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January unschooling thread

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

Can we start one? Am I allowed : ) Go! 

post #2 of 41

Perfect!  

 

Worked today, dh with the girls.  Neighbor friend came to play.  DD1 helped finish her berry ice cream.  I found a great kid's cookbook at the library (My Favorite Recipes by Annabel Carmel).  I like the book because it uses real food to make real food.  Ketchup was about the limit of ready-made food in the ingredients.  It also had plenty of wheat and dairy-free dishes, or ones easy to substitute for.  I discovered how easy homemade coconut whip is to make.  

 

A short entry to start the month off with.

 

Happy New Year!

post #3 of 41
Spent the day trying to get dd19 onto her flight back to Montreal. Very tetchy airport; flight did go though 3 and a quarter hours late. Fortunately her connection allowed almost 4 hours so I think she made it. She is old enough and travel-savvy enough that I don't really worry if she gets stuck places overnight but it's a drag so for her sake I hope she made it. We had to wait around for four hours to make sure the flight went since we'd have had to try a different airport if it didn't.

My 10-year-old came along for the trip. She read on the way down. We did a bit of housewares shopping then hung out at a cafê reading for a while. She's doing a 365 in 2014 photography challenge (thus far with her iPod camera) and was worried about getting a photo today. She looked around the café and within a minute had found a really nice shot. Having to exercise her photographer's eye on a daily basis is teaching her how much is in one's powers of perception.

We're finally home and watching last season's final episode of Sherlock. She's doing stretching and conditioning for gymnastics in front of the TV. And for dance. She's going to try out a ballet class on Tuesday. It's Level 4, whatever that means, but it's kids close to her age (other kids are 9-ish and she'll be 11 soon) and we hope that despite being a total beginner she'll manage okay because I can't imagine she'd fit in a class of 7 and 8- year-olds. She's super excited about that.

Her 365 in 2014 photo album is here if anyone is interested in following. http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/8905603@N05/sets/72157639321284015/

Miranda
post #4 of 41

Hi, all!

 

This is my first post here in the unschooling group.

 

A little intro:

 

My two boys, 5 and 8, are unschooled. Legos, toy soldiers, soldier-themed dress-up, RC helicopters, all manner of online video games, going to the park, and bedtime stories are popular around here. :) We travel throughout the Southeast quite a bit, with family and friends in Memphis, Atlanta, Richmond, Orlando, and New Orleans. But we are all of us pretty much homebodies, and have built up a place that's fun for us and friends to play. I think unschooling has made me a better parent and person that I ever could have been otherwise, and has opened up opportunities for growth and connection that I never imagined existed.

 

I am a big fan of the writing of Pam Laricchia, Sandra Dodd, and Joyce Feteroll. I go to their three sites time and time again along this journey, appreciating the touchstones I find there. 

 

SweetSilver, my older son was just asking to make his own icecream! That interest of his spurred a handful of family stories from my husband and I about icecream/snowcone/sorbet-making when we were kids. We're starting to gather resources and supplies now. 

 

Thanks for reading, y'all. Looking forward to getting to know you more.

post #5 of 41

We had a pretty hectic Christmas period. We were only away ten days, visiting both sides of the family, but in that time our car dramatically broken down and had to have a stupidly expensive, unbudgeted repair, there was an unexpected death in the family-not someone I was close to, but someone other family members were close to, so my role was entirely supporting them-and a whole lot of funeral logistics and so on, which-well I know they are never fun but I don't think death and funerals are the time to fester over old wounds, personally, and there was a lot of that. I shall be leaving explicit instructions on this matter, that is for sure. Then we had the usually worryfest from PILs over homeschooling (honestly, our oldest is 10, you would have thought they would have run out of new angles but no). With everything else going on I wasn't really prepared to engage with it, it all feels a bit self indulgent tbh, and that did NOT go down well. And my mother is in a lot of pain and awaiting an operation and I really, really wish we were a lot closer to support her. Oh and our HS community has exploded or possibly imploded,which is not directly relevant to us as we have always gone to the more unschooling-friendly groups, outside our city, but affects us indirectly in a lot of ways, not least a lot of nastiness flying around. So. Not the best Christmas. I was very happy to get to January as I really felt that, all in all, I hadn't had much of a festive period with the kids or dp, it was all firefighting.

 

So right now we are chilling. The kids are playing a stupid amount of Minecraft-we have just got both laptops set up. We have cleared the garden, as we optimistically do each year, in the usually futile hope that it will snow 21 inches and we will be able to build a huge snow sculpture (the reality is we would probably be calling an emergency plumber to our ancient pipe system but still). I've declared that the next month at least we are going to be celebrating Winter, and we've spent some time on making snowflake bunting and so on. I have a new , but really very old, sewing machine, which I really love and which the kids like too. The kids have taken over the kitchen and made various random but generally quite nice stuff. Dd1 is currently not able to have dairy so I'm keen to make sure that she is able to cook well for herself, especially since we don't really eat meat (realistically, that might have to change for her if this goes on much longer). She's making banana bread with peanut butter and oil subbing for real butter, which smells good at least.

 

Everything starts up again next week-lessons, activities, HS groups...and I don't have my head around it at all. But I've just cleared out the craft cupboard, with the kids help, and that feels pretty nice. Winter is all about crafts, baking, reading for us and I'm aware that in a few years, when my kids are teenagers, life will be looking a lot different.

post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarieHoney View Post
 

This is my first post here in the unschooling group.

 

Marie, welcome to this little corner of the webiverse! Have you tried making ice cream using two ziploc bags, ice, salt and mittens? Way fun!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post
 

We had a pretty hectic Christmas period. 

 

{{{{Hugs}}}} That sounds like a lot of stress. A couple of weeks of chilling is probably in order!

 

Miranda

post #7 of 41

Thanks moominmamma.I have a Sherlock Holmes fan here, he practically knows the stories by heart, and he's really liking the new series, in case you guys don't have it yet. Deffo recommended. They seemed to have ramped up the well written, complex female characters in the new series too, which I appreciate-the only episode I was uncomfortable with ds watching was the first of the second season, simply because I found it really horribly sexist. Its also filmed in our city, and in London, where I am from, which is just cool for us, but weird, like when our little local high street is meant to be the huge Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Street.   

 

Ice cream-are you guys making it without a machine? I have a kid who can have lactose free milk and yoghurt and stuff but we can't easily get lactose free ice cream for some reason. Anyone got any links? 

 

ETA lol just saw a link in moominmammas post, off to investigate! 

post #8 of 41
Thread Starter 

Wee! My turn

 

January so far, has been lazy.

 

Pretend play in the house with our new toys, reading books (and I'm enjoying about 10 different science fiction/fantasy books), watching movies from my own childhood, and baking. It's very cold here, and my daughter is a homebody so we are inside just doing our thing. I have stacks of new cookbooks, so looking forward to making some things with kids...and this month we have some museum trips planned to get out of the house during cold weather, but it's been very cozy here. Some days we don't get out of jammies! 

post #9 of 41
Oh yeah, we started watching the new Sherlock in 2011; big fans here. New episode again tonight!

Miranda
post #10 of 41

@moominmamma You get them as the same time as the UK? Awesome :-)

 

general question, something I've been wondering about. A lot of people seem to be saying lots of pyjama days which always sounds lovely and restful. Here's my question though. If you spend a lot of time at home, how does everyone get enough exercise? My kids are really cranky (and so I am I) if they haven't exercised at all. Our specific problem is that I can't really leave any but the oldest at home because of where we live (I think they would actually be fine while I ran round the block, I'm more concerned because i really do not want child protection called, as a home educator). I live in a bigish city and have no outdoor space at all to speak of. OTOH we are seldom forced inside by the weather-it might be raining and unpleasant but its normally possible to go out.

 

So I am wondering what you all do about that, how you have indoors days without everyone getting irritable. Do your kids not mind? 

post #11 of 41

They stream from, uh, certain websites that, uh, certain teenagers tend to be pretty slick with. We've also seen Season 5 of Downton Abbey, which has yet to release here. We pay for stuff when we can and buy them when they're released. We used to have one of our DVD drives on my old computer set to Region 2, and my brother would send us BBC stuff from England but this is so much easier.

 

We have a lovely situation at home now whereby we can, and do, get plenty of exercise indoors. It takes the kind of intentionality that young kids aren't as good at, but it works for us now. My kids have apps on iPods that give them guided Yoga and BodyWeight workouts they can do in the living room with no equipment. We finally bought a running machine / treadmill (I've been running for a few years and had been wanting one forever), and we all use that. And we have a compact modular set of dumbbell free weights, and a chin-up bar in a doorway. Having said that, we do try to get out of home every day for a walk, run or ski, even if it's late in the evening. We tend to walk every other day, and ski or run the in-between days. For us a "Nothing Day" at home usually still includes outdoor exercise, because we have the advantage of being surrounded by forest and trails. While our weather can sometimes be a big deterrent, we do have the significant logistical advantage of proximity.

 

I'll just put this out there in case it piques anyone's interest ... I bought myself a Fitbit Flex last spring, and then, due to problems with the charger I was sent a second one for free, so I passed the first one on to my dd and we share a charger. We use them a lot and really like them. They're digital pedometers on steroids: they talk to your smartphone, iPod and/or computer, and they create lovely graphs and data sets, monitoring your sleep length and sleep efficiency, numbers of stairs climbed, periods of high activity, number of steps, calories, distance and so on. If you have a tech-savvy older kid who likes data and graphs and despite good intentions needs a nudge to become less sedentary, something like the Fitbit (or its various competitors, the Jawbone Up, or Nike Fuelband etc.) might be just the ticket. The wrist ones may not fit smaller kids, though the 'Fitbit One' is a waist-clip style. Here's what one of the on-line graphs/pages from my Fitbit looks like:

 

 

 

Miranda

post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post
 

@moominmamma You get them as the same time as the UK? Awesome :-)

 

general question, something I've been wondering about. A lot of people seem to be saying lots of pyjama days which always sounds lovely and restful. Here's my question though. If you spend a lot of time at home, how does everyone get enough exercise? My kids are really cranky (and so I am I) if they haven't exercised at all. Our specific problem is that I can't really leave any but the oldest at home because of where we live (I think they would actually be fine while I ran round the block, I'm more concerned because i really do not want child protection called, as a home educator). I live in a bigish city and have no outdoor space at all to speak of. OTOH we are seldom forced inside by the weather-it might be raining and unpleasant but its normally possible to go out.

 

So I am wondering what you all do about that, how you have indoors days without everyone getting irritable. Do your kids not mind? 


I turn on music and dance DANCE DANCE around the house. Or we just walk skip and whatever. I have our music ed & phys ed all in one. LOL

post #13 of 41

We play in the yard a lot, when the weather permits. When it's icy and snowy out, as now, we do lots of sledding down the street.

 

But to be honest, I think my kids need more, especially my 8 year old. I see that physically and emotionally, he benefits a great deal from long, unhurried afternoons at the big parks where there is room to run, a creek to scamper around in, and playgrounds to climb and hang from. But, for days at a time, he doesn't like to leave the house. So, we are working through it together. I'm trying to point out gently what I'm seeing after a few days at home: general crankiness, feelings of boredom, his younger brother getting restless. And I make a case for a half-day out, then maybe the next day a full day out, if the half-day was as fun and well-received as it usually is. It's a back-and-forth here, weighing the needs of the whole family vs. the needs of the one--or even better, trying to find a mutually agreeable out-of-the-house physical activity that is new or different or remembered as being super fun.

 

I think if we had neighbor kids, my boys would be outside playing soldier up and down the street for nine hours a day. But we haven't yet made that kind of magic happen regularly with friends from the homeschool group (who tend to not like to commit to regular play days, and live various distances from us and one another).

post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post
 

 

Ice cream-are you guys making it without a machine? I have a kid who can have lactose free milk and yoghurt and stuff but we can't easily get lactose free ice cream for some reason. Anyone got any links? 

 

 

The berry ice cream was more like sorbet, but perhaps that's because the coconut cream we made lumps up at far higher temps than cow cream.  We followed the instructions which directed us to freeze the berry puree in ice cube trays, then blend in a blender (which was not good enough, used food processor).  I do have an ice cream maker, which I recommend more than this method, but dd1 wanted to follow directions.  Honestly, for this kind of experimentation, the ziplock method works even better.

 

For non-dairy ice cream, I use a combination of coconut milk (the canned kind, not the milk-substitute) which covers the creaminess you want in ice cream, then some regular soymilk, the sweetened kind.  All-coconut adds too much flavor.  Chocolate will cover up the heaviness of the coconut flavor even more.  Frozen in an ice cream maker (ours is a hand-crank model) makes a very good ice cream.  Fillyjonk, if you have any need for dairy-free ideas, just ask.  We've been doing this for 8 year now.  You are right, we eat a lot more meat than we would otherwise like, though I do lovelovlove cooking with bacon grease!  DD1 is also allergic to a fair number of nuts, and those can be good, meaty protein.  Sigh.... I miss the nuts......

 

As far as exercise, dh is far better at encouraging the girls to get out of the house.  He is home more often in January, so I can get out of the way and he can work his magic.  The girls do a fair amount of wrestling still, galloping around, and a lot of round-offs.  Our front living room to hall/entry is long and fairly wide.  We certainly did not design it for that purpose, but it's nice.  They would love to bounce on the beds and furniture still, but their weight is now capable of busting the framing, so with considerable disappointment since it keeps them busy, we've had to nix those activities.  But, yeah, pajama days (what are pajamas :p?  The girls still sleep in their day clothes!) do fluctuate a bit with the seasons.  They really could do far more exercise, but not so little that I am concerned.  

post #15 of 41

Welcome MarieHoney.  Miranda, that sounds like a great project for your 10 year old, I love the idea of that photo project, I wish I was disciplined enough to do it.  I love the pictures she took, especially the one at the cafe'.

 

As for us...it's been seriously busy in a relatively lazy way.  We've been playing a lot of Uno and go fish, oh and twister.  dd6 has also been in love with the weather channel and trying to predict if and when it's going to snow.  It is very cold here for us, but the girls love going out in it and I've taken them to ride their bikes and run in the tennis courts.  We also do a ton of dancing and of course yoga.  (I've been working a lot so my days are full of working and kid breaks, and then my off days are full of non-stop unschooling it seems, which I know by definition is how it should be, but what I mean is that I'm being asked to teach and model and explain and help with things constantly, even in the bath tub).  It's nice to see the girls so inspired and curious, but they won't even stop talking in their sleep!

 

dd6 makes her own icecream, but we make it with a base of frozen bananas, then blending.  I guess it depends on the type of texture you like but we love it.  I used to have a small compact machine it was about $30 and I made fruit-based vegan ice cream for a cafe' that worked really well.

 

Other than that dd6 has been extremely talkative and academic lately.  She's been taking her letter/word books dry-erase books and a marker and going into a different room when I work, so she can "learn".  She also insisted on helping me with my website and "her" website today.  Oh she's also gotten really into addition lately.  She was adding +1 recently at the dinner table, drawing out pizzas to talk about fractions and wholes, etc.  

 

dd3 has been an absolute handful, but also really interested in learning new songs and as we were making a thank you card the other day she almost perfectly copied each letter of the word "thank you" after me and I was really shocked at how amazing her handwriting is.  She's also been telling us about how good she is at finding stuff and she's learning to help clean a bit.  She's getting better anyway, but still loves to make massive messes.  Sleep has been an issue with her lately.  I'm not really sure if I need to help her get some naps in (it's been awhile since she has napped) or what?  She usually wants to go to sleep pretty early but I don't let her because when I do she wakes up in the middle of the night and well...it's not pretty. 

 

dd6 has written a list of other things she wants to learn this month:  what things can be recycle and what can't be.  

all about portals

wolves

and there was one other really cool thing she wanted to learn about, but I can't remember right now. 

 

dd3 is banned from markers for awhile, she also got her own set of scissors for Christmas, so that's very exciting to her.  She's not bad at playing the games we have, but she's pretty funny. 

post #16 of 41
Still recovering from the holiday here.

DS2 had his first speech therapy session on Monday (in-home) and since them I'm trying to be mindful of how much I'm speaking to him. It's so much easier with your first child to focus on saying words anytime you do something like "do you want your CUP of JUICE? JUICE? YES? Juice?" and basically sounding like a moron with earplugs in....and with the 2nd you're in such a hurry you just toss the cup of juice at whoever is closest to you and continue frantically working on whatever else the kids need. Anyway, so I'm trying to remember to use words for objects more, making a point of getting down in the floor to play (though it's killing my back), etc. He still doesn't have the patience for me to read more than a few pages to him. I guess we'll get there. I put on Spirited Away which he has never seen and he did his whole acting-out-everything bit. It was cute. I ended up injured of course seeing as I'm a prop.

DD5 started a sewing project from a kit she got for Christmas. She told me "this needle is too sharp for kids like me, I keep poking myself." I pointed out that even experienced seamstresses like myself jab themselves with needles and even bleed. lol We watched Tangled for the first time and talked about how Disney had altered the original work and a bit about sexism and marketing. Whee. She worked independently on some rubber-band bracelets while I tried to complete some work and then this evening we watched The Hobbit (last year's film) together as a family. She was ENTHRALLED. I'm wondering if I should read her the book now. We're currently reading Little House In The Big Woods together and it always surprises me how interested she is in it. I know I was fascinated as a child, but kids seem more complex now for some reason.

As for myself, I'm still trying to get holiday junk done. I have some books I haven't gotten to touch...and I'm researching stretched piercings and trying to decide what jewelry to purchase. I went through my old jewelry and DD asked a lot of questions about it all. "Did you wear these at your wedding?" lol, No, I did not wear big acrylic star earrings at my wedding. I gave her some stuff to play with out of my jewelry and she was thrilled to death.
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarieHoney View Post

or even better, trying to find a mutually agreeable out-of-the-house physical activity that is new or different or remembered as being super fun.

Do you have any roller skating rinks around? That's usually fun for all ages. We have one locally that does a homeschool session during the day for $2. If you have a rink, but it doesn't do that you may want to ask if they'd consider opening for home ed families. If not for us they have no daytime business.
post #18 of 41

Had a fun hour of open swim at the YMCA.  The girls are relaxing more each visit and making progress with their own challenges.  I was worried that one hour or so once a month wasn't going to be any more than just a fun stop (still a good reason to go, even if so) but they are making huge strides.  This is the best place because they can touch down everywhere, yet it's not too shallow yet and the water reaches over their shoulders.  I really hate the pools that are no shallower than 4ft.  Even if a kid can swim, it's nice to be able to touch down when you want.  Well, this former kid thinks so.

post #19 of 41

Dd10 attended her first dance classes last week. She tried out Ballet level 4 with a class of 9 & 10-year-olds. It was a little intimidating to her, because this is half-way through the year with a bunch of kids most of whom have been doing ballet for years. Things moved quickly and she got her feet muddled up a few times. Still, enjoyed it enough to be motivated to get up to speed. After the ballet class she said she definitely wanted to stick with it, but wasn't sure about also doing the Jazz class, since the ballet seemed challenging enough on its own. But she went to the Jazz class an hour later and totally loved it and had so much fun. Much wider range of ages and levels (age 10-14). So she's totally into doing both. The instructors are lovely, and the other girls, especially in ballet, are really cool. We got her a leotard and some ballet shoes, so she looks the part. She really is very quick: I think she'll catch up with the ballet class very soon. 

 

So that was a success. She's also reading up a storm lately. She's read three novels in the past week, and now that she's got her bedroom repainted, redecorated and refurnished to her satisfaction she's spending a ton of time there with her nose in a book. Rather than filling the room with a desk and storage space, she opted to have just a bed and a comfy armchair and floor lamp. It definitely doesn't look like a typical kids' bedroom or dorm room. But the chair is so comfy and inviting for reading. And it's my spot at bedtime, when we often have lovely long chats about everything.

 

The photography project continues. She's been diligent about daily photos, even when it's been a little bit of a struggle. She's really enjoying watching the variety of photos accumulate on the Flickr stream. If she continues with this I think we'll definitely see about using one of the online printing services to create a hardcover book of her year of photos. 

 

We got to help rescue an owl this week. An injured Great Horned Owl was found unconscious in the parking lot of the local grocery store, being mobbed by crows. We heard about it, heard who it had been passed off to, and made a trip to town to ask if we could see it. It had regained consciousness and was in a closed box about which wildlife rescue people had said "don't open it, if you value your limbs!" so we couldn't see it. But it had been arranged for the owl to be transported on a small regional airline to a rehab centre on the coast, and someone was needed to get it to the airstrip 2 hours away. We had a trip planned for that afternoon to a nearby town for gymnastics, so we offered to do the extra bit of driving to the airport. And so we ended up taking the owl down, and interfacing with the airline people, and calling the rehab centre and the local back-up veterinarian and all that. Quite the operation! 

 

I did get a photo of the back of the owl's upper body by shoving my phone through the air-hole slit in the box:

 

 

He apparently arrived safely, but is underweight and has a broken leg. The raptor rehab centre will be feeding him up for a few days and then operating to pin his leg. Assuming he recovers as they expect, and proves he can hunt, they'll send him back this way for release in a month or two. So that was pretty cool. 

 

I'm glad there's dance and gymnastics happening for dd, because outdoor physical activity is proving to be a real challenge this week. We've had tons of precipitation but it's been alternating between rain and snow. There's a foot or two of slush on the ground: not really suitable for sledding, packing into huts or sculptures, hiking or skiing. We have managed to walk about in the woods on a few trails that receive lots of snow-shoer and dog-walker traffic but it's a bit of a mess out there and will likely continue to be for a while. 

 

Miranda

post #20 of 41

Extremely cool owl!  What an adventure to happen upon.

 

Meanwhile, I am attempting to sort through and relocate a half a laundry basket full of pipe cleaner-and-loops-and-everything contraptions.  I don't even know where one thing begins and another one ends.  I'm tempted to leave everything as is.  If I bring the stuff back together again, they get the inspiration for more ways to connect one section of the house to the next so their "fairies" have ladders and bridges and the animals have harnesses for every conceivable toy.  

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