Category Archives: Unschooling

New flag designs

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Charlie woke up this morning to reveal he had Chicken Pox! Yipppee!
I envisaged a day(or several) of playing board games, sitting and distracting him while dabbing on baking soda paste….

But after  leaving him with his drawing pad and felts I returned to find him designing a new NZ  flag.  He has continued, all day now on to his 4th design.

There has been some discussion, in the media and around the dinner table, as there often is when an election is coming up about a new flag….

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Design 1: Kiwi, Silver Fern, Southern Cross

Design 2 : No Kiwi….

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Design 3: Still the Southern Cross with Silver Ferms

 

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Mmmm, the fourth design is looking interesting too…different….

A big part of this has been a chart accompanying each design and everyone who has been here today has been asked to tick a like/dislike column and add comments and ideas.
Even in the spotty and scratchy space he is in, his imagination is on fire.  He has just had a fever for 2 days prior and this is a common thing to come out of a fever bursting with new ideas.

Very exciting and, handily destracting too….

 

 

 

 

 

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Letting go of those judgements and trusting…

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I heard a homeschooling parent say that they don’t mind what their child does as long as it is “productive” or  looks industrious.

This is no different to school.
 In school, adults in positions of power (Government ‘experts’) have decreed what is acceptable for a child to be learning.  

As an unschooler I have learnt the biggest lesson is to trust our kids.  When, to me, it may look as though they are “wasting time” or being unproductive I have learnt to trust that they are doing what is right for them at that time.

They have always reminded me of this over the years and I may be a slow learner myself, but I hope I have got a handle on it now.

In this way unschooling is like life.  Accepting and trusting that others are doing what they need to do on their own journey through life.  There is great freedom is letting go of judgements and accepting others. We each of us are on our own journey and there is no one else that can tell what you should be doing, for they do not know where you are down that path.

I like it that our education philosophy has parallels in real life and the big picture.

 

Market day magic….

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Here is Charlie living his dream!

Yes, the favourite day of the year when he gets to have a shop and work hard in it!

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This annual event with our homeschool group has become epic for Charlie.  This year he had lemonade, popcorn, three raffles and a  lucky dip!  Amazingly (as the currency was 10c) he made $40!!

There was also a cake competition, enter by both the boys.  Ollie with a chocolate cake, decorated with lavender blooms….IMG_4361

 

 

 

Charlie’s banana cake won first prize!

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There were so many gorgeous, handmade and creative things to buy and sample.  The kids had really pulled out all the stops.

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Plants, garden ornaments, biscuits, hair ties, seeds, target  practice, toys, cards, body art, nail painting….

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Raffles being drawn caused great excitement!

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We also have a shared lunch and a huge clothes swap.  IMG_4376

 

We are so lucky  to have such a close knot group of like minded friends to spent days like this with.
Creating our own mini community while the kids create their own economy and have a ball doing it….

natural learning milestones

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Our life seems so normal, so natural.  I have no inclination to label us or it.  I feel as though questions about how our children learn like this are as if someone is asking us how we eat or breathe.

Just unnesscesary.
We just are.

But I remember the  uncertainty when we began.  I do.  The fear that our children would be “left behind” somehow, not know what others their age knew.
I have realised now how there is a whole set of unwritten milestones in our culture for children.

Sleeping through the night, being weaned, learning to talk, walk, ride a bike, swim, read, write….From birth there is, at times,  a competitiveness about keeping up with the pack.

Now I feel such a freedom from not even being in the pack let alone trying to live by it’s code of conduct..

Realising too that our children will set their own pace, reach their own milestones when they are ready. Most parents can cope with a baby not sitting or walking until months after it’s peers, so why not reading  at 4yrs or at 9yrs instead of 5?

I have seen children learn so easily and naturally when they are ready – be it 4 years or 14.
I just relish  seeing how happy children are in themselves and with their lives when they are left to do things at their own pace.
There is plenty said in spiritual literature about going with the flow, not resisting life.  I have felt strongly that from birth my kids knew what they needed and all I had to do was to meet their needs and help them when required. 

And still it goes on.  There is no difference to a 2 year old saying they do not want to wear something/eat something/ do something to a 12 year old knowing their own mind about what they need to do.

Going with the flow, with their flow, the path of least resistance  is always the happier route and naturally the best one to take.
There is still a lingering philosophy in our culture that life is hard, a struggle, nothing is acheived without pain, hard work, sacrifice…

Thankfully the emerging philosophy of many is that life is a joy.
Life should be fun.
That life should be filled doing the things that light your fire, your passions, the things that make you zing.

This is the very basis of what we do.
How do you teach your children to follow their bliss….?  Let them follow it from birth!  Then they don’t have to spend their adult lives trying to find out who they are, what they enjoy and what makes them tick.
The milestones are there still, but they are set by the kids themselves, not imposed by an outside authority.

So here we are following our bliss….at 10.30pm! The boys hard out wrestling for 2 hours, gloves on, martial arts moves discussed and practised.

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Wayne playing the guitar while the boys roll around, dicussions of evolution interspersed with full on fighting…..

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Gotta love the fact we don’t have to get up and make school lunches at 7am…
(ooops ,sorry Wayne!)

Lemonade

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Charlie reads alot of comic books set in 1950’s America.  One thing he has always wanted to do , influenced by this I am sure, is have a lemonade stall.

So yesterday was the day.

With 3 others they went off foraging for lemons.
They made signs, set up a table, made heaps of lemonade, bought cups and then developed marketing strategies…..(This took about an hour)

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Signs were re-written, put on each side of the road, wiggled at drivers….

 

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They are keen to continue as they are raising funds for a good movie camera to make films on…

 

How is the unschooling going?

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People do ask us if I am homeschooling the kids during our trip.
(I don’t mean to be picky ,but the technical term is now “Worldschooling.”)

Of course the answer is no, I am not homeschooling the kids while we travel.
No I am not making them write a journal every night, or sit and do maths equations and I am most certainly not nagging them to read a novel every night (who is carrying all the books??)
However if they mean am I answering questions not-stop as I have for 12 years now, then yes.
If they mean do I support them in their passions, then yes.
If they mean am I helping them to be the best person they can, to be happy, to show compassion, understanding and patience, well then yes I am.
If  they mean am I showing them the world…well,  the clue is in the label “worldschooling.”

Life is just same as ever really.
Except we are travelliing and visiting historical sites,

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cathedrals, ruins,

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castles, stately homes

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and an unusually high number of tourist shops and tea rooms….

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Charlie has kept tabs on all the exchange rates we have and will still use.  Over lunch today he converted between each for fun.  There has been plenty of spending going on so it’s great to see the kids getting to spend other currency and work out the denominations.

Reading timetables, bus routes, airplane departures lists, the underground map, converting time zones….all things I once wrote meaningless  unit plans for as a teacher. All things the kids are doing in context with maximum motivation.

Charlie has been watching Horrible Histories, The Pirates of the Carribean (savvy?) and listening to Steven Fry read Harry Potter on his mp3.
Ollie follows news feeds and keeps us updated on the Syrian situation, any natural disasters as well as any debate or proposed change to gun laws in the States…..
He has managed to read several Harry Potter books and many Chris Ryan (SAS) books while staying with people too.

But as usual much of the kids learning is  through conversation.
We have had some humdinger discussions while driving.  Usually this is Charlie and I.  As navigator he is in the front and keeps up a commentary…..

-Mum, it is about 5 miles to the next service
-If we take junction 15, then the A55, it should be easy to get there
-You are doing a great job Mum!  (he is a very positive  navigator and has never yelled at me once.  🙂
– This is fine this way don’t worry, actually it is probably the best way (see what I mean…?)
– OK turn left onto the B6318….yes this one, here…..good …..

Then when we have been somewhere that has sparked questions for him directions are interspersed  and added to the mix.  These have caused several unplanned routes for us as I seem unable to concentrate on English roads while remembering random facts I studied 20 years ago!
So it goes more like…._
-But how did Henry the 8th just make up a whole new church?
-About 2 miles until our turn-off Mum
-Why did the locals not use the Roman baths after the Romans left?
– Yes here, stay on the M5….left lane…..
– So was King Arthur actually real then?

Grappling to understand the reasons why humans have gone to war, have burnt and tortured ‘witches’  and condemned each other for their differing beliefs has at times been belittled.
Mainly this is due to more pressing things like navigating huge trucks and a myraid of road options off a massive round-a-bout.
But mostly because a 9 year old looks so perplexed and just asks “why?”
Indeed.

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And so our worldschooling continues.

Silver lining camping

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The weekend we left NZ, way back 4 months ago, our very good friends around the corner made the decision to return to the UK after over 5 years of being Kiwis.
These guys provide not only Charlie’s best mate, Henry, but also much inspiration for adventuring.  I think of them as some of my “Huckleberry friends” (from that line in the song Moon River).  Friends who are always up for a picnic, a camp, an adventure of any sort.  So you can imagine how sad we were when I heard via skype,  of their intentions.
But every cloud has a sliver lining.
The gods of selling houses, furniture  and packing up  were in top form working smoothly with them safely to  blighty’s shores while we were still here.
Thanks goodness.

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In the midst of trying to buy a car, a house & a new life….they managed to come camping with us and we spent maximum time together, especially for the boys to play.  We stayed in a great camp with a coast, forest, large rocks, a cave and a gang of other boys.  (South of the Lake District, Northern Lancashire).IMG_3528

I will hardly mention the weather…only a couple of hours of rain the whole three days!!IMG_3538

We explored nearby Cartmel, a gorgeous old village with an equally old Priory where we had a tour.
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Ollie volunteered to dress up as a monk. Bless him.IMG_3555

We had some great walks including the Fairy steps.IMG_3567

Walking up the narrow coffin route on carved stone steps was a challenge – if you could do it without touching the sides you would see a Fairy at the top though.

Instead of fairies there was a tree that had coins wedged into it’s trunk.  the kids all thought this was something to do with fairies and whipped out pocket knives to add their own coins.

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Did I mention that we also play music together too??

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We walked up hills and around a lake.IMG_3610

We pigged-out on blackberries which grow everywhere….the kids even fed them to these horses….IMG_3619

Ambled down country lanes (more blackberries)….IMG_3581

And enjoyed this view from our camp.  We laughed, played games, cooked amazing meals with the absolute minimum of (borrowed) camping gear and made plans for future adventures….

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