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October Unschooling Thread

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

What's at the forefront of your unschooling right now? Anything new? Got any big plans? Small plans? What's interesting to your kid(s) these days? How was today? What did you do? 

post #2 of 30
Thread Starter 







The swallows are making a brave show, but they are going to lose the faith as well and hightail it out of here any day (I'm amazed they are not gone already!).  The deer are making noises in the brush (they never make noise--this is kind of a grunt) and our seasonal fall rains have hit early and hard, logging around 5 inches at least, just for September.


I made some goals with the girls for September that I think we have at least worked diligently at.  I declared it housecleaning month, in preparation, I hoped, for being more organized and ready to go on projects and interests.  Today's the last day of that--tomorrow is scheduled up--and I think we did rather well.  The house is not perfect, but we are finding things.... mostly.... some things just lend themselves to being and staying lost.  


Yesterday they brought home pterodactyl gliders and the tails and nose weights were popping off every which way until, even with help, the girls were tired of looking for them.  DD2 never did find her glider's nose clip, so we experimented with paper clips and coins to get a reasonable flight.  She was fashioning tails of felt and cardboard because hers is lost.  Fun, along with frustration.


So, for October, we sat down briefly to do our calendar.  I mentioned that they had been eager to do Halloween costumes, thinking that it would be an exciting start to more project-based days, and they started drawing and designing.  Then dh got in the action and very nearly swept the project out from under them by excitedly taking over.  Of course, they love his help and together they have made some fun costumes in the past, but I took a moment to gently remind him not to take over.  He did get a handful of cardboard boxes and did some difficult cutting of a dragon's mouth in one.  Then when he started brainstorming ears and teeth, I reminded him to let her have the project back for a bit and she would ask him for help.   I got a bit panicky thinking that with his help, a potentially month-long was going to be finished in a day! But dh kindly backed off to the sidelines.  He gets so excited about Halloween, he forgets the girls are entirely one year older and more capable.  


Personal/hsing goals for this month are: 1) Help girls and follow through with projects and ideas, 2) Keep up the cleaning and organizing so we don't lose ourselves and 3) Find ways to bring more music into the house--listening and playing.  We are off to a good start with the return of Fantasia from the library.


We start October with a busy week of girl scouts and riding and birthdays and the return of 4-H meetings and one Daddy Fun Day when I work.  The next week should be more slack and relaxing.  Soon, the salmon will keep us heading outdoors to various rivers and creeks to watch.  I love fall, but this summer fell pretty hard.  I can only hope that next spring isn't as slow as it has been.

post #3 of 30

I'm so excited that Hallowe'en may be off my parenting radar forever. It's so cold here, and we live so far out of town, and it's dark so early, and I hate the crappy candy coming into the house, and all the scrambling for a warm-enough costume. F (10) is saying she thinks she's done with the whole thing. Yay! 


It's been Sufferfest weekend here, which involves a lot of craziness. Plus dh is away for a week, and it was ds's 17th birthday. And dh arrives home on his birthday. (We put off most of the family celebrating. F is planning to make a chocolate mocha cheesecake for a joint celebration next week.) Anyway, Sufferfest is a big wilderness running and mountain-biking race festival here. It's distributed over our community and the town to the east of us. We got involved in volunteering the first day and I was running today. F and S (14) volunteered as marshalling assistants. F was marshalling up-mountain at the halfway First Aid and Marshalling station. She and I sat right at the snow line with slush falling for 7 hours. Plus it took us almost an hour each way to drive the logging roads to get there. So a very long day. But she was awesome: she saved the day a couple of times when the adults had got too distracted by communications issues to note a bib number on a racer. The experience played right into her wilderness skills project with the various pre-race first aid and marshalling planning meetings, the communications relaying (we're way out of cellphone range, and sat-phones were unreliable in places because of terrain) and keeping an eye on runners and riders for signs of hypothermia, and watching and helping them avoid succumbing to the elements. We also took our Biolite stove and made tea and hot chocolate for runners and volunteers alike. I was first-aid, and thankfully there was nothing more than minor stuff; the seven bikers who looked in danger of getting hypothermic to me rode out the first loop and dropped out of the race at that point before attempting the second pass. 


Brag: after hardly running at all this year due to some niggling heel bursitis issues, but focusing for the first time ever on some strength training, I ran the gnarly 10k Sufferfest trail race today and got 1st place in my age-group (40th place overall). Not a big race ... under 200 participants ... but I was really pleased by how strong I felt. I'm over 50, and seem to be getting faster, not slower, which is very gratifying! I haven't run a race shorter than a half-marathon in more than 3 years and I really enjoyed the shorter distance. It was rainy, mucky and slippery, with lots of little steep hills, so the times weren't that fast, but I got in in under an hour. I sprinted the end, but within ten minutes felt pretty much fully recovered and like I could have run a lot farther. Maybe next year I'll go back to running the 25k. Or maybe not.


F is going to school a fair bit this week. She's been doing math at school 2-3 hours a week, which is working out well, and this week she's joining the 7th/8th/9th grade science class for a field trip workshop being led by a regional environmental foundation made up of a bunch of really excellent mentors. It's called "Know Your Watershed," and they cover a lot of ground both literally and figuratively. She loved the introductory lecture she attended last week. So that will add two full days of field-tripping to her week.


Last week she had her first gymnastics session of the year and it was clear to me that she's already outgrown this class, which is the one she moved up to around Christmas last year. She has worked hard on flexibility and perfecting form on some of her skills over the summer, and mastered a couple of new bar skills on a bar we mounted between some trees at our house. But I didn't say a word, because she seemed happy enough to be back in class, and I knew that the one more advanced recreational class was at a mid-evening time that didn't work for us at all because we live so far away and have so many people carpooling with us for other stuff. But apparently the coach felt she needed a more advanced class, and called us midweek to figure it out for us. She got her into a "developmental" (not-quite-competitive, but much more skills-driven) class that works with our schedule. Normally it's a twice-a-week class, but they let F in on a once-a-week basis, which is the only way we can manage. It's longer, more intense, older group, and it's with her favourite coach. I'll have to drive to the city twice a week now. But F is comfortable staying home alone during the older kids' choir rehearsals, and I'm comfortable with her staying, so she at least will only need to go once a week unless she wants to keep me company on the other trip.


I feel like we've lost a lot of our at-home-rhythm that we had working well for us in August/September. But I also feel like there have been clear reasons for setting aside the rhythm, and we're moving past those reasons this week. Hello October: I think we'll enjoy you.



post #4 of 30

The 'gap year' continues.  Lots of library and art going on around here.  The temps have finally broken. No more humid weather and temps are back into the 90's.  We are sitting out this session of art classes and may try again for the fall2 session.


J seems to be on a bit of a Ray Bradbury kick these days.

post #5 of 30

Excuse me? Temps are back down into the 90's? Like, they were higher?


Here's our minivan earlier this week:



Can't imagine 90 degrees anymore. Weather here changed so abruptly about 2.5 weeks ago.



post #6 of 30

Holy cow, Zebra and Miranda!  I hope our winter takes its time arriving and thank god sticky, humid, too hot summer weather is gone.  Fall is usually short lived here but it is beautiful and comfortable.  Kudos to you, Miranda, for getting back into running.  I was never a runner and now I have bad knees but I have been walking a lot, which is nice.  My October goal for myself is to take *everything* we don't *need* out of the house!  Just get it OUT.  My brain stops working when I feel the clutter factor creeping up so I pretty much have to do this every so often.  Oh and I mentioned before I was making nut milk in another thread.  I am now done with that.  I rather eat'em.  Why complicate my life, lol.  So, that is gone.  As it gets colder and darker earlier, I would like to start drawing more.  I am not good at it but somehow, accompanied by a blanket and tea, it has become an activity I enjoy during chilly/cold evenings.


Here in our corner, ds is reading a lot.  He just keeps on wolfing down his books.  I am already looking into what to get him next as he plows through his book lineup for the year.  I have often wondered if he understood everything he read but he bristles at questions related to comprehension regardless of how well I try to disguise them.  So I have backed waaay off.  But things do come up in normal conversations about something he has read about.  Interestingly, he was also briefly convinced he couldn't do division (before having even tried it!) and then he tried it and got it.  He is pleased with himself for that.  He is one who has to really wrap his brain around a concept before he accepts it and implements it.  He doesn't want to count sticks or tooth picks to get to an answer.  He wants to form it and see it in his brain.  He has been working on multiplication as well and at random times he asks, is 5 x 4 = 20?  I have noticed he pretty much never asks, what is 5 x 4?  He wants to work out the problem himself. It is fun to watch him do this except on the days when he gets enraged that he can't "understand" something.  Then, oh boy!   He is working through his SM books slowly.  


They younger one wants to keep up with her brother so she has set out to conquer reading and you know what? She is doing pretty well with that goal.  Everyday she comes and sits by me and reads to me a few phonic based books I downloaded for her on the ipad.  She works really hard and practices during her individual quiet time in the afternoons even though she could choose to do something completely different.  She has bit hard into it and I don't think she is gonna let go anytime soon.  Unlike her brother, she has a fairly high tolerance for frustration which pays off in situations where she is in over her head.  She tries and tries and tries and keeps composed in the face of setbacks.  I am in awe of her nature.  She has also declared she is not going to do "easy" math anymore.  We are still trying to figure out what she wants there.  I have noticed she has started going outside without her brother and just exploring on her own.  I think she is slowly branching out socially.  She no longer feels like she *has* to do what her brother is doing, although that pressure is still there.  She is becoming firmer and firmer in expressing what she wants and Ds seems to be adjusting little by little to her new found independence.  To me, the dynamics between siblings is as important as the dynamics between parents and children.


There is a lot of playing around on the keyboard.  A lot of play and stories on the ipad.  Some cooking.  A daily dose of Wild Kratts and Magic School Bus.  Also, climbing on door frames and playing catscrade is a thing.  String games in general are in.  Oh and tons of legoing for Dd.  She loves building, making, drawing, writing.  


Ah, Halloween, it is coming, eh?  As usual, I'd probably get on that two days before the actual day! oh well. 

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

Emaye, in some ways your kids sound like mine:  dd1 likes to form the thoughts and solve math problems in her head, doesn't like to be told answers and gets frustrated when she doesn't immediately grasp something she thinks she should.  DD2 is plodding and patient and when she gives up on something, it's often with a shrug.  She also loves the building sets.  I wonder if that temperament fits well with the trial-and-error of building things, and so that connection is reinforced?  


I forgot to mention my own little attempt at advanced origami fro this book: http://www.amazon.com/Origami-Go-Paper-Folding-Projects-Travel/dp/0761151052 .  I don't know what this elephant doing in a kids' book.  I attempted it once when dd2 and I were working our way through the book.  I've some origami since then, so I thought I'd make another attempt, thinking it was me, but I tanked again.  I think the instructions are to blame in part.  I won't know until I successfully fold up this little guy whether it was entirely me or the book.  This is my mini-challenge that I hope to keep coming back to.


Off to figure out how to embed a link in the text of a post, it's far more elegant.  I just posted a link that was 3 lines long (more if shown as a narrow post).  Yikes.


Post more about 90º weather.  I used to live in Las Vegas, so when I start complaining about 55º and rain (we are now over 7 inches for September--it rained 2 inches in the last 24 hours) I just a need a snippet of a reminder what September used to look like for me!

post #8 of 30

Mrianda- I live in the desert.  Summers are over 115 and humid.  Right now it is 97 so the a/c is back on.  Ugh, but is decent outside.  People are actually on the golf course again.  The humidity is gone, the monsoons are gone.  Its quite lovely here.  I wore long jeans over the weekend and didn't sweat to death.

post #9 of 30

I am so grateful for the cooler weather.  It's given us a lot more energy and motivation to do things. We've been taking a lot of day trips, mostly visiting spots that George Washington visited on his visit through our region.  DD (who is almost 10) is almost star struck by this!


She is very interested in measurement again, and gathering measurements of various things with the goal of drawing them on our street with sidewalk chalk.  She's done this before, but now she has a whole new batch of things to draw including various cryptids like Bigfoot's pawprint.  lol  But she also has the length of a blue whale, various dino's footprints etc.


She loves the SciShow on youtube and a show on hulu called "the Supersizers" about a couple that spend a week eating and living in different eras in Britain's history.  They are both very entertaining, for adults as well!


She's on a neverending quest to find a waterbear with her microscope.  lol


She loves reading.  Right now she's reading several books, including a book of greek myths which ties into her study of Cyprus.  Her idea - she wants to pick one country at a time and learn all about it including cook the food, learn about it's animals, draw a map, learn it's stories... today is the Cypriot Independence Day and we are celebrating with (vegan) Moussaka , Skordalia with pita and zucchini, lemonade with rosewater and Cypriot delight (aka Turkish delight in the rest of the world).  She doesn't know this but I ordered some Cypriot candy and snacks for her, along with a small flag and postcards and stamps.  She is going to flip when she receives it. :)  Anyway, we have no Cypriot heritage whatsoever, she only chose that country to start with because she was looking at a map of Europe and thought it looked like a small pickle floating in the sea!


She's painting everyday, training our dogs, practicing her archery obsessively (we are looking into having her join an archery range, she's very good), and building a dollhouse with her dad.  Her only interest in math at this time is measurement and geometry (shapes and angles), but I know from experience that can change at any moment.

post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Attila the Honey View Post


 :)  Anyway, we have no Cypriot heritage whatsoever, she only chose that country to start with because she was looking at a map of Europe and thought it looked like a small pickle floating in the sea!


A small pickle with an amazingly long history!

post #11 of 30

Hi everyone ... I am not sure we've outgrown Halowee'en but we aren't going to be in the US for it and I don't think it's done in the UK - is it?   SO we're skipping it.  I am not sure dd would go in an unfamiliar neighbourhood anyway, but I guess  should be prepared in case they actually do observe it. 


I am starting to feel that we need a more structured approach ... till now we haven't had much though of course it is all relative.  Partly because I am thinking ahead and wanting to gradually prepare - whereas till now we operated from a sense of timelessness and not so much "preparation for the future."


Do I remember from another thread some talk about sleeping bags for below freezing temperatures ... I just came across this: 



on sale today only. 

No, I am not getting it.  I am the kind who piles on the blankets even when others are using a fan ... 

post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 

Yesterday was almost the most perfect day I could hope for.  There was some fighting, to be sure, but we got through it, moved on.  There was not continual demands for reading (dd1, who does this when she's upset) or screaming.  I managed to get the house ready for dh's birthday dinner.  Made an apple pie with the best crust I've made in ages--possibly the best crust ever-- and thankfully the mystery apples we harvested were flavorful enough and stayed unmushy enough to stand up to the excellence of the crust.  We had beets from the garden, hash browns (we've been on a hash brown kick recently, and it's a great challenge for me) all topped with blue cheese and bacon.


DD1 helped me with the pie crust a little, though this is the one cooking job that I get really impatient and proprietary, mainly because speed and keeping a cold dough are the prime factors in turning out a good crust.  But I sat on my hands, so to speak, and let her work a bit until I couldn't stand it anymore and rushed the process along.  We did get some reading in, several chapters in an adventure we have read before (she loves it, I think the story is a decent one but poorly written and now I am reading it for a 3rd time!  I will love the day she starts reading to herself for pleasure.)


DD2 has had a rush of creativity with my sewing scraps and old bits and bobs.  I ordered a kids' sewing book from the library and she has nearly finished a felt wallet she decorated with rickrack and patches, with buttons and needle felted roving to make a Santa Claus on the outside of the wallet.  She knows what a running stitch is, accidentally discovered the blanket stitch and was dismayed until I told her it was a real stitch and showed her the difference between the whipstitch she was doing and the blanket stitch.  This girl has no perfectionist tendencies, so she stays motivated right through the end.  


We did find an old felt Christmas ornament that dd1 stitched a couple years back, and she was thrilled.  I hope it encourages her to do more with her hands.  I think lots of creativity in this house will help us with the frustrating dynamics we have around here--not just because it is distracting, but primarily because of the feeling of satisfaction one gets from looking at something your own hands have created.  The same with music.  This is a busy week, but bringing more music into our lives is one of my top priorities this month.  We've already rewatched Fantasia, and I've pulled out a couple of old favorites.  DD1 like dancing to them.  I'm glad.  We can't just listen to music as background here, we are all active listeners and can get distracted.  I have a boom box and headphones for the girls, but it doesn't get a lot of use yet.  Next week, I'm pulling out the guitars. 


We've been in library video heaven--Eragon, Mythbusters, River Monsters, How to Train Your Dragon, etc., so we've been watching a lot of TV.  Hulu now has all the old Lone Ranger episodes for free, but sadly, the Olympic broadcasts of the 2012 Olympics are slowly disappearing again.  Looking forward to January in that regard.


I've been reading a lot about PBH, but so far what we've done is create the unschooling environment I wanted from the beginning (one where I actually follow up on my end of things.)  I've stapled together some small notebooks for us, and they are getting used.  We've been talking about our plans (they have actually been joining in with this!)  It's also happening every day, but I think what I've learned so far about PBH has been inspiring and thought provoking and I'm enjoying studying it.  


Next week, I'm pulling out the old sewing machine.  We have a slack week, and I'm looking forward to it immensely.

post #13 of 30
Originally Posted by rumi View Post

Hi everyone ... I am not sure we've outgrown Halowee'en but we aren't going to be in the US for it and I don't think it's done in the UK - is it? 


Only in small ways. You'll find it easy to avoid. Think Guy Fawkes though. See if you can find an event to attend.


Seems to me that a person who loves to pile on blankets would enjoy having a down sleeping bag to cuddle up with, even if only at home! Might be perfect for you. Having said that, don't buy that bag: it gets poor ratings for insulation and there are much better bags to be had. It's sub-zero child-sized bags that are hard to find. All the surplus length an adult bag makes for a bigger heavier bag that is colder for the little person to use, because of all the extra space ... like a huge drafty house. Having said that, dd10 is looking like she's about to head into her growth spurt in the next year or two, so having not found anything by now I think we'll probably just go to with small adult bag. 



post #14 of 30
Originally Posted by rumi View Post

Hi everyone ... I am not sure we've outgrown Halowee'en but we aren't going to be in the US for it and I don't think it's done in the UK - is it?   SO we're skipping it.  I am not sure dd would go in an unfamiliar neighbourhood anyway, but I guess  should be prepared in case they actually do observe it. 




UK Hallowe'en ettiquette is this, at least in the cities I'm familiar with. If you put a lit pumpkin outside, or i guess inside on your window, you are celebrating and its ok to knock if the trick or treaters don't know you. Otherwise, you're basically saying you don't want to take part, and my experience is that people will respect this (to the point where, one year, our pumpkin lantern went out and no one knocked). Otherwise, people might knock if they know you , but its not done that much to go off trick or treating like in America and knock on every door in the street. It does depend where you are, and how strong a community there is there-if you live somewhere where the neighbours are all in and out each others houses, obviously its different-, but assuming you're staying somewhere like a hotel or a rented flat you'd probably be ignored. The shops are full of the stuff but we tend to celebrate Halloween more with parties and so on, I think-trick or treating isn't so big. It would be easy to avoid. Kids tend to be out in the early evening too so if you were just not back til, say, eight, you'd miss most of it. The emphasis is on treats, not tricks, and random vandalism isn't expected or common. People do vary in how they feel about Halloween in the UK and some are quite anti it. I love it but we tend to celebrate it more as a turning of the seasons thing. In the UK the year really changes around then, it gets noticably much colder and the clocks go back.


There are usually events of some kind going on for kids for Halloween, and this is how a lot of kids take part anyway really. Near me, for example, there is a strong storytelling culture and there are often a few good "turning of the year" events-storytelling, music, candles etc. That's probably what I'd take my older ones to if there was anything suitable, because these can be incredibly good and something a little different. But if you wanted a tacky fun thing in a hall, you could certainly find it!:rotflmao. You could absolutely miss that it was Halloween if you weren't paying attention though. If, say, you were staying in a hotel in central London, you could easily not notice it. You can buy Halloween stuff in supermarkets from early September though. 


Guy Fawkes is unavoidable in any urban centre, a night of extreme fireworks. Every city would put on a municipal display and people do tend, IME, to go to these rather than have their own mini displays. You might have your own sparklers but that would be about it. OTOH there isn't much culture or consciousness around Guy Fawkes night. Its not much more than an excuse for fireworks really. Halloween has a much stronger place in our imagination and consciousness, I think.


Its a reasonably big thing in the cultural consciousness I think but tends to be celebrated more by families, by groups of friends, by kid-groups like Scouts or Guides, and to be seen as something quite specificly for kids-though this storytelling culture does seem to be developing around it.


Rumi, if you want any tips about the HS scene, discounts, events etc in the UK, do PM me. I know London and Wales mainly, though I was at unis in Edinburgh & Bristol. If I can help do give me a shout. 


eta just realised that Halloween falls in the UK half term (is that a British expression? Its a week long holiday from school in the middle of each term). So there will deffo be stuff going on for kids. If you want to take part in stuff, I have no idea where you'll be but I'd look up stuff like the National Trust or English Heritage (or Cadw if you'll be in Wales) maybe some of the big museums, because they quite possibly have cool stuff. Legoland generally has something highly tacky going on and has cheap HS rates.

Edited by Fillyjonk - 10/6/13 at 8:39am
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 

(Looking at the US $2 bill)


DD1:  "Who's that?"  

Me:  "It says on the bottom."

DD:  "Jefferson"

Me:  "Thomas Jefferson."

DD:  "Which president was he?"

Me:  "Third, I think, no, wait, was he the second?  Was John Adams second or third?  Second or third."

DD:  "The second president was 'His Great Rotundity'.  Who was that?"

Me:  "Oh, OK :p, that was John Adams.  Jefferson was the third."

post #16 of 30

hee hee. 


Now that I have read "Me the People" I know a bit more about early US History.  THere was a time I could recite the Presidents in order but now I remember that Jefferson came after Adams because Jefferson opposed the Alien and Sedition Act that Adams passed and got elected after him (he did not need to "repeal" it because it expired). 

(See ... not too useless after all) 

post #17 of 30
I remember having a book growing up that made all the Presidents into a funny story so you could remember them all in order....can't think of the name though.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 

The girls would love that.


President's Stuck in the Bathtub is a favorite here.  They already remember more than I did at that age (and are having way more fun with it than I ever had), though we are a long way from the Alien and Sedition Act.

post #19 of 30

Autumn is proving to be full of adventure! 


We have a balance of perfectly cozy days at home and adventuring. DD is riding her pony twice a week now, so on those days we are at the barn for a good chunk of the day. It's beautiful, there's plenty of space/nature to play in, and we are enjoying ourselves. Both kiddos are in an art class, and we are taking field trips galore in the up-coming months (especially looking forward to spending the day living like a family from 1800s in one room school house!) Anyway it's great! DD is practicing reading a lot, engaged in loads of imaginative play..and DS is into building building building! Whether it's his wooden blocks, Legos or magna tiles. We are going to be doing quite a few Autumn/Halloween crafts around here too (this week needle felted ghosts, and play silks dyed for the season..) 


So life is good, this is my favorite season! 

post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 

I know we have some country and mountain mamas here, so any of you dealing with mice in vehicles, please check in on my thread:




I'd love to hear some advice.  

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