Friday, December 9, 2011

AWKWARD



She told me later how uncomfortable she felt that day. A day when we had guests .


She went to sit with a girl she knows, who is very quiet and shy, to make her feel comfortable and to get to know her more. In the midst of conversation, a mom of another shy girl , wanted her to come and talk with her daughter and tried to interrupt her numerous times.


My girl hardly acknowledged that mom and was feeling increasingly annoyed by the minute.


She didn't want anyone to think she was being rude, but there was no way she was going to interrupt the conversation she was having to go off to someone else. "THAT would have been rude," she said. Plus she was enjoying herself.


Anyone who doesn't know my daughter, or who is fairly new to unschooling, might have thought ill of her. But she is a child with her own mind, and no adult or child is ever going to make her do something she doesn't want to do.


That, plain and simple, is the beauty of radical unschooling. Being a partner with your child and allowing them freedom to choose and make their own decisions, trusting they do know what is best for them. Because they DO!


So if you ever witness this kind of situation, what you see may be a confident child doing what she feels is best for her at that moment in time.


Every day I see the benefits of leading this kind of lifestyle and the confidence that radiates from my children.

Monday, November 28, 2011

HIS WRITING

He writes well. He has an extensive vocabulary and a sense of humor and can put his thoughts into words..intelligently. And has unschooled all his life.


His teachers, last year and this year, have told him often that he is a good writer. Last year it took some time before she knew it was his first school experience, was surprised and said positively, "He is who he is because of it."


The teacher this year doesn't seem to know as yet, for would she still be threatening to call his mother when he didn't turn in assignments on time...or not at all? We look at each other and laugh. It IS laughable to an unschooler who goes to school by choice, has the power to quit whenever he wants, and to do or not do, the work.


The thing is, he likes her ,"As a person", he says, "not as a teacher". They have had some deep conversations and enjoy each others company. But when she is in teacher mode it is a different story. It is no surprise that his english grade was much less than his A in history and his A in French. . .as if grades really matter.


I have encouraged him to keep up with his writing on his own because he IS good and does have something to say. And who knows what the future may hold, one can write from anywhere.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CHOICE,PROBLEM-SOLVING and CREATIVITY

   Choice, Problem-solving and Creativity top the list in our house.


 Choice. . .to allow them to make decisions that they feel are best for them. Good or bad, their decisions are learning experiences and they need to know it is OK to take risks.
Problem-solving. . .to question everything and constantly evaluate our days to see what changes can be made to make life happier. We see what small steps we can take to make a difference. Happiness is an underestimated word in our society and should be a priority.
Creativity. . .from Music to Art to Logic and anything in between, creativity enriches lives, increases confidence, and brings solace to crazy schedules. I love to see what they are into next and encourage more and more.


Someone was up until 2am, playing, singing and composing even though he had a bus to meet at 6:20am. (More on the school experience in another post.)


Another someone had been asking for a new set of crayons. I knew we had many crayons as well as oil and chalk pastels, but we got two large packs of crayons anyway.
peeled


                                                       lined on canvas


                                    and melted with a hairdryer





                                           Isn't it Scrumptious ???









Saturday, August 20, 2011

ON THE TRAIN

My teen has been gone for eight days and it feels like months. She arrives home tonight by train and it can't come fast enough for me. I miss her. I truly do. 
This is the same child who wouldn't leave my side just two years ago. Now she is venturing off with confidence and joy.


If we let children be who they are, and allow them to grow in their own way and in their own time, they become filled with self-assurance and are not afraid to take risks. 


She went by train to Washington D.C. and Virginia with her friend, the older brother and the dad. She had a fantastic time. We texted, we talked and I always got that beep on my phone late at night just before I went to sleep saying good night, love you :)


This house isn't the same. And my other teen has been gone a day here, two days there and this house is way too quiet and my life seems to be in limbo.
Believe me, I love having my own time, and I like quiet now and then, but I find I can have that anyway WITH them HERE.


I LOVE my teens.


My thoughts go to those parents who constantly complain about their teens and who don't *know* them and who treat them with negative energy. Those parents who have no relationship at all with their teens and tell them "at 18 you're outta here!" 


It makes me sad. It makes me sad to know what they are missing. . . how life with teens *can* be if only they would give it a chance.


Nothing is more important to me than the relationship with my children.  Once you focus on the relationship, all of life falls into place . . . with peace and joy and love.



How to have a real relationship with a teen:



~Respect them for the unique individual that they are. Respect their person, their thoughts, their space, their actions, etc. Do not say something to them you would not say to another adult or friend. They deserve the same


~ Find one on one time, even if it's a short drive to the store, out for an ice cream, or pulling up a chair in their room. They still need us and want us and it is valuable to keep communication open for all.


~ Ask questions about their interests, even if you think you are not that interested. There is good in everything. Your child is interested,and you care about your child, right? Becoming interested in how they fill their times makes them feel more valued ,more worthwhile. You are showing you do care. And you will learn something yourself

~ Trust that they do know what they are doing. Bite your tongue. and let them fail. You are letting them know it is OK to take risks. We learn from every mistake. Tell them you are always here for them, no matter what., and will always offer guidance should they need it.


~ Tell them you love them often. . via words, a text, a smile, a hug, etc. Sure they know you love them. . .but do they really???  They need to hear it and hear it often.


~ Say yes or be positive as much as possible. Yes you can have that, yes you can do that., yes I will give you a ride, yes they can come over, Well we can't afford that right now but let's see what we can do about it?  It models positive living and problem solving that can last a lifetime.


~ Saying things like" I miss you, will you be finished with that game soon? I'd like us to spend some time together, will you be off the computer soon?" instead of an authoritative "Get off right now!" or limit their time doing what they love. How would you like controls on your likes and creativity?


~ Do not compare them to anyone else. They are who they are. Rejoice in them and love them unconditionally.  Search for all their goodness.


~ Realize that they are at a tough time in their lives, an in between a child and adult, on their journey to adulthood. Go against the bad rap society gives to the teenage years and trust them and allow free expression to let them find their place in the world. Help them to be the best they can be with freedom and choice and respect.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

WHAT ABOUT MATH

Do you need years of instruction to learn math? 
Can you learn math from just living life?

My unschooled son, who hadn't done math drills since age 6, and who rose to the top of his freshman algebra class within two months of going to school for the very first time, got an award in Mathematics.
More proof that you don't need years of instruction to understand math and you can learn it from just living life.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HARRY POTTER EXTRAVAGANZA

                                               ( Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood)
The teens enjoyed a pot luck lunch
 and went off together .. . .
to see the movie. . . 

dressed in their costumes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

THAT IS SO COOL

I saw two teens walking across the sand. They were about my son's age...14+.  I wanted to know if they were part of our Unschoolers Rock The Campground group, thinking I could introduce them to my son at a later date.


The conversation went something like this:


Me: Are you guys unschoolers?


Them: Huh?, looking confused.


Me: Are you unschoolers? 
       Are you here with the unschoolers group?


Them: What IS unschooling? 
            Never heard of it.


Me: Have you heard of homeschooling?


Them: Yeah


Me: Well, it's a form of homeschooling, you don't go to  school,  you just live life and learn whatever you want.


Them: Speechless, with a look of surprise .
             Wow! That is so cool!
          and they continued to talk about it as they walked away.


Just spreading a bit of knowledge throughout the world :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

GRADES DO NOT MATTER




It is perplexing how a child can get a D as a final grade in a subject that he likes, get an A on the midterm exam, an A+ on the final exam, understand the material completely, and have these words written by his teacher : 
"A pleasure to have in class"  
"He was extremely inquisitive and well-spoken; a rare combination for freshmen nowadays.  I enjoyed having him in class and look forward to working with him in the future."

I know why, but do you?
Homework.

He enjoyed the subject matter and the teacher but chose not to spend time doing homework and other busywork. And I guess this is what happens. And I am very calm, surprisingly enough.

All along we decided, when he chose to go to high school this year, (the first school experience ever!), that he would be responsible for his own learning. That he would make the decision whether to do homework, study, etc without any nagging or reminders from me, unless of course he asked me to. But, of course, he never asked. :]

I have had nine months to talk to myself and reassure myself that grades do not matter (even though deep down I know they don't), but I knew the real test would come when I opened that report card. And I was calm as could be, even when I looked at the D. 

I know he understands the material. I know grades are not a measure of what he knows...or of what he has learned. 

In fact, He was often annoyed that the kids in his classes had no understanding of the subject matter. They could pass the tests but had no understanding for discussions- one of his pet peeves of kids at school. But we know from our own school days that kids learn the game early on, just memorize for the tests .

Does it bother him that he got a D? No. 
Did he even care about his report card? No.
He knows it is not a true measure of his learning and of himself.

This is a part of going to high school and still remaining an unschooler. 

He will share his experience at the Northeast Unschooling Conference this summer with me as I talk about a mom's journey of supporting my son's choice to go to school while he remains an unschooler. 


Saturday, July 9, 2011

ON FRIENDSHIPS



I have always allowed my kids to choose their friends. The only basis being respect and safety.


 I may not have agreed with some of their friend choices, as an adult can often see what a child cannot, but I have encouraged them to embrace differences and make their own choices, and I trust them to know what they are doing. 


I have seen children manipulate them through the years. But my children have not seen it,  are happy and want to play together. Time went by, they matured and said "I don't really think we are the friends I thought us to be" and chose to get together less and less and finally drifted apart. 


I have seen children constantly competing, no matter what the playing field, be it music,art, sports, online games, or friends on Facebook! My child finally realized this and said "That is not who I am, my life is not a competition and I don't want it to be, and I don't like the person I am becoming in her presense " and she backed away altogether. 


I have seen children and adults treat others with disrespect at a co-op and wondered why are were still attending. But both my kids enjoyed most of it and still wanted to go. But within a few weeks they told me they have had enough of disrespectful people and did not want to waste their time going anymore. I breathed a sigh of relief . I felt I would have had to step in soon if they did not come to the conclusion on their own. It was not a healthy environment.


These are some of the instances through the years. I could always see what was happening, being older and probably wiser, but it did no good for me to make the decision for them. It has to come from them, from within. They needed the time to spend with their friends, to realize what their friendship is all about, and make their own decision whether the friendship was right for them or not. That is how they grow as people and decision makers, to learn to make the right choice for themselves when they are on their own in the world. 


I am happy that they tend to distance themselves from a friendship they no longer want instead of dragging the other person down. That is respectful.


The older my kids get, the more choosy they are- who they want to spend their time with and what they want to spend their time doing. It all comes from being allowed to choose, making choice a priority in their lives.

Monday, June 6, 2011

YES BY ALL MEANS

                                    ( Yes made by Dharma- Photo by Tim Geiss)

Life changed dramatically for us when I decided to say YES ...and that was years ago.


Yes, we can buy that. 
Yes, you may have ice cream for breakfast. 
Yes, that sounds terrific. . . and I often had to add 
We can't afford it right now, but let's see what we can do about it.


YES doesn't mean spoiling.. 
YES means talking positive, looking to the positive and acknowledging the whole child, her dreams, her wants and desires, her everything. It means giving what you can and as much as you can. . . willingly and with love.


It's also modeling for the future. I may not be able to have that or do that right now, but what step can I take that will get me closer to my wants and dreams?


Sometimes a child's want may seem frivolous in our eyes


For instance, I would much rather have spent money on something else for her than a moonwalk to use for only a few hours. But I am not my child. Her wants are not always my wants. And when you give children choices, you honor their choices, and don't make them feel bad about it, nor dwell on what could have been.
A moonwalk was what she really, really wanted, even if I couldn't get her anything else.


Even when things didn't go quite as planned, she still was happy she got it. 
 It got a leak after only an hour of using it, and although it was replaced, most partygoers had left by then. It didn't deter the teens though, they found other games to play and were content. It's not things that matter but being together.


 She was still able to enjoy some nighttime jumping. 


To her it was all still worth it and that's what counts.
 And I have to agree.


Saying YES creates peaceful and happy living. 
It fosters confidence and self worth. . .and even increases 
problem-solving skills. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

IPODS AND THE LIKE

She woke up in the morning and looked around the room. The others had been awake long before her but there was no sound. Each person was totally engrossed in their ipod.


Granted it was morning, and perhaps everyone was tired, but this isn't the first time she has commented on it. 


There have been numerous times that she has attended gatherings only to find kids using their ipod more then engaging person to person with others.


She finds it most annoying and wonders why ?  
She loves her ipod too, but she loves people more.


She wants to be with people and talk and share and have fun. . .person to person.  
Why is everyone so separate. . .  doing their own thing. . . with their ipods?


I don't know. Do you?
Is time with their ipods limited or controlled at home? 
If a person is given free rein when to use something it's just another tool to use when they want or need to. 


But if their time with it is limited or controlled, they will focus on it, perhaps obsessing over it, because they don't know when they will have unlimited time again.. . that freedom.


Technology is terrific and we all love it but my teens would rather have real life conversation and interaction when they get together with others.


Now that they are teens, each day I see more and more benefits from a life lived with freedom and choices. . .  and that includes no limits or controls on any technology they use. 



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

FOR THE LOVE OF NATURE

I am passionate about nature and I would love my teens to be passionate as well. But that doesn't always happen. 

Each child is unique with their own likes and dislikes. 
Do I want them to love nature? Yes. 
Can I make them love nature? No. 
(You cannot make another do anything and live a life of trust and freedom.)

I like to encourage. I like to expose them to situations. 
Luckily we live on twelve glorious acres, filled with nature and animals, so it just means stepping out the door, or helping with tasks, or going down our drive. 
But you can also be somewhere and still not *see*.

I am forever talking about what I see, and what I hear, in the natural world. I go 5 mph down our long driveway to take it all in, so we won't miss anything. At first there were groans and sighs from the back seat, but they are used to it by now and may even point out something they see. . .sometimes.

If we didn't live where we live, I would still seek out area parks, bridges, and small nature spots, even if it's just to drink a smoothie or eat an ice cream cone, or sit and talk, and at times I would include others. It's always fun to be someplace with friends.

And while we cannot make someone like what we do, and do exactly as we do, we can still expose them to our joys and share our information.  Our excitement and passion will shine through and it will mean something at some point in their lives.

One teen proclaims a love of nature, the other says city living is better. Yet I know each one of them will have the memories to dig out at a later date in time.

I have noticed that when friends are interested, they become more interested. I'm not sure they are being a good host or hostess by doing what the friend wants or are actually *seeing* and truly enjoying.

I came home one day to find a teen and a friend grooming the horses. There has also been an increase of picnics and campfires by the pond, and even time spent just sitting on the bridge in chairs. All from the future *city dweller*.
It's not to say he doesn't like nature, he does, but just in his own way. 
Would he like to be chasing through the woods with friends and his new air soft gun? Sure! It will happen soon. 
Would he like to be grooming horses with his girlfriend? He has done that, much to my surprise. 
Would he like to chill out on the bridge playing his guitar? Yes , he has repeatedly.


My other teen feels nature IS an important part of her life, and has friends who also love to explore and build forts and faerie houses and care for animals.
=
All of us living and growing in our own ways.


Go outdoors and bring a teen. They need a personal connection with nature before they can truly care about our earth.

“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
-David Sobe


Monday, May 2, 2011

WE KNOW THEY ARE OUT THERE

We know they are out there. . . other teens, I mean. But it seems so hard to find kids this age who don't go to school.
Where are they?


I have my suspicions. 
Many parents are freaked out about college, and academics are at the forefront of their minds. Schoolwork and classes keep many teens too busy to connect. 


"They have classes and go to co-op and see their friends there", parents defend.


Yes they do "see" their friends. But think about it, when is the last time you had quality time with friends during a class or a half hour lunchtime ?


Ask the teens. 
They *want* to see others, and on a regular basis too. Ask teens what their biggest complaint about homeschooling or unschooling is. Most times it's not seeing kids their age more.


Teens need to be out with others whenever they can. We live in a community of people. Real live life lessons are being learned everyday being with others; lessons that cannot be learned from books.


My daughter wanted a scheduled day each week when teens could gather. A group of teens.
We started a Teen Connection at our house for boys and girls, 13 and up. No structure, no agenda, just show up and decide what to do and say. 


One child told her mom that perhaps I should organize an ice breaker game in the beginning. My daughter said no, she didn't want me directly involved.  She felt kids will get comfortable in their own way. I honored her request and I do see that IS exactly what is happening.
The teens bring snacks to share and sometimes a game. They go inside and outside, whatever they feel like doing. Some are talkative, others are quiet observers.


Right now it is held in the afternoon, 3-4 hours, and as the weather gets warmer it might be held in the evenings as well.


I don't even need to ask the teens if they like it, they keep coming back!



Saturday, April 23, 2011

DREAM TALKING


We talk of the future from time to time, usually one on one in the car. 
Have you noticed amazing conversations can come from a ride in a car?

"I'm not going to college until I know what I want to study."
"Maybe I'll work as a bartender for awhile. 
"I'm never going to school,I want to travel the world instead".
"Lately, I've thought about being a doctor or a vet."
"I want to do something I love"

One thing I regret in my life is that I didn't talk enough about my dreams. . . to my high school guidance counselor, my parents, my husband, AND myself . . and instead, just did what I was told and went about daily life.


I want to impart this wisdom to all of my children. . . and others:

TALK about your dreams, THINK about them, and TAKE steps to achieve them, even if they are baby steps for now. You have a choice.

 KNOW that every experience is worthwhile, that  opportunities are endless. All knowledge, good or bad, expands your world. GO after your dreams, and who knows what you may find along the way. 


I love this advice on dreams by Danny Elfman.

..." The only absolute promise that I will make to you today is this:
While pursuing your dream, you will find that you’re going to encounter tons of stuff, both good and bad, that I guarantee you will not expect.
You may think you know where you’re going,but in fact, it’s likely you have no idea where any of your chosen paths will take you.
It will be difficult.

But if your path is twisted and uphill and all over the place, 
you’ll still acquire some tools, some skills, some experience,no matter how small, no matter how random,that could add up to something that is above and beyond your original dreams,in ways that may startle and surprise you.

So, whatever happens in your life, starting now – remember it.
And use it.

You’re artists.
You can, and should, use everything.

There’ll be many unexpected obstacles … use them.
There’ll be many disappointments … use them.
There could be some real heartbreaks … use them.
 Leave every possibility open all the time. "
  
 ~Danny Elfman, musician, film composer


Whose dreams have you heard lately? And what are your dreams? It's never too late to start making dreams happen.

                                    happy day!


NOODLES AND JUNK

He loves these.

There was a time when I only bought wholesome, healthy food. 
But he never ate


I knew I needed to find some kind of balance. He needed to eat. 
I wanted him to be healthy AND happy, so I bought some of those noodles and other *less then nutritious* foods too. (Hey, even I like a Ring Ding now and then! )


But I still talked about balance, nutrition and health. I didn't preach, I just informed. Sometimes a conversation ensued, sometimes he just sighed and rolled his eyes.


Yesterday, he asked if anyone else wanted some ramen noodles as he started to cook them. I couldn't resist and teased,"You mean MSG?". He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled.


Today, as I sat down at the computer, there was a page up. Can you guess what the page was? Take a LOOK

It's ok to talk about what you believe in. It's ok to share information and discuss what you've heard and read. It's never a waste of time. They *will* take from it what they will.


Every bit of knowledge expands their world, but most importantly, it's their choice in what they do with that knowledge.


happy day!