Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to No School

It's that time again. The big yellow can with windows is making stops all over town, collecting children and depositing them into the various prisons, I mean schools.
Yesterday was the first day back for the Public Schools in our Town. My kids spent the day sleeping in, enjoying the sound of the rain on the roof, snuggling with the dog, sharing games and stories and then playing with friends. They also took a few minutes to turning one of the bedrooms into a "cabin" for Camp Smith. We have friends who are having a family health crisis. Their 8 year old daughter is staying with us this week so they can attend to the needs of their loved one and she does not have to spend 10-12 hours a day in a hospital room fretting. We are so grateful to be able to serve them in this time of their need. Their daughter has spent several weeks with us, at various times of the year, just because we love her and they now live out of State. Homeschooling has allowed us to meet the needs of our family, without constraint and planning. When my mother-in-love lost her husband unexpectedly, the kids and I were able to spend 3 weeks with her in Florida to help get her adjusted and just be there to love her. We got to experience a hurricane (Charlie!) and learn how to make the best of a pile of challenges. It was a blessing to us to share that time with her.
This year the kids have explored many new interests, and I am grateful everyday to be able to support them as they follow their passions.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Plans are for buildings, not people

Today at the gym a mom asked me what my kids do all day without the "regiment" (her word) of school. I hope I was able to hide my feeling of disgust, as it took me a minute to compose myself. My first thought was "What a ridlcuous question!" I asked her how her family spent their Saturdays or vacation time, then (I hope) politely told her that for us, every day was vacation.
There are not enough hours available for me to describe how we spend our days. Each one has new and beautiful treasures to uncover and new passions to pursue. I rarely know what a day will bring, and even on the days I think I have a plan, there are more often than not detours! For example, Thursday of this week I sincerely believed that I would be sitting in a tube in the bay ALL DAY! I ran myself ragged on Wednesday ensuring there would be no chores or needs to be met on Thursday...if only!
The A/C on our leased Volkswagon decided to quit working. The car gets turned in next week and if it is broken at turn in we have to pay for the repairs! Kyleigh woke up Thursday morning realizing she had forgotten about a birthday gift she needed, and upon making Mr. Smith's linch I learned someone had used the last of the lunchmeat and forgotten to tell me! So Thursday morning was spent running to Michael's, VW and BJ's...we didn't get to the beach until after 1:00! And as soon as we arrived the kids all decided they wanted to go out on the boat and do some clamming....not at all what I was envisioning. However, it was a gorgeous day, the temperature on the water was much less than the 90+ degrees on land and everyone had a great time!
I was able to sit on the beach for a time while the boys headed out to their Tae Kwon Do class. Then the girls and I headed back to the house to start the grill anticipating having supper shortly after the boys got back around 6:15...are you sensing a theme here?! All of the sudden the sky darkened and so we turned on the radio, seems a big storm was coming down from New England bringing high winds, rain, thunder, lightening and hail! So much for throwing clams and fish on the grill! We ended up grazing well past 9:00 as we watched the storm and just enjoyed each other. I must say, the strawberry shortcake @ 9:00 was a little later than I planned, but very delicious.
I am so grateful to be able to live a life where we can roll with the punches and switch gears to accommodate every one's needs. We have fantastic friends and live in a place that literally changes minute to minute with each new tide and storm. You never know what you will find or what will spark your imagination.
So here's my question...what do other kids do all day with the regiment of school?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What is Unschooling?

I often get asked to define Unschooling, and have never really been able to provide a definition. I am going to try harder!

Unschooling is about Trust.
I trust that my children will retain the curiosity with which they were born.
I trust that they will search to satisfy that curiosity, and turn to me when they need a nudge.
I trust that they are loving, kind, generous human beings and will behave in such a manner as often as possible.
I trust that they know their bodies and will provide themselves with what they need at any given time.
I trust that I have modeled for them the morals I believe I have been called to share, and God will speak to them as He does me.
I trust that they will hear His voice, and He will direct their paths.
I trust that if they have a need, they will tell me. If they are unable or unwilling to tell me,
I trust that I know them well enough to nurture anyway.
I trust that the people in our lives will see the blessings my children exude and love them with all their ability.
I trust that my children will seek the company of others who are loving and inspiring.
I trust that in our family truth is paramount, even when it is difficult.
I trust that we will all work together for joy.
I trust that we are all on the same journey, and will have wonderful experiences along the way. I trust that my children are the best they can be, right at this very moment.

Embracing the Moment

Spring has sprung with gusto here at our house! New plantings, new colors, new animals...and tons of new activities. I have said before that homeschooling is a complete misnomer, but somehow we still always get "How do they socialize?" from nearly everyone we meet.

Well, I'll tell you how:

Sunday is usually a church day, so they get to see real human being there most weeks. This week, however, Blessing 3 had a Gymnastics Sectional. We all saw friends there, and even managed a nice lunch afterwards, with friends even!

Monday was delivery day for our food co-op, there were quite a few friends there too. After delivery Blessing 3 went to gymnastics and Blessing 2 started a Tae Kwon Do class. There were friends there, too, and some of them even came back to our house for supper.

Tuesday is swimming class, there are friends there...are you seeing a pattern yet? After swimming Blessings 2 & 3 went home with friends to play at the beach, go boating, dig holes in the back yard, ride bikes....I have no idea what other fun they had as I have not yet seen them this (Wednesday) morning. Blessing 1 picked her best friend up from school and they came back here to finish homework, eat everything in sight and make a total mess of the kitchen.

Today is Wednesday. Blesssing 1 gets her braces off today (where we always run into someone) then we are heading to the library and then to get chewy bagels. Later this afternoon Blessing 3 has gymnastics and Blessing 2 has golf. There are 15 boys signed up for golf, which should make for a very fun Spring season. Last year there were girls and boys, and the kids kind of split off by gender. I can't wait to see how they interact this season!

Tomorrow is our day off. I typically try to leave Thursday's open in case we need a day to just rest or reconnect. Blessing 2 has an optional Tae Kwon Do class in the late afternoon, but I am envisioning a day of relaxing at the beach or reading on the patio. It is such a gift to have a day in the middle of the week to do whatever we want!!

Friday Blessing 3 has gymnastics and Blessing 2 has Tae Kwon Do. Blessing 1 usually has a friend here for the weekend so her day is spent frantically finishing up her lessons and getting her room into some semblance of order.

Saturday's are Daddy day. Blessing 3 has gym in the morning, and after I drop her off I am going to work for a few hours (someone has to pay for all this fun!). So Daddy will pick her up then he is in charge of all things fun and exciting till I get home in time for family supper time.

Sunday we get up and do it all over again!

Monday, April 25, 2011


What is the point of Standardized Testing? The name alone is offensive. Do we really want to live in a world where every person has exactly the same level of knowledge? These tests do not measure the quality or even breadth of one's education. They are a joke, really.

Homeschoolers in New York are required to test, using one of several options approved by the NYS Education Department. The one my family uses is the California Achievement Test. It is a format with which the kids are comfortable, it goes in 20 minute increments, and is relatively clear in it's instructions. I do not mind the test itself, honestly. I think it is a great tool for gauging where a child should be and seeing where you should be heading. However, using this tool as the be all end all to quantifying the value of a life's worth of education is ridiculous.

I want my children to be thinkers, problem solvers, creative reasoners. I want them to be pioneers, inventors, artists! Yes, I do believe it is important for them to know how to formulate an intelligent sentence and solve simple math equations. I think they should know important historical events and have a general understanding of geography. But who is to say what is important? Half the contries I learned about in middle school World Cultures don't even exsist today. And my kids have a whole new technological world that I could not have even imagined. How much of my education do I use in my daily life? To be honest, not a whole lot. Most of the skills and talents for which I am employed I learned on the fly in my adult life. Truly, in my return to the work force after kids adult life!

I do not care if my kids can identify a hanging participle or an indirect object. I care that they can coherently articulate their thoughts and enjoy good literature. I am not interested in torturing them into memorizing multiplication facts. I care that they know how to findt he answers they need. I care that they are curious about how things work and how to make their daily lives more fun!!

There is nothing better then seeing the look on a child's face when they discover something for the first time. There is no greater joy than seeing a dream brought to fruition by their own determination. These are the lessons I want to teach my children. Dreams can come true, and they can make it happen. I will be here, cheering them on and hopefully providing the inspiration and the courage to try.