Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts

Monday, April 4, 2016

Reaping What We Sow {the joys of unschooling}


Remember awhile back when I showed y'all our new-to-us piano? My sweet daughter has been playing away and it's literally music to my ears. She's taking lessons from a friend and fellow homeschooling mom in town and she's loving all the learning.

I was planning on just sharing how much she loves playing the piano, but as I've been watching her on this journey of hers, I've really come to see what a beautiful testament to unschooling it is. So many of us moms, me included, spend a whole lot of our children's early years trying to figure out what they may enjoy doing. Placing them in various lessons, waiting to see if there's a spark. Why do we do that? I remember putting our oldest son in gymnastics classes, baseball, soccer, karate, and the list goes on and on. I thought that it was my duty to find his passion for him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unschooling has taught me to have patience, tons of sometimes scary patience and wait and watch our children. I promise you, they will let you know what their passion is, they will find it all on their own. Isn't that such a beautiful thing?


Sofia discovered a while back that she had a passion for the piano. We had a little keyboard and she taught herself to play a few songs. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you'd hear her playing, I never had to prompt her or tell her to practice. When she felt drawn to the piano, off she'd go. She was so excited when we found this beautiful, old, upright piano, and couldn't wait to take lessons. I've not once told her that she should be practicing, but not a day goes by that I don't find her sitting there at the piano.


Unschooling is still a pretty scary endeavor at times, but it's at these moments I realize that giving our children the space and freedom to listen to their own voices and hearts, is the best gift we could ever give them. It's worth a little fear on our parts, God's got this.

xo,
Amy


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Happy Trails


That's me up there, all packed and ready to begin this new journey. It's been a long while in the making, from the dreaming, the praying, the planning, the saving, the camper purchase and redo, it's finally here, our adventures are beginning. The kids and I are pulling out this morning and with that, a new chapter is unfolding, one I've dreamed of for so long. Do you have longings and dreams too? Traveling and exploring with my family has been a dream for so long and now, finally now, the timing is right and the season has arrived. 



I'm so glad y'all are here with us. I'm really looking forward to posting as we travel. Our adventures will begin in Kentucky, the Bluegrass State. I'll post as often as time and Wi-Fi allows. Here we go {big smile}...................



{Totally 'borrowed' the idea for my pictures up there from another sweet blogger that always inspires me. Go check out her blog The Rosy Life and be inspired too...............}


Friday, August 7, 2015

Why We Unschool Our Children


Helloooooo sweet friends! I'm having computer issues, making blogging a little tricky. Our oldest son is working on my laptop, bless his heart, he's my awesome tech guy, soooooo, I'm re-posting  a favorite of mine today. Unschooling, I could talk about this subject ALL day, you should be glad you don't live nearby, cause really I called talk about this subject for e-v-e-r. Let's just say I'm a bit passionate about schooling our kiddos. Any questions? Ask away.......


Let's talk about unschooling, shall we? So.... what is unschooling? Well, unschooling is a style of homeschooling where your children are given the freedom to learn at their own pace and in their own time. I really believe there is a HUGE lack of information on how unschooling looks in a typical family. When you begin your homeschooling journey, you also begin the CURRICULUM journey. Many homeschool families try to replicate "school" at home. Guess what? Just because you have chosen to homeschool, doesn't mean you have to mimic school. You have the freedom to not only nurture your child's education but your WHOLE child. Step back and look at the BIG picture, your child as a WHOLE, not just their book smarts, but their character. I've seen way too many homeschooling parents totally miss the opportunity to grow the WHOLE child because they are so busy on the curriculum. They are wasting such a gift.  


So what does our unschooling family look like? Well, we don't live on the side of a mountain and haul our water in by mule. We don't live on a bus and travel around the U.S.{although I really do want a CAMPER, but, I digress}. We don't live in the backwoods and hunt vermin for our meals and have coon skins hanging on our porch {not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you}. We are a pretty regular family. I'm a college educated, self proclaimed DIY'er, writer, wife, and UNSCHOOLING mommy. So why did we choose unschooling? We wanted our children to have the space and time to explore their own passions in their own time. Every day is FILLED with learning, just like in real life. There's no set hours for learning. Knowledge is around us ALL day EVERY day, we just have to seek it out. We want our children to adopt a lifestyle of learning. Learning does not have to be only from 8am to 3 pm. Learning is now and always.



Do we live a child centered life- NO, but, we do let our children decide what they want to pursue on any given day. Sometimes that means sand box fun all morning for our seven year old or rainbow looming for our eleven year old followed by our thirteen year old baking for the afternoon. It also means that our youngest just learning to write at seven is o.k. and our oldest daughter not caring much for reading until she was ten was also o.k. But once they are ready to learn, boy-do-they-fly! There's no forcing them to write their ABC's through tears or bribing them to read a chapter in a book. When they're READY to pursue any task, they just excel.



Schooling at home is a journey and one that changes shape as we change over the years. Have we always unschooled- no. It took many years of relaxing our homeschooling style to get to where we are now. And some days, I'm still full of fear.  We have raised and graduated one son already that was given this freedom to explore all his gifts and passions. I wouldn't change a thing! The freedom of a relaxed learning environment molded him into the amazing, confident, talented, young man that he is today. And that's not just a mama's pride. He really is exceptional and it has a whole lot to do with him having tons of freedom to explore the world around him. So this is why we unschool our children- because it works and I have a passion to continue this style with our other three children.



In a few upcoming posts, I'm going to explore the many ins and outs of unschooling and try to answer many questions you may have about this style of learning. I believe that it is a very misunderstood form of educating and that more people may enjoy it's benefits if they only understood it better. So, if you have questions like:  "what is unschooling and how do you unschool?", "as a parent, are you afraid that you're messing up your kids?", "what does a typical day of unschooling involve?", "do your kids like unschooling?", "can you be a christian and unschool?", check back soon and I'll answer ALL these questions and more. What do you think? Could unschooling be for you and your family?

Here's some more I've written about unschooling: Unschooling 101Fear = GoodAnd They Take FlightA Crazy Little Thing Called Unschooling {Part One}A Crazy Little Thing Called Unschooling {Part Two}Unschooling: The Elementary Years



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Unschooling: The Elementary Years


Back in March and April, I began writing about how we unschool our children {A Crazy Little Thing Called Unschooling Part One and Part Two}. I was supposed to continue and share how we approach the elementary years, but I didn't. Why? Why is a couple of reasons, one being I'm terrible with follow through- ha, and the other being, my heart just wasn't ready to share yet. 

Y'all know that this blog is a place of honesty and the 'real', it just has to be, or what's the point really? Well, unschooling can be hard, and this lifestyle can really shake your confidence, a whole lot.  Unschooling requires a certain conviction that you know in your heart that this is the right way to educate your children. It takes boocoodles of faith y'all. 



So, the elementary years, here goes......... Matthew is our first child that has been unschooled since the beginning. He knows nothing else. In the 2's, 3's, 4's and even 5's, I didn't feel any discomfort in allowing him the freedom to explore the world around him and learn as it naturally occurred. By six and seven, I started to get a little antsy and prayed a whole lot for my spirit to calm and I had to reassure myself that he will learn how to read and write proficiently when he is ready. Oh lordy, I doubted myself and this lifestyle, often.  I would try new writing books and methods to no avail. A pencil sat in his hand with a death grip I'm telling you and I'd be nearly in tears and filled with doubt. We'd stop for a few months, then try again, same thing. I didn't want him to feel any pressure, shoot it's unschooling y'all, so we'd forget the reading and writing for a while.



Matthew turned eight, and I'm pretty sure I was chewing off all my nails by this point. Still Matthew showed little to no interest in reading or writing. Now I should say that he wasn't just playing Hot Wheels all these years. This little dude is sharp. He loves  documentaries on lots of subjects especially nature and science. He can spout out facts to rival an adult's knowledge in those subjects. He also, works hard outside caring for his chickens and helping his dad with yard work. House work, got that covered too. Basically, he's an unschooling dream. He is a voracious learner and a very well-rounded little boy. He's proof that unschooling works. I  was the problem.



But then, reading and writing. I took a friend's advice and gave him a dry erase board and markers rather than a pencil and lined paper. He writes. Hallelujah, he writes! Pencils are getting easier for him, but he much  prefers the board and markers. I re-discovered our Dick and Jane books, and the boy is reading. Another hallelujah! I just had to keep tweaking and searching what was best for him, and I had to have the patience to wait for him to be ready. That's the crux of an unschooling lifestyle. I'm breathing a bit easier over here now, I'm pretty confident that he will master reading and writing, maybe even before he's eighteen! Seriously though, unschooling has it's scary, uncomfortable moments, but I still wholeheartedly believe that it's benefits are totally worth all the worry.







Friday, June 26, 2015

Schooling In The Mountains


This  is where my heart lies. This  is where schooling meets nurturing and they collide into a beautiful jumble of learning and love. This  is when all is right and good in my world. These precious moments always remind me why we school our littles at home. 



We drove thirty five minutes north to escape the heat and landed at Black Rock Mountain State Park, elevation 3,640 feet above sea level. It boasts a whopping fifteen degree drop in temperature from our home near it's base, so it seemed a perfect location to beat the sweltering summer temperatures. We had donned our hiking attire, filled our cooler and I had packed all our favorite read-alouds, ready for an afternoon of cooler temps and schoolin' under the trees. 



So we hiked, me mumbling I'm brave,  I'm very very brave  through the winding path {I have a slight bear phobia}, then settled at the trail-head tables with yummies and books galore. I cannot even tell you how right it feels to teach your own children nestled in such a beautiful outdoor classroom. I swear the angels must be singing hallelujah in the heavens, it just feels that right. 




I had these same feelings just before my second child was born, as I felt more confident with my parenting abilities and had come to the realization that I heartily believed in attachment parenting {thank you Dr. Sears}, so I threw out all the advice that others had given me about the right  way to raise a child. My parenting world opened up and gone were the days of my child sleeping in a crib and crying it out because I'd ruin him otherwise. I listened to my heart and my parenting changed forever.




Schooling out in nature feels like that, like a natural progression of attachment parenting. My heart overflows.


Keep close to nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
John Muir 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Children And Life Skills


Schooling your children at home means lots of different things to lots of different people. We all approach the task differently and that's as it should be. As our teaching methods have become more and more relaxed over the years, one thing has remained a constant for us, an emphasis on teaching life skills to our children. I've always felt that I'd way rather my kiddos be experts in caring for themselves and their home than get straight A's in reading, writing and arithmetic.


I truly think we are doing our children a huge disservice if we do not teach them the importance of caring for the blessings that God has provided them. From a very early age, our children have been instructed on how to clean their home like nobody's business, yes, they do do windows and bathrooms. They have mastered laundry {although Matthew has very unconventional methods of doing laundry!} and they clean the kitchen after every meal. There are tons of outdoor jobs as well, including yard work and animal care. Their responsibilities extend way beyond making up their beds and taking out the trash.




I really feel that it's so important to teach them to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given them, and one day, they will take care of their homes with just as much respect. How do you handle teaching life skills in your home? I'd love to hear from you.




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When Singing Is The Best Medicine


Our girls attend some homeschool arts classes at a local co-op on Tuesdays. This semester both girls sang in the choir. Yesterday, the group visited two local senior centers. I had volunteered to drive some of the girls and that car full of girls was the best medicine I could have ever asked for. They sang the whole trip.  By the time the day was over, I felt ten years younger and my soul had been bountifully filled. 


I'm a people watcher. so while the choir sang, I watched. There was a room full of seniors that had gathered to listen to the kids sing. I watched as some sat quietly, some sang along to every melody and others grinned ear to ear through each song. I watched and wondered of all the life stories hidden behind those eyes. Seniors fascinate me and I long to listen to stories of ages past. The amount of history in that one room overwhelms me. 


Today, life was good, and for that I am grateful.



Monday, April 6, 2015

Little Hands

I shared this little post about Matthew nearly a year ago. Already this spring, he's saved two more carpenter bees. He has such a heart for animals. I thought I'd share again his adventures with y'all.


The greatest gift of being a stay at home mom, is not missing all the little things everyday. They're almost insignificant, but added up along time, they're huge. Our youngest found a wounded bee and has been attempting to nurse it back to health. This little bee has fresh flowers picked for him from morning until night and even goes on walks around the yard with his new friend. Such a small thing, but so precious to watch our boy taking care of this little creature.



Our little guy even helped to plant some flower seeds in the garden this morning. Covering them in the dirt with their little promise to grow tall and strong soon.



Our boy is quite the miracle. He was born at 29 weeks and fought mighty hard to grow big and strong. He's almost eight, and such a free spirit.  Since we are done adding to our family, his little hands are even more precious. They're the little hands of our last little one. I can see him growing up and working for the State Parks Department, or going on jungle safaris. His love of nature still inspires me every day.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Crazy Little Thing Called.......... Unschooling {part two}

I'm thrilled that so many of you are curious about unschooling, I got lots of great questions after my first post last week. If you missed it, click here  to catch up. 



I wanted to start with the middle-school and high-school ages and then I'll talk more about the elementary years next week. This unschooling thing is going to look drastically different for each family depending on your child's most recent learning environment. Have you recently pulled them out of school, do you homeschool but have a very strict curriculum based environment in your home, are you a relaxed homeschool family? Depending on which one you are, will have everything to do with what unschooling will look like for your family in the beginning.



Unschooling requires that your children be interested in pursuing learning on their own, requires that they be self-motivated learners. The question I'm asked most is, "how do you get your kids to be self-motivated learners? I can't ever imagine my fourteen year old picking up an algebra book on her own? I don't think unschooling will work for our family". Here's how it works for us. Our kids have always had a relaxed learning environment. That's a much easier and smoother path into an unschooling style of learning. If we had had a more rigid homeschool, using lots of curriculum, lots of book-work, quizzes, and assignments, the transition to unschooling would have been a huge shock. It would have required a lengthy period of adjustment {months or longer} for them to learn how to feed their natural curiosities without my help. They would have first had to even realize they had an innate desire to learn on their own, a God-given curiosity. So, coming from a relaxed background, easy, but if you are coming from a more rigid learning environment, it will be a longer path, but one that you will see develop over time



So okay, it may take lots of patience to achieve an unschooling lifestyle in your family, then what? That's when you get busy as the parent. It is my job to be an excellent listener, and notice subtle cues from my kids. They may express their learning desires but they may have no idea how to get from point 'A' to point 'B' on their own. That's where I come in. That's where it becomes my job to see if I can help them navigate through their desires. I also keep up with areas that I notice they may be lacking in and 'casually' leave things, that may help them improve in those areas, around the house {aka strewing}. Sometimes they notice a book and pick it up, other times they're just not interested and I'll try again in six months or so. I also plan lots of field-trips. Remember that pop-up camper we are working on, all about hands-on learning and experiencing new environments. We also read aloud daily as a family. Living history and bible are two of our favorites. You never know where your child's talents may lie, expose them to as much of the world as you reasonably can.



I marvel at the growth of our girls' photography skills. They photograph everything  and are growing their talent by leaps and bounds {all the photos in these unschooling posts, our daughters}. They are given an inordinate amount of time every day for their artistic passions, sometimes through watercolors, acrylics, clay, or photography. Our youngest daughter loves reading novels, but our oldest prefers non-fiction, mostly about blogging currently. Last summer, I suggested to her that I thought she may enjoy blogging and I told her that I'd be happy to help her if she wanted to get that started. There was total silence.......... not a peep about starting her own blog. Then about four months later she came up to me and said, "so how do you start a blog". That's my best advice on unschooling, throw out ideas that you believe may be a good fit for your kids, then back up and WAIT. That seed may never sprout or it may grow into the most glorious towering oak that you've ever seen. She has a little blog now and she did it all herself. For any of you bloggers reading, you know that that requires learning HTML and coding and boocoodles of other stuff to get a blog up and running. I'm really proud of her and I know she may never have had time for things such as this if we sat around our kitchen table from eight till two with our curriculum.



Now that leaves me with those subjects that my kids just don't like at all. What then? This can be the most nerve wracking part of unschooling....... if you allow it to be. So far, our girls show no interest in math, none.  So what do I do about this? We do math where we can, cooking, groceries, camper remodels require lots of measuring, sewing and the like, you get my point, life math. I have complete confidence that if in a year or two, they realize that in order to acheive their dreams they must have a college degree, and need math to get in, they can comfortably achieve what is required to pass an entrance examine in six or so months. It's no different than us adults, when we become motivated, we can move mountains. Our kids are sharp and they should be afforded the same confidence we have in our own abilities. 



That's pretty much it in a nutshell for our middle-school/high-school philosophy. The largest factor in our unschooling lifestyle is faith and a deep-hearted belief that our children need only support and guidance to find their own way in life. I've been a curriculum based homeschool mom, a relaxed homeschool mom, and now an unschooling mom, and this is without a doubt the most difficult because it does require a huge amount of faith and prayer. Through all those styles though, I love what I see in my kids through unschooling most of all. They have confidence in themselves that I'm so grateful for. If you'd like to take a look at Olivia's little blog, she'd be overjoyed for you to visit and share if you feel so inclined {Click Here for Liv In Progress}. It's a teen lifestyle blog and I'm ever so proud of her. 


More to come next week on this crazy little thing called unschooling. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Crazy Little Thing Called................ Unschooling {part one}


Most days, it doesn't feel crazy at all, but other days, a little worry sneaks up. There are so many ways to approach homeschooling, and each homeschooling family approaches teaching their children differently, and that's okay. Some of us replicate public/private school in our home and others, way on the other side of the spectrum, have chosen a hugely different path. We're not looking for a 'school' experience in our home, a parent led learning, no, we've chosen a radically different path. We want our children to have the time and space to figure out who  they are and what their personal passions may be. We feel that children should not just be capable in the subjects taught in brick and mortar schools, but that they should be a complete and diverse bundle of knowledge. The kind of knowledge that doesn't necessarily come from a lecture or a text book. The kind of knowledge that exists only when you give your child all the time in the world to figure it out for themselves. Often, this means that my child may be a bit behind yours in a particular subject regarded as 'important' in our educational system, but waaaaaaay ahead in subjects that other children may never even be exposed to in their learning.



When we began homeschooling nearly seventeen years ago, I had no idea that unschooling was even a thing. I began buying curriculum pretty similar to what is taught in schools so my child would be just as smart as a schooled child with no gaps in his education and therefore no guilty conscience on my part that I'd messed him up. Gradually our schooling became more and more relaxed, but it would still be quite a few years before I would embrace unschooling.



So why am I rambling on about unschooling, because I regret that I didn't even know what unschooling was and I wasn't confident enough to allow my children this learning freedom until only a couple of years back. I was a "closet unschooler' for at least a year because I was afraid of what other homeschooling families would think of me. Worried that they would think I'd lost my marbles, and yes, I'll be honest, some of my friends don't agree with my choice and they continue to believe that a curriculum based homeschool is the best way to go. It's definitely the safe choice, but I'm no longer interested in safe, I believe that my children are thriving in this environment and I'm honestly in awe at the growth of their passions. So I'm rambling on because I'm hoping that if you've ever considered unschooling, maybe you'll start sooner than later and would not waste precious years like I did. 



So this will be a several part series, I've so much to say about unschooling! Once you are committed to pursuing this learning style, what does it look like? I'll let you peek in on our days, not that we're unschooling experts or anything, but just so you can see what we do here at our house. 



AND, every photo in this series...... taken by our daughters. With all of the free time we've allowed them, they've gotten pretty serious about photography. That's going to be my favorite part of these posts, because I'm just in awe of their talent at twelve and fourteen. Love their photos.
  
So stick around if you're curious about unschooling. I'll get part two up next week. 



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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Accepting Grace

I must confess- some mornings I wake up and being a mom and teacher just isn't what I want to do. I don't really want to hear the endless chatter of my seven year old, I don't want to be an outstanding homeschool mom. I don't want to head outside with the kids and sketch the beauty found in nature. I really want to curl up in bed under the blanket and pretend to be somewhere else, anywhere else. So I have some more coffee and pray and try to find peace and..... then, the dog throws up in the chair, yeah, some mornings are not pretty.



Being a mom is tough at times and what should we do when all we want to do is run from our life? I'm faced with that question sometimes and maybe you can relate? I sure hope so or I'm just going to look all kinds of whiny right now! As a homeschool mom, I'm with these precious little guys 24/7, and no, I'm not grinding my teeth when I say precious,  why would you think that?? 

Some mornings, life doesn't flow smoothly. When you're feeling out of sorts, give yourself permission not to feel guilty. Honey, it happens to us all, and it's o.k. I don't have an easy three step program to make you feel better- mercy, I wish I did. But, it will pass, and until then be kind to yourself. Love yourself and give yourself grace, God has



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Friday, January 9, 2015

And They Take Flight {More On Unschooling}

It's been way too long since I posted about unschooling, but really, nothing new was happening and I didn't have anything new to share................ then this happened. 



I found her here, surrounded by many of the books I've collected over the years, books just waiting to be opened and enjoyed. This is why we unschool. We patiently, and actively wait, making sure that the tools for growth are at the disposal of our children, and we pray and wait for something to take root and sprout, all the while biting our lip and praying that all those parents that have unschooled before us are right. We're not messing our child up, he/she will eventually start to study because, get this, they want to. They desire to learn. That's our fear. That's the big one and then, then to my surprise, it happened.............. she's desiring to fly. 



After tears of joy, shed in my office {aka- the bathroom}, I got down on my knees and thanked God for giving me the strength to keep going in His name, and trust that the seeds would sprout at exactly the right time. YES!




If you've chosen to unschool, keep plodding away, and actively wait, all the while, surrounding your children with the tools they'll need for growth, until one day, when you've almost lost hope, they'll take off all on their own. And Rejoice.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

A Thankful Rock...... Say What?

So this happened.....




We found this book at Michael's and since we have like ALL Mercer Mayer's "Little Critter" books and have LOVED reading them ever since our oldest was teeny-tiny, we just had to grab this new one. Fast forward to about a week later, I finally got around to reading it to our kids, and it made me sooooo happy! What a fabulous book and perfect for this season. Yes, I am getting a little too excited over a kiddie book, but it's just that great. You have to find this simple little book that speaks volumes on thankfulness!

And then this happened...........

We headed down to the creek and each collected our favorite stone and then....... we did this...........



When you read the book, you'll understand the rock thing. These are our thankful rocks, and that's all I'm going to say about that because you just have to read the book for yourself.... really, you just have to  read the book! Promise me you'll read this book to your kids, big and little, and remind yourselves of how important it is to be grateful each and every day!






It'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside! And we all need some warm and fuzzy right?
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