29 June 2012
25 June 2012
One of the best things about living without school would be life without timeframes. There is no schedule or term structure to stick to, so you can choose to take the whole family away on holiday anytime you like. You can shake things up, so when indoor winter days get a bit stale, you can go visit family and friends far away and fill the days with as much culture and activity as possible, so when you return, you have a new appreciation for the slowness of home. You gain a fresh perspective on where all your interests lie. Questions come up, new ones for you to answer, and you all see things a little differently...
We're on holidays right now, and so is my brain it would seem, so this post is short and sweet... I have so enjoyed Unschool Mondays again. Haven't you? I was so lucky to meet up with Free Range Shae and All That Sazz yesterday... and for our school free children to play together and forge friendships! It is so lovely to find like minded souls both here and in real life... I hope you'll join in too... Or, if you feel there's something you'd like to ask, please do! xx
18 June 2012
These days, according to the world outside our nest, five is the general age by which there are things you should be able to do. By now you should be learning to read and write. You should be able to sit still for a period of time. You should be able to answer questions and think logically. You should eat your lunch, stand up straight and learn to tie your shoe laces. You are deemed able and willing to leave the nest, at least for the biggest part of the day. For some children that last 'should' happens much sooner... As a parent, you should be encouraging all these things and find a way to place your trust in others to provide an education and the right kind of care for your child. But where I live, not all five year olds are the same...
In our nest five means playing all day and making friends and learning about the world you inhabit, just by inhabiting it. It means much the same as four and three meant, only you can do much more stuff now. It means wearing a paper tiara to afternoon tea and long days spent imagining and negotiating with friends. It means eating when you are hungry and sleeping when you are tired. It means learning to listen to your own body. It means knowing yourself and getting to the 'shoulds' when, and if, you are good and ready for them. For some children, this happens much earlier than five, for some it comes later. And that's ok.
Unschooling gives us the space to live removed from the word 'should'. Instead, we acknowledge where we are at and observe it and encourage growth. In an unschooled world, children of all different ages spend time together. The comparisons of where you 'should' be up to don't apply. At five, you are striving to catch up to the big kids and be like them, do what they do. And you will.
So, as parents, how do we know our child is doing ok? Is it even legal to just give them that kind of space? If they don't read now, will they ever? These are questions I'm always asked as an unschooling parent... Home education is legal in Australia. In Tasmania, we have a body called the Tasmanian Home Education Advisory Council (THEAC). They are made up of representatives from the education department, and home educators. They recognise Unschooling and Natural Learning as a legitimate form of education.
At the beginning of each period of registration (2 years for us), we write up an outline of our program. This is a little tricky, but generally we list all the things we hope to do and the resources we have available to us. Then later, we have a visit from a monitoring officer to chat about how things are going and make sure that we are monitoring and keeping track of our own child's development. They want to see that we are aware of the 'shoulds' and are working towards them in some way, although they understand that not everyone gets there at the same time. They let us be the best judge of what our own 'shoulds' are and whether we are meeting them.
In other states in Australia this process is trickier, with Home Educators expected to stick to a particular curriculum, while in Victoria you just have to let them know you are home educating and everyone is happy... There are also a number of non-registered home educators out there and I expect that freedom and autonomy is behind the reasoning there. There may be a little extra creative license at play when preparing family reports for registration in some states. I'd like to hope that one day Unschooling will be accepted in all states as a legitimate method of learning and that parents will be trusted to keep tabs on where their child is at, without the help of NAPLAN tests and such like.
Personally, if an owlet is lagging behind in some area, they'll probably notice it first, or we will, when we see them amongst peers and we chat amongst friends. At that point, we can work to rectify it, or nurture said owlet in an encouraging setting until they get there under their own steam. There's time later on for life to get hard and for children to measure up, but right now, at five, it is time to be free to play and to dream and to learn about life just by living it.
Thanks for joining us again for Unschool Mondays. I'm loving re-connecting with such a wonderful community of peeps doing their own awesome things in their own way. As Helena's post last week pointed out, no two 'schools' are alike and that's what's so exciting about what we do. I'm excited to see more and learn more about what unschooling looks like at your nest. Please add your link if you'd like to join in. xx
17 June 2012
15 June 2012
We're on the cusp of exciting new things in our nest... Things that will involve all of us building and growing something together... We are hoping that it'll mean a smidgen more time together...
One of my favourite things to do when I'm thinking up lovely things to strew for the owlets has always been to visit some beautiful online stores for inspiration... and occasionally to buy something. One of my absolute favourite shops has always been Spiral Garden. I've made capes for Spiral Garden to sell before and I've known it's owner Bel as an honest, generous woman with integrity and the beautiful products in her store have always reflected this. By some incredible stroke of luck, Bel has chosen us to take on the gardening gloves when she hangs hers up at the end of this month...
We are all extremely excited. We are excited to bring beautiful new products to the garden and watch it grow. We are excited to share all our favourite things with the world, all in one place and to have a chance to inspire and share the things that inspire us.
We are excited to work together on something just for us. For a new beginning for our family...
I hope you'll pop over to Spiral Garden and have a look. Bel has a stocktake sale on now before she boxes up her garden to send all the way down to us. It'll take a little while to get here, but when it does, we'll be excitedly unpacking and finding new spots for lovely things on our shelves before adding some new and exciting things to the range. Exciting times. New beginnings. Growth, change, children and gardens... All the things we love best.
13 June 2012
Check out that grin! I can almost guarantee there's a little giggle to go along with it... My absolute favourite thing about watching the owlets do new things is when they surprise themselves with what they can do. Little Owlet often comes up against fears and uncertainty in her day to day... I'm not sure why she's that way, she just is. But the point where she overcomes those fears and pushes herself to do what she wants to... the determination... watching that and then seeing her do what she sets out to... and the look on her face! That's the rewarding bit. The best parenting bit, right there. It's the one that brings a lump to your throat and a little cheer to your heart if not your lips. Look at her go! A few months ago, she was too scared to touch the ground near a pony... and now she's trotting around solo!
Of course, Little Owlet isn't taking this journey entirely alone. And that's the other surprising, wonderful, amazing thing... She's formed a trusting relationship with another human outside her family. A patient, understanding and supportive mentor who's helping her find her way and to trust in the pony and herself. For her, this is huge. For me, this is huge. Her attachment to me has always been so strong, there were times I wondered if she'd ever accept another human being into her world. She's formed another couple of similar relationships in recent months, enabling her to go on her first proper sleepover and seek help when she needs it. Such a huge gift and one that I'm grateful for along our unschooling journey... Mentors, community and opportunities to branch out with tiny steps towards independence.
11 June 2012
Unschooling is a way of living. It is working your hardest to maintain open communication with your owlets and help them on their own learning paths. Unschooling begins at birth. Unschooling is parenting. Unschooling is growing. Unschooling is loving and being a family. Unschooling begins the minute you hold your child in your arms.
Tiny Owlet's unschooling has been visible on this blog since the moment her eyes opened. She has learnt how to crawl and walk and feed herself. She can say a few words and she can dance like a champion. Her learning is part of her living. She can't stop it. Humans have an inherent urge to learn. Right now, she's working on lots of new words. A new one almost everyday. Last night, in the kitchen, she mastered twirling (and falling down dizzy). As parents, we delight in sharing her joy for learning. We assist her to do what she needs.
Last week, when she decided she'd like to cook, I helped her push her chair the remaining two metres to the kitchen bench. She hopped up next to me as I tied an apron around her and proceeded to help me tip the ingredients for our morning tea into the bowl. Face beaming all the while, and cooking, as she's seen me and her sisters do. It was a big moment for her. Cooking properly for the first time by mama's side. I was trying extra hard not to worry about the mess on the floor, remembering the dog would help with that, and just giving her the space to do what she needed...
There isn't a point where we say "right, she's five, we're unschooling now". Or "Hey, turn off that show for a while, we have unschooling to do". You see, unschooling is not a thing that you actively do. It's a long, slow, progressive journey to helping your owlet find and fill their potential. Learning and growth is a life long process that each of us is responsible for. The goal is happy, healthy human beings. And it is never to early to begin working towards that.
Welcome back to Unschool Monday. I'll be sharing some musings on what unschooling means to our family and how we go about it and hoping that people might join us for the ride. We made some lovely friends and visited some very inspiring unschoolers last time 'round. I hope you'll join us too!
10 June 2012
9 June 2012
We've had a lazy, hibernating kind of week. Friends have been falling ill all around us and rather than get in amongst it during the school holidays, we felt like staying home and enjoying our own company. Stopping for a bit and gathering ourselves. A perfect way to welcome Winter, I reckon. We had a patch of sun on Wednesday and set ourselves up out on the front verandah, as we often do on sunny winter days, making the most of the northerly aspect and the thermal mass of concrete below... I'm sure the neighbours think we're rather mad - although possibly not just because we camp on the front porch on occasion... It is awfully fun though.
So our sunny Wednesday happened to coincide with the transition of Venus, which meant that big owlet needed to make a pinhole viewer with which to witness the momentous occasion. Which she did. I meanwhile, attempted to prune a couple of rose bushes and pick the last of the rosehips to make jam...
Then both owlets proceeded to draw their observations, plus a few they'd noticed on the NASA live coverage...
Which, of course led them to observe that it looked like a one eyed Mr. Happy. Which became a two eyed Mr. Happy. And then I think the day led to the reading of several Mr. Men books, of which we have a great many...
We also have a great many rosehips in the freezer now too, waiting for a suitable time for me to hull them and make jam. Even in these floating, hibernating days, who can say when that will be? This unschooling life is certainly never dull, but it is a lesson in patience and flexibility. And rather amusing too...
Which leads me to let you know that I'll be reviving Unschool Mondays, starting this Monday. I've had some time to pause and reflect on these labels we give ourselves and the stuff that comes with them. Unschooling is just living and we lead a rather wonderful life, as our home education monitor pointed out to us just last week. I've loved sharing the unschooling journey with so many readers, and I miss sharing it. I miss the creativity and inspired thought that came from discussions right here on Unschool Mondays, so I'm looking forward to finding that again. I'm looking forward to going back to basics and sharing what we do in a little more detail, and hearing what you do too... because no two unschooling families are alike. And I think that's what I enjoy about it most. I hope you'll join me and read along with interest, or add your post to the linkup. I'm looking forward to reading about how learning and living happen at your place. xx
4 June 2012
One of my earliest cold weather memories... I came home from school, excited to see my little sister. We rugged up and snuggled on the blanket on the lounge room floor. This is my first memory of holding her. It was a big deal. I started seeing her as a person I could interact with that day. It's the first proper memory I have of her and although our paths have brought us together and apart at different times, she still understands me better than almost any other person.
This week brought the Winter. The beginning of huge changes for me and my sister. She's about to become a mama... like, any minute now. The first cousin for the owlets. A new baby to snuggle. It's very exciting and I wish I could be there to hold her through it. For now, the owlets and I are hunkering in for a winter's day with a movie and popcorn while we wait by the phone and look forward to seeing my sister again when her metamorphosis is complete... I'm looking forward to making some new memories.
As for me... I began my own process of metamorphosis today. I began putting aside time just for me. I got up, wandered out into a dark, rainy neighbourhood and put my health first for an hour or so. I'm planning on doing it everyday and finding the energy to keep up with my owlets. All those years of working and parenting meant I put my health last for such a long time... I'm looking forward to spending more time with the healthier version of me. Interestingly, she's much calmer, happier and more clear-headed. I wonder what else she can do?
Winter also heralds change within our nest as we commence something new as a family. We've been making preparations for a while and take our first nervous and excited leap at the end of the month. We're possibly completely out of our depth, and a little crazy for taking it on, but I expect that's how everything looks this side of metamorphosis.
I'm looking forward to the growth we'll be doing this Winter and to seeing just where we are at by the Spring. How about you? Any big plans? Any metamorphosis happening at your nest? xx