30 April 2010
We learned to appreciate this moment.
We learned that we are not invincible.
We learned that we have support around us.
We learned to take responsibility for ourselves.
We learned that love can get us through the hard stuff.
Happy Birthday, Pippin. xxxx
29 April 2010
Some sand paper, ribbons, crayons and we have wilding sticks for our next wander.
For the afternoon though, the owlets have chosen a movie and I'll be curling up with a cuppa and some fabric, thread and buttons to finish some WIPs I've had on the go for too long...
See more creative spaces at Kirsty's.
26 April 2010
I'll confess that I probably only spend about 1-2hrs each day actively doing "educational" stuff with big owlet. We read books. First she reads to me, then I read to her. We do a craft or science activity. Much of the other time is spent answering questions or talking, overseeing writing... and with the other 10hrs that I spend with her we talk some more, potter around the garden, play a game or do our own things. This is the time that I think is most important to her. With her time she likes to play with her sister, jump on the trampoline, dance, read, watch a DVD, play on the computer, draw, paint, think... Its downtime and she moves freely around her environment, asking for help along the way. Some days she'll choose to focus on one particular thing. As a visual child, DVDs are one of her favourite things and it can be quite challenging for me to feel comfortable with leaving her to watch for long periods of time. But, she does that sometimes. She'll want to come home from an outing and watch 3 DVDs back to back. I asked her one day what she is learning while she watches so many movies. "I'm learning how to make movies when I'm a grown up". She was right. She has expressed an interest in movie making and even has a movie planned... the working title is "Tree Girl" and for what I can gather its along the lines of Tarzan, but cooler... What she's also getting is space to think, or not think... space to process the information she's gained at other times during the day.
The next day she will often choose to do something completely different. Like birdwatching, or an all day craft bender, or a maths workbook. She'll work on it intensively for 2 days and then leave it for another month before showing interest again. She needs the time to process and absorb the information and put it to use. I remember that feeling. Its part of being a child, having space to grow and learn.
Sadly, at school we often didn't get it. Time to just think. I remember a maths teacher telling me I was "vague and dreamy" once, for stopping to think and take my time with things. A daydreamer who could do so much better if I applied myself... So I went to Uni and got a job that required daydreaming expertise, creativity and time to sit back and think about things. I remember the eye rolling the QA girls at work would carry on with while I stood back and looked at my designs, thought about them, researched for them by looking through books or magazines. It felt naughty to take the time to think and imagine and get it right. But it was necessary. Brilliant ranges don't happen if you sit with your face glued to your work all day. You need to experience the world around you, think about what you've learned so far, seek inspiration, before returning to the business of designing. In fact, most of the work is already done in that time spent thinking. The actual execution of the design is easy if you already have it in your head.
I believe its the same for children and their learning process. The bulk of the work is done while they appear to be daydreaming. Much the same as when big owlet was a baby. She'd have an enormous nap during the day - the kind where you go and check a few times to see that she's still breathing. Hours later she'd wake up and have a few new words in her vocabulary. So I've learned to sit back and watch, to bide my time, do other things and wait for the time when she actually needs me to help her learn about something. It is her journey after all...
If you feel like more of a read, these articles may interest you...
Is "I Love Lucy" Educational? by Jan Hunt
School is not for Learning by Grace Lewellyn
Nurturing Children's Natural Love of Learning by Jan Hunt
The Right to Control One's Learning by John Holt
23 April 2010
What a lovely surprise. Not just for me, but for the owlets too!!
I love my pincushion. When you hang it from the little loop on the corner, it looks like an Autumn leaf. The little leaf pins were a lovely touch. And the owlets are in love with their owls. The swag of info on the lovely place where they come from is fantastic fun too. Thank you so much, Jenni for such a thoughtful gift and for thinking of us all. x
22 April 2010
A couple of little projects on the go, but I need some inspiration, so I'm returning to the fabric. I visited our beautiful local Japanese fabric shop with a friend the other afternoon and its just impossible to leave without something. These are old bits of bedlinen and wall hangings, recycled kimono fabrics and remnants from the beautiful rolls of silk that fill the walls... I can see a quilt and a cushion and a few flower brooches in there.
Finds some more inspiration in other creative spaces at Kirsty's.
21 April 2010
19 April 2010
Yes. Its the most important word I use an an unschooler. It opens up so many new opportunities and experiences to my owlets. Allowing them to follow their ideas and discover the world as they see it. Its blissfully simple, but also remarkably challenging. There are times when I have to stop and think first. My first reaction might be to say no. I don't want to. I'm busy doing something else. I'm worried about what people might think. My default programming is just no. But when I step back and think about the situation, I evaluate the reasoning behind the no, often its unnecessary, or knee-jerk. Why am I saying no? They are people too, with their own thoughts and needs. Why are my needs and wants more important? I'm thinking too much now...But... No can be stifling. It can shut down learning and exploring and creative thinking right then and there.
We were at the park a couple of weeks ago and a girl who seemed about Big Owlet's age came over to play with her. They were climbing on the play equipment, exploring and watching each other, learning from each other, as kids do. They got to one part that had two bars leading down to the ground, like the rails on a slide, but without the slide in between. They were climbing. Discovering new things they didn't know they could do. Having a great time. The girl called to her parents to watch her. They were outside the fence, having a picnic. "Hey Dad, look what I can do!!" The girl called excitedly. "No" was the response. "Dad!!" "No, I don't want you to do that. Its dangerous, you haven't done it before and I don't want to come inside the playground and help you." "Oh but Dad!!" "NO!!!!" So the girl climbed down. She went and played in the corner of the playground alone. They left a short time later. Big Owlet was really confused. "Why did the man say no and why didn't he help her to learn how to climb?" Imagine the same scenario if the father had come inside the playground and watched his daughter play safely? That simple act of support, that little tiny word, yes. Perhaps five minutes of standing there and watching his daughter learn something new. Showing her how to do it safely, then she might have moved on to the next thing and he could go back to his picnic. I'm guessing they're not unschoolers.
There are times when no is the only appropriate word to use. If you simply can't do something, or its really unsafe or whatever... But most of the time if I really think about it, I can say yes. Spend the time explaining how to do something safely. Or "Yes, but not today. Tomorrow would be a better time". Usually with unschooling though, you have to strike while the iron is hot. So we go with the flow, keep an open mind, help out where we can and say yes.
A couple of books on my shelf that have helped me arrive at yes first...
Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort
Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life by Rue Kream
15 April 2010
Finished and ready to send for Cammo's birthday on the weekend. I had hoped for strategic placement with the signs, so I'm rather thrilled with a stop sign on each cheek! I must say I'm enjoying making gifts for people so much of late. It makes from a lovely break from all the market stuff.
Pop over to Kirsty's for some brilliant creative spaces.
13 April 2010
When Huz and I lived in Melbourne, before there were owlets in our lives, we'd drive to work each day with our radio tuned into community radio. Usually it was 3RRR*. Our little lifeline to our favourite music and all things good happening around us. I listened at work all day. It became like a little community for me. A reminder that there was a world out there and other things happening... It was one of the things on the list of things we'd miss when we moved to Tassie. A little while later, my sister returned from overseas looking for something to do, when I spied the ad. A month later she was receptionist at RRR and now she is a part of the furniture there. It has become her community. She spins some tunes every now and then too and we listen in for a while. A little bittersweet reminder of what we left behind, perhaps...
In Tassie, our community radio of choice is Edge Radio. We listen when we can and they are a huge supporter of local music. Huz will be playing there tomorrow morning if you feel like a listen. Its radiothon time there at the moment. Their first. I've donated a prize too if you want to subscribe to the Wednesday Lunchbox program. You could win the cape, crown and apron kit pictured!
*If you listen to RRR, April Amnesty is on and you can subscribe to your fave program or whatever you like. Get involved peeps!!
12 April 2010
When I pictured home education, it was always school at home. Me at the kitchen table with the owlets, teaching them. Maybe we would go on an excursion once a week. From 9am - 3pm each day, we'd be learning. It sounded exhausting, repetitive, not fun. I'd have no time to myself at all. Well, maybe in the evenings when Huz came home. I'm so glad I found unschooling.
Our days are long, yes. We do loads of stuff together. But there's a certain amount of floating and moving through the day independently which comes with being comfortable with each other and knowing that there is no plan. Each day offers something completely new and is whatever we make it. This also allows for each of us to achieve the things we need. There are pockets of time where I'm suddenly doing my own thing. Enjoying a quiet moment, reading a magazine, having some me time. Then there are the times when Huz is here, or the evenings, or the afternoon where the owlets are spending time with their grandmother. Those are the really quiet times and are completely my own. I make children's clothes to sell at markets, occasionally study and think about if I really want to have another career... Really there can be so much me time. There are times when I need more and the important thing is to communicate that. Ask for help. Change things around a bit. Acknowledge that things can change and not everything is set in stone for the next 18yrs of my life. Perhaps someday Huz will decide that he doesn't love his job after all and we'll swap for a bit. Its just family life and its fluid and often messy and sometimes you want to tear your hair out, but every family experiences that. I must admit to the odd jealous pang when I spy a neighbour wandering home from school alone, heading for her studio for the day and the peace and quiet and creative space... But really, we have the best of both worlds, I think. a perfect balance, with just the right amount of flexibility to change things if we need.
These photos were taken while I enjoyed some me time on the weekend. It was my birthday on Sunday and we treated ourselves to a weekend away. A new environment for owlets to explore and a bunch of lovely places to sit and knit, or read, or snooze. Lovely.
8 April 2010
I thought I'd do something novel this week and post something I actually finished!! Yay! My pincushion is finished and ready to mail today! One of the best bits of easter for me is all that time to finish things off. Orders complete, tweed pants in the mail and a pincushion! This one was really fun to make. I used familiar old bits of tweed and shirting and recycled kimono fabric for the back and attached one of my felt lovebirds.
Later today I'll be tackling some PJ's for Seeeorwardah (code name for my Sis's partner in crime, long story). I hope he loves them. I've heard stories of bottomless PJs... that he still wears!! I'm hoping to whip up something suitable using these vintage sheets. Don't old sheets just make the best PJs? They are always soft and lived in from the start.
See where, what and how others are creating over at Kirsty's.
5 April 2010
This Easter we built on some of the little rituals we have begun in recent years. We decorate an easter tree (old lichen covered branch from the walnut tree) and collect autumnal things to place underneath it. We read the story of Eostre and talk about the Christian meaning of Easter too. We learn about Easter in other contries, other hemispheres. We talk about Easter celebrations when we were growing up. The owlets make a nest each using long, dried grass from the garden and feathers and fleece, while I sit close by nibbling hot cross buns and warm milk.
This year we made felt eggs...
and used them in our annual egg hunt.
Little eggs filled with trinkets and toys, symbols of autumn and the hope of spring.
Later we make chocolates, plant bulbs and harvest pumpkins in the garden. Its a mish-mash of rituals really, but its our mish-mash and we love it. Not really different to any other family, but important for providing opportunities to pause, appreciate, focus and learn a little along the way.