Monday, February 1, 2010

What we are doing

So, we have been plugging along at a good pace here, trying to keep ourselves occupied with fun, interesting, and challenging tasks to keep our mojo going through out the winter.
Besides the usual merriment of free play, wii, you tube, and projects, I talked a little bit about what goals the kids may have for themselves. Or merely things that they needed/wanted to do or learn. I think goals or plugging away at something to get your desire is empowering, liberating, and just well, satisfying. I wanted to see if the kids wanted to try and do something that they perceived as difficult, I mean really work at something till they got what they wanted or more. It's a good exercise in perseverance, and the self esteem that follows is brilliant, well at least to me. I was offering my help to them so that they may get a chance to feel that.
They took me up!
So M wanted to read better and do harder math, and write in cursive.
K wanted to be able to read and write, get better at Lego Star Wars, and be a better Fishermen.
E wanted to do work(?), He basically wanted one on one time with me to work on his letters and numbers is what it boiled down to.
So what we've done:
For M, We have continued our read alouds, which we just do book after book anyhow, she is reading A and I Fantastic Mr. Fox. This isn't always what she wants to do, she may eye roll, or grumble. But we talk about her goal of being a better reader, give her a pep talk. Everybody needs a coach when you feel like giving up, and we snuggle down, and afterwards she is happy and proud. And her reading is improving, and she is feeling better about herself.  We purchased a new Math program which all the kids love because it is so hands on, lots of games and manipulatives, that it has come alive. We were using Singapore when we felt like it, but they could do the work on paper, but not really understand how they were getting their answers.
We'll see how Right Start goes. I really love watching there eyes pop when they "get" the concept. So far they love the games. M has been working at cursive a little everyday, but it adds up and she is so thrilled with writing pretty, especially her name. She just writes it over and over. K is hell bent on learning to read. There are so many things that he wants to tackle. We tried for the last year to just read a lot, and read what he pointed out, and help him along the way, but, alas, he was frustrated and just wanted to get on with it, so this past week every day we have been doing 100 ez lessons, and he is getting it! He tells me all the time what a great book it is. He told me that he thought it would take him years to read because it was so hard and that he just didn't want to bother, but now he says that he thinks he will read by summer. You would have thought I told him we were going to the candy store. He was wicked giddy. He also loves the new math and made me work two lessons ahead yesterday. Crazy how much they dig getting in to it. But like I said there are times when they want to blow it off,
unless we are going out, or they are involved in something, I have been reminding them of their goal and how much progress they have made in such short time. They maybe have said NO!, 2x because they had other agendas, and I honored that,  I always will. But you know what is surprising, the next day that we picked it up, they would say let's do an extra page cause I skipped yesterday. They are driven and focused, even when I think they are blowing it off. It's really cool to see this part in them. For E, we have just been reading our own little books together alone, and looking at letters and saying their sounds, and counting and sorting beans, baking,  and creating Really, it's just our special thing to do together. He loves it! So is it unschooling, I don't know, I don't care. Lately, I have not been wanting to call us anything, because I think it pigeon holes us into feeling guilty about diving into this sort of thing. A lot of the cool stuff that we do would not happen if I hadn't said C'mon let's.... or  today we are gonna... and sometimes they gave me crap, or wanted to just stay home and only one was really excited. But I said I think you will like this, so let's give it a try, if you hate it we'll leave. No one has ever hated it, and it was because they said they thought it was going to be boring. As of yet, no one has gotten so bored that they wanted to leave.
I think I have finally gotten comfortable in just doing what we do, and not being scared to step out of what I associate with and say this feels great. It about us following a path and making choices together. Not just what the kids want but what all 5 of us agree on to meet all of our needs. I think I am getting it now. I thought I had to be and not do certain things to be free. But I have found that we need to be free to do what ever we want, and not be scared if others would see that as not falling under the label.
If work books fill our needs the next couple of months, that's awesome. Who said we could never use them as guidance to get what we want? As long as my kids know that they are in control of their life and learning and that their opinions are valued, we are good. I am rambling now, and I 'm not sure how to end this. I think my original point was that for new people, and people who have been plugging along to see, that it's ok to do whatever works and not feel guilty when their path wanders off to a wonderful other place now and then. It's all good.
So if our posts now and then show the kids doing more organized studies, you will now know what we have been dabbling in.

Taboo, I tell you...


Stephanie said...

I always find mine in paying lots of attention to what feels "right" and "joyful". If I'm feeling on edge about it, or uncomfortable in any way (and often a feeling of being controlling or manipulative is a part of this "off" feeling) then that's my cue to back up.
You're right - it's a constant assessment, and paying attention to the individual's needs as well as those of the family.
it's hard. :)
and tiring.
and fun.
and beautiful.

mamak said...

Very beautiful! I always some how get caught up in how it looks to be doing it right. Or scared that if i do it differently than I have, it would be somehow wrong... Sitting down and asking them what they wanted to get done, and offering what I knew to get it done has been liberating. But I still feel like i have to defend it, i know I don't but.... I will settle in, or everything will change to a new pace when summer comes and i 'll be left trying to figure it out. But for now on, I will be going for where we feel good and find harmony. I just want good juju.

Heart Rockin Mama said...

Do tell me about that awesome looking scale...

Why do we wonder/care/think about what other people think of us? This is on my mind lately, although for me it's not so much about how we unschool.

Miss you!

Shel said...

Thanks for this post, dear friend.

It helps to hear from experienced homeschoolers/unschoolers/life learners how things really are. This way when the time comes for us to make it "official" (read: inform the school district) we won't get so caught up in the "labels" or "supposed tos" but rather put more focus on what the girls want to do and learn and use any necessary means to help them achieve their goals.

I love what you wrote. I love your honesty and I love how you encourage the kids to try new things. I love your democratic way and I love how they WANT to learn!

You rock!

mamak said...

Aww, everyone has come to give me hugs! I am not necessarily feeling bad per se, but maybe defensive in an odd way, like all the unschoolers will come yell at me and take my tribe away? I am a weirdo and I don't know why I care how others will think of me, you figure we should out grow this but I guess all those insecurities from way back in SCHOOL leave scars? :>) I just know that it happens to a lot of unschoolers that at first you think you have to do it a certain way or you are not unschooly enough or something, and then you feel like you are failing by sitting down and doing book work if thats what every one wants now and then, or that you will be judged and loose your life learning crown. I don't know but I just want to be honest and say, yeah we took this short cut to get some things crossed off our list and thats ok. Well, really all I wanted was for all of you to come over and say, You are OK, MamaK. We love you and think you rock. And you did! You came, and I feel so happy! It doesn't take much for me... We all got a reach out now and then and feel the love.

Stephanie said...


Andrea said...

Dear Taboo,
Getting comfortable with who you are and how you do it is all that really matters! I own Right Start Math, the boys did, let me see, maybe 5 pages a year ago and haven't looked back! This unschooling thing is a process and a journey. It is dynamic, and looks different for everyone. None of us should feel judged, we should support each other on this journey. I find my "ways" have changed dramatically in the past 2 months, and I bet you will change again, and it will be GREAT!