Adventures in Unschooling

Posts Tagged ‘unschooling

We are growing frogs.

Here is the life cycle we have amassed so far.

Stage 7: There are no more gills and the body is larger. The eyes are also visible here.

Stage 6: The taddie develops gills.

Stage 5: Tail shape is changing. More growth.

Stage 4: Fully hatched. They eat boiled lettuce.

Stage 3:

Stage 2: Eggs are changing shape.

This happened in a very short amount of time. When the weather is cold, it can take two years for a frog to reach maturity. When it is warm (like my house), it can take weeks.

We went frog hunting the other day and couldn’t find any. We could hear them croaking very loudly in the distance but no matter how far we walked they were always just a little bit further.

After admitting defeat, we started walking home.

I spotted this clump of frog eggs in the ditch. I thought, if I can not find some, I will grow some.

Stage 1: In natural habitat (I only took a very small amount -this is what was left when I was done).

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I spend so much time reading books on every kind of topic. I used to mostly focus on parenting and nutrition. I have learned to eat really healthy but I also indulge in mint and chocolate chip ice cream. I know that I shouldn’t punish my kids but when I am at the end of my rope I do.

The truth is that my parents left me a little screwed up but so did your parents. And you and I will all leave our kids a little screwed up. I am positive that that is true. 

One kid will say, my parents didn’t care enough to set boundaries for me and the other will say my parents cared too much and put up too many boundaries for me to be able to grow and develop independence. Striking the perfect balance is impossible I am convinced. I do like the books because they help me understand the logic between the parenting styles. 

We are quite liberated. We let our kids dress like superheroes to the grocery store and they can paint on themselves if they want. They pick out their own clothes, no matter where we are going and they even pick out their own footwear (to buy and to wear). Someday it’s rubber boots with swimming trunks and long sleeved dress shirts. That’s just how we roll. 

I frequently encourage my kids to do things for themselves. If they want a free cookie from the grocery store they have to ask for it themselves. I tell them, “I don’t want one. If you want one, you need to go ask.” 

So Trey will run to the cookie counter and say, “Three cookies please. One for my brother and one for my sister and one for me.” Then he brings me the one he had received for Anna and gives it to her unscathed. 

I find that they are very generous with each other as well. They share their food quite willingly. And will think of each other when they have items. One day Joel found a bunch of change on the ground (nickels and pennies etc.) and he took half of them, put them in his pocket and then gave the rest of them to Trey. We try to not force them to share their toys. If I get something and Kevin asks for it. I will gladly share…when I am ready. When I start a book or something I expect to be able to finish it before I pass it one to someone else. I respect that my kids have similar needs. They shouldn’t have to share if they are using something. I do encourage bartering then. When Trey wants something Joel has and he starts crying, I tell him that Joel wants that right now. If he wants to find a more appealing toy for Joel then Joel might be willing to trade his toy for a different one. This often works. And if it doesn’t then tough cookies. He has to wait his turn. 

But I have a problem with some of the kids shouldn’t have responsibilities and kids shouldn’t be forced to be part of the family. In my house we care for each other. I just paid an exorbitant amount of money for 3D IMAX tickets to Toy Story 3 for this weekend. Do I care to go? Not really. But my boys have been psyched for this for months. And I couldn’t get cheaper seats…so $65 later we are going to be watching ONE movie for about TWO hours! What a waste of cash. But they want it and it’s not always about me. 

I make them food they like often. And I seldom get my yummy mint/chocolate chip ice cream because I am the only one that likes it. We are a co-op and we love each other and we help each other. So, they must tidy up the common area when they are done. And they have unrestricted access to the craft cabinet. BUT, they have to clean up after themselves. They often play on my table and I use that for eating and working etc. So they are expected to pick up their pieces of Play Doh. I know some other unschooling moms don’t agree with that. They follow behind their children, clean up the mess and get everything ready for the next creative session. But the fact is that I don’t want to decide to make pie and have to clean up paint, sidewalk chalk, Play Doh and all that stuff first. I think it teaches mutual respect. 

When they lose the pieces to a game, we don’t get angry. We simply use the pieces we can or throw it out if it’s no longer useable. But we don’t buy a replacement one. They’ll ask if they can have more LEGO and I’ll say no. They each have a bucket that is full to the brim in LEGO. All they want are the LEGO men. Which they insist on toting with them to the farm, the library, the grocery store, etc. Then they promptly lose them or pieces of them. LEGO is expensive and we have had to draw a line in the sand. When he gets money (for his birthday or whatever) he chooses to spend it on LEGO. That is his choice. 

He’ll even tell me sometimes, “Mom, I am taking my toy with me when we go shopping. And if I lose it that’s my problem OK?” I just laugh and say, “OK.” 

I am amazed at how strong and independent they are. They make their own choices and respect my opinion (sometimes). They will ask if it safe for them to run to the car or they’ll tell me that they are bringing this toy outside. The other day I realized that before the boys went to bed they had brought some sidewalk chalk into their room. Joel had drawn all over his dark sheets with these pretty pastel chalks. Can you think of a better canvas for chalk than a dark sheet? The contrast was beautiful. I didn’t get mad. All it took was a tumble in the wash to get it clean again. No harm done. He got to be creative at no one’s expense. Good for him! 

I will post a picture when I get my computer back from the “shop.” 

I guess what I am getting at with all of this rambling is that I don’t care what the books say. I am going to try to treasure their individuality and try to respect them. And we’ll forget about the details. You take it one day at a time and stop feeling guilty that you aren’t living up to someone else’s expectations. 

And speaking about choices and respect for others, I took my kids to a Gay Pride Parade last Saturday. It was colourful, full of techno music and by far the most vibrant and fun parade I have ever been to. And it was the most beautiful day we have had in two weeks. There was no raining on this parade. LOL. 

The kids tried to understand what the parade was about but I wasn’t able to explain it very clearly. I did my best but those are hard concepts to get when you are five years old and you don’t even fully grasp that there are different family units from your own. No matter though, they got candy, stickers, necklaces and had a great time.  Trey kept saying, “Mom, this is like New Years!” I don’t know where that came from because we never go to any parties at New Years! LOL. 

The most amazing part was the types of people in the parade. There was representation from everything from gay nightclubs, to political parties, to banks, to grocery stores, to United Churches, to lobby groups. So many people came out to show support for personal choice and human justice (in the form of equal rights). 

I always used to think, what difference does it mean if they are “married” or not but it turns out lots. They don’t get penalized on their taxes for example. And picture this scenario, you and your lover have been together for 12 years. Your family is religious and upset about the person you chose to be your life partner. So you don’t talk to them. But the person whom you share your life with knows everything about you. One day you get in a violent car accident and end up in the hospital. You mother gets called in to make the life or death decisions for you. You partner is excluded from the emergency room, funeral arrangements. Instead of being cremated and tossed from a mountain top as you had instructed your lover to do, you are buried in a ghastly blue dress your estranged mother chose. The truth is that without marriage the life partner can not be considered equal to a spouse in decisions like this. It is important that they get to choose who should represent them in their finances, their child rearing and their deaths. 

But won’t that open up the door to other types of marriages? You mean like polygamy or child marriages? NO! Get over it you cry babies. Gay marriage is a marriage of mutual consent between ADULTS. It won’t open up the door for child rape etc. And to top it off, a study has come out recently saying that the children of lesbians are better adjusted than the normal population. They have lower incidences of substance abuse and have lower incidences of mental disturbances. 

Seriously, two mommies? How can this not be a win, win? Even my husband said so. It’s usually the fathers being cold and distant that causes these behavioural problems. Two warm, comfy mommies? Right on! 

 

Earlier this week I took a trip to my local reuse centre. And as usual I came home with a whole big bag of loot.

There were art kits, vintage patterns (stay posted), miscellaneous supplies for Native American studies, some sponges and ice cream pail lids for painting, a big sun lantern and some rolls of fabric of course.

In the mix I found a small stack of these unfinished pirate masks:


We painted them using watercolours.

To be frank they haven’t gotten a lot of use but with the small fee of the reuse centre they were technically free! So… Ships ahoy matey!

We were near the Chinese Supermarket so we decided to pop in. Boy am I glad I did.

We found some special items:

We were able to try mangosteens and lychees and I found some raw nori as well as oyster mushrooms for half price. They also had wolfberries (goji) for a fraction of what health food stores and grocery stores sell them. Can you believe that that bag only cost me $3.50? I couldn’t!

The only thing I knew about mangosteen is that the health food store sold big bottles of mangosteen juice for about $30!

Turns out they are not only cool to look at but also pretty sweet. We were all pretty happy with the mangosteen. They are a bit pricey though. Three of those beautiful apple looking things cost me over $3.00.

The lychees are a bit more starchy tasting and not near as sweet but they sure are juicy. When I would break through the shell they would squirt everywhere.

By and large, this was a much better experiment than the durian and dragon fruit.

I love exposing my kids to new tastes and textures. I also love teaching them about food and animals and I like exposing them to different cultures and this was a way to do all of those things.

This grocery store had a very broad live seafood department. My kids got to see live king crabs, regular crabs, lobsters as well as a variety of mussels etc. Right up close. They got to see a mussel’s “tongue” go back in when I touched it and see big cod fish and smaller fish of other variety.

After seeing the fish dead by the tanks Trey told me that he didn’t want to eat fish. Good! But that doesn’t deter him from his carnivorous taste for beef and chicken. Hmmm…

The bright “star” is actually the planet Venus and the moon, well, I am not telling you which one the moon is. You should know that much. Ha ha ha.

That was taken on May 15th.

On May 16th the moon would have been seen above Venus. But I couldn’t see it because my sky was too overcast.

This astronomy stuff is fun!

I don’t get to post as much as I’d like these days. I guess I am just too busy working and living to document it all on here.

And we have been busy.

We have been:

1. Working: I am working full-time and even the hubby is pulling quite a bit of hours. But with all that we still manage to always have one of us home with the kids.

2. Cleaning: With our place on the market and us hoping for a quick sale we have been cleaning a lot. The yard, the shed, the floors, the dogs…even the kids seem to get dirty 30 minutes after you clean them.

3. Exercising: I have been working out very hard and I have been losing weight. I have hit a roadblock though and the last five to ten pounds are proving to be very difficult to burn off. Here are some pictures of the kids doing yoga with me:

4. Painting: We have been painting, making necklaces, colouring, crafting in general. The kids also really like play doh and moon sand. Here are some pictures of their play table (yesterday’s painting project):

5. Frolicking: Playing at the park, playing tennis, playing board games, wrestling on the couch, signing and dancing to Raffi and just generally enjoy the sunshine (when we get it) and fresh air.

6. Enjoying the little miracles: The Universe has been pretty good to us. My husband’s police recruitment is going well and we are nearing the end of it all. Through all the downs the ups come back around. And the ups are much more special. Also my computer seems to have miraculously healed itself. I had a very invasive virus on my computer that made it virtually impossible for me to even check my email much less blog and today my computer is clean, clear and back to its original speed. My anti-virus finally decided to do its job I guess??? And my washing machine broke on Sunday night but a friend who is moving and currently needing to unload one has been able to offer one to us at a VERY reasonable price. Thanks so much L!

7. Learning: We are all learning. I am trying to learn to be more patient with life and to be a better mother. I am far from the ideal mother and that frustrates me because I like to excel at everything I do. Mothering, though, has been the hardest task I have ever undertaken and I have much learning yet to do.

In general, I am happy with life. I can’t wait for our life to really get going though. We have been living in limbo for quite a while and I can’t wait to get some financial stability and to be back home again.

I have been feeling like I haven’t written a heavy post in a long time.

Our family has been, and still is, in some major transitions with work. It has certainly made it more difficult for me to find the time and the state of mind to write the kinds of posts I want to write.

Guerilla Homeschooling has this story about how the bestselling homeschooling textbooks dismiss the theory of evolution and the work of Darwin. http://guerrillahomeschooling.blogspot.com/2010/03/top-home-school-texts-dismiss-darwin.html

Now I don’t really care what you choose to believe but how much preparation are you giving your kids for the “real” world when you are teaching them to discredit the only credible theory on the origin of life.

I don’t care very much about how we were created and as such I haven’t read much on it and haven’t formed an opinion. But would I purposely teach my kids that the prevailing scientific idea of the creation of the life is a lie? And I don’t really care if you think that creationism is a respectable theory. The truth is that it only holds water (and even there barely) if you already prescribe to a certain set of beliefs. Without that foundation, the theory of creationism, has more holes in than a sieve.

This is a perfect example of why people think homeschooling will hurt kids. It isolates them from “bad” influences and makes them naive to the world around them.

I don’t unschool my kids to protect them but rather to liberate them. To let them learn about what they want to and to let them see the world as it really is. To learn the uncensored versions of things!

I also have started watching a documentary called War on Kids and while I admit that it is focusing on the most extreme of extreme examples of the prison like state of many schools I am still finding it interesting.

I especially like the part about Ritalin. Anyone who isn’t living under a rock should know that Ritalin cause psychosis. That the majority of violent crimes committed by students against parents and other students have been committed by kids on Ritalin. Pretty much all of the school shootings in recent history have been committed by Ritalined kids.

And Ritalin is meant to fix a “chemical” problem. Or in other words it’s meant to fix childhood joie de vivre. This is the real crime.

Here are the best segments of the documentary:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lzm6F33QEo&feature=related

Four million kids on Ritalin in the US!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sQxAyqesHE&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gktKcHxWWYc&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgQa1SKi7Hc&feature=channel

Basically everything from Episode 5 on is valuable. I really like Episode 8. Nine is very good too.

If you hate reading…thank a teacher.