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February Unschooling Thread

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

Worries, triumphs, frustrations, interests, projects, uncertainties, activities, day-in-the-life, rants, adventures ... post away!



post #2 of 50

Just in time.


Today is dd1's birthday--she's 9 now!  And she seems to be sliding into a mild moodiness.  Which has me a bit flustered, because I never fully got a handle on her emotional intensity as a child, a toddler, a baby, and infant, a newborn......  Just when I thought I was making strides toward harmony and understanding, too.  Well, at this point I think it's more worry than actual trouble.  One day at a time, huh?


We are enjoying a weekend of parties.  Yesterday we had dh's family and some local friends.  DD made a couple of rustic alder boats with help from her dad for our neighbor's boys.  We didn't quite finish our little friend's doll n time, but she's barely three and she didn't notice.  It just needs hair.  DD has been planning and scheduling time for working on the projects and learning about procrastination and deadlines and which ones are truly important.  She also planned the birthday menu and all the guests were very complimentary-- smoked salmon in a salad, and little pita pizzas that people could load up for themselves, in the shape of a face if they wanted.  It was a good party, and I made sure to convey to dd how well her planning worked out.


(ETA: today is her "Super Bowl birthday party" at my sister's house.  GO HAWKS!!!!)


She is busy now filling out her American Girl journal, from their body book collection.  I checked out the originals from the library, and just in time-- it allowed her to identify that she had just started developing breasts.  This is such a big deal for her.  We stopped by the store to pick out some little "bras" (really just a short cami) that helped with the chaffing and irritation she is experiencing.  She talks about "my BREASTS" which is really sweet to me because my mother, bless her heart, was a certified prude and simpered and pouted when she had to buy me bras in the eighth grade banghead.gif.  Part of that was money, I'm sure.  But where my sisters gave up asking for anything, I endured the pouting (complete with pursed and upturned lips and the silent treatment) and got what I wanted.  I wanted my girls to have no part of that, nor the accompanying body shame.  I don't know that I can completely avoid that--the intense body changes, the unwanted attention from men, the sheer publicity of a girl's development, et al.-- it's all very disorienting by itself without any help from a maladjusted mother!


We are heading straight into a busy season (homeschooling is so backwards) filled with Girl Scout cookie booths, new GS badges to earn, chicks to bring home for 4-H, then all the events of springtime, 4-H public presentations to think about (which they LOVE), vegetable gardens to plan for and plant, teeth to be pulled and scheduling many visits to the orthodontist.  It sounds daunting, but so did this weekend and it was all quite pleasant and seamlessly easy.  Again, I think and worry more than I should.  One day at a time, huh?

post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 

The only momentous thing happening here just now is a lovely giggle-fest of a sisterly Sunday. Dd11 and dd15 are having a lovely time together. They've been making bagels and monkey bread and Greek salad, and horsing around with gymnastics moves and yoga poses. 


Ds17 is having a chill post-midterm weekend. Oh, except he had a choir performance yesterday and ended up filling in for the drummer (he's never really drummed!) at the last minute. Good confidence boost!


Dd15 has had a cold and couldn't sing yesterday, so she had a day at home alone. She baked bagels and muffins. 


Dd11 is the unschooler-who-goes-to-school-for-math. She had her first gymnastics meet yesterday which was a big deal for her, as she has only just moved out of the recreational gymnastics program into a program that has focused on more systematic skills development, form, physical training and presentation. Her new program isn't competitive and it's only one session a week, so the meet was non-competitive. She was enthusiastic though a bit apprehensive about the whole experience, and did really well. She had one trivial fall during her beam routine, and got a bit of spotter-assist during a couple of moves on bars, but was very pleased with how she did. (She was doing the "full" bar routine, the only girl at her level to attempt this: she loves bars!) Anyway, the only thing that she was disappointed about was that the adjudication she received was instead a "complimentation," as she put it: the judges just commented on her strengths and gave no feedback for things that needed improving. She understood that many kids don't cope well with constructive criticism and that with young and first-time participants it made sense that they were kind and gentle. But I thought it spoke well of her self-confidence and drive for excellence that she was hungering for more useful suggestions.


Math is going well: she got 100% on her most recent unit test and is nearing the end of the course. She's doing really well with her "365 in 2014 Photography Challenge." She learned a bit about adjusting lighting this week, and is getting slick with the new camera, choosing appropriate settings for particular shots, and although she doesn't always get depth-of-field adjusted to her satisfaction, she's developing a good understanding of what it's all about and why she wants particular effects. She's also got over the stress of feeling like she needs to take a photo every single day, and is cutting herself some slack on days when life gets in the way. She'll post an extra photo from a couple of days earlier if she misses a day. Which is good: it would be tough if the whole thing fell apart into tears at bedtime some night when she forgot. She's enjoying the weekly themes, which are just suggestions to inspire one or more photos over the course of the week. We've had Smoke/steam, Technology and Texture so far, and she's had fun thinking about how to capture those ideas in a photo or two. Her "smoke" photo made me laugh: after taking bunch of lousy chimney shots and not being happy with them, she posted low-light shot of a glowing candle lantern with the caption "The smoke is implied." Well played, my dear, well played.


Her album to date is here


Not much science or social studies learning going on that I can point to. We'll have a meeting with our umbrella-school teacher supervisor in a month. I don't suppose he'll care, but I do wonder whether it's time to give dd a nudge by revisiting the learning plan she tabled last fall, which included some specific science and history learning goals. 


For now, though, I think I'll let her finish the bagels and monkey buns. :)



post #4 of 50

We have been reading alot about birds. BIRDS and more birds. I am not sure I can find any more about them. LOL off to you-tube.


We have been playing lots of superhero stuff. Fun all the way around. OH! And playing in the snow.

post #5 of 50

We have been dealing with snow, snow, snow! 


Lots of inside-the-house-stuck-home days. We have built igloos, made homemade light tables, read books, made 1000 arts and crafts, started our Earth Child book, went sledding, worked on our barn chores in the snow, played and played, and watched loads of Netflix. We also joined a gym with the most ah-mazing pool, so we went swimming which was lovely. Unfortunately the snow has prevented us from going back. 


This month we are going to Disney for an entire week, I can't wait. Lots of planning for that + keeping it low key/low spending until we leave. This is such a much needed vacation (you may remember my Dad was really sick..well he passed away and we have been super stressed) 

post #6 of 50
Originally Posted by mommariffic View Post (you may remember my Dad was really sick..well he passed away and we have been super stressed) 

Sorry for your loss :candle

post #7 of 50

Yes, I'm also sorry for your loss mommariffic.  I hope you all get plenty of relaxation time.

post #8 of 50
Hi. Can I join? My dd just turned five and would be starting kindergarten this fall. I also have a three yr old son. Its more official that we are an unschooling family now that parents are starting on registrations and we arent. Since Christmas we have been pretty lazy. Dd is really into puzzles right now and both children are especially interested in helping me cook. Over the next couple days we will be doing valentines for family and friends. Also planned is a trip to the interactive childrens museum later this month. But for the most part its lots of free play and visiting neighbors and family until spring.
post #9 of 50

Today I:


*Woke up to 5 inches of snow


*Had about 30 minutes before the girls started waking up to feed the critters and myself


*Kept my patience, or tried, when dd9 woke up and started "throwing her grumps around"


*Posted some pictures onto FB from yesterday's tour of our local oak prairie habitat, one of the rarest ecosystems in North America.  We set up a tour for our Brownie troop with a biologist, but just the girls and I were able to go.  I wasn't going to miss it because I spent so much time finding someone to set something like this up.  It was freezing cold with a stiff wind, but we had a blast and it only took a couple hours to get feeling back in my tush.  You see my youngest with my coat because somehow her coat never made it our the door.  I was warm.  -ish.  mostly.  So much for "Be Prepared", eh?




We saw many birds including 3 bald eagles, found pheasant feathers in a bluebird nesting box, followed vole tunnels burrowed into the moss and lichens covering the prairie, found the remains of a bald eagle's teal duck dinner, wandered down to the river's edge to spy a heron and some live teals.


I also posted this picture from last night's barefoot run around the house in the new snow that started falling in the afternoon:




*Tried to keep some patience when she started crying and yelling that dd7 shouldn't go outside before her


*Completely lost it when she stepped outside and started screaming "I hate you!" at her sister


*Made coffee


*Got ready for a walk in the snow that the girls were both grumbling about


*Went for a short walk with dd9 fussing about not going and dd7 screaming to "wait for me!"  because she kept stopping to explore when clearly dh wasn't going on an explore 


*Turned back from said walk in defeat when it was obvious both girls were whining more than walking.  This was in a beautiful, snowed-filled forest on our beautiful forested hill, with every branch traced with snow and little tracks and big tracks criss-crossing.  Sometimes I hate Western Washington snow because to enjoy it you really must get out in it early, before you are ready to be out anywhere.


*Set up girls with videos and hot chocolate.  Clearly the emotions are running high today and we need a "down day".  We have our regular troubles, but this is crazy.  It's a snow day fer-cryinoutloud.  Whispered in dd9's ear, "Even when we fight and get angry at each other, I love you and you sister more than any other kids in the whole world.  It doesn't matter how well behaved they are, I love you girls best of all."  Saw a little smirk of a smile, but I know this day is not over.


*Put in Girl Scout cookie order on ebudde.


*Made us "lunch", more lunchy-snacks than a real meal.


*Updated their 4-H binders for this year.  Today's business meeting is cancelled due to snow.


*Got my taxes ready for the CPA.


*DH went out and made a snow fort for the girls, complete with a window of ice from a frozen-over trough.  That was fun for a while, but they ended in tears and a physical tussle.  Again.  Sheesh.  Back on the couch we go.


*Geared up and went for my own walk.  Aaaahhhhhh........ lovely.


*Heading out to start some beans and then fold laundry.  Girls are trying to play a game indoors.  We will see how well this goes.  10 good minutes and counting.


Edited: made a light dinner, half watched the second playing of Avatar, sat on the couch to read House of Hades, the fourth installment of the Heroes of Olympus series.  Kind of rushing through it because I now have A Clash of Kings sitting in the wings.  Girls did play well for the rest of the evening.  Everybody, including dh, was still a bit tense from the morning.  Girls dropped off to sleep and I stayed up until all hours (10:30!!) to read some more.

Edited by SweetSilver - 2/10/14 at 7:34am
post #10 of 50
I love your pics Sweetsilver! And I have to say I love your posts about sibling conflict in a thank-goodness-I'm-not-alone way. We can usually count on our girls getting along for "special" stuff like snowdays if no other time, but they lasted all of 10 mins today before the crying (dd5) and whining/stomping (dd12) ensued. And this was after they each had one on one time with a parent all morning. Off to fake some patience and try again...I want to sled too! wink1.gif
post #11 of 50
Originally Posted by stormborn View Post

And I have to say I love your posts about sibling conflict in a thank-goodness-I'm-not-alone way. 

I know that feeling well, so I'm glad to oblige.  I guess it's my way of dealing with the stress.  Putting it down to share usually gets me to look at it in a survival-humor kind of way, and it sort of sticks that way in my head.  Great therapy.

post #12 of 50
It has been cold here cold.gif lots of snow! We managed to get out tobogganing last week though:)

Our friend, same age as my 7 yr old son, has visited for the past coupled of days. His dad and brother are on a road trip to California (must be nice!) and he's coming over when my friend has to work. So it has been Minecraft afternoons with three playing at once on the Xbox, they are creating away:)

The girls (9 and 3 yrs old) started gymnastics again in Jan after winter break, we are finally used to the 9:30am start time again..haha.

My 9 yr dd started a computer science class in Jan. A mother we know quite well from our homeschool group runs this class and it has turned out to be wonderful, my dd enjoys it so much. They do hands activities involving math and learn to program with Scratch. There are only three girls and they really get on well together. One girl comes home with us until her dad can pick her up, so they get some free time to just hang out.

The birthday years have begun! We never did too many birthdays until the last year and this year dd9 has been to two. She likes to be dropped off now, within the last year she has really stepped out of her shell and likes more time with her friends. She also helps out so much with her little sister a lot around the house, her little sister always wants to play with her, so I think she appreciates some time without her.

We have a Valentine's party this Friday with our homeschool group, ice skating and potluck. Making a mailbox and cards this week for a card exchange.

We have been watching a lot of Olympics this week:)
Edited by mapleleaf - 2/11/14 at 3:29pm
post #13 of 50

Oh February! 


We have had snow storm after snow storm after snow storm. 

Currently have over a foot (maybe 17 inches?) of snow not going anywhere soon piled up around the house. So we've been hermits during our storms. Lots of arts and crafts (we made "awards" for each other from our Earth Child craft book, winter dioramas, monsters out of play-doh, paintings and drawings and more..) I'm loving our home time - we did go roller skating with a homeschool group which was so much fun, and we have been back to horseback riding (brr) and in a week we leave for vacation! 

post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 

We're bemoaning the lack of fresh snow here because the skiing hasn't been great for the past three weeks. 


AppleMark I guess we shouldn't be complaining too much, though, since we still have a lot more than 17 inches. 


Fiona has had a busy week. The school district is doing standardized testing, and because we're part of a school-district-supported homeschooling program, she's encouraged to participate. The Foundation Skills Assessment tests are only done twice during a student's schooling, once in 4th grade and once in 7th, so she did them last year in 4th and actually quite enjoyed the little taste of what testing is like and what kids are learning in school. Because she was grade-skipped into 7th this year, she was asked to do them again. She was much less enthusiastic, but in the end decided to go ahead largely because the two writing modules (short response and story-writing) would relatively painlessly generate writing samples that would make our supervising teacher happy. And she knew she'd enjoy the math and find it easy. So she had four testing sessions this past week. Plus a math class. 


She had her usual Tuesday dance classes -- boy is she excelling in ballet after only four classes! -- and on Thursday she had a full day of snowboarding with the school ski program, followed by a drive to the city and then 2.5 hours of gymnastics training. And then starting Friday afternoon and running all weekend she's been busy with a Babysitting Certification course. She finished up the final exam this morning and now has her official card. She's done some mother's-helper type babysitting in the past, and is keen to transition into more responsibility. She's definitely got the skills in spades, even though she's very young. I'd trust her to handle stuff better than most 12-to-14-year-olds. But she recognizes that she's "too young" by superficial measures, and that she needs to work into it gradually. I'm sure she'll be extremely in demand by the time she's 13 or so.


Her photography portfolio for the 2014 photo-a-day challenge is growing. It's worth a click ... some very nice photos, and a real variety of views, subjects and techniques.


Just so everyone knows that it's not all sunshine and roses and precocious overachievement here, recent interests include the "3 a.m. jokes" subreddit (groan!), lots of Olympics on TV, no interest in science or history, and marathon sessions with her siblings of watching "Fringe," a TV drama which I don't think has much merit.


Tomorrow I'm off to tour an alternative high school in the city (pop. 10,000, so probably what most of you would think of as a small town, but big for us) with my 15-year-old. If it looks good she'll be living in an apartment there during the week next year. Since ds17 will be at college next year, that will really change the flow of our homeschooling, opening up many new possibilities and changing the flavour of our home life a lot. 



post #15 of 50
They grow so fast, moominmamma! The kiddos passed out valentines to our apt neighbors. We have been big on working on writing letters, sounding out words and dd making her first attempts at reading. We did a big grocery shop yesterday and stopped at the bookstore on our way out of the city.
the childrens area has a train table where usually their interest lwys. But this time they were really looking at lots of books, sitting for us to read them aloud, and interacting with them whike also not being too rough. Library here we come! We are pretty wiped today, as we were gone literally all day shopping and visiting with friends so I think a low key day is in order.
post #16 of 50
Originally Posted by mommariffic View Post

Oh February! 


We have had snow storm after snow storm after snow storm. 

Currently have over a foot (maybe 17 inches?) of snow not going anywhere soon piled up around the house. So we've been hermits during our storms. Lots of arts and crafts (we made "awards" for each other from our Earth Child craft book, winter dioramas, monsters out of play-doh, paintings and drawings and more..) I'm loving our home time - we did go roller skating with a homeschool group which was so much fun, and we have been back to horseback riding (brr) and in a week we leave for vacation! 

we are under the same snow in NJ. Oh! the snow and more to come

post #17 of 50

And we are getting the rain we should have received in November.  Our little valley road was impassable to any vehicle but a tall pickup, so we ended up homebound instead of driving to gym.  I'll post picks tomorrow, if we get the rain we should be getting tonight.  Tomorrow we'll be missing an orthodontist appointment.  No, there is no other way out unless you walk over the hill and meet a ride on the other side, which my neighbor did today.

post #18 of 50

Hi! I'd love to join in. I have a 5 1/2 year old son and a 1 year old son. I've known since before my first was born that I wanted to homeschool and "found" the unschooling concept when he was very young. It rang true for me and we embrace a whole life learning lifestyle. I am not dogmatic and just do what feels right for my family. I started a group a year ago to find some support in my community as the only official group was very curriculum focused. We are probably the most unschooly but we enjoy spending time with others along the spectrum and the group is great for getting my older guy out and playing with kids. We also are lucky to have two sets of retired grandparents and aunts and uncles living very nearby. My husband works from home and has a great job but we are on a 3 year plan to have him making his living fully from a wood workshop that we are currently building. I spend time with the kids and just try to keep the house running but do scrape together a little time to do birth work (mainly teaching childbirth education) in my community. 


This month we are just kind of limping along. I keep trying to get inspired but honestly it isn't working. We were sick most of January with respiratory flu and head colds and just this past weekend got hit by a stomach bug. I love the winter but this year I've felt really housebound because of the extreme cold and having a real little one again. I try not to wish time away but I am really feeling the call of spring this year. We spend a lot of time listening to books on cd (hard to read with my little guy pulling at the books), rolling balls around, making food, and, even though I'm conflicted about it, watching a fair amount. My son loves Dinosaur Train, Curious George, building shows, and any and all nature documentaries. Could be worse! :-)


Anyway, I plan to check in and see what others are up to and try to figure out a bit more of a flow to our lives that feels really positive and healthy. I look forward to learning about all of you! 

post #19 of 50
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by healthy momma View Post

I love the winter but this year I've felt really housebound because of the extreme cold and having a real little one again. I try not to wish time away but I am really feeling the call of spring this year. 


Welcome Healthy Momma! Until my kids were older and got involved in lots of scheduled activities and eventually part-time classes, I found that the natural start to our homeschooling year seemed to occur in April, with spring thaw. Things growing, kids full of energy to be outside as the days got longer, lots of creativity. All spring and summer we'd go strong. In the fall there would be some new experiences or activities or old things starting up again and that would put a bit of new energy in, and then as fall headed into winter there would be this lovely push towards Christmas and gift-making and crafts and cooking and celebrating and lots of music. After that ... not much until the weather started to warm up again.


And once I noticed that this was our natural cycle, I stopped feeling badly about the lack of apparent productivity during January and February. Maybe you'll discover the same. 


I'm thinking it's time to start ordering seeds for the garden.



post #20 of 50

I totally agree that spring is the beginning of the "homeschool season".  It just seems to flow so naturally that way.  What is keeping this year's February from being that dull is cookie sales and the promise of their public presentations for 4-H, which they love planning for a doing.  We could probably do more to include them in the planning of the garden, buying seeds, etc, but the start of that is so far away.  Fava beans, very very soon, but not with this torrential ark-worthy weather we are getting now.  But usually, February is a lot of down days, often crabby and dull, even on our best days a lot of reading and TV and repeat.


We've been lucky to avoid any illness this winter, but that would exhaust me as well, not even counting a new little one.  Be kind to yourself.  


I don't live in a snowy region anymore, but I did live in Spokane, WA in the snowy 1970's, and I cried one late-March day when it snowed.  Not a great big blubbering cry, but a frustrated-to-tears cry nonetheless.  I loved the sledding and the snow play, but I was just DONE and the snow hadn't even melted from the drifts and the piles in front of houses from snow plows (and the endless work to clear the driveway from the snowplow's work) and now it was snowing and it was nearly April.  I was probably 8yo that winter.

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