Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I don't have time to do record keeping!

I don't have time to record learning!

Neither do I. 

We are too busy living and  learning, to record that unschooling living and learning.

Yet I need to keep records for the state.

My solution? Download the objectives, the outcomes, the syllabus for the required courses of study. Keep in a file.

And keep an (almost) daily log. Brief. To the point. Curriculum areas and  children assigned via initials. 


A. (Anthony in other words)
*Games Day with other homeschoolers (M, T, PD....Maths, Technology, Personal Development)
*Kumon Maths (M)
*Chores and life skills (PD, WE...Work Education)
*Work at Kumon Centre (WE) 
*Make a custard tart for the Presentation of Our Lady and read about the history of the solemnity (H, FT...History, Food and Technology)
* Reading Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold (H,E...English)
*5BX Fitness (PE..Phys Ed)

*Read Catholic Apologetics by Fr Laux (E, H, PD)
* Read and discuss The Christian Gentleman..values, social mores of different times and cultures (PD, E, H)
*Kumon Maths (M)
*Practice piano and guitar (Mu...Music)
*Drama class (D..Drama)
*Watch Breaking Dawn and discuss movie, characters, the plot, the techniques, values and emotions (E, PD, F&T...Film and Technology)

If the activity pertains to several I would write their initials at the beginning (A,T, N) or use my generic grouping (OK or YK...Older Kids or Younger Kids)

Very, very simple. In journals or exercise books or on the computer or a blog.

And if you want more simple record keeping ideas, see the bookAnd What About Colleg? by Cafi Cohen. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

A few unschooling ideas

We are often asked what it is that unschoolers do all day.

Our usual glib answer...we live and learn...just doesn't cut it when someone is looking for the nitty gritty. The how to begin. The how to recharge or get out of a rut.

Check out this great, well, checklist if homeschooling. A virtual cornucopia of ideas.

The ABCs of Unschooling by Mary Gold.

I love...X: x-rays, xylophones, X marks the spot on a pirate map

Y: yoga, yodeling, yarn dolls, yo-yo's, Yahtzee

Z: zoos, zithers, Zoom

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Day in the Life

Would you like to share a day in your unschooling life? Not a Typical Day. But just a day.


Here is a day from last week....

Three older sons are home for study week for university. I and one son get up
 early to workout then others start waking up. My second son Greg, a postulant for the
Conventual Franciscans and in Chicago for postulancy and novitiate for two
years, phoned to talk so we all take turns chatting. It's getting cold there...
And summer is starting here! Contrasts!

We talk a lot about the movie Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson, the 1920s art
and literature references. Kids get breakfasts and do workouts and as Anthony,
our high school age unschooler, eats some fruit cake and cheese for breakfast I
remark that the cake was marked down at our local independent grocer. He says he
will walk down now and get another at that price (99c!) and count the walk as
fitness for today.

I start in on work for my Kumon Education Centre and also discuss food and
 recipes as the older ones are doing a cook off with friends from university. They look
through our cook books for ideas.

I keep up my work while chatting. Anthony comes back from the store and we talk
 about Blessed John Scotus ( tomorrow! A Franciscan! A philosopher! The doctrine
of the Immaculate Conception) and Marie Curie ( would be her 144th birthday

I ask Anthony to sort the laundry and perhaps do some maths and Physics. He does
 the washing and maths and is sitting on the sofa about to look at his Saxon Physics text, leftover from hid older brothers, when his friend's dad arrives to take him to games at a friend's house. We
alternate houses for games on Mondays.

 I go to mass at university with one son who is dropping off an assignment. I visit the
 university library for philosophy books for my essay and find a book called Philosophy
 and Movies... I borrow this for Anthony as he, like all of us, love movies and we
can read and discuss the related philosophical discussion together.

 I rush some lunch at home and go to pick up Anthony and his friend to bring them
to work for me at Kumon. Three other sons arrange to meet me there. I discuss an
afternoon women's retreat with my friend when picking up the kids... Can we both

We work at Kumon 2.30-8pm then some sons go to Theology on Tap ( George Wiegel)
 and some sons and two of my Kumon assistants and I got to 7 Eleven for our free
 slurpies because today is 7/11! We pick up a DVD from the rental on the way

 Leftover for dinners, the kids watch a DVD, Anthony practices piano and begins
 writing for Nanowrimo as he and his friend and I were chatting about this in the
 car. I do work for the MI (Militia Of the Immaculate) and talk to others about
Wiegel when they get home from TOT.

 So that's Monday's Unschooling day!  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I wish unschooling for everyone...

A re-post...but friends asked me to here goes!

We recently had a discussion on our Unschooling Catholics email list...on that ubiquitious statement, oh so familiar to all homeschoolers with an unschooling bent...Unschooling sounds great but *I* could never do it.

Maybe the speaker couldn't. Or shouldn't.

Or maybe they should and could...if they are willing to step out of their box.

I'm on my seventh teenage unschooler here.. And my thought and experience is that unschooling works with relationship and time.

Time because a child who does not pick up a book at age eight can become a a teen studying liberal arts at university and reading and enjoying philosophy and theology... And yes, I am describing one of my sons! I would strew books that he would never pick up unless they were non fiction full-of-pictures DK and Usborne books. However, we kept reading aloud and listening to books on CD and watching movie versions of books and letting him follow his interests... Which when he was young was all about the outdoors and activity. So I think Unschooling works best over time. 
Time because it takes awhile for "no strings attached" strewing to take... By no strings I mean that I really don't mind if no one takes up my strewing but instead strews their own stuff. And with expectations off, my sons have been more likely to explore new ideas and activities and books.

Relationship because that has been the way Unschooling works in our house. It has enhanced our relationships because we spent time together not doing school but reading aloud, watching movies, drawing, cooking, going to parks and outings and talking. It's this quantity time that is sometimes missing when mums and kids are rushing to do school and then to homeschool activities. And yet this quantity time has been the biggest aid to our learning... so one son, who used to make a big fuss about any sort of formal work when young is the one who is now  at university, writing essays and talking to me about chastity and celibacy and how he doesn't think celibacy would be so hard as your mind, his mind, is on other things.. At the moment Cicero. (!) Now, he was the one who you could have said would not be a poster child for Unschooling, would spend oodles of time on computer games and make a big fuss about chores and really did spend a year or two around age sixteen or so just playing games and hanging out ( and doing chores and serving at mass and helping in the parish). 

Or let me give an example of another son ( did I mention I have seven sons...thus many examples!) who was also a non writer and often a non reader. But who grew, however,  into reading Shakespeare as a teen, who has a degree and now works  in politics, works hard, long hours and yet still finds time to go to mass or confession on weekdays as well. 

Are they perfect? No.

Were they the perfect poster unschooler kids? No.

Were we the perfect unschooler poster family? No, not with our problems, financial problems, moving many many times, mum's health problems and miscarriages, unemployment, extended family crises, months where we did nothing but chores and watch movies and read and cook and eat. And I went through stages of let's try this (  CM or classical or curriculum) but we always came  back to just living and learning.

Where am I going with this?

That I would wish Unschooling for everyone.

That blossoming of self and interests and relationships.

Unschooling tweaked to suit each family but Unschooling where the child and family are more important than is he reading, is he doing maths, can he meet these outcomes? Ad infinitum.

 In my experience, the unschooled children can meet outcomes, over time, with a good relationship ( "darling , for uni you will need more maths and writing so how about we try x and y... "...Easily suggested and more likely to be taken up when relationship in place) and with tweaking to suit each child and family. 

Unschooling has brought me to my knees, to my Faith, to the sacraments , many many times... Heck, I became a Catholic! Me! It's that trust in Our Lord, in the Holy Spirit's workings in my life and in the life of my kids, in the graces of the sacraments. 

So my answer to is Unschooling for everyone is.. It's up to the parent!

Are you prepared to read more, pray more, live with your kids, daily give more of yourself, move out of your comfort zone, educate yourself, give it a good long try, no strings attached!?

For Unschooling requires effort as the vocation of mothering requires effort .. Effort and prayer... It's just that the effort is spent in time with the child and family and not with curriculum and programmes. 

And the rewards are manifold.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

So..tell me more about strewing...

In our family, in our unschooling, how do learn?

We learn by strewing. We strew things for each other. We suggest. We share. 

So, let me strew some resources about strewing..

The thing that works with unschooling is to follow delight - and scatter it like a flower girl in front of the bride - not every petal will be crushed to release fragrance - but enough will. ...of course to follow delight, you have to admit to yourself that you feel delight ..  Nora Cannon...from Sandra Dodd's  Strewing Their Paths

What exactly is strewing and how do you do it? I think it is leaving material of interest around for our children to discover. Is there more to it?.....Strewing: Definition and Suggestion

A few months into our homeschooling adventure my 8 year old daughter spontaneously said "Our house is like a museum with really cool stuff in it!" This was the moment I decided it was going to be alright.....Your House as a Museum

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekly Rhythm

I like to have a bit of a rhythm to our days and weeks.

Too much routine and I am bored...yawn...

Too little and I think we feel scattered and less connected.

So how does a rhythm work in unschooling? If we are not "doing school" how do we structure our days and weeks?

It varies.

You knew I was going to say that...

When my children were younger we had a routine of pretty much daily mass, ice skating or swimming or science centre on Monday afternoon..and mum would try to catch up on washing on Monday mornings! Wednesdays were Discovery Journal days..writing and drawing about our week, our maths discoveries, our Science discoveries, books, current affairs.. Doing the Days.  Thursdays we often did grocery shopping and went to the library and out for cofffee..or met with other Catholic homeschoolers. Friday was park day or nature/art day. Music lessons meant we played 'pick an envelope' envelope with ideas like do a maths game, write in your saints book, draw in your nature keep siblings occupied while others were in their piano lessons.

And all this fitted in around my work schedule and around babies and toddlers.

Now with an unschooling teen, and older sons still at home but at university, our rhythm still revolves around my work schedule and our outside things.

Mondays, Anthony has gaming day with two homeschooling friends. Often mass at Campion College with the older kids.They work with me at my Kumon Education Centre. Tuesdays have mostly been unstructured, so around my work we have had errands, library visit and in my mind... a good morning to try some more formal work. But this term Anthony has surfing lessons so he is out most of the day with other homeschoolers. And we all go to the mass and Novena to St Anthony in the evening. Wednesday, I teach catechism at a local school so that is a good day for religion! he has drama class, sometimes goes to debating  with his brothers at Campion, maybe guitar lesson and a friend for dinner.Junk mail delivery! Thursday Anthony helps me with work for Kumon, we go to mass, he may do some maths and Latin, he works at Kumon, we usually watch a DVD. Fridays can be ice skating or outing or hang around, mass in the Extraordinary Form, busing to piano lessons and coffee, youth group.

And that is how the weeks go...way too fast...but we work on flow...on doing...and on being.. For me, knowing the flow of activities throughout the day works better than having set times. Waking up flows into breakfast flows into getting dressed flows into brushing teeth, etc.

Like the blue willow tea set...cups in a row, beauty, but not perfect...little those little imperfections in our days, our order, our rhythms ...that make the unschooling week.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Unschooling and Special Needs

The question arose at our Unschooling Catholics email list...what about unschooling, child centered and interest centered, relaxed Homeschooling...what about unschooling children with special needs.

"One of the reasons I quit the path of cookie-cutter help was because I got to watch my (unschooler) friend's son, a boy much like my own, blossom in her care. With every difficulty or difference he presented, whether it was speech differences, sensory difficulties, or behavior issues, she arranged life to fit his needs. She also approached all this with a solid faith in him that he was the way he was supposed to be, and that he was on his own schedule. She sought appropriate help when needed, but it was out of a "what are his true needs" space."

From Sandra Dodd's unschooling website.

"If in school, 6 would not be able to sit for very long without making himself "known." He would not be able to sit still and play nice for the 6-7 hours that would be required of him. He would probably be diagnosed with ADHD and on meds, if I allowed that. He is not ADHD, but I have heard how this has happened many times from other homeschoolers with children who are not really and truly ADHD. 6 can add triple digit numbers in his head-as long as he can spin and move about the room and dispense his energy when he needs, he is just fine!"

From Life Without School Community blog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Strew.....

To Strew

Faith asks... What have you been strewing for your family?

In no particular order....

1. Making home made Nutella
2. Turkish Delight chocolate for Sts Cosmos and Damian
3.The Lion King
4. Brides of Christ , the TV series on DVD
5. An article at ABC online ... On why a Catholic politician supports gay marriages... And an ensuing discussion, centered on Bl Pope John Paul II's Love and Responsibility .
6. Dr Who!
7. Rosary beads and a statue of Mary on the dining table
8. Kathryn Stockett's The Help and Pope Bemedict XVI 's Great Teachers on a coffee table
9. Singstar!

Monday, September 26, 2011

How To Be A Good Unschooler

From the website of Sandra Dodd:

1. Give your love generously and criticism sparingly. Be your children's partner. Support them and respect them. Never belittle them or their interests, no matter how superficial, unimportant, or even misguided their interests may seem to you. Be a guide, not a dictator. Shine a light ahead for them, and lend them a hand, but don't drag or push them. You WILL sometimes despair when your vision of what your child ought to be bangs up against the reality that they are their own person. But that same reality can also give you great joy if you learn not to cling to your own preconceived notions and expectations.

2. Homeschooled children who grow up in a stimulating and enriched environment surrounded by family and friends who are generally interested and interesting, will learn all kinds of things and repeatedly surprise you with what they know. If they are supported in following their own passions, they will build strengths upon strengths and excel in their own ways whether that is academic, artistic, athletic, interpersonal, or whichever direction that particular child develops. One thing leads to another. A passion for playing in the dirt at six can become a passion for protecting the natural environment at 16 and a career as a forest ranger as an adult. You just never ever know where those childhood interests will eventually lead. Be careful not to squash them; instead, nurture them.

3. Bring the world to your children and your children to the world. Revel in what brings you together as a family. Watch tv and movies and listen to music and the radio. Laugh together, cry together, be shocked together. Analyze and critique and think together about what you experience. Notice what your child loves and offer more of it, not less. What IS it about particular shows that engage your child—build on that. Don't operate out of fear. Think for yourself and about your own real child. Don't be swayed by pseudostudies done on school children.

4. Surround your child with text of all kinds and he/she will learn to read. Read to them, read in front of them, help them, don't push them. Children allowed to learn on their own timetable do learn to read at widely divergent times—there is NO right time for all children. Some learn to read at three years old and others at 12 or even older. It doesn't matter. Children who are not yet reading are STILL learning—support their learning in their own way. Pushing children to try to learn to read before they are developmentally ready is probably a major cause of long-term antipathy toward reading, at best, and reading disabilities, at worst.

5. It doesn't matter when something is learned. It is perfectly all right for a person to learn all about dinosaurs when they are 40 years old, they don't have to learn it when they are nine. It is perfectly all right to learn to do long division at 16 years old, they do not have to learn that at nine, either. It does not get more difficult to learn most things later; it gets easier.

6. Don't worry about how fast or slow they are learning. Don't test them to see if they are "up to speed." If you nurture them in a supportive environment, your children will grow and learn at their own speed, and you can trust in that process. They are like seeds planted in good earth, watered and fertilized. You don't keep digging up the seeds to see if the roots are growing—that disrupts the natural growing process. Trust your children in the same way you trust seeds to sprout and seedlings to develop into strong and healthy plants.

7. Think about what is REALLY important and keep that always in the forefront of your interactions with your children. What values do you hope to pass on to them? You can't "pass on" something you don't exemplify yourself. Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful. Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible. Think of how you look to them, from their perspective. Do you order them around? Is that respectful? Do you say, "I'll be just a minute" and then take 20 more minutes talking to a friend while the children wait? Is that responsible? Focus more on your own behavior than on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.

8. Let kids learn. Don't protect them or control them so much that they don't get needed experience. But, don't use the excuse of "natural consequences" to teach them a lesson. Instead, exemplify kindness and consideration. If you see a toy left lying in the driveway, don't leave it there to be run over, pick it up and set it aside because that is the kind and considerate thing to do and because kindness and consideration are values you want to pass on to your kids. Natural consequences will happen, they are inevitable. But it isn't "natural" anymore if you could have prevented it, but chose not to do so.

9. We can't always fix everything for our kids or save them from every hurt. It can be a delicate balancing act—when should we intervene, when should we stay out of the way? Empathy goes a long long way and may often be all your child needs or wants. Be available to offer more, but let your child be your guide. Maybe your child wants guidance, ideas, support, or intervention. Maybe not. Sometimes the best thing you can offer is distraction.

10. Be sensitive to your child's interest level. Don't push activities that your child isn't interested in pursuing. Don't let YOUR interests dictate your child's opportunities. If your child wants a pet, be realistic and don't demand promises that the child will take sole care for it. Plan to care for it yourself when the interest wanes. Do it cheerfully. Model the joy of caring for animals. Model kindness and helpfulness. Help a child by organizing their toys so they are easy to care for. Plan to care for them yourself much of the time, but invite your child's help in ways that are appealing. If YOU act like you hate organizing and cleaning, why would your child want to do it? Always openly enjoy the results of caring for your possessions—take note of the extra space to play in, the ease of finding things you want, how nice it is to reach into a cupboard and find clean dishes. Enjoy housework together and don't make it a battle.

11. Don't pass on your own fears and hates about learning anything. If you hate or fear math, keep it to yourself. Act like it is the most fun thing in the world. Cuddle up and do math in the same way you cuddle up and read together. Play games, make it fun. If you can't keep your own negativity at bay, at least try to do no harm by staying out of it.

12. Don't try to "make kids think." They WILL think, you don't have to make them. Don't use every opportunity to force them to learn something. They WILL learn something at every opportunity, you don't have to force it. Don't answer a question by telling them to "look it up" or by asking them another question. If you know the answer, give it. If you don't, then HELP them find it. Speculating about an answer often leads to a good conversation. If your child stops seeing you as helpful when they have questions, they'll stop coming to you with their questions. Is that what you really want?

13. When you offer a child choices, be sure they are real choices. Offer them choices as often as you can. Try to limit the "have to's" as much as you can. Frequently ask yourself, "Is this really a "have to" situation or can we find some choices here?"

Pam Sorooshian

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This week's Strewsday...

On the dining table...

...a statue of Our Lady, with rosary beads nearby...for the nativity of Our Lady

...the book, Saints, A Year in Faith and Art

..another book, Monet and The Impressionists For Kids

...a Catholic newspaper article, interview with Bishop Long, OFMConv, a new Auxillary Bishop of Melbourne.

The dining table is the hub of our house...a good vehicle for strewing!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Of Mates and Museums

Of Mates and Museums

It's Strewsday.

Our strewing this week has been both tangible and intangible.

Mates and museums.

Because I am a social being I tend to assume that my sons are the same.

Because they always had each other, seven boys Unschooling together, there has always been someone around .. to hang out with, talk to, play with, share with, argue with. And extras too.

So that now there is only one Unschooling son home during some days, the others all off at university, well, the extras play an even more important role.

It is nice for Anthony and me to have time together... You know, the youngest sometimes is rushed around in a large homeschooling family. And it's nice for us to have homeschooling adventures.

But I am also very busy with work. And, to be honest, Anthony also needs his time away from me, with friends.

With mates.

This last week has been strewn with mates.. Friends over for gaming and nerf gun sessions. Friends to take to a debate at a brother's university. Friends to hang out with, to go to drama class with, to go to rock climbing with, to have guitar lessons with.

A few special friends enrich our lives and the lives of our children. Thoughts, ideas, conversation, shared books/movies/music/games.

That's both the tangible and intangible strewing.

Alongside a tangible ... A trip to the museum. A spontaneous spur of the moment trip. Because we are museum members and were spending time with an older brother before he left for overseas.

We found the museum had a special exhibition.. Birds of Paradise. A wander around there and through the dinosaur section, a reading of an article on recent paleontology ,made our impromptu strewing, our impromptu museum visit, even more interesting.

Which brings home to me two points about strewing ... Strewing can be people or ideas or ourselves, looking nothing like school; yet learning happens.

And strewing can be spontaneous, surprisingly serendipitious.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


And so Tuesday rolls round again.

Time to think about our strewing this week, and share others, as Faith describes in her strewing blog.

My biggest strewing this week?

Conversation. Talking. Thinking out loud.

Thomas was reading the news. And mentioned the British PM and some of his quotes...including a poverty of culture. And then the discussion started, with four sons and myself. On the value of a liberal arts education, rather then education simply for utilitarian purposes.

After mass on Friday night (okay, a little bit during, too!) we made reference to liturgy and varying approaches to liturgy in the parish churches that we attend.

We later debated perseverance and ability and work ethic.

And discussed words and looked up root words.

We enjoyed banter and word play and quips.

This is strewing our conversation. Thinking out loud. Discussing. Sharing ideas and forming opinions and looking up information to round out the discussion or debate.

When they were little, we would play word games and I Spy and similar they are older we enjoy quips and quotes.

When they were little, sometimes this discussion centered on books...on why Edmund was jealous and mean in The Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe.

Now they are older, is still centres on books...F Scott Fitzgerald...was life really
like that for the bright young things?

When they were little, I would think out loud. Do my Maths calculations so they could see and hear how Maths works in real life, how we did addition or rounding up or estimating.

Now they are older, I still think aloud..plans for the budget, for work, for life.

When they were little, I would model social interactions and conversation mores...well, now I still do the same!

Or I would apologize after a cross or grumpy word, hoping to be a better role model Next time, hoping to show how important it is to control temper and to say sorry if we forget to do so. Or to try not to swear. And now they are older, I still model these sorts of interactions.

So I strew my conversation. A planned conversation, about a saint or a virtue. A go with the flow conversation, about books and life and history and movies and music, meandering style. A practical conversation, adding up out loud, working on time or money management .

Conversation is a less concrete sort of strewing than, say, leaving a book around or getting out the box of Legos.

Less concrete yet no less important.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thank You

The other day I was riding in the car with my sons, 17 and 21. We have homeschooled for 15 years, easing into unschooling about 7 years ago.

We were talking about what we were up to lately, how we were managing our time and how to generally get done what we need to and also have time for life.

I shared with them about how I had to really make a decision all those years ago, to let go of curriculum and what the homeschool world was telling me to do and follow my heart, let them follow their interests and enjoy their childhood.

One son immediately, as if not even thinking or guarding his words, said "Thank you!" It was so spontanious, I knew it was from his heart. I started back and he said, "No mom, if you had not let me have that time I would not know what I loved to do and now I do. Thank you."

That made me smile and this is meant to encourage others who may be there.. not sure how much to let go and whether to trust their children. Trust- pay attention to their responses.. but TRUST.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

An Unschooling Mother's Prayer

An expanded Marian version of "Let go and let God."

Mary, take over and resolve what I am not able to resolve. Take care of those things that are beyond my reach. You have the power to do so. Who can ever say that he was disappointed in you after having called you?

Mother, take over at this moment when I see nothing, when there does not seem to be any light in the tunnel, this moment of doubt, fear, this hour of making the right decision when everythinseems to be going against me. Amen+

(Thanks to Suzie , from our Unschooling Catholics email list.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Involved parenting

Unschooling can be seen as involved parenting.


Although it may look like our children playl day or our teens spend time with the books, the movies,, the video gamesthat they want...while mum chats or works...this is the surface look. For underlying every day is the principle of involved parenting.

We give our children the gift of unstructured time not because we are lazy or busy ourselves but because we see value in self directed learning, in learning through play and discovery, in learning to make choices and decisions, in finding interests, in time alone or time together or time alone.

The parenting is not hands off but hands on...visibly or subtly, almost invisible.

Unschooling is anything but passive and direction-less.
It’s about lighting a fire. Unschooling is not hands off.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Do unschoolers set goals?

Do unschoolers set goals? I think sometimes we do and sometimes we just fly without goals.

And sometimes our dreams become our goals.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals in fact.

"Enter the B-HAG into our family. Suddenly I'm on a radical learning curve led by my kids. It dawned on me that instead of micro-managing their experiences, I could throw myself into their big dreams by offering the kind of support that an adult can give to a young person - I can drive, I can look stuff up in the phone book, on the Internet and in the community papers, I can fix hair to look like Lizzie Bennett."

And sometimes, too, are goals are by products of the time and discussions and life we live along the way. For unschooling is both quality and quantity time.

We lean on a truck and learn alongside.

"Women talk face to face, they say, but men lean side by side on a truck. Another version of leaning on a truck is fishing: facing the same way, doing the same thing. Traditionally these days parents and children move in different spheres and do different things, but unschooling families mix ages and activities."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two unschooling books

I heard about the first from Pat Farenga's blog....Here is his take on the book

Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything "by Laura Grace Weldon is a welcome addition to homeschooling literature. Starting from the point of view that “Natural learning happens all the time,” Weldon cites many familiar, and some new, books, research, and data to support that claim. This information can be useful to present to skeptics, if they are open-minded, but it is probably most useful to any parent wondering how much teaching they need to do with their child at home. In short—don’t teach unless the child asks a question. If you create a relaxed, open atmosphere at home the questions will flow from the kids, as the families in this book show and the parents of healthy, pre-school-age children can attest. Dr. Raymond Moore used to say that he could determine a good learning situation by who was asking the questions: if the teacher is asking the questions, it isn’t good; if the children are asking the questions, it’s a good learning situation."

I love the emphasis on natural learning, which essentially is what unschooling IS.

And Amazon suggested the second for me...a more practical how to book...As in I'm unschooling, so what do we do if we don"t do school?

Unschooling, A Lifestyle of Learning......".Let's imagine a life without school! In the absence of school, what do children do? They play. That is, they do what brings them joy. They do what calls to them. They do what they need to do to get from point A to point B, learning useful skills along the way. Let's imagine a life of unlimited possibilities! Unschooling parents and their children live and learn together, helping each other, making discoveries, solving mysteries, and sharing adventures. Ready to have some fun?"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Saints

The saints are often an inspiration for unschooling.

Recently, we had the feast day of St Philip Neri. Teacher of St John Bosco.

Both saints worked with boys and young men. Both saints had a lot to say about the care and education of the young.

And so both saints have been good mentors for me when it comes to unschooling.

Two quotes.

St. Philip Neri’s words: “Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin.”

"Run, jump, make noise, But do not sin…”-St. John Bosco

So...sometimes..let kids be kids.

And..sometimes..don't sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. And keep the eternal in mind.

Very helpful for my Catholic unschooling.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Memories and Unschooling

Remind yourself that each moment we're creating memories. Think of those moments as photos in a photo album.

I put this quote on my blog yesterday - and several friends, in real life (? weird term but you know what I mean..) and in email, have commented on it. On how much it spoke to them. On how it reflects the why of homeschooling.

The why of homeschooling? Isn't homeschooling about education?

Not really.

Gasp! Did I say that homeshooling as not about education?

Well, yes. Simply because it is so much more than that .

Homeschooling, unschooling , is about life.

And creating memories. Memories that are stored away, that make up the child and then the adult. Formation, in other words.

I think that strong positive family memories, exposure to activities and ideas and to other people, are what make a strong case for homeschooling. For the advantages of homeschooling.

You never know what will strike a chord with a child. Ignite an interest. Be tucked away in the scrapbook of memories.

For this reason, we unschool. We live and thus, by living together, we learn. We laugh together, read together, play together , watch movies together, eat together, do chores together, do some schoolwork together, talk together, get cross together, go to Mass and pray together ~ and hopefully build on this storehouse of interactions.

Last night, we prayed the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yes, I was a bit silly during prayers - moving my feet in rhythm and prompting dh, the leader, simply because I have memorised this litany. Sigh. I am bad in prayers...

However, we did pray together, we did smile together, we spent time together and with our prayer intentions. Creating a scrapbook of prayer and family memories.

Today, we had French class at another homeschooler's home. The kids laughed as they listened to the CD and followed along in the French storybook. They tried to learn the Lord's Prayer in
French. They did French copywork, a la Charlotte Mason. And shared morning tea and active outside games.

Followed by going to the movies, meeting up with Jonathon and a family friend.

Lunch at Coffee Club....

A day of memories, fun, conversation and perhaps some sparks of learning.

A happy unschooling photo for that mental photo album.

"Education," said Sister Miriam Joseph, in writing on classical education "is the highest of arts in the sense that it imposes forms not on matter, as do the other arts, but on minds."

The Church clearly notes in the Catechism that parents are responsible for their children’s“moral education and spiritual formation.” This responsibility is so intertwined with the family“that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute” to the parents' involvement (CCC 2221).

To be honest, I am not necessarily the best person to talk about spiritual formation, being still in formation myself ( as my two or three regular blog readers know! ).

I hold, however, that creating memories, positive memories, educational and spiritual and relational memories, is important to the intellectual and spiritual formation of the child. Of the person. And of the family.

This is why I homeschool, why I am glad that we have homeschooled.


The Little Way of Homeschooling

Our new book about Cahholic unschooling.

Thirteen of us describe how we live unschooling in our homes.

Drawing from St. Therese, St. John Bosco, John Holt (How Children Learn and How Children Fail and Teach Your Own), we try to give you a picture of education and life without the constraints of typical modern education.

Suzie Andres addresses the question of whether a Catholic can happily unschool by explaining it as a sensible approach to the mystery of learning, certainly not as an ideology in competition with our faith.

The heart of the book is our honest description of our homes and education ... descriptions by mothers who have embraced unschooling in varying degrees.

Monday, April 18, 2011


How do unschoolers spend their time? It's often quantity, sometimes incidental time.

-picking up DS when he toddles out and wants to see what I'm cooking

-letting DD help chop things in the kitchen

-stopping in the middle of my chores to sit on the floor and read to DS when he asks so nicely--"Pees!"

-listening to DD "read" a book to me

-looking out the window with DS and talking about sounds we hear

-sweeping with both kids--each has a little broom, and everyone likes to pitch in!

-talking about all the instruments  the dental hygienist used on DD's teeth this morning

-going for a mother-daughter jog before breakfast at DD's request and talking with her about hiking and camping while we go

-helping DD find a missing knee sock and missing (chewed) piece of gum in our playroom--reorganizing together after items are found!

-watching The Waltons together and discussing the lives of those Depression-era kids! :)

~ watching the birds at the feeder and trying to figure out how many species and what kind we have
~ going to the library's butterfly garden to do nature study
~ teen making food food for Michael (tube fed and on a blended diet), talking about nutrition and calories
~ working in the garden
~ talking in the car (the radio is broken!)
~ working on CGS things together
~ talking about Church issues in our parish - looking up things in the GIRM and CCC
~ reading books and discussing
~ having teatime
~ just trying to keep the house in order
~ talking about child development while watching Joseph and Peter - comparing them as they are only 3 months apart
~ attending some weekday Masses with whomever chooses to go
~ going to a parish mission and discussing what was said
~ going to the Lenten reconciliation service at two different parishes and talking about the differences
~ Wii fit
~ shopping together
~ cooking together
~ eating together
~ working in the garden
~ talking in the car (the radio is broken!)
~ working on CGS things together
~ talking about Church issues in our parish - looking up things in the GIRM and CCC
~ reading books and discussing
~ having teatime
~ just trying to keep the house in order
~ talking about child development while watching Joseph and Peter - comparing them as they are only 3 months apart
~ attending some weekday Masses with whomever chooses to go
~ going to a parish mission and discussing what was said
~ going to the Lenten reconciliation service at two different parishes and talking about the differences
~ Wii fit
~ shopping together
~ cooking together
~ eating together