A blog about homeschooling, frugal living, books and life. Grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Children Fail ( Book Review)

This book was REALLY REALLY good! I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in teaching kids or anyone interested in learning how kids learn.Well, actually this book is about how kids don't learn. That they don't learn by memorizing facts to spit back out on demand, they don't learn by force, fear and coercion. It really helped me see some things that I do thinking that I'm teaching them when really I'm just wasting my time and theirs. It was so funny reading about the ways children fool their teachers and remembering doing the exact same things when I was in school. And on the flip side reading about some tactics that teachers use and realizing that I have done some of the very same things to my own kids. I think even if I don't stay with unschooling this book and this experience will make my a much more relaxed and a much gentler homeschooler.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

How An Unschooler Socializes and Unplanned Science

Today I took the kids to a play day with the Carthage Homeschool group. I met up with a friend from church and her 12 year old daughter there . The kids all had a great time. The older ones hung out, talked and walked to the store. Donna (16) had a very good discussion with my mom who joined us for the play day about the merits of unschooling. I think mostly my mom tried to convince Donna that sticking to a schedule was important so you learn to be responsible and be on time for a job. Donna's main point seemed to be that school is oppressive and depressing. She's on the second chapter of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, hopefully she'll get the idea that learning is fun and exciting as long as it's done at the students pace and a subject that the learner is interested in. I helped Donna out by pointing out people we knew that went to (public) school who were still unable to keep a job because of tardiness. Oh and by the way my mom totally supports my homeschooling (even my unschooling) her and Donna just enjoy sparring back and forth!

After we got back from the play day I picked up my nephew Noah and he and Kyle rode their bikes together. I got bored so I went outside with Lacey and Lily and watched all the kids ride their bikes together. While they were riding I started looking in the trees and noticed a bird's nest. That led to us walking around the block trying to spot bird nests in the trees. We spotted so many! I never really noticed how many bird nests there were around here. Well, that led to a discussion on bird nests: Why are we seeing so many? Why are they so high up? Why are some so much bigger than others? I wonder if there are eggs in the nests. It was very cool. Like a totally unplanned nature/ science moment. Then they met up with the neighbor's grandsons and rode bikes together, played baseball and then spent the evening roasting marshmallows together. I think Kyle made some good friends today.

Donna and Ashley meanwhile decided to play 2000 ( a card game) together. This is a little surprising because they aren't much for hanging out together unless it's with other people also. I hope maybe this will become more of a habit.

All in all we had a great day! It was so nice out and so nice just being with the kids!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our Unschool Experiment- Update

Well, Donna and Ashley are starting to read The Teenage Liberation Handbook ( at my requests). I waver between being whole- heartedly sold on Unschooling and missing my old school methods. I especially miss the conversations I had with the kids about history and religion. We still have lots of conversations but probably not ones as deep or meaningful. I'm really trying to respect the kids as people and trust that they will learn and grow. Whenever I begin to have doubts I flip through The Teenage Liberation Handbook or the Unschooling Handbook and I ordered a couple of other books also. I have no qualms concerning Kyle or Lacey they seem to just thrive in this relaxed environment. Kyle is always doing some type of math. He loves counting! And lately he's been asking lots of questions about times tables and fractions. Lacey is constantly writing. She loves writing her letters or copying words I write for her. We are all trying to get more involved in life, especially church. We have a great event planned this Saturday called Street R.A.G.E. (Reaching All Generations Effectively). Ashley wants to get involved in it and I'm hoping Donna will as well, but I'm not forcing the issue. I'll try to post about it Sunday or Monday.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How To Introduce Shakespeare To Your Kids

Well, I think I mentioned in a previous post that Donna was reading Romeo and Juliet and getting interested in Shakespeare. Yesterday after she had read awhile in her book ( No Fear Shakespeare) she watched the Reduced Shakespeare Company again. Kyle, Lacey, Lily and Ashley watched it with her. Kyle and Lacey LOVED it! They laughed so much. The two of them ended up watching it several times, fast forwarding it and rewinding it to their favorite parts over and over again. After they had watched it so many times I was about sick of hearing it, they mercifully decided to give it a rest. I have to admit I was greatly relieved but then they really surprised me. They began acting out their favorite scenes! Their favorites seemed to be from Hamlet. Later that night Kyle was still talking about the different plays and how funny it was so I started looking up Shakespeare for kids on the Internet and came across The Animated Tales of Shakespeare from BBC. Each episode is about 30 minutes and I found where we could watch the complete episodes on YouTube. So we ended up watching Midsummer's Night Dream and Hamlet. The cartoons were pretty good! I can really see unschooling being great for the little ones but I'll admit I have my moments of doubts with the older two.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Our Unschool Experiment- Update

Well, I think we had a very productive week. We accomplished so much, not everything was academic but still worthwhile and fun. Here's some of the things we did this week; played lots of spades, started teaching Kyle to play chess, played bunches of games (hungry hippo, math bingo, storytelling, chess, spades, 2000, and settlers of catan. We also painted Ashley's room, ripped the carpet up in the dining room,and gave Donna her first driving lesson. I started potty training Lily. I read lots of books to the 3 younger ones. Today we started reading Mrs. Piggly-Wiggly. It was SO funny! Kyle played Lego's alot and today he got out a measuring tape and started measuring the different things he was building! I was really surprised to see him do this. He even asked a bunch of questions about it, like he knew what inches were but not centimeters so after I explained centimeters he remeasured everything in centimeters! He also read a bunch of books on his own. He played outside. Oh, and we decided to paint planets on his wall so we got out a bunch of books on space and looked up each planet and read a little about them, mostly how big each one was and what color. He is very excited about helping to paint them on his wall.
I feel pretty good about it so far. Tomorrow we are going to try to go to a historical demonstration/ reenactment. I don't know much about it but it's free and hopefully the kids will like it.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our Experiment With Unschool

Well Monday we officially started unschooling. It's scary and exciting. Right now I'm calling it an experiment mostly to ease everyone into the idea of it. We have been on vacation the last 2 weeks and were supposed to start back to school Monday. I spent the 2 weeks reading everything I could find online about unschooling, I also read The Unschooling Handbook and The Teenage Liberation Handbook. I ran across the Unschooling Handbook at a used book store and since I've been interested in unschooling for a couple of years now I figured I'd buy it and try to work some of it's ideas into our curriculum. But this book just spoke to me in such a powerful way that well, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was suggesting this experiment. That led me to ordering The Teenage Liberation book online and after I'd read just a few chapters of the Teenage Liberation Handbook I felt hopeful that this could work.

I also spent the 2 weeks watching my kids, praying, thinking, and planning. This is some of the things I've come up with. First there are 2 things that -I don't know let's just call them principles that I try to live my life by. First, if I'm not happy about something in my life figure out what is bothering me and why and change it. Second, Almost nothing is written in stone. I can always change my mind. So I knew I wasn't happy so I started thinking of ways to change that. And one of the things I wasn't happy about was that I always feel/ felt so hurried and pressured. I realized how much more relaxed and happy I felt on summer breaks and my 2 week breaks. I watched the kids and realized the seemed happier on our break, more relaxed, not as whiny. Also I noticed how much more time I had. Time to read to the little ones, cook, or play games with the older ones. How I felt just free to really enjoy my kids, my husband and my life. At the same used book store I also bought some books about Shakespeare. I've been wanting to start introducing Shakespeare to the girls. One book is No Fear Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet and the other is a collection of condensed versions of his plays. Well I left the No Fear book lying on the table and Donna picked it up and began reading it. She really liked it! If I had assigned this for her to read she would of hated it! I'd planned on reading it aloud to her and Ash. Anyway this book sparked an interest in her that I really noticed. Since then we've watched a modern adaption of his play The Taming of The Shrew ( 10 things I hate about you) and watched a DVD called the Reduced Shakespeare Company. This was SOOOO funny! We laughed so much! Neither one of us understood it all because we aren't very familiar with his plays but it gave us both a desire to read more of his plays! I noticed that Kyle spent alot of time building things with Lego's and playing outside. And Lacey and Lily both spent time coloring, helping me cook and looking at books. Lacey is always asking how to make letters and how to write this word or that. I noticed Ashley and Donna both liked to take long walks. Ashley likes to cook. Of course they both like watching T.V. and playing on the computer and texting their friends.

So I came up with 2 rules for our Uncshooling Experiment.
Rule # 1- No TV or computer until after 3:00 Monday- Saturday
Rule # 2- Everyone has to read at least 1 chapter in addition to their Bible reading everyday. They can choose any book they want.
So what have I learned so far? That learning is FUN! That kids do want to learn. That I have been destroying some awesome books by forcing my kids to read them. I've learned alot about my own school experiences and how little I actually learned in school. And I've remembered how great my kids are. How smart, funny and insightful each of them are. I look forward to this way of learning and if I change my mind? Well, nothing is written in stone.

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