skip the next challenge. They do not do well with forced stations. I am guessing public schooled children adapt better to activities set up in that way, since they are forced to go with a strict schedule on a daily basis. This just isn’t something my kids have a lot of experience with, nor do I find reason to give them that experience.

Sometimes they want to leave before a program is over when it is set up in that way. If that is the case, we leave. If they are not having fun, then neither am I. Sometimes the activity is set up in stations, but the facilitator is more relaxed and okay with some kids not following the group if it isn’t working best for them. Mostly, we try to just avoid programs set up in that way. I am getting better at deciphering the program descriptions to figure out if they are set up in a way that my kids will enjoy.

I am thankful to have found some really great places that are go with the flow. They have activities set up that kids can go at their own pace, or pick and choose what to do or skip. These places have facilitators that have understand children’s developmental capabilities. I have found groups of people that want the same environment for their kids, so that my kids have friends to go to these wonderful places with.

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I am glad that most of the time I can let out activities be about the process and not the end result. We focus on fun and play. We allow creative visions to be completed and make time for curiosity.

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Supporting their interests

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I try to always support my children’s interests. Whatever they are currently passionate about becomes important to me because it is important to them. It could be a hobby, television show, game, or many other things. Sometimes, it is a challenge for me to really get into it, but I do think it is worthwhile, especially if it feels like something that is going to be a part of their lives for a while.

Hailey is very imaginative and loves pretend play. When she was a toddler, she would get ideas from tv shows. It really meant a lot to her when I would watch the shows with her and learn the names of the characters and their traits. She would love for me to tell her made up stories using the characters and throw in real things they might do. I couldn’t fake it, I had to actually watch and learn. This was no small thing to her though. She went from show to show asking me to play with her in this way for about two years. I tried to find good things about whatever program it was, although some were harder than others. Some I really did not like, so I just played along until it passed.

Unschooling flourishes when interests are supported. Part of unschooling is trying to find ways to explore the interest, sometimes expand on it. When Hailey went through a Phineas and Ferb stage it was a lot of fun for everyone. We all enjoyed the show. Hailey talked about inventions she would make and acted out each character. I bought her a Perry stuffy for Christmas. She was also going through a joke telling phase, so I purchased a small Phineas and Ferb joke book to tie the two interests together. Even small things matter, I found some Phineas and Ferb napkins as a thrift store and brought them home. That was a big deal to her.

Hailey loves to make art. I am the opposite of artistic. I try to always have supplies on hand and I try to always find events she can go to that focus on art. She recently turned her into a local art show and was thrilled to see it on display.

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Her two pieces on display

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She also loves Pokemon. You can’t really be around her for long without expecting to hear about it. We bought a pokemon handbook with all the details on the pokemon, we have pokemon stuffed animals and figures, pokemon cards are received for presents. It is a big part of our life.

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Combining her love for art and Pokemon

Whether it is Pokemon cards, tv shows, helping Hailey record her videos for YouTube, playing superheroes, finding a book about bugs, or buying art supplies, I truly encourage you to explore and support their interest. Not only do they learn so much that way, but it can truly be fun and they appreciate it so much.

 

What we have been up to lately

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This whole week or so has kind of been a blur. A mix of relaxing days around the house where we didn’t do much to write about and days we played all day.

Last Thursday we all decided to take a quick hike. The kids had some energy they needed to use and me and Papa wanted to get some sun. The baby fell asleep on me. I really love babywearing. I am not sure what my life would be like without it. Oh wait, yes I am sure. It would be a lot more frustrating.

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A nearby zoo was having a free admission after 5pm because of a concert. We headed up to play. There were not many animals out, but we enjoyed this up close and personal look at the snow leopard.

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The lack of animals didn’t really put a damper on the kid’s fun. They enjoyed walking around, listening to the music, and playing on the animal statues.

Friday was a sit around the house day. Papa worked on the van and Elijah loved “helping” with that with his tools.

Saturday I took the kids to a free gymnastics event. The kids love gymnastics. Both had fun and conquered some fears.

Sunday was church. After church we headed to visit with a friend who was visiting from out of state. It was so nice to catch up and let the kids play.

Monday was another take it easy kind of day. The only thing we did was go to the grocery. The kids were not exactly having an easy day. Everyone has off days. So we took lowered our expectations and took the cue to relax.

Tuesday we were also around the house. Papa and the kids had a lot of fun testing out our new virtual reality goggles that I got in to review. Me and Winter got a mommy baby date by headed out to run a few errands on our own. It was nice to spend some time with just him. He loved all the attention he was getting out and about too.

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Wednesday the kids chose to go to our local science museum. There is a lot to do there. Winter really enjoyed the water table.

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The kids all worked together building with atoms to make structures.

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Thursday We hung around in the morning and early afternoon. After a while we headed to a park to meet up with some friends at a super fun, relaxed nature program. My friend is an amazing teacher, if we couldn’t homeschool, I would want her to be there teacher. She set up some really cool activities.

We sang songs, played games, and got dirty. Elijah wasn’t so sure at first, so he participated for a while on my lap. I love that there was no pressure to participate.

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Of course, he warmed up quickly. When it came to the adventure hike portion of the program, he had no problem getting dirty with his friends.

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“I am a princess queen dragon king!”

Friday we had a picnic with a local group to celebrate mother’s day. Food, fun, friends. A whole day at the park and playing!

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We took a walk to the pond next to the park.

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We even saw say goslings! They were so cute and fun.

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We stopped by Hailey’s art studio to make some art with our city’s new semi pro soccer team. They had lots of fun stations, including an area to dip soccer balls into paint and throw them.

Hailey loves art. Very rarely does a day go by that she isn’t doing some form of art. It really is not my forte, so I am always looking for opportunities for her to do art in ways she might love.

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This week was a good mix of home and out. We did a bunch of playing. I love that in a generation of busied rushed over scheduled lives, my kids can play play play. I am thankful to give that to them.

On trust and doing what you say you will

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When you tell your children that you will do something, please do it. Be a person that keeps promises. Trust is crucial.

I know this isn’t always easy. We are busy, are minds are occupied with many important things, and sometimes we simply forget. I am guilty too. A few weeks ago my son had asked me to make chocolate syrup for homemade chocolate milk. I told him we were out of sugar, but I was going to the store in 2 days and we would buy sugar to make it. Then I forgot about the syrup. If I am honest, maybe I was just hoping he forgot about the syrup because I was looking at it as just another thing I had to do.

So he asked again today. I said “Oh yeah, we can make that today”. I was going to put it off until later. Then I thought about it and realized we had a busy day ahead. If I put it off, it was not going to get done. So I got up and made it. I didn’t really want to make anything before I had my coffee, but this wasn’t just about me. I had told him I would.

This may seem like something trivial. A little thing that doesn’t really matter and has nothing to do with trust. Just try to remember that to our children, little things are their world. It matters. So take their desires seriously, and live up to your word. The trust we are building now lays a foundation for the rest of their lives.

I wanted to make this a post, so that it would not get lost in Facebook land. I want to be able to read it and remind myself to take my children’s trust seriously. I don’t want to be a parent who is full of broken promises. Even the small promises that seem like they will be soon forgotten and not cared about, and maybe sometimes they will. Sometimes, however, your child will realize a promise has gone unfulfilled; possibly unfulfilled again.