Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recent Activities

fall 2009 008
*Robbie's Creation with Floam*

fall 2009 012
*Alyssa's very first charcoal sketch of a portrait*

I have more pics from our dino dig, but they'll have to wait!!!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Back for another year and dispelling some common myths

It's time to sharpen pencils, fill up binders and color code the dividers!!
While for us, at our house, nothing really changes. We take advantage of the BTS specials and sales, but since we pretty much unschool year round, it's not that big of deal.

We embark on the usual conversations while out in public..."oh it's almost school time" "are you ready for your first day of school?" blah, blah. My kids have become pretty quick with their answers. We keep it simple since a lot of the general public aren't always so supportive of unschooling. "Yes, we homeschool and we're excited" is the the staple answer around here.

Which then either ends the convo or puts it directly on me.
them:"You homeschool?"
me:"Yes we do"
them:"oh my gosh, you're crazy!"
me:"actually, we love it and it works for our family"
them:"Well, I could NEVER do it"
if they're really in the need of a conversation
"but what about socialization?"
*deep, deep sigh*
Oh my word, if there is one single convo I am so over discussing is the socialisation aspect that everyone who is not familiar with us or homeschooling in general seems to be extremely concerned about.
I realize this is a valid concern from someone who is not familiar with how unchooling/homeschooling works. Perhaps they visualize us sitting in our house not communicating with the general public. My poor children, the wall flowers.

Wake up people!!!! Honestly, social skills are not just learned in school. I promise a child can learn to function in a social setting even if they never step foot in a classroom!! We do not under any circumstances NEED school to have our children learn the abilities to succeed in a social setting!!! Look at toddlers.......they are social by nature! No school taught them that! In fact school squelches a lot of the natural social tendencies children have because rather than socializing being natural, it becomes forced in a controlled environment with a controlled group. You must not speak only when told to. Stop talking to your neighbour, you can talk at recess.
Sound familiar? How close is socializing in the real world to the classroom? Interaction can happen ANYWHERE and at ANYTIME.
Homeschooled children are out and about in THE REAL WORLD. They talk to all walks of life, all races, adults, teens, children, elderly..the GENERAL PUBLIC which, if I'm not mistaken is what we're trying to accomplish...right? Socially engaging children.hmmmmm
The vast majority of homeschooled children will willingly talk to all ages and engage with all ages because school has not 'taught' them that grade sixers don't hang with grade oners.
They are not terrified of talking to strangers like the cashier at the grocery store because they have been taught 'stranger danger' in school. They have been taught to trust themselves and be confident in the real world because they have been interacting in the real world all along.

Okay, so we have that part somewhat covered...I could go on and on!!lol
I will be adding more links on the side bar for your info!!

Having voiced on that, the next concern is what my children are learning. Typically I avoid this convo with strangers or casual acquaintances since the majority of people truly don't care and it's not worth my getting all worked up over (since the above mentioned persons will try every point possible to try to get me to say something negative so they can feel justified with their decision to NOT homeschool, when *I* honestly don't care myself!!lol) Whew.

Sometimes there are the people who genuinely are curious and genuinely want to know how it works, in which case I LOVE to share how unschooling has changed our lives and all the wonderful things that we have experienced as a direct result from it. There is not one thing so far that we can come up with that has negatively impacted us since we began this endeavour. Not one. I say this right from the get go of our homeschooling 7 years ago when we began as a traditional homeschooling family to now where we are an unschooling family.
Even when we look to the future, there are always alternatives we can find for any future issues that may arise, like a traditional high school diploma let's say.

My kids will be just fine without a traditional school education. They are learning what they want and how they want and they have such a strong desire to learn because it is not forced upon them in the confinement of four walls. They are not told they must learn to add by second grade. They are not 'quizzed' or tested on information that has been given to them on someone elses schedule. As a result, they learn quicker and retain the information better and are better able to retrieve that information when it is called upon them in daily life situations.
There is no competition, no special 'who can read 100 books by Christmas' or who can answer the questions on the chalkboard in front of the classroom. No one is ever made to feel they are any less, simply because they have not yet mastered a task. They learn to keep trying and keep at it because they themselves want to feel the achievement on a personal level, not simply so they can be equal with their peers. If they do face struggle and difficulty, we as a family can work through it together.

Okey dokey, thats all good and great Penny, but what about setting goals?
In school the goal is simple...get good grades!! Bring home an awesome report card, makes the parents happy and thus in turn makes the child feel happy, right?
What report cards fail to show, is what your child ACTUALLY learned during that period. All that it does show is that your child either passed/failed tests and completed assignments, oh and how the teacher feels about your child. At some point the child loses some or all of the personal part of learning something new. Somwhere it suddenly becomes other peoples goals for some children and if it isn't all lost to that, a good chunk is. Parents can become obsessed with the report cards and test scores, leaving the child to lose interest in what is being 'taught' and just focus on passing the test. If it's not just the parents, the teachers do the same.
Unschooling allows us to focus on the kids setting goals and achieving them with the personal satisfaction of doing so on their own timetable. Of course we all celebrate when someone learns something new because it is exciting, but the main focus is on their inside and how they feel, that is the ultimate.
Also, we focus on the fact that learning doesn't need to happen in a classroom, it can happen anywhere since we as humans never stop learning! An elderly woman can learn a new stitch for her cross stitching project from a neighbour. A mom can learn a new recipe to cook for her family. Two things usually precede us learning a new task:
1. the desire to learn something new such as sewing, knitting, cooking, a new language, dancing etc, but a desire from within has encouraged us. OR
2. a necessity resulting from our current situation requires us to learn something new, such as learning a new language because we're in a different country, the company has Incorporated new computers into the office and you need to know how to use them etc.
This is what our basis is for unschooling, and it has proven time and time again to work for us.

Hurricane Bill hit the East coast this weekend, sparking quite the interest at our house. We researched all kinds of interesting things about Hurricanes through books and internet. We had lots of conversations and drew pictures about them. It was fun and we learned a lot. I did not decide this weekend that we would do a study about Hurricanes. It all started because of a question they had and took off from there. From youngest to oldest. That is just one small example of many, many experiences we've had with a current event sparking a weekend or weekday of learning.

Lastly that I'll briefly touch on is another comment I get quite often pertaining to homeschooling.
That is that I must have been a teacher or hold some degree in education because how can I, just a mom, TEACH my kids?!?!?! Well, truth be told.. I have no degree, no certificate hangs on my wall stating that I have endured years of university training teaching me how to teach.
You do not NEED to be a teacher to teach!!!lol There is such an enormous wealth of resources available to facilitate learning on subjects not readily available in our home via books and internet. Besides, isn't learning how to research and retrieve information an important part of learning too?!?! I thought so!

Thomas Edison's mother felt she could do a better job and look at his accomplishments!
Or how about Charlie Chaplin? Or Benjamin Franklin? Even Wilbur and Orville Wright can be added to the long list of individuals who either received little or no formal education who achieved great things in society.
As quoted by George Bernard Shaw "My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself"

So there is a somewhat brief description on how and why we unschool. In the long run, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks, because it's what works for us and our family and isn't necessarily on par for everyone!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hurray for Another *YEAR*

All of our goodies arrived was like Christmas!!
I got lot's of good stuff for them to explore and use. Wonderful books to read and fun experiments for them to do. They all helped in choosing, so a lot of things reflect their interests. So far between yesterday and today the Cash Register and the K'Nex have been a huge hit!!
Here's some pics!!
Matthew checking things out
*Matthew helping un-pack the goodies*

Hurray!! Homeschool fun

more books to read
*I got the entire Little House on the Prairie set and the Chronicles of Narnia*

Books to read
*books to read*

Games and Activities
*games, activities and experiments*

Lot's of fun things to do, there was just to much to list things individually!!lol
So, needless to say, we will be spending the next few days organizing and setting things up!! Hurray for Unschooling!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our Newest Adventure

It's been so long since I've written!!lol

Well, we are embarking on a new adventure, one that we have been slowly heading towards (and without me really 'catching on' to it!!). We've made the switch completely and are now and UNschooling family. Which really just means that we will be doing child-led learning or allowing natural learning to take place.

It has been the most amazing thing to watch! The kids are MUCH more excited about learning, you can feel the energy in the room!! It is so cool to watch them ALL join in and learn about something....all on their own. Basically, I follow their lead and help them with the resources. I make sure that our environment is conducive to learning and helps stimulate learning rather than ME saying "today we will learn about plants" it's more of this type of scenario....
kids:"Mommmy why are plant leaves green"
Me:"well, theres a chemical in plants that turns plants leaves green when the sun shines on them and that is how the plant gets it food"
Kid:"do you have a book that shows that?"
Me: "yes I do, let's find out how plants grow"

Kind of a brief example, but it gives you the idea. It's hard to let go of strict curriculum, for me, but I trust the children and watching just how much more they retain when they decide what to learn, has me convinced!

I'll post more links and a list of books on child-led learning when I get more of a chance!

God bless, Penny

Monday, August 27, 2007

Getting things Ready!!

So I've set our official start date for September 17th. We start a little later than most, but we are usually getting adjusted and organized during the first two weeks of September. Like, getting back into the swing of things and making sure everyone has their proper stuff and cupboards are organized. Our curriculum will probably arrive sometime around next week or the following week. Then I will set things up and get the ball rolling!

I will keep this updated as often as possible!!
God bless, Penny

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Don't have much here yet, but I will be adding things soon as time allows!!
God bless, Penny