Tag Archives: freedom

Our Unschooling Week

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I’m going to be completely honest and upfront with the fact that we had a rough week. There was plenty of fun, connecting, and learning moments; There was also lots of tears and fighting. I’m not sure why, but the kids were just out of sync this week. So we had lots of breathing, conflict resolution, and sometimes just some siblings separation.

Monday, we started the day out with breakfast and books. Hailey then watched some Pokémon while Elijah watched YouTube videos with me. The kids played on their tablets a bit. The boys played dress up. 

The kids did their own separate art projects. Hailey made pokeballs and Elijah painted. 

                                      Crafts and chaos 🙂

The kids played outside for a while. Elijah found a praying mantis. The checked him out for a little while.

Tuesday started out with some porch time. Winter played with Playdoh out there. 

The day was spent mostly switching from playing Pokémon, and watching TV. Hailey and I took a wall in the evening.

Wednesday, I asked the kids I’d they wanted to check out a new park. We spent a few hours having fun on the gravity rail, and snacking too. 


Hailey had Kung fu classes that evening. There was tablet time and TV too.

Thursday, Papa caught a cicada for the kids to observe. 


Grandma came over for a visit. The kids love when she comes. They each worked on their own projects for a bit. The boys taped yarn to paper. Hailey wrote cards to each of us. We had fun writing to each other for a few hours. 

Her first notes to me


When Papa got home he had a Pokémon card battle with Hailey. We read books, and played tablets.

Friday, we watched a movie with popcorn during the afternoon. Elijah built with Lego’s for quite a while. Hailey played her DS.

Today we had a big family breakfast. Then we went to watch remote control airplanes fly and do tricks. We finished out afternoon with a quick grocery trip, and then back home to relax. 

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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.

 

On letting kids try things themselves

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I can climb these by myself.

When I first became a mother, I was so afraid that I was going to screw up. I am a perfectionist and I hate making mistakes. I knew logically that I would make mistakes in parenting, but I also knew that I may be able to avoid some if I tried to find tools and resources that could help me with parenting. I never had set out ahead of time to be an attachment parent, to homeschool let alone unschool, or to parent without punishment. Truthfully, I got in over my head with all the research I did, was overwhelmed with information, and much of it I had to read again later when it applied. I was reading Alfie Kohn when she was 6 months old, and that is when I first learned about parenting without punishment or rewards. I loved it. From there I read many more peacefully parenting books, and one led to another until I decided all these strategies I wanted try in my parenting. Many of them actually helped me, some created more stress and they were not worth it for us long term.

One thing I read about, and I do not even remember where I originally read about it, was letting children try to do things for themselves. Letting them do something, even if it was difficult, let them make mistakes, let them takes risks. Helping them explore things they were curious about even if it was unconventional. Sometimes they would ask for help, sometimes they would mess up, sometimes they would fall; but sometimes they would do something difficult all on their own, figure out a problem, or learn a new skill and feel great about it. This made so much sense to me. It was not always easy to avoid stepping in, but logically, I knew that so much learning came from the process more than the end result.

This could look like many different things at different stages of development. It might be, not stopping a wobbly tower from falling over as a baby builds it again and again until they are learning about balance. It could mean letting your small toddler climb up the steps at the playground, while you just stood behind as a spotter. It could mean letting them practice their balance walking across a wall. My daughter fell sometimes, but in the process she learned how to fall without getting hurt, and overall fell much less than others. Many people commented on how strange it looked to see such a small toddler climbing, jumping, and running through obstacles. She always amazed me with brave attitude, yet quick ability to calculate a situations risks and how to best avoid them. She learned when to ask for help. She also learned that if I stepped in and said that something was not safe then it really was not safe since I tried not to do that often. If she really wanted to try something that wasn’t okay on her own, than I found a way to do it with her when I could.

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She went through a stage as a toddler where she was obsessed with plugs and wall sockets. She quickly figured out how to remove the safety plugs. I tried redirecting, I tried blocking, I tried just saying no. But none of that helped. So I decided to try something else. Whenever she expressed interests in in, I sat next to her and we talked about the plug, what they do, how they work (in toddler terms). I helped her plug and unplug things in safely. She would spend anywhere from 5-20 minutes each time. At first this happened a few times a day. It was a little annoying if I am being honest, but I stuck with it. She stopped going after them by herself but would instead get my attention and point to the plug or say her word for plug. After a couple of times she realized that I would explore it with her, so if she asked and I could not do it right away I would say “Yes, as soon as I finish… rinsing these dishes, or making this snack…” and she would almost always wait for me. Then she started being less and less curious about the plugs until she forgot about them completely. Danger gone, much learned. It was not a hands off solution, it was not a solution that was quick. It required active time and effort on my part. But to me it was worth it. I handled many other things the same way, including when my son learned how to open the refrigerator.

This approach looks different over times as my kids age. Recently, my 5-year-old is starting to learn how to safely use a knife as she helps more in the kitchen. I love how kids are naturally curious, naturally want to explore and learn, and I want to foster that however possible. Yes, it takes time and energy. Yes, it means sometimes other things go undone while they are learning something new. No, it is not always easy and involves biting my own tongue and not giving the solutions sometimes. But the results I see make it worth it.

 

Food Experiments

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My daughter has taken a sudden interest in creating “recipes”. This shouldn’t surprise me I guess, since she likes to create in general. She has found much joy in mixing together different flavors of applesauce, fruit pouches, and yogurt.

My initial reaction did go to food waste and mess. But truth be told, she has eaten most of what she has made and even helped clean up the mess without hesitation. The first time I walked into the kitchen and she explained that she wanted to pour milk into a popsicle holder and freeze it to make a “milk pop”, I almost shut it down and told her how flavorless that would be. I am glad that I caught myself and instead of letting that slip I forced a smile and said “That sounds like an interesting food experiment.” I really love fostering her since of creativity and curiosity. I try to just think of the temporary extra cost as homeschool supplies, after all learning is in all the things.

Also a huge bonus is that she has tried some new things, which is actually a big achievement for the kid who has trouble with anything new or different.

Oh and if you are wondering how the “milk pop” turned out, she offered it to her little brother who did not seem to think it was gross or flavorless at all. She had an ear to ear smile as she told me that someone liking her experiment made her “kind of like a chef”.

Smile at their style

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I love a toddler’s sense of style. They have no fear to live in the moment and go with what makes them feel happy. Often times it seems the sillier the better. Elijah (3 years old) has always loved to accessorize his outfit with hats, gloves, scarves, or dress up clothes over his regular clothes. He looks ridiculous and adorable. I don’t think twice when he wants to wear one of these outfits out to the grocery store or to run errands. He is so proud of his outfit. Sure, sometimes it attracts some stares. But more often than not, lots of smiles by other people who also appreciate his adorable crazy style. Self-expression is a wonderful thing.

 

Elijah king

“I’m a King!”

In this picture Elijah said he was a King. We were out all day with him wearing this. I will look back on this picture when he is older and remember this time in his life. So innocent, so opinionated, so imaginative. This look here is the epitome of toddlerhood.

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So next time you see a child all dressed up in whatever makes them happy, whether it be animal prints from head to toe, or as many colors as possible, or a mismatched dress up outfit, just smile. Remember how short this time of their life is, a time before society’s thoughts on your clothes matter. A time of pure innocent fun.