Unschooling in September - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 38 Old 09-04-2017, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Unschooling in September

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#2 of 38 Old 09-04-2017, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This month is going to be a big change in our lives. I'm going back to work very part time. Kids will come with me. I'm not sure how long this job will last. It is an opportunity that I could not pass over.

We are all about trees around here. N (11) wants to know everything about them.
D (8) is reading. He is taking piles of books out of the library.

L (5) is working on writing her name. She will is starting a club in Oct. They are very flexible about her not reading. But she will need to write her name on the papers they give out. I can't say anything about that.
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#3 of 38 Old 09-04-2017, 09:37 AM
 
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Hello!

Working backwards, the girls decided they want to try school again this year. So far, so good. Even the mornings are easier. They're not only enjoying the day better, but it's enough to make the downsides bearable. My 12yo is in cross country, and she's a natural athlete. She's never run distance before, but she's running like kids who have been running awhile. She's in 7th grade. The coach is very gentle as far as pushing the kids (this is middle school!) and is mindful of running the kids in the heat. She hasn't delved too far into the academics to see the long-term effects of unschooling on her ability to pick up concepts she's "behind" on (I have no real worries here). This year is our "sloppy" year-- a year to get up to speed with school and settle in. I'm looking for improvement over grades. We're still unschoolers at heart.

My almost 11yo is in 5th grade, something of a mismatch as she's an October birthday and she's ahead in more areas than she's behind. But as a first year at school, successes are preferred so they can create solid confidence in the material before moving on. It's the "moving on" that I'm mindful of-- hopefully this district will have enough of an accelerated program to challenge my daughter.

I think this school ear will stick. All of us are far less anxious, and the transition is easy. For my part, I'm going to try to bring as much of our unschooling philosophy into our schooling as possible. So far, so good. (Three days. )

Fair was busy and stressful and so much fun. We added cat showing, and our flea-biten cat won Grand Champion for long hairs. Both girls won big prizes and competed in the 4-H (small animal) Round Robin competition-- best of the best get to show animals of all small species. My 12yo won Grand Champion for Intermediate Rabbits, but only Reserve for Poultry, the first time she ever won a showing ribbon below Grand, and she was a little (just a little) put out. She finally has competition!

My school starts in two weeks. I begin my Forestry classes this quarter, I have a dull winter quarter, then my Forest Ecology series in spring.

"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
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#4 of 38 Old 09-04-2017, 09:39 AM
 
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I said "school ear". Not gonna fix it.
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#5 of 38 Old 09-04-2017, 03:32 PM
 
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Back at the House in Town and Fiona is ready to start school tomorrow. There are a few unknowns about her school-year, but since she is now familiar with the way things work and who she needs to talk to in order to sort stuff out, there is no stress. This will be her second (and second-last) year of school. She's looking forward to reconnecting with friends and teachers, and getting back to dancing.

Our refugee family are moving away in about a month. To a big city, colder and flatter than where we live. We will be sorry to say goodbye, but it is definitely the best move for them. They will have the support of a cultural/religious community that does not exist in our remote village of 600, and there will be a much better change of long-term meaningful employment and higher education. They have had a wonderful 'soft landing' in our village, and it has been especially great for the children, who had almost no English-language ability when they arrived and who have benefitted greatly from the freedom, safety and opportunity to simply play, as well as from the robust support they have got at the village school. But it is a good time for them to move now that the baby has arrived and the school year is just beginning.

Being involved with them has been an incredibly robust unschooling experience for Fiona ... and for all of us. No way could a project or textbook or course have created the breadth of learning opportunities we've had. The learning has been far richer and deeper than I imagined it could have been.

World physical geography: climate, agriculture, elevation, seasonal variations, access to fresh and salt water, transportation challenges
Politics and current events in Kenya and Somalia, the political history and principles of third-world development
Religious studies: Muslim customs, variation in customs, the adaptability of religious rules and obligations (prayer times and fasting for children, pregnant women, northerly latitudes with their extra-long days), surprisingly awesome customs like "greet your neighbours every morning," core beliefs and cultural customs
Philosophy: gender roles and their ethical arguments, moral relativism vs. absolutism, philosophies on the adaptation to new cultures, whether via assimilation or accommodation or a combination, the morality of exclusionary immigration policies and of the global gap between rich and poor
Society and culture: the roots of racism, combatting racism, urban vs. rural existence (never before have we met anyone with *no* experience, not even travel, outside of a high-density large urban centre)
Language learning, non-verbal communication, overcoming cultural barriers despite language barriers using tools like repetition, restatement, visual cues, body language, written/diagrammatic aids etc.
Mental health and the stress of acculturation
Striking the right balance between autonomy and support/dependence during times of adjustment
New styles of ethnic cuisine, differing attitudes to food and nutrition
The unusual and impressive skill-sets borne of poverty, insecurity and displacement
The importance of storytelling in bridging
How to understand and best deal with endless layers of governmental red-tape
Health concerns with third-world immigration
... not to mention being intimately involved with labour and delivery of the new little guy!

I cannot recommend highly enough getting involved with refugees! I think it's almost as rich an experience as international travel ... and a lot less expensive!

It hasn't all been sunshine and roses. Some stuff has been really hard. If anyone is curious to take a deeper look at Canada's approach to refugee sponsorship, there's a short Australian documentary called "
" that I think gives a pretty balanced look. It focuses on non-English-speaking refugee families from Syria, sponsored by groups in small towns in Eastern Canada. Our experience has been a little different ... easier, perhaps, because the parents in our family spoke a good bit of English when they arrived. But we have been part of the same program, and I think the documentary portrays the experience pretty well.

Miranda
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#6 of 38 Old 09-05-2017, 01:48 PM
 
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Yana's dogs are here; Ada the Border Collie keeps placing a ball at my elbow. I worked the last four days at the vet. On Saturday, Einstein (described as a "sweet cat" who cannot be put with other cats because he has "no claws and cannot defend himself) bit me. The vet gestured toward the augmentin and mentioned what my dose would be. Because my right forearm was starting to look like Popeye's (if it isn't wasps, it's cats), I took the hint. I had to skip quartets on Sunday because my arm was so stiff, but so did our old chamber music buddy violinist, who was distraught that HIS border collie was in the vet hospital with a bite from a Rock Rattler she ran into in the road, on a twelve foot leash for her evening walk. And she was sensitive to the antivenin, so had to make do with an IV drip and antibiotics and pain meds. Both she and I got to go home yesterday... Anyhow, Einstein is one of six hostile cats and five mostly less than perfect dogs who are all being boarded by the same family until October 25th. So the fun hasn't even started

Tomorrow we are having a dinner for (after I get back from lessons) my old boss, who retired and went to New Zealand for the purpose of pursuing his true passion, monumental sculptures. He's a dual citizen now. Apparently a love interest can get that for you, even if it doesn't last. Back in my work notes somewhere I have pages and pages of notes from these hour long meetings I used to have with him, in which (he claims he's ADHD, and PTSD, one of those people who has had a bug out bag packed since Vietnam. He didn't fight in V; he did something to his mind far worse: he transported military equipment, and other stuff he doesn't talk about) he solved every single issue the facility has, for the upcoming fifteen years. That I've done so much varied IT stuff is due largely to his plots and plans: GIS! Safety Maps! databases! time tracking! hardware! software!...and all at a bargain price, too. Oh, and he's a birder. Yes, one of those. (Although not the worst afflicted of my friends, who got the worst case of poison ivy the student health center had ever seen. While birding. The time I went with them in Austin, where the first visit was of course the sewage treatment plant: "Buffleheads! Oh, I LOVE Buffleheads!", I was fortunately not so lucky.)

Anyway, I am planning on a vegetarian biriyani (a friend from Pakistan taught me to make two kinds of chicken ones, but they don't translate to non meat well), which means a trip to the larger town to get various things that aged out in my fridge twenty odd years ago: cardamom pods and cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. I also do not have golden raisins, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans, ginger (I have one but it has an elderly look to it), etc. So that means either I can give Yana a list, to bring to me tomorrow morning, or husband and I can make a date and do a bit of gratuitous driving tonight.

Because I am always a bit low energy after these long weekends (I have NO IDEA how the regular staff at the vets works 40 hours per week, impossible!) I have been putting off the decluttering and spiffing up of the living spaces that are most likely to be seen. The thing is that it's possible to start cleaning at 8 in the morning and still never finish, so if I start at, say 4, then I won't finish but there will be very little difference in the end result.

So, onward!

Deborah

p.s. I hope everyone is enjoying this last little bit of summer...it has warmed up to low 80's here with an early end to the monsoon. The hurricane broke the pattern (sucked a high over Colorado) and it is so late in the season that it seems unlikely that the low needed to bring in the moisture will settle back in here. So for the last decade, the earliest end of the monsoon by three weeks, except for the year it failed entirely.

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#7 of 38 Old 09-06-2017, 07:43 AM
 
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63F now (on the way to 78F) so I'm cleaning the dog yard. Unfortunately when I was doing the heavy duty hand weeding (still not done), I neglected to get the solid stuff, and it's looking like a pet hoarder scene, you know, woman found with 46 cats, overflowing litter boxes and feces everywhere. My back yard. I'm about half finished, taking a small break. I'm also planning to get the new front tires for the car, and go to the PO and recycling compactor. THEN some prep for biriyani and violin lessons in town this afternoon. Last night I met a pianist colleague, an eccentric lady of uncertain age who has doctorates both in theory and organ but who presents an appearance of wealth few classical musicians (that is, adjunct faculty!) rarely attain.She was elegantly dressed in skirt, heels, fancy blouse, intricate necklace (a random double layer of flat silver rings whose topology escaped me)...looked like she her next stop (this five foot woman drives a big Mercedes) was the concert hall. It only struck me after that even in my finest I likely look like some poor cousin's poor cousin: crocs, thrift store jeans, a well worn tee shirt with some pet rescue or conservation or astronomical theme...oh well. (At work I add a thrift store blazer to my ensemble...I remember when at the thrift store picking out another, my kid said "don't get that one"...but it was one I already owned, nice grey wool, my favorite...

Next week, husband is flying (on his mom's dime: my mom gives practical stuff, like tuition for my daughter, and now my granddaughter. His mom gives plane tickets so they can meet one last time before she dies. And one last time. And one last time!) to Edinburgh, and I have agreed to take Yana to the Honda dealership. She, like Dr. D. the musician, is always all turned out: she has the requisite number of piercings, skill with makeup, bi-colored hair, and the right sort of clothes to present herself as the determined and competent young woman that she is. And she doesn't want a "kid car", her 1991 Hondaa, any more. She'll give that to me. I have no pride. She is willing to buy a car on time (the rest of us keep the old one going until it rolls over and plays dead, and if there isn't enough cash in the bank for a new one, it is forced to get up and go on. Like, today I'm getting the rest of the set of 40,000 mile tires for my car, which now has 454,000+ miles on it.)...so we are going see what can be done. It will require co-signing by me. If we go through my credit union for the shortest term (maybe I can kick in some of the payment?) the rate should be similar to inflation. So, new territory for me, who up to now has thought that the only appropriate use for a loan is to buy a house (I would consider for a violin!), and that to be paid off as quickly as possible...

I see I am putting off the yard cleaning and tire installation and recycling, and White Paws is trying to settle down with me, so time to go.

I hope everyone is safe from fires and floods, it's the dark part of what ought to be a very good season.

Deborah

Well, no tires today, service station is swamped. But dog yard is cleaned (and a little more weeded), litter boxes dipped, recycling ready to load, garbage in already stinking up the car, time to go!

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#8 of 38 Old 09-06-2017, 09:27 AM
 
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Well, Somehow I got on an email list for a 'homeschool highschool field trip list'. Interesting to say the least, so I figured I would give it a shot. Kid said 'lets see' with a smirk on his face. I've been emailing the coordinator for about a week now- I remember the name from a few years ago when I ran the 'teen/tween group'. (insert giant eye roll). So i asked my questions 1. what age is 'high school'? 2. are there 'older high school' kids and BOYS in the group and 3. can these assumed OLDER kids drive themselves to the activities or does a parent need to accompany them to everything?

Well, high school is whatever age the parent deems it to be from about 12 on- ok, yes there are a couple older boys, no the kids cant bring themselves, the parent has to come along... well poo poo for independence.

As this email is developing with the coordinator SHE is picking all the activities for the year, no input from the kids, hummm ok... i get that. I guess
There is 'homework' and pre-field trip 'presentations' from the kids??
Post field trip picnic lunch at a park?

This is all very foreign to me. I have a super independent newly minted 17yr old. Who may want to go do things with kids his own age but probably NOT want mom around and def not want a group of parents around and certainly NOT want to picnic lunch. (remember we live in the desert, its going to be 100+ degrees here for a very long time still).

I understand early highschool, i truly do- but there is a HUGE difference between a 12yr old and an almost adult. The 'homework' for this particular field trip was written for a 12yr old LOL and the field trip is aimed at 16-17 yr olds (tour of 'BIG COLLEGE' with focus on sustainability programme and scholarships, who hires from this programme etc).

The thing that finally did it for me today was the coordinators email this am. Where we official exchanged contact info. Where she says 'only use my cell phone TO CALL ME on the am of the field trip' use my home phone 'after school hours', i return emails in the evening. My reply to her was, 'the best way to contact me is via TEXT, i ONLY have a cell phone, if you need to contact kid TEXT him, if you email me, it also goes to my phone, i will respond to emails with in the hour (sorry for the slow delay) and i generally respond to emails between the hours of 6am-midnight.

Do you think there is a minor disconnect between my expectation of what 'high school' expectations are and what she is doing with her little group?

*rant over

I'm debating if I want to go to my knitting club today or get a pedicure. I don't see any 'teenage field trip club' activities on our future.

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#9 of 38 Old 09-06-2017, 11:12 AM
 
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Do you think there is a minor disconnect between my expectation of what 'high school' expectations are and what she is doing with her little group?
I have a lot of sympathy for the need she is trying to fill. What I see in my area is that once kids grow into adolescence there's a need for something more than the same-old multi-age homeschool park meetups. I've noticed that unless tweens have opportunities to meet with same-age and slightly older peers and do things that look towards their futures (volunteer work, college-oriented explorations, job-shadowing, etc.) they become aimless and start to look towards school to fulfill those needs. I think there is a huge need for this sort of opportunity. My kids definitely would have benefitted from something of this sort around age 11-13. They've been fairly precocious, though, so I think the peak need in most homeschooling communities is probably around ages 13-15.

When I hear about 'high school homeschool groups' they're usually aimed at that transitional group, the kids who are just on the verge of a more meta-cognitive, self-reflective and intentional approach to life and education. When kids have got nothing in common with a group other than age and not going to school, you know that whatever the group is doing is going to be pretty superficial and general. The hope is that they'll find something or someone they connect with, and that will point them towards a path that they want to pursue in a deeper more committed way.

Older (typically age 15+, but sometimes younger) homeschoolers seem to have found their feet already; they're past the "discover yourself" stage of wanting exposure to a wide range of things at a superficial level. They are well into pursuing their interests and passions, hopefully already being well-connected and committed. You have one of these: a teen who has been in college for two or three years already and who is well past the exploration / self-discovery-with-peers stage. By age 13 or 14 my kids were not looking to connect with "homeschoolers" per se. Instead they were focused on connecting with people of any age and educational trajectory who shared their interests and abilities. Programmers, dancers, musicians, whatever.

I guess what I'm saying is that if I heard of a general group opportunity for "high school homeschoolers" I would assume it was aimed at younger teens who hadn't yet found specific avocational or vocational interests. I wouldn't expect it to encompass all ages and stages of high school.

Miranda

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#10 of 38 Old 09-06-2017, 02:55 PM
 
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I absolutely agree with you Miranda. I was muttering this morning for a number of odd reasons. One I have no idea how this woman got my new email. Two I cringed when I saw her name and certainly remembered her from several years ago- she is not an unschooler or free schooler- think smother/ helicopter parent to the max! I agree that this type of group is best for kids 11-15 who don't need a playground group but need socialization and some deeper activity with direction built in. Once kids get independent, a job, a taste of university, a voice of their own- a single mom planning the entire year isn't going over so well.

When i was running the tween/teen group she had a very hard time wrapping her head around the idea of 'kids sit over there, moms sit over here and kids have 2hrs to fill on their own' at the cafe. That was a foreign concept to her and her child, who kept coming to the parent tables for 'help'. This mom kept asking me what *I* was planning for the next meeting etc. When i would say 'its up to the kids' that never really comprehended for her.

Its a good thing I live in a major city. Lots of different folks and lots of opportunity. I can live here another 20 years and probably never ever cross paths with these certain people

In other news- a week from tomorrow is the last meeting with the new university. Everything should be finalized, finances, classes, online access. Kid is excited and thrilled to have something to do again. His first class is a basic 'welcome' class, how to use the portal, how to get acquainted to the system, that type of thing. The second class is another required class and the only 'church' class (private uni.). He can grit his teeth, its all online, answer the postings, and type up some papers. Its not difficult. (they don't really care what your views are, they just want output). After the winter holiday, he gets into the actual computer programming.

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#11 of 38 Old 09-09-2017, 10:35 AM
 
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Living in a small community, I can't avoid people who are over-the-edge different in terms of parenting / homeschooling style. My area attracts a predominantly unschoolish / free-range style, but there's still a lot of diversity, including some very controlling parents. I've had a lot of practice at interacting with these people over the years. They don't surprise me, and I don't get frustrated or annoyed by their assumptions. I figure my role is just to be unabashedly different, and to shrug and smile ... and maybe their mind will be a little bit opened by knowing me.

A different type of parent I bump up against lots here is the Extremely Reverent Parent, the Waldorf-type who views parenting as a holistic spiritual avocation, who celebrates every moment of their child's growing with zeal and a quasi-spiritual sentiment of specialness, whose earnestness in honouring every magical moment of childhood leads her to adopt flaky beliefs about development and oddly restrictive educational practices. Some of these parents are people I'm quite friendly with, with whom I enjoy spending time, whose children have had a lot in common with mine. We share a lot with respect to our child-led approach. But I'm an Extremely Irreverent Parent ... so there's a disconnect there that sometimes catches me unaware. A few weeks ago I was chatting with one of these moms, whose daughter is also 14 and a good friend of Fiona's, and I shared Fiona's comment about all the vaccinations she might choose to get before going to Ecuador, that "I should probably have sex just to use all that immunity!" I do not think the mom thought this was a particularly amusing anecdote; she was shocked that my kid was being allowed to choose to get vaccinated, and that I thought it no big deal to allow her to go travelling with some quirky friends, and that F would talk freely and irreverently about sex, and that I would think this was hilarious. She is all about Maidenhood Ceremonies to celebrate the beginning of the blossoming of a teen girl's womanhood and about wrestling with necessity for the "gradual expansion of the elasticity of the mother's heart" such that her daughter's world can begin to widen a step at a time. Oops. I overshared.

Miranda

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#12 of 38 Old 09-09-2017, 11:54 AM
 
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Well dear Miranda- In comparison, the mommy I was dealing with last week- probably has a nice shiny 'promise ring' on her little girls finger.
In other exciting news I forgot to charge my phone last night so im with out convenient technology this morning, My heart skipped a few beats but I will be fine. This is what laptops are for. Kid is getting thrilled that classes start in a couple weeks and our final meeting with the advisor is this week. Mr advisor jokingly refers to kiddo as his 'doogie houser' appointment. Because we are a transfer student from the 2yr college *most* students are at minimum 20yr old and many are adult learners. This is the first time the advisor needed to work with minor aged enrollment, parent paperwork etc. Everyone had a nice learning experience hehe. But in all honestly- kid NEEDS something to occupy his time.
Last night he went to a pottery class- seems to be the new thing. He enjoys painting pottery (gosh, maybe he can get a JOB there??). and this is the replacement for the art club this year. My house is becoming filled with pottery and lego.
The plan this weekend is to assemble the Lego carousel that was the BIG b'day present on monday. Almost 2700 pcs of plastic - its pretty awesome - should look lovely in my living room, right next to the ferris wheel- right?

Off to get groceries and a few errands... all of which are on my PHONE, which is still dead.

If any of you are in hurricane country- i certainly hope you are safe.

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#13 of 38 Old 09-09-2017, 12:55 PM
 
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My kids are about to get the first required school experience in their lives next month. We'll be in Arequipa, Peru, all doing Spanish immersion language school for 4 weeks. My two kids will be together in a class, possibly with other kids, more likely by themselves, since it's a slow season, and my husband and I will be in a different one. I'm a bit nervous about dumping them into a situation where they have to listen and follow a teacher's methods because they've never had to before, and my 8yo is quite stubborn and independent-minded. I really want them to not give the teacher too much trouble! But I can't do Spanish school if they don't (can't exactly leave them to wander around a foreign city unattended for 4 hrs a day!), so I hope it works out OK. And our extremely generous homeschool system in Alaska means that the kids part will all be paid for.

It's fall here already, rainy and cold, and I'm looking forward to jumping hemispheres.
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#14 of 38 Old 09-09-2017, 07:12 PM
 
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My kids are about to get the first required school experience in their lives next month. We'll be in Arequipa, Peru, all doing Spanish immersion language school for 4 weeks.
Very curious to hear how it goes! It probably all hinges on the relationship with the teacher, I would guess. Very exciting travels, in any event!

We got rain here today, for the second time in three months. Not a ton, but the temperature dropped, a lot of the smoke got scrubbed from the sky and it feels like we may be done with our tinder-dry summer ... which we thankfully got through without a serious forest fire threat. We're still in a stage 4 drought situation, but with the lower temperatures I suppose I can unpack my Evac Box.

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#15 of 38 Old 09-10-2017, 10:55 AM
 
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We're advised to always have a "Go Bag"...can have fire at almost any season, fast moving grassfires, then get into the mountains and burn for weeks. So...this area is well adapted to wildland fires. So we have to adapt to them too...

We have Lilah this weekend, and Yana popped in just now to use the blender. She came in to hassle me about our plans for Tuesday: I told her that we can go to a Honda dealership when we drop husband off at the airport. But I have never bought a car on time, not going to be pressured if I'm her co-signer for this process! (At least she's assertive, right? )

"You know, it's already getting cold out...I was just enjoying the heat in the sunroom". (This from husband, just now. Our equinoxes and solstices are all obvious tipping points...kinda cool.)

For me this afternoon...a few minutes for trios (husband's neck is injured, he's limiting time) and then more work at vet. One dog went home yesterday and two arrived, and five home today, so I have six dogs and five cats, including Einstein the biter. So a bit of a break from last week's thirty...

Tonight: picnic with Son and Lilah? That's the tentative plan.

Deborah
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#16 of 38 Old 09-13-2017, 09:25 AM
 
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@moominmamma

@mckittre I'm looking forward to hearing about all your adventures!

I'm looking forward to a big session of rain this weekend. Already the nights are cooling dramatically. I haven't been sleeping in my tent as much because I have to wake up too early. I'll get another chance this Saturday, but the available days are coming to an end. Instead of letting the tent get buried in leaves, I'll be taking it down for the season.

Transition to school is going well, for the most part. Some grumpy mornings, as would be expected. My youngest gets right to dressing and making her lunch and doing her best to brush her hair. This from a girl who has no problem wearing the same muddy, torn clothes for a week, and thinking her moss-and-stick-encrusted tangly hair is not trouble at all. I am not a nostalgic mother, but when I combed some moss out of her hair the other night in the bath (it's really hard to get through otherwise) I was pleased. She is having an almost seamless transition this year-- math, writing, everything. What a change from last year, and we've done almost nothing in that time except talk about the fractions in her recipes. She proclaimed last night, "I get to have a test tomorrow! I'm so excited!" I don't think that honeymoon will last, but it's nice to hear. She's not fond of the way her literature/grammar class is taught, but loves math and computers and is looking forward to robotics next year.

My oldest is doing great, kind of, sometimes not really but improving. She's having a rough time collecting all her homework assignments, getting them finished and turned in. She has a current grade of "F" in math, but hey, no schooling, plunked down in the middle of pre-algebra. We have a low bar: know your assignments, get them turned in whether finished or not. But last night, she finished all her homework, is going to turn in old, unfinished assignments, all with time to spare. I think a little victory will help her confidence. Look forward, not back, and we'll get her weekly grade up to at least a "D" and let's try for "C". If she has to redo pre-algebra, I'm all for it. I think I'm focusing on the right things for her to aim for. This year, we're just getting settled.

Her cross country is spectacular. I know the coaches love and support all their kids, but when they see someone like my oldest show up, you can see their eyes light up. She's one of the best runners on the team, male or female, and she made a good showing at her meet. She told me how surprised she was at her pace during the race, how being in competition with people pushes you in a way that no practice can match. I think it boosted her confidence in her skill, and her practices have stepped up accordingly.

I have my books for my classes. I stopped by campus to do a few things, including check into the exercise room. I gained almost 10 pounds last year, and that can't happen again. I plan on mostly using their showers at first, and a corner of the floor for my yoga, but when the rain comes I will probably run inside.

Hmmm.... anyway, I'm happy about developments so far.
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#17 of 38 Old 09-13-2017, 09:55 AM
 
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@SweetSilver , would love an update on how school is going for your girls! <-- wrote this while you were submitting the above post... thanks!!

Fiona is back to home-based learning part-time. She's picked up an online Spanish course, because she's got an empty block at school and a less-than-challenging array of courses this semester. She's also doing some Grade 9 math tutoring, and helping the senior math teacher put together MathFest, which is part of a STEM day experience held at the high school for Grade 4-6 kids. She's putting together some sort of interactive stringed instrument (a single-string guitar-like thing, I think) to explore the role of fractions in musical pitch theory, which is kind of cool.

She'll have a spare block next semester too, but because she's going to miss almost a month of school she thinks it may be best to just leave it empty to allow for catching up on learning and assignments. If she were keen to graduate as soon as possible, she could fit in one of the last two courses required for her diploma (English 12 and Career Planning 12) and then take the final one online over the summer. But she wants to round out her senior courses with biology and calculus by doing at least one more year of high school.

One of the unfortunate repercussions of her rich unschooling past is that the electives her school offers, which normally you'd think would be great for an academically-accelerated student to take advantage of, are mostly things she's already delved into with some depth. We were looking through the elective list:

Art: took this last year at school and has done years of amazing homeschool art classes
Ceramics: did a term of children's pottery classes at the community Fine Arts College
Photography: did an intensive adult DSLR photography course and a big photography project portfolio at age 12, as well as a homeschoolers pinhole camera course where she learned B&W darkroom skills.
Psychology: worked through the entire MCAT psychology module at Khan Academy at age 11
Music (band, chorus or guitar): has so much piano, voice and string experience that her pace of learning would massively outstrip the class pace
Dance: already doing 12 hours a week of dance at a level beyond what is offered at school
"Fit For Life": see above, plus does dance-prescribed yoga and strength/conditioning workouts most days
Foods and/or Cafeteria Training: focused on cooking during several years of unschooling and can already cook circles around most adults, has her FoodSafe (government food-handling safety course certification) and has worked at a café as well as participating in large-scale catering operations
Sewing: did two terms of sewing classes and learned to create garments without printed patterns at the local "Stitch Lab" at age 12-13
Media Arts and Design: has done graphic design work for various non-profits for several years using a variety of software
Outdoor Education: has done lots of alpine hiking, overnight backpacking, extended kayaking, canoeing, downhill and XC skiing, and a 'project' at age 12 focused on learning survival skills like shelter construction, fire-starting, building snares and identifying edible plants
Theatre Arts: has done a two summer theatre workshops/productions including work on character development, set design, costuming and script-writing

There's no doubt that there are some things taught in some of these subjects that would be new to her if she were keen to extend her learning. And there are a few elective subjects they offer that she's barely touched on: TV production, digital modeling & computer animation, law, mountain biking & trail development, adventure tourism leadership and the various shop courses (woodworking, mechanics, automotive tech, drafting, metal fabrication). If she needed the credits, if she didn't already have such a well-rounded array of experiences and skills, it would be no big deal to sign up for something and do it. But to do extra credits when she's not particularly interested? Nope. Unschooling has left her not really needing or wanting to be pushed into doing structured courses simply to fill time and be exposed to things. She's been exposed to plenty.

So we're still grappling with the balance between stress and lack of challenge. Last year she felt too much stress from the workload of school and the busy-ness of her weekly schedule, or at least, enough stress that she got pushed into a negative spiral of insomnia and anxiety. This year is the opposite problem: she feels unengaged, unchallenged, like she has too much empty time. Is there a happy medium? We think the point of healthy balance for her must be as thin as a razor's edge!

Dance teacher emailed me asking whether she should be concerned about her "dramatic weight loss over the summer." Ughh. I hadn't noticed much, though her muscle mass in her legs is obviously diminished and now that see her in her ballet leotard it looks like she's probably lost 8-10 pounds which is 8 or 9% of her body mass. My older two girls flirted at the edges of having a disturbed relationship with food and altered body image during mid-adolescence, so I should have decent radar. (They both got things straightened out on their own, in time, without anything getting really problematic.) I've spent the last couple of days wondering and worrying about Fiona. Other than the weight loss, there are absolutely no red flags. She has a healthy, non-obsessive relationship with food, no apparent issues with body image, takes pride in having big muscles, is wanting to build up her legs and seems to be eating well with no secretive behaviour or quirks. Pretty sure it's just a combination of things: her work schedule over the summer interfering with meals, the fact that food at home (as opposed to in town during the school year) is all low-fat for her dad's benefit, and the lack of daily workouts at dance curbing her appetite and reducing her muscular training.

Still, need to keep watching.

Miranda

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#18 of 38 Old 09-13-2017, 01:03 PM
 
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Miranda- I can understand F's frustration with high school. J faced the same issues when trying to round out his 2 years at uni before transferring. Trying to find credits and classes to fill requirements that didn't feel like repeats or idle credits (wasted tuition). The new program and uni we found is much better- much more streamlined and focused on his major, no outside requirements basically. I'm not sure it will quench his thirst but at least the game of 'hunt for credits' is over.


SS- glad the girls are having a better time with school this year. Yes it is still early in the year so I hope it all works out for everyone and I'm glad your oldest found a team that is embracing her outside the classroom.

I just realized kid starts his classes on MONDAY. I didnt realize we are this far into the month. Gosh almighty. Kid is going to BIG 4 yr uni. My baby is 17 and at an actual 4 yr uni... yes that is a tear in my eye.
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#19 of 38 Old 09-13-2017, 02:26 PM
 
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Trying to find credits and classes to fill requirements that didn't feel like repeats or idle credits
Thankfully Fiona has fulfilled all the diploma elective credit requirements already. It would just be nice if she found some of the electives enticing enough to fill some time.

I guess I was just noticing how unschooling gave her a natural way to get experience equivalent to lots of "electives."

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#21 of 38 Old 09-14-2017, 06:29 AM
 
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We are having a great month. While I haven't had much time to post I wanted to thank everyone here who does. I learn so much from all of you and I really enjoy knowing what is going on in your perfectly imperfect lives. It's inspiring to see so many different journeys. I'll be back to share more of ours when the time is right.

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#22 of 38 Old 09-14-2017, 11:21 AM
 
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Miranda -- I wasn't an unschooler, and I didn't find high school electives particularly tempting back in my day either. I think a lot of kids have figured out how to pursue their passions outside of school by that age, and don't necessarily need the 'intro' version from an elective class. I found this true in college too, really. I adopted a system of ignoring prerequisites and signing up for the second level of anything I thought might be interesting or that I needed to fill a 'distribution' requirement, which worked better.

Sweetsilver -- That's great about cross country. And glad the school experiment is working out better this time.

I love hearing from all of you about how your older kids negotiate the more typical venues of life coming from an unschooling background. It gives me some glimpses of different ways our future could look.

My two kids are in a really good zone of playing together, every day, all day long almost. Their age gap (a little less than 2 yrs) is perfect for our family lifestyle of traveling together.

My 8 yr old has finally gotten a bit better at reading, but only at the physical sounding out words. Now he reads a sentence, then asks me to read it anyway, because when he does "it's too slow to understand it."
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Miranda -- I wasn't an unschooler, and I didn't find high school electives particularly tempting back in my day either. I think a lot of kids have figured out how to pursue their passions outside of school by that age, and don't necessarily need the 'intro' version from an elective class. I found this true in college too, really. I adopted a system of ignoring prerequisites and signing up for the second level of anything I thought might be interesting or that I needed to fill a 'distribution' requirement, which worked better.

"
I wasn't unschooled/homeschooled either. It simply wasn't 'done' where I"m from and still isn't and honestly my parents wouldn't be a good fit for the concept. But when I was in high school finding electives was challenging too. The more I think about it-Mckittre, I think you got it! By the time I was 14-17 I didn't want to have to take an hour a day or 2-4 hrs (by my senior year) of some random class simply because there was a time slot to fill. When I was in Uni I took many of the same subjects to fill out basic requirements. I loved psychology and many of those would fill the 'core' requirements for graduation, leaving with me a minor in psych. I had little interest in history, art, computers etc. Back to high school, finding electives was limiting and almost everyone ended up with the same courses back then. Mine was not a diverse district but was full of 'white wealth'. Courses geared toward college prep (SAT vocab class, word processing class, speech class, ) things along those lines. The standards of math/english/ history/ foreign language were required. *I* would have been much happier in an extra creative writing class or spending my time free reading at that age.

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#24 of 38 Old 09-14-2017, 03:27 PM
 
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My 8 yr old has finally gotten a bit better at reading, but only at the physical sounding out words. Now he reads a sentence, then asks me to read it anyway, because when he does "it's too slow to understand it."
I hope his Spanish language school will give him some reading instruction too. I think it might improve his decoding because (a) it's entirely phonetic and (b) his understanding might be slow enough for the "too slow" decoding to not be too slow! I will be very interested to see how it all evolves.

Miranda

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#25 of 38 Old 09-14-2017, 09:37 PM
 
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In high school, I did manage to take extra science classes (my school had a good variety) to fill some "elective" time, but then was stuck in the same rather uninspiring 'occupational education', language, and art classes as everyone else for the rest of it. I managed to solve some of the problem by skipping classes liberally, so perhaps I was a part-time unschooler.

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I hope his Spanish language school will give him some reading instruction too. I think it might improve his decoding because (a) it's entirely phonetic and (b) his understanding might be slow enough for the "too slow" decoding to not be too slow! I will be very interested to see how it all evolves.

Miranda
He also might be forced to try and read easier things (not board game instructions or recipes, or other things with multi-clause sentences), which would also help him. Of course, if their class involves reading, it might involve writing too, and I expect my kids will be unpleasantly surprised at any writing expectations. They really don't know how to write, and it's especially glaring with my 8yo, because by 3rd grade, most kids do much more. He writes in huge uneven capital letters with no punctuation, occasionally backwards, and he'll start complaining like crazy if anyone suggests that he writes more than two words in a row--or really any words at all.
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#26 of 38 Old 09-19-2017, 08:27 PM
 
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Well, just a quick drive by from me. There is good news and ery bad news.

The bad news is that my husband's neck injury has worsened while he has been in England, more disabiility and pain. He called me today and asked if I could get him on a plane from Manchester tomorrow (he flew into Edinburgh to visit his sis, but his mom is close to Manchester) so first I looked at options for him to buy a new ticket, and then I called United and explained that the passenger had a medical emergency and needs to fly from Manchester tomorrow. So, a long time on hold (this happened several times; it was about an hour in all). Eventually the representative had arranged to transfer the ticket to Manchester, tomorrow, for only $66 additional fare. I haven't received word yet, but his NP has requested an MRI in the city next to the airport on Thursday morning, so I plan to reserve a room in the Motel 6 (he like to camp in the State Park 40ish miles away because he is paranoid about bedbugs, but nothing doing. I am not going to drive to the park in the middle of the night, set up the tent by car headlights, and then let him get injured more both from the drive and the hard surface of the sand dunes. NO. (As it is, he says he cannot play violin because of numbness in his right hand. He's canceled one gig already, may not be able to play two others he has line up.)

I was in the process of reorganizing the bedroom when I got the call, moving one of the three 3-shelf bookcases there to the living room (now two in each room, the real excesses are in the den and the office, the small rooms at the back of the house). I've hung up some of his mom's paintings on the bedroom wall, including one of his favorites, on the chimney of the nonfunctional fireplace. (The previous owner has asthma. He didn't like fireplaces. So he cut the chimney off and roofed it over.) I did this in a nonstandard way, because I couldn't get hangers into the well aged plywood of the ceiling, so I screwed one of those gold cup hooks into the beam that apparently runs right through the flue of the rock chimney, a recycled telephone pole. That was hard too, but eventually I got it twisted in. Then I used the only scrap of picture hanging wire I could find, attached it to the eyelets in the sides of the back of the painting...and there it hung, somewhat precariously on the chimney. For now I've attached the bottom of the frame to the (curved) surface of the chimney with moleskin, that stuff that hikers use to keep from getting blisters. (That stuff has many uses I also use it for pinkie nests for violin bows. I never use it to hike.)

The bad news of the house reorganizing is that I had planned on going through our paperwork in a very leisurely way and culling it and compacting it, so I put it all in the sunroom, husband's favorite room, where he spends a lot of time. And I've moved the bed to allow the new arrangement of the bookcases (the two on dh's side were facing the bed; now one is more like an end table. Only it's a bedside bookcase, with light in easy reach and all of that. We are very high tech...have those old pan lights that you get at a building supply store for six bucks. The switches fail and the pans unscrew, and then we get another one from our apparently endless stock. No idea how we got so many. I guess if they all fail we will dig into the stock of lamps that look like preying mantises, those student staples.

Yana and I were going for another bout of car shopping when we picked up dh, but I have asked her to take care of our pets instead, because we are going to be gone overnight and she has to work anywya, cannot get off with such short notice.

So Sue my cellist chamber music buddy came over and I had my first cello lesson. She's never given a lesson before and was a bit apprehensive but we had fun. I told her I'd love to play some duets with an intermediate part for her and a beginnerish part for me. I was pleased that it wasn't hard to read bass clef, because it's just a note off (plus an octave) from the alto clef that violists use. (Only we call it "viola clef" Because.) So we played a couple of pages of stuff together, after she explained how the fingers work, and it sounded great. Later I played it by myself. It seemed quite a bit harder by myself, and it didn't wound as good. But I think it will be fun. And I think I will be able to learn enough in a short time that I can start a cello project in my area. A cooperative, or something like that. One never knows exactly how it will turn out until it turns out, particularly if one hasn't the slightest idea what one is doing.

It looks like Zela's long planned trip to France, to study painting with Grandma, is not going to happen in October, and maybe never. So her new plan is to prepare her paintings to send to us (does not want to leave in the house in Maine, with its unheated/uncooled attic or unfinished basement) in a pod or similar, then fly to SF where one sister lives and the other lives sometimes. She may be my mom's escort from Montana to Texas...still trying to convince my mom she would be a good one. (Way back when Zela did the drive with us when we went to the now defunct chamber music workshop there, but because we moved to Maine a wee two weeks before her third birthday she remembers nothing of the trips.) And Zela has decided that a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Campostela is in her future. And mine. Husband's sister says she will come too. I said she ought to study Spanish in preparation. So why would this almost fluent German speaker be all not to study French, and not interested in Spanish at all, a potentially much more useful language for one whose parents live 65 miles from the Mexican border? Dunno...maybe she will change her mind. Or not.

So tomorrow I will spend the morning doing Basic House Maintenance, a few hours in the afternoon teaching, and then set off for the airport right after, with enough food and clothes to spend the night if we have the appointment. And then...we cross our fingers. And that sort of thing.

Deborah
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#27 of 38 Old 09-19-2017, 09:47 PM
 
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Watershed moment...

This weekend I liquidated our massive collection of children's fiction. I gave 100 novels to the school library. Then I scanned 280 (i.e. most) of the remainder onto an online list at Goodreads and posted the list to the regional homeschool network, offering them at $1/paperback, $2/hardcover. Within 24 hours I had fewer than 40 that hadn't been spoken for. I boxed and bagged them up and brought them to Town. People are gradually dropping by to pick them up. They are so happy to be getting a great deal, and I'd say 95% of the books are total gems, so I'm very happy to be passing them along to people who will enjoy them like we did.

What will we do with the shelf space? Nowadays we have library access, so we're not buying books. And we all like eBooks much of the time anyway. Maybe we can just do away with some bookcases! Imagine! We also sorted through and donated the massive heap of discarded clothing that was filling up the downstairs landing. Fiona and I are on a mission to declutter the old house. We're definitely on the same page, so if we keep working away with that as our mission every Sunday I think we'll make significant progress. Next up: the K'nex and the SnapCircuits, then the non-fiction and YA fiction.

Feeling more and more like our unschooling years are behind us.

Miranda
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#28 of 38 Old 09-20-2017, 05:43 AM
 
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Miranda has a lot more virtue in this than I, but I am at the Cut the Library by Half stage (which I expect to last for some time), have some books that are going to students or the library bookstore or the college giveaway table. The last time I was going to drop some by the college, a homeschool mom (of a student) took off the lot and I haven't seen them since! I have several boxes of paperbacks that I should have passed on long ago...they're good books, but paperbacks age. (Sometimes hardbacks do too...one of my college textbooks that I kept had yellowed and brittle pages after 20 years.)

Because my kids did not turn out to be math geeks, none of them, I'm proselytizing to some of my students! Look, here' AOPS Pre-Algebra, I think you'd like it more than Saxon. Anyone up for Swowkowsi's integrated math? ahah, suck them in young, I say... now, where DID I go wrong on this?

The sun isn't up yet, but it's been moving south at a great rate and it ought to come up in the Due East notch today. Our house is only a degree or two from being north south aligned, so we get to see the movement of the sun along the horizon through the seasons very nicely. In a few months it will line up neatly beside a cliff to the south, and the next day it will start back north. But first I have to prepare myself for getting up in the dark again for my weekend job.

Texted Son: Lilah will not have her lesson today; at 5:30 I have to be on my way to the airport to get to the 8:50 plane. I don't drive so fast in the dark; just a few weeks ago it was just dusk at that time. And hoping that husband's medical issues are not as much of a train wreck as they could become.

Deborah

Ah, the dogs are going berserk, Yana must be here, with hers...I like having a limited usefulness to my grown child...
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We are on the last Harry Porter book. N (11) is eating it up. So happy to have something that we can do together.
@transpecos Hope that DH's neck gets better soon. That must be very hard.
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#30 of 38 Old 09-20-2017, 02:57 PM
 
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Oh Miranda your post brings tears to my eyes. I can't tell you how many books we've had over the years. So many series (complete of course, nothing else would do). For many of the middle years I was known at the used book store, selling then buying even more. Some of J's favorites were: Little Critter, I Spy, Magic School Bus, Then when he was a bit older, Harry Potter, Mercy Watson, You wouldn't want to series, Pseudonymous Bosch, Benedict Society and so many more. Now he is fully into adult books- I think he was around 10-11 when we were in barnes and noble when he quietly asked 'where the big books were'. That launched a love of all things science fiction for awhile- starting with Douglas Adams.
Of course we have kindles and the library but something about this child loves the physical copy of things at times. We have an overflowing collection of DVD/Bluerays. We have streaming but the child still feels the love of having the physical copy.
And the never ending LEGO. I see this child as a middle age man, with a house full of lego displays. Happily in his kitchen assembling the newest release, wondering where to put the next display shelf.
Legos have been the ONE THING I've never ever been allowed to sell. Seriously if we put the legos on ebay, the child would be able to buy a car.

Its so hard for me to grasp my baby just turned 17. My brain simply can't compute how this is even possible.

*In other news his online class started Monday, its a basic 'welcome to university and welcome to the online portal' type class. He wants MORE, he wants so much more. I really wish I had the ability to give him something at the level of MIT or Hokpins or Stanford but thats not going to happen. The first 2 classes are very slow going, after that he gets all computer classes so after the holiday hopefully 'more' is coming.

Mom to J and never ending 
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