Thursday, November 6, 2008

Update on Unschooling and Cleaning

Ever since I wrote my Radical Unschooling and Cleaning post, I keep reminding myself to try the fun, let's turn on some music and dance and clean the house style, before ever getting to the I NEED HELP mean monster mommy style. I'm sure all of you always remember to be the fun Mom before the Bad Guy Mom, right? (insert conspirational, snickering laugh here.) For whatever reason, things are just going really well with Tyler. Each time I explain that I think the house is getting too messy and ask for help, he jumps to my aid. Then, of course, Evan jumps in. With Philip, I am finding I do need to be more direct and just plain ask him to do a task. I am not particularly un-schooly about the asking, i.e., I actually do expect a Yes answer. However, when I don't get one, I am open to gentle negotiations. TIMING is negotiable, and on better days, even IF is negotiable, as long as the negotiations are respectful and gentle, on both sides. They all seem to respect that Ed and I have major issues with having the living room and kitchen a mess, and they are all striving to pick up after themselves, even saying "oh yeah!" when we remind them that toys and other things need to go back into their bedrooms. Evan actually enjoys putting his blocks back into the vinyl bin and carrying it back to his room. I am learning more about the how-to's of radical unschooling by reading archives on yahoo lists. I've decided I jumped into things and verbally lifted all controls too suddenly. It might have worked better had I just started giving more "yes" answers, and simply just been more present in each moment with the boys and my husband. And now, that is what I'm doing. Gradual is always better when it comes to change with my family. Again, I am happily bewildered with how things are going with Tyler. Giving up on thinking I am in control of him has really flipped a switch in him. He came to me in the first week of our "official unschooling" and requested I help him learn to read. We started with Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and at my suggestion, scaled back a few levels and are now working through Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne. [a comment here for my friend Randi: OK, yes, from the standpoint of teaching someone to read, I can see it now. these books are very terribly written and i would not recommend anyone read them with a young child. the sentences are mostly fragments, the writing is simple, etc. it is hard to sit through. i do like the repetition though, and it's much easier than the very well written Laura Ingalls books, LOL.] He is actually reading, with occasional requests for reminders from me, and incredibly determined with it also! I brought the book to the polls with us, in hopes he would request to read, and he did! He seems much more relaxed and happy being in charge of his own academia and other daily responsibilities, and many discussions are taking place that in the past would have been cut short by "whatever mom, yeah we know." Some time after I posted my request for help with radical unschooling and cleaning, it dawned on me that I don't have to cut off all limits and boundaries and guidance for my children. I can simply be more trusting that they will be able to recognize their own body cues. I can offer information, suggestions and guidance, with respect as I would to a friend. I can accept it if they decline to follow most of the information and suggestions. It is hard, but I'm telling you all of them are happier this way and our house is running smoother. I call out reminders for morning teeth brushing, and they all gather in the bathroom together to brush. I'm finding out quickly that they are more willing to cooperate when less is asked of them. To the point that if I do raise my voice or say no, they actually hear the level I'm at and they respect it by doing what I've asked of them! And one more note on the cleaning: I remembered shortly after the cleaning post, that in Columbia, I arranged Cleaning Playdates with friends. A Mom and kids would come to my house one day and the kids would play while the Mom's cleaned. The kids and I would go to their house the following week. I can't believe I forgot about that! Anyway, I've sent out the idea on my local playgroup's Yahoo list and I've gotten responses already! Yippee! So, with that plus our Historic and most wonderful Presidential Election, life here is just awesome!

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