Powerful Essential Oils and My Growing Family, by Teresa Graham Brett
As I sat down to write about my experience with essential oils, I kept thinking about whether or not I knew enough to share the information. I kept thinking about how I don’t fully understand the ways that essential oils interact in the body’s systems. I am not a chemist. I am not a trained and certified aromatherapist. How could I possibly write an informative article about something when I couldn’t explain exactly how it works and why it works in the mind, body, and spirit?
Then I took a step back and recalled my other journeys. I remembered how I came to homeschooling. I remembered my own health journey over the last couple of decades. I remembered how I went from accepting what the “experts” knew to regaining trust in my own intuition, knowledge, and my body’s wisdom. I remembered the ways I came to have greater trust and respect for the children in my life. The journey involved so many of the same things, whether it was homeschooling, natural health, my relationship to food, or essential oils. I had to let go of needing to know it perfectly, let go of needing someone in authority to tell me I was right, and trust the process of learning for myself my own truth.
Digital Soup, by Lee A. Elliott
As a young Montessori facilitator in the early nineties, I remember the big fanfare over ‘multi-media’ in the news and how this would change education. I scoffed along with my colleagues over the idea that these crude and cartoon-like activities could be anything but an amusing distraction from the hands-on learning we inspired. I still do, but there was something I felt was wrong by completely denying access to computers to young students–it didn’t sit well. To this day my elderly father is still of a certain mind that takes pride in declaring, “I don’t know how to use computers, don’t care for them.” Which is a shame, as it would be so nice if he could Skype with his grandchildren. I couldn’t help thinking about Mr. Wormwood from Roald Dahl’s Matilda as he rejects his daughter’s passion for books.
The main reason was that Mr. Wormwood felt threatened; he was illiterate just as the most staunch teachers I met who rejected this new media tended, on the whole, to be computer illiterate. I don’t mean that in an insulting way. If today at age fifty I was told that a pair of glasses invented by a search engine would change education, I would equally laugh. Then I see in today’s news that all students in LA are being provided with iPads. I can imagine it now, “Okay class, if you would please take notes from the board,” says the teacher as they all lift up their iPads and take a photo of the board.
Satisfying the School Board as an Unschooler: My son’s end of year report, by Nadine LeBean
Depending on where you live, you will have different rules and regulations for homeschooling. Many places require that you register with the school board and that you submit an end of year report. We live in Saskatchewan, Canada and must do both of these things. As an unschooler, not using a traditional curriculum can make it difficult to prove to the school board that my child is getting an education. How do I explain that we do what we want, when we want, as education? How do I convey the trust that I have for my child, knowing that they are curious by nature and will learn all that they need? How do I even begin to extract all the learning that we do from life? I try to simplify this as much as possible. I keep a running list of what they do, the things they say and the places we go throughout the year. I originally had this as a note on my phone, but then the phone died and I had to start over. A book or a calendar or a computer file work much better! It is effective to use something that you will see everyday, like the calendar or a book, kept in a place that you frequent often. For me this is the kitchen. The list makes it very easy to write up a report at the end of the year.
Slow Learning, by Aravinda Pillalamarri
Learning also takes many paths, perhaps all paths, as the quantum physicists say of particles. Is one path longer than another? Faster?
What parent or teacher is not familiar with this experience–in a conversation with a child, a flurry of ifs and buts arise, so that a simple point that that you thought you would explain in five minutes gets deferred for hours or days. Meanwhile as you follow the tangents, further questions arise. Is your original question forgotten? No, it is still out there, drawing you towards it via this loopy, squiggly, elliptical path. Teaching that is based on a fixed notion of the direct path may not allow for such digression. It may even subtly discourage it–akin to the terse “recalculating” one hears from navigation instruments in the car when one has veered away from the designated route. Yet the curiosity of children will keep these questions alive, patiently or impatiently awaiting their turn on the front burner.
If it takes two days to communicate a point that you thought would take five minutes, do you feel that time has been lost? What happens when teaching complex concepts and skills–what if your child learns something months or years after the expected date? Sometimes people who want to trust the journey of learning find themselves wondering,
Is this child slow? Is s/he falling behind? Will it be difficult to catch up later? Will it hurt if I push her or him? At what point should I intervene?
“Clubbing” your way to cooperative learning, by Suki Wessling
I saw a need and filled it with a club. Why clubs? Why not coops or classes?
For one thing, I love the word club for its casual feel. No one taking part in a “club” would feel like they have to do homework. Few people taking part in a club would feel beholden to show up to every meeting.
On the flip side, if I called it a class, I’d feel a sense of duty. I might even think that I’d need to follow curriculum or have a serious reason for what I decided to do that week. I might even consider it work. But club let me off the hook as well.
I also like the feeling of shared interests that clubs imply. Classes are things you go to in order to learn something specific. Coops are formal structures that transcend the topic being studied. Clubs are like the casual flirtation of the learning world. Kids can drift in and out if they get bored…and so can I.
Sometimes I have taken good advantage of the casual nature of our clubs. The programming club was great fun for the kids, but my son outstripped the other kids’ programming abilities–and mine–within a few months. Although showing other kids how to program was good experience for him, he was relieved when I suggested that it might be better just to morph it into a club for playing Minecraft.
Time Of Wonder – Loving Children’s Books as Unschool Curriculum, by Marty Layne
Stories have been used for thousands of years to educate. Before the printed word, we had stories. Stories were the way people remembered where they came from, who they were as a people, how to live their lives, and when it was time to do the things that needed to be done. Stories have given people pleasure, taught valuable lessons, and given spiritual succor for ages.
One of the best things for me as my children were learning at home was reading to them. The books I read to them and the books they read on their own formed a large part of the curriculum of their learning–”Currere” … the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults. Wikipedia
Some of the learning that can happen as a result of reading or listening to a story is obvious. What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry portrays the daily activities of people in a clear and simple way and young children can begin to get a sense of what goes on in the world. Whenever I take a walk around my block feeling slightly lopsided–we don’t have sidewalks in my neighborhood–I remember the pages in this book that explained how and why roads are built slightly elevated in the middle so that rain or melting snow can drain off to the sides.
Embracing the Unknown…All of It, by Rebecca Gifford
My family is shifting in a big way right now. If humans had tectonic plates, ours would be sliding around like air hockey pucks.
My husband just resigned from his comfortable job with a nice salary and good benefits without any idea what he’s doing next, and soon we’re packing up our four-year-old son and heading out on the open road in a rented 30-foot RV we’ve never driven to wander around the American West. We’ve never even been camping.
Truth is we’ve been “unlearning” for quite a while–becoming more conscious as people and as parents, letting go of control, listening more closely, allowing whatever comes. Not coincidentally, much of this journey occurred as we went through the process to adopt our son from Taiwan. We filled out the initial application in 2008 when we still lived in Los Angeles, putting lots of time and thought into an extensive questionnaire about ourselves and our upbringing, but mostly what kind of parents we wanted to be. I finished mine quickly, confident in all of my relatively traditional answers.
Most importantly, nearly everything I wrote so confidently about in my application essay about who I was and how I viewed my role as a human and parent was old news. My own growth had simplified my understanding of my main role as a mother to allow my child to remain exactly who he is by making sure he knows he is perfect, supported and loved unconditionally.
Entrepreneuring Kids, by Kimberly Scheimreif
With our unschooling and sustainability lifestyle our children have always been naturally drawn to creating small businesses. In one of my preceding articles I mentioned my children’s first business stint with selling extra eggs from our hens. This first experience of selling catapulted into many different areas. They enjoy conjuring up new ideas for products they can sell from our home, farmer’s markets, and co-ops. I would not consider them materialistic; money is not the driving force behind their entrepreneurial attempts.
However, they have realized that making their own money gives them independence, enabling them to buy what they want even if it means saving for a while. They have also learned to save money in order to make more money so that they can purchase supplies that they need to make a new product. Most of their entrepreneurial ideas are derived from our life of homesteading, and the handiwork skills that they have attained. Our two younger children are still at home full time and are involved in selling eggs, extra produce, and handiwork that they create. However, all of our children all take a part of making money from our homestead.
How to Win in a Competitve Interview, by John Taylor Gatto
Grades and test scores have shown themselves to be such bad predictors of future success that screening committees for highly desirable prizes like admission to elite colleges, private schools, executive jobs, and scholarship monies have been forced to submit applicants to high stress interviews in which a candidate’s statements are read for signs that more dependable qualities–as far as future success is concerned–are present or not in a candidate. Foreknowledge of what is being looked for will greatly assist preparation for such interviews. One highly desirable characteristic that formal academic training ignores entirely is an easy, interesting conversational style which, if present, testifies to the likely merit of the applicant as having ability to be a good companion to other members of the team, and thus to promote group good feeling.
Another quality “tested” is the degree to which the applicant appears to understand himself/herself; since at least ancient Greece, it has been accepted that “knowing yourself” is the first principle of fine education. Young people given to introspection, on reflecting upon their own behavior and its patterns, reveal thoughtfulness in their answers to certain personal questions, uncommonly encountered, like …
The Difficulty in Being Different, by Kate Fridkis
I am lucky. Being unschooled taught me to appreciate my own weirdness.
It taught me that it’s fine not to have experienced everything my peers have experienced, and to have experienced things that they don’t have any understanding of. Or maybe, more to the point, that the details of our individual histories, while useful for quick bonding during casual conversation at parties, should not ultimately be the things that bind us together. Instead, we move forward into the future with our friends, creating and sharing new details.
Like now, actually. Now that I have a one-month-old daughter, I am finding myself growing immediately close with other mothers of newborns. We talk about the details of our changed lives, and we laugh in relief over the similarities. No one has mentioned TV at all so far, although one of my new friends asked me about education. I mentioned homeschooling and she said, “That’s so cool!” and then we went back to talking about the status of our nipples.
But the truth is, sometimes I’ve been resentful of the things that my brother felt resentful of on the train. Of course I have. I wondered, when I tried out the eight free therapy sessions at the counseling center during college, if everything that was hard about being me was somehow because of homeschooling. My tattooed grad student therapist thought so. When I mentioned it, his eyes lit up. He practically crowed, “Enmeshment! Unhealthy boundaries! Social abnormality!” But instead he blew his nose, because he always had a cold, and smiled in a deeply self-satisfied manner.
The Art of Heartbreak, Diana Vandeveer
Then tragedy entered our lives. Instead of Daddy at the door, the coroner knocked. There was a fatal accident. The unthinkable had occurred. We were transformed from homeschoolers dealing with the everyday joys and challenges of family life to a family thrust into trauma and grief. Our education changed to healing and recovery rather than history and math. At the time, we had one child in college, a high school senior preparing for graduation as a homeschooler, a high school freshman in private school, and an eleven year old (the artist) who would tell you on any day that she loved her life. After that fated night, every aspect of our household changed, including the education. Our home was full of tears, deafening silence, and sleepless nights. Lessons involved cemetery plots, monuments and grief. There was no reading and an inability to focus and concentrate. For weeks, I could not even form a full sentence without my voice shaking with anguish. We became a home of unschoolers where the only topic pursued was personal healing. Despair permeated every crevice of our daily living.
I would have told you that there was no schooling in our home during those first months, however, I now see that not only was there continued teaching of the mind but there was ongoing education of the heart, body and soul as well.
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