Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A New Lifestyle

I've been keeping a closer eye on what the boys are into since we've decided to delve more deeply into unschooling. I keep a journal in my Homeschool Tracker of all the going's on here. I must say, this is quite a difficult lifestyle I've chosen, this move into radical unschooling. For now anyway. I'm assured, and I believe, that it will get easier as we de-school ourselves and learn to find our passion or joy in life. My daily mantra and motto for now is "Trust and Respect." I am doing everything in my power to respect each of my children's authentic selves. It gets tricky because they've already been raised not to expect that respect, so they are having a hard time trusting it. At the same time, I'm having a hard time meaning it! I still have major control issues, and find myself "shoulding" all over myself and them a couple times a day! Ex 1: You should be doing something besides just watching cartoon network, Philip. By the way, have you ever talked to your kids after they've watched TV, or during? They are never "just" sitting there watching TV. Ex 2: You Should WANT to help with the house work Philip, it shouldn't have to be something I have to nag for! LOL. Gets sort of confusing for all involved! What 9 year old WANTS to help with the house work? Ha! And I'm telling him he can be and do what he chooses, and then telling him he's making the wrong choices. Ha!! I'm telling him he is allowed to negotiate the terms of chore requests, but then I freak out when he chooses simply not to help out. I keep reminding myself to "model the behavior" that I expect from them. I also keep reminding myself that it will take time before they trust that I will allow them to live from their true selves, out from under the shadows I've already put over them. In case you are totally confused and wondering if you should call DSS, or worse yet, wondering if I should perhaps go back on my antidepressants, lemme do some splainin. ;) The premise of radical unschooling is trusting that children will learn what they need to know, when they want or need to know it. It involves allowing children to live from their true selves. Of course, that means with guidance and mindfulness of the parents. The idea is, to the best of my understanding, that w/in common sense boundaries, and personal boundaries based on the needs of each family member, and economic limitations, the children will eventually learn to live from a place of authenticity, to know what they truly desire in life, to know what brings them true joy and to be able to be, have, or do whatever that is. And they will trust that I am here to help them get there, with no ulterior motives. And once they have discovered they have full freedom to do this, I have been told and I believe, all the rest will fall into place. They will find where they fit in the family and will do their part to help it run. And if not, by that point in time, I'll be living from my authentic self, and I'll be able to accept wherever they are coming from. At least that is my highest hope!! The best thing I've said so far, in a conversation with Philip, really lit a light bulb for him. I explained that the reason Ed and I get so frustrated when we don't get help with the chores, is that it's really a LOT for two people to do on their own, besides working a full time job and managing a household of 3 homeschooled kids. I told him a bit about how Ed and I used to be so frustrated with our old house even after we cleaned it, because it was so aged and generally unkempt over the years, that we couldn't even tell the difference after so much hard work. But this new house, I told him, simply sparkles (and it does!) when it's all clean and organized. I explained how it just didn't feel fair, that even though he didn't ask to be here, that Ed and I have to do all the work. I always mention how I realize he didn't actively choose to be in this family {though I believe as a soul in heaven, we actually do choose our parents} because I remember telling my Mom that I shouldn't have to clean up for her just because she had me. Yep, I've always been a snarky little girl, LOL! We had been quite upset at the outset of that conversation, and all of a sudden he looked up at me and said "I just never looked at it that way before." This was two days ago and he's done the dishes each time I ask him to, with no complaint. And out of Trust and Respect for his interests and time, if he chooses not to do them, I am much more comfortable about accepting that from him. I believe he "gets it" now and will eventually share the chore load more as, once again, he learns that he can truly trust me. I can post links another time, it's late and I'm tired tonight. The "school" part of things isn't so hard to live with, nor to track and record, as I've always been quite clever at giving subject titles to the different activities the boys engage in each day. As much for my own record, as well as for anyone who's interested, here's a look at how I organize their activities into a school journal. Cooking is science, math and art. Philip's comic book drawing is also art, and writing. Evan can be found making shapes with play dough, or drawing all over the chalkboard in the kitchen. Or all over himself with markers. I have video of his most recent body art, I'll post it later. He's also been playing with his cars quite a bit. He is lining them up, destroying the line, and building it again. That's all pre-writing, art, and sometimes math, since he counts as he picks each car up, and makes shapes as he lines them up. Tyler and Evan rearrange the magnetic letters on the refrigerator over and over again. That's pre-reading. It especially sounds like pre-reading when they ask me to sound out their lovely creations! How do you pronounce phxleckmoo? Tyler has finally learned to knit! He's been asking for quite some time. When I finally got the idea that I didn't have to so much "teach" him, as much as facilitate and guide him, he learned quite quickly!! I gave him yarn, two needles, sat him on my lap and let him watch a video at www.knittinghelp.com. He had it in less than 15 minutes! Pre-reading, and if he keeps going he'll definitely learn the math of it! Ed got them interested in puzzles again a couple of weeks ago, so they were doing that for a bit. Math, problem solving. When the guys play together, they are usually acting out, or making up their own scenes, from Star Wars, Pokemon, or Spiderman, etc. This would be Dramatic Role Playing. (thanks Lynn!) ;) Television programs on Discovery Channel, Science Channel, and even Sprout and PBS are usually Science/Nature Study, if not at least some type of themed lesson around problem solving, which I could call Social Studies or even Math if the mood struck. ;) We are listening to On The Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, whenever we're in the car. That would be Literature, History, Science, Social Studies, etc. Actually, the boys remind me to turn it on when we get in the car, and the other day I overheard Philip and Tyler discussing what each of the character's look like in their mind's eye. THAT was a Proud Mommy Moment. All the kids are getting into gardening, weeding, and other yard work. We have a feeder set up for the birds, and so we see lots of birds each day. Nature study, "community" service. Hehe. Ed and the boys finished the work bench for the garage. That's math for sure. Even Evan now knows exactly where to find the "hammer bammer." :) And then there are all the field trips we've taken and plan to take! We are on a list serve of families, which includes a lot of homeschoolers. One of the Mom's (hi Bonnie!) has filled our calendar with Friday Field trips through November! Last Friday we learned some mapping skills on a field trip at the Powder Magazine. We got to tour (tour leaders: Philip and his friend Andrew, also 9) downtown Charleston on a scavenger hunt for clues about real pirates that ended up being captured and hanged. The boys had to follow the mapping directions and then read clues to figure out why we were at each site. Philip kept repeating "this is FUN school, we could do this all the time!" Hehe. I've checked with the kids about their interests, and so far we are attending almost every Friday Field trip that is coming up. This week we are going to the Angel Oak tree on John's Island for a lesson in "Treeology." We all read books every day too, aloud and silently. They're still doing gymnastics twice a week, and both of the littles are playing soccer this season. Philip and Tyler will be playing flag football this winter. So, there's the physical education. I guess I could count all the jumping on the bed and flipping and rough housing I do with the little guys as physical education too. Then I factor in all the conversations we have, and time spent looking up the answers to questions that Ed and I don't know, and they have a well rounded education happening almost all by itself! To seasoned unschoolers, I'm obviously still very much de-schooling. But I get it now, and I'm already feeling more joyful on a daily basis! All I have to do is look at Philip to know he is well on his way to joy. Somehow, perhaps because of his determined nature, Tyler has pretty much always had an unschooled life. He is much happier now that I am not struggling against it though. And Evan's just the easiest kid any Mom could ask for, just along for the ride and enjoying every minute of it.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Hey, we're listening to Plum Creek in the car too! We all luuuuvv it, and it's so thought-provoking to me to read/listen to it as a parent now instead of as a kid. Maybe one day I'll write a blog post all about it. I pointed out to the kids that for most of the time, Laura and Mary were homeschooled!

Charleston -- what a great place to live for living history lessons! Did I ever tell you that my grandparents' house (on James Island) has Civil War solider graffiti on the walls???