Monthly Archives: May 2012

Natural Maths


Maths can be a real concern for unschooling parents, I know.  For many adults they have bad memories of maths  at school and now tell themselves and others that they are no good at maths.

When we first started to unschool I did have occasional worries about them not seeming to be doing any maths.   They came to the rescue very early on, as they always do and showed me that maths is everywhere and fascinating when it is relevant….

I had made Filo parcels for dinner and took the first load out to the kids at the table and went to retrieve the second lot.  My mummy ego had a nice boost while they discussed how much they loved my filo parcels, then …”these are good enough for a cafe”,  “what would you pay for one?”  How many are you going to have, Ok well that is $8…..these ones are bigger I think they should be $3.50 each, and I will eat three of them so that’s…..

You get the picture!  They honestly sounded like a scripted maths lesson!  I couldn’t believe it, they were doing maths around the dinner table, without a prompt,  and completely in earnest.  Real life, relevant , fun.

It was just the gift I needed to show that children are interested in the world around them and will learn  whether you like it or not!

Especially if they are well fed!  Thanks for the lesson in natural learning guys!!  🙂


Our unschooling journey


When Hannah turned five and Charlie was born (Ollie was 3) we took off in our gorgeous house bus and traveled around New Zealand for 18 months.  So when Hannah turned six, we did a homeschooling exemption with very little thought as we didn’t imagine it would be for too long.  We were perfectly happy with Hannah reading every waking moment and living as though she was Hermione Granger.  (From Harry Potter)

Then when we settled down again the two older children went to school.  It was never a happy time for them.  They spent the whole time asking to be homeschooled, Hannah attended the One Day School once a week which kept her sane, Ollie never liked going and I still cry when we talk about his first day at school.  Every day they came home tired, and sick of people.  Weekends they dressed up and played and played and played until by Sunday afternoon they were beginning to get back to their creative, happy. lovely selves…..

It took me two whole years before I finally took them out of school.  A good life lesson for me. And ever since they have been teaching me more and more to listen to them and their needs…I think I am getting it now!!!

I felt quite laid back about what we would do as homeschoolers, but without a clear plan of how it would look.  But when the new school year rolled around we found ourselves playing “school at home”.  Charlie really enjoyed this and still asks when we can do that again!!

Ollie hated it and we had tears and stress, it was ridiculous.  Another great lesson and one of my favourite sayings (I have alot)

“Nothing is worth losing your peace over,  nothing…”

We were camping three weeks later and I had a book that some angel had put into my hands called Free Range Learning (not in the library now)  It was a yellow book, English and full of people’s stories of how they had come to Natural Learning.  It was my epiphany!  I stayed up reading until 3am, read the whole thing and then in the morning told  the kids there were no more books and me making them do pointless academic tasks.  They looked bemused, but I could see how they were really rolling their eyes and thinking “finally she gets it…..”  Such patient beings my children!

So we went cold turkey into unschooling.  When other kids were doing maths in stuffy classrooms we were out biking, playing with our new baby guinea pigs, reading under the pear tree.  I had many wobbles about what we were doing, so I kept a diary of what we did, things the kids did, made, asked questions about.  After about 4 months I was there.  I arrived at a place where I trusted them, trusted the process, the journey and could live peacefully with our life of freedom we had chosen.  I am still constantly challenged by the kids and they are the greatest teachers out.  They tell me what they need, what I should and shouldn’t be doing and how to go about it…. I love it!!

Unschooling, or natural learning or really…. it is just our life.  Our life is fantastic.  I am so grateful  for being able to live our lives like this and spend every day with my amazing children.

Food is our medicine


I am not a natural nurse.  I have other skills. So I am always a bit rattled when my children need me to nurse them.  I think that they instinctively know this as they are disgustingly healthy.  Saying that I try to be extra kind, compassionate and giving when they are unwell.

A couple of months ago Charlie had a sore on his leg, it went rather septic, looked infected and I adopted my usual ‘ignore it and hope it goes away’ routine until he was in so much pain with three of these spots that I finally asked for help.

Help came from friends and the internet ( I am not in the habit of looking things up)  Of course there is a mountain of knowledge out there.

It was a cold wet weekend, the other kids were busy and so I dedicated myself to looking after Charlie and his boils.  I had a such a wonderful weekend!  I had no other expectations except to help the healing process.  We were both relaxed, happy,  cosy by the fire and enjoyed having such quality time together.

Here is what we did to help the boils heal…

TUMERIC!  this is the number one remedy!  You can ingest it and also put it in poultices.  Charlie would only eat it in Leek and Potato soup and had in mixed with manuka honey and put on the boils (rather sticky and the yellow staining took a while to wash out…!)   I have since been putting tumeric in a lot of our food, which is colourful to say the least!)

Tea Tree Oil –  Straight on to the boils a few drops a few times a day and in a bath with some lavender oil.

Hot bottle – This was a Granny remedy!  You put very hot water in a glass bottle, hold it with a cloth and place the top around the boil, the heat draws out the pus.

Warm compresses

Homeopathy – A lovely friend gave me a quick phone consultation and he took Belladonna and Hepar Sulph Calcareum

Healing foods – I made apple, carrot and lemon juice and put in Echinacea. Lemon and honey drinks, with the same. Plenty of fruit and veges, no dairy, nothing unhealthy at all

Charlie also asked for  some Reiki ( which I do ) and that was lovely.

It was such a great reminder that food is our medicine. Everything we need has been supplied.  I was so grateful for the chance to just stop and focus on getting Charlie well.  And with winter making itself at home it was a good wake up call to strengthen our immune systems and feed our bodies with health giving food.  I feel as though having an infection like this and supporting the body to heal itself and fight it naturally has only made Charlie stronger.

Every time I see the yellow tumeric stains on the kitchen bench it is a reminder for me to be grateful for all the wonderful heath giving plants, herbs and foods we have.   And I am.