Tag Archives: unschooling

Chat with Sandra Dodd on Mommy Chats, 4/25/07

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Years ago I owned and operated a website called Mommy Chats. Remember live chats? They used to be a big thing. Not anymore.

So eventually, after many successful years, the site faded away, and no longer exists (I actually sold it finally, but they never did anything with it)…you can only find it on The WayBack Machine now…but back in it’s hayday, I hosted lots of great mommy related chats, and even partnered up with (then) hugely popular and influential natural parenting magazine Mothering Magazine and hosted all their live chats. This is one of the homeschool related chats that I hosted. This one is with well respected and experienced unschooler and author, Sandra Dodd.

Below is the transcript of a chat I hosted on 4/25/07 with Sandra.  There were 21 moms in attendance.

Here’s the blurb from that chat:

Mothering Magazine Sponsored Chat with Sandra Dodd. Sandra Dodd grew up and lives in New Mexico, where she taught English when she was younger. Her children never went to school, and are now 15, 18 and 20. Sandra and her husband like to play and sing early period music for fun. Sandra has been active in online discussions of unschooling and natural learning for a dozen years and has an extensive prairie-dog-village of a website ( www.sandradodd.com ). Sandra has been published in several magazines, and the book in which those articles have been collected, Moving a Puddle, can be purchased from http://sandradodd.com/puddlebook .

12:59:24 Webmama_Tina Mothering Mag chat room is open for business! Just waiting for our guest speaker to arrive. 🙂 Double click the room name to the right to join us——————->
12:59:51 SandraMort aloha
12:59:56 Webmama_Tina hiya
13:00:03 Webmama_Tina i hope sandra dodd remembers
13:00:07 Webmama_Tina i sent her an email this morning
13:00:08 Webmama_Tina oh yay!
13:00:12 Webmama_Tina there she is! 🙂
13:00:16 SandraMort knitting w sleeping boy on lap, not typing much
13:00:25 SandraMort afternoon, sandra
13:01:44 SandraDodd Hello
13:01:55 Webmama_Tina hi sandra!
13:02:00 Tera Hello
13:02:03 Webmama_Tina glad to have you here!
13:02:04 SandraDodd Should I introduce myself or wait a while?
13:02:07 SandraDodd Thank you.
13:02:09 Webmama_Tina i’ll make the announcement that we are starting
13:02:42 Webmama_Tina Mothering Magazine sponsored chat with guest speaker Sandra Dodd is starting RIGHT NOW in the Mothering Mag chat room…Join us!
13:03:25 Kamibug_and_Kiddos am i frozen?
13:03:32 Webmama_Tina Sandra Dodd grew up and lives in New Mexico, where she taught English when she was younger. Her children never went to school, and are now 15, 18 and 20. Sandra and her husband like to play and sing early period music for fun. Sandra has been active in online discussions of unschooling and natural learning for a dozen years and has an extensive prairie-dog-village of a website (www.sandradodd.com). Sandra has been published in several magazines, and the book in which those articles have been collected, Moving a Puddle, can be purchased from http://sandradodd.com/puddlebook.
13:04:02 Webmama_Tina ok now let me invite one more group…hold on…almost ready… 🙂
13:04:28 SandraDodd And postage is going up very soon, so I need to change that page soon. But it hasn’t gone up yet! (end of my plug, totally)
13:04:31 SandraMort kam – i see you’
13:04:43 Webmama_Tina ok
13:04:49 Webmama_Tina Welcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: http://www.mommychats.com/modrules.htm …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:04:59 Webmama_Tina lol sandra
13:05:08 SandraDodd Yes?
13:05:16 Webmama_Tina oh that was me laughing at what you said 🙂
13:05:29 Webmama_Tina ok so lets get started and people will arrive as they can
13:05:43 Webmama_Tina gave you guest speaker clothes, sandra 🙂
13:05:48 SandraDodd Thanks.
13:05:49 Webmama_Tina you’re now green in the list to the right too
13:05:58 Webmama_Tina ok sandra did you want to add anything to the intro?
13:06:04 Webmama_Tina about yourself or your knowledge?
13:06:07 Webmama_Tina or anything? 🙂
13:06:09 SandraDodd When I play board games I always try to get the green marker. How appropriate!
13:06:12 SandraDodd Ah…
13:06:17 Webmama_Tina lol
13:06:28 SandraDodd About my knowledge? I can speak to that, I suppose.
13:06:42 SandraDodd When I was in first grade I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
13:07:01 SandraDodd All through school I paid attention to what teachers did and how, and why (when I could figure that out, which was pretty often)
13:07:13 SandraDodd And I asked the other kids what they liked about teachers and what they didn’t
13:07:31 SandraDodd So I learned LOTS and lots about how learning works and what factors work for different kinds of people
13:08:06 SandraDodd When I was older, 13/14 or so, I wanted to become a missionary (still teaching-related), or to work at a magazine.
13:08:36 SandraDodd And it seems all those rolled together are what I’ve become. I write, and I help people have happier more peaceful lives, and it’s all about learning.
13:08:59 Webmama_Tina that’s awesome sandra
13:09:05 SandraDodd So in a natural-learning way I’ve been working up to this always.
13:09:44 Webmama_Tina did you always unschool your children?
13:10:17 SandraDodd My children never went to school; right. Outside my family (or lately with my two younger kids, actually) I’m often involved in philosophy discussions of history and virtues and such, and one concept that evolved from that was…
13:10:22 SandraDodd “preparing for one’s unseen future.”
13:10:36 SandraDodd And so in that way, I’ve always been preparing to be an unschooler, I guess.
13:10:51 Webmama_Tina they never went to school, got it, but were they unschooled the entire time or did that evolve to unschooling over time? just curious
13:10:56 SandraDodd And I’ve seen such things in my children. Things they’ve done for fun have turned into opportunities to help others (or helped in employment).
13:11:02 SandraDodd To back up on the knowledge and preparation,
13:11:35 Webmama_Tina and mamas, start posting your single question marks if you want to get in line to ask sandra a question…i’m ready to start the queue. 😉
13:11:52 SandraDodd when I went to college to become a teacher (I attended from 1970-1974, University of New Mexico, in the radical hippie days, at a radical hippie college) we studied alternative education heavily.
13:12:29 ElijahsMommy ?
13:12:37 SandraDodd My oldest was born in 1986 and I joined La Leche League, here in Albuquerque. I was in a babysitting co-op in which half the families homeschooled.
13:12:52 SandraDodd Two families were unschoolers (and all LLL) and the other two did school at home
13:13:23 SandraDodd So for a couple of years before I had even considered homeschooling at all, I interacted frequently with these families–the kids without the parents, the parents without the kids, the whole families all together with other families.
13:13:24 Webmama_Tina current chatter: Webmama_Tina …upcoming chatters: ElijahsMommy
13:13:26 SandraDodd What a lab!!
13:13:39 SandraDodd I could not have hoped for a better experience.
13:13:52 SandraDodd And that too was preparing for my unseen future, because all through that I thought I would send Kirby to school.
13:14:37 SandraDodd What I discovered was that I wanted our family to be like those two unschooling families whose children would come and climb up into parents’ laps, whose parents helped their children try things, taste/touch/see/hear things, and were gentle and sweet.
13:15:04 SandraDodd And the other two homeschooling families, though they were just as involved in La Leche League, were quite antagonistic with these school aged kids.
13:15:09 SandraDodd So I saw what was possible.
13:15:14 SandraDodd And we always unschooled.
13:15:23 Webmama_Tina very interesting! 🙂
13:15:35 SandraDodd My children are 20, 18 and 15 now so only the youngest is “school age.”
13:15:48 SandraDodd Okay. I’m done with my long intro.
13:15:52 Webmama_Tina so your kids would be great to use to research how children turn out that always unschooled…that’s fascinating 🙂
13:16:00 Webmama_Tina 🙂 that’s great, thanks sandra!\
13:16:05 SandraDodd Tina, do you prefer one line or two at a time, or whole paragraphs for posting?
13:16:12 Webmama_Tina elijahsmommy, you’re up!
13:16:28 Webmama_Tina either is ok
13:16:37 Webmama_Tina you seem to type fairly fast so i think we’re good either way
13:16:59 Webmama_Tina for slower typers i ask for them to hit return more often so we don’t have as long of a gap waiting for the response…but you’re good the way you are i think 🙂
13:17:02 ElijahsMommy ok
13:17:03 SandraDodd My sister assures me that I type faster than I think. That could be a danger here. <g>
13:17:04 ElijahsMommy ummm
13:17:08 Webmama_Tina LOL
13:17:10 Webmama_Tina i hear ya
13:17:30 ElijahsMommy What is the difference btwn homeschool and unschool? Can they later go to college?
13:17:45 SandraDodd Anyone can go to college, regardless of other factors.
13:17:54 Webmama_Tina and don’t mind me as i post welcomes for latecomers, and remind the rules and queue
13:18:00 Webmama_Tina Welcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: http://www.mommychats.com/modrules.htm …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:18:09 SandraDodd They can just take the SAT, ACT or whatever, or go to a community college and transfer.
13:18:35 SandraDodd There are lots and lots of ways to get into college, though high schools for their own purposes lead people to think that only a great high school record and the recommendations of counselors will get you in.
13:19:20 ElijahsMommy Ok so what is the difference btwn homeschool and unschool, and how was it doing it for 3 kids?
13:19:33 SandraDodd As to the difference, unschooling is a kind of homeschooling. There are other kinds, too.
13:19:53 SandraDodd Unschooling isn’t a thing I “did for 3 kids,” though.
13:19:56 SandraDodd It’s a way to live.
13:20:26 SandraMort ?
13:20:46 SandraDodd I can’t scroll up and see the top, so I don’t remember if my website’s there, but there’s more information at http://sandradodd.com/unschooling
13:20:59 ElijahsMommy so it was a way of life…you just taught them little things everyday…?
13:21:03 Webmama_Tina for people that are new to the concept, could you give a short explanation of unschooling, sandra
13:21:12 SandraDodd If a link starts at the beginning of a line, Tina, will it be clickable?
13:21:25 Webmama_Tina if you type it as a url or with www at the beginning its clickable
13:21:39 SandraDodd They learned little and big things every few moments, day and night.
13:22:10 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/help
13:22:20 Webmama_Tina perhaps a comparison of traditional homeschooling vs unschooling would help for those that don’t understand unschooling yet? 🙂
13:22:25 SandraDodd It’s all… pink and green. <g> I’m afraid to click it because I don’t want to boot myself out of the chat.
13:22:42 SandraMort the link looks good
13:22:45 Webmama_Tina if you click a link inside the chat room it will open the page in a new window
13:23:02 SandraDodd OH GOOD! Thanks.
13:23:02 SandraMort it’s fine
13:23:03 SandraMort I checked
13:23:26 Webmama_Tina if you click any other link on the page (such as in the navigation in the bar at the top of the page) that will take you away from the chat, but any links IN the chat, are fine to click
13:23:40 SandraDodd Okay. Among homeschoolers, the most conservative sort of homeschooling is sometimes referred to as “school at home”
13:24:18 SandraDodd Some families go so far as to have a classroom, a school schedule, flag, pledge of allegiance, the kids have to address their mom as “Mrs. Wilson” (or whatever) during “school” and the kids have to dress in “school clothes.” Whole school.
13:24:44 SandraDodd Most, though, don’t go that far, but they’ll have school-style materials and lessons and “subjects” with reports and tests and all.
13:25:38 jenajustice what about when a child *wants* that style of “homeschool” and the parent doesn’t?
13:25:41 ElijahsMommy so with doing unschool did you do a lot of research on things they liked, if you didn’t know much about it
13:26:00 SandraDodd There are within that range some particular kinds of programs that are less like public school and more like a stricter private school (more religious, more classical/Greek/Latin) and some that are more like more liberal schools.
13:26:05 SandraDodd But still it’s like a school one way or another.
13:26:48 SandraDodd For myself, if I thought school was the way to go I’d send them to school with professionals. Because one drawback of school at home is that kids don’t like school, but at least if school’s bad they get to go home.
13:27:03 SandraDodd To make home a school robs the children of the relief of going home.
13:27:13 SandraDodd But I really don’t want to spend the hour talking about school. REALLY don’t. <g>
13:27:18 Webmama_Tina current chatter: ElijahsMommy …upcoming chatters: SandraMort
13:27:35 SandraDodd I don’t know any children who would want a strict adversarial relationship with a parent.
13:27:49 SandraDodd I didn’t need to do a lot of research on subjects. I just shared the explorations with my children
13:28:10 ElijahsMommy are any of your children in college?
13:28:21 ElijahsMommy or even had a desire?
13:28:36 SandraDodd The oldest did a semester, and might go back. The second has been talking about it (the 18 year old).
13:29:20 SandraDodd It was a community college situation. He started a math course baffled and ended up with the highest test grade and second highest class grade.
13:29:38 SandraDodd If they decide to go, they’ll have no problems.
13:29:54 SandraDodd Both my boys were offered jobs–the first when he turned 14, the the other at 15.
13:29:59 ElijahsMommy one more question does your book talk about the whole unschooling,,,and your experience
13:30:24 SandraDodd They didn’t apply. So they both worked from earlier than most kids ever could, and they learned lots about things they never would have been exposed to, by working.
13:30:32 SandraDodd And they had money to pursue other hobbies.
13:30:59 SandraDodd The book is essays (many of which are online on my site) on many different unschooling experiences and topics.
13:31:07 ElijahsMommy oh ok…thank you
13:31:41 SandraDodd All the how-to stuff about how unschooling works is at my site, though. I’ve collected and linked to many other people’s writings, too.
13:31:58 SandraDodd It’s not just my voice there. Years of the best of unschooling ideas!
13:32:07 Webmama_Tina sandra can you just give a brief explanation of unschooling…
13:32:31 Webmama_Tina i would like to have it in the transcripts and for those that are not familiar with it yet 🙂
13:32:34 SandraDodd Okay. And Tina, if I’ve missed a question, please prompt me, because I tried looking up but couldn’t go very far back in the chat.
13:32:42 Webmama_Tina no worries, i got your back 🙂
13:33:25 SandraDodd Unschooling is based on the open classroom theories of the late 1960’s and the 1970’s. John Holt was one of many proponents of the idea that schools should be revamped
13:33:32 SandraDodd in such a way that children had choices
13:33:40 SandraDodd and could discover things in fun ways
13:33:51 SandraDodd by seeing and touching and experimenting informally
13:34:12 SandraDodd with materials, plants, equipment, concepts, art, music…
13:34:31 SandraDodd That if things are laid out in fun ways in interesting surroundings and children are encouraged to explore, they can’t help but learn.
13:35:06 SandraDodd And researchers in those days had lots of proof and hopeful statistics and evidence, but then to their great dismay it didn’t work outside of the laboratory schools and university experiements.
13:35:20 SandraDodd There are several reasons for the failures.
13:35:45 SandraDodd I live in an area where many schools tried these methods. And I did when I taught to the extent I could (which was insufficient).
13:36:02 SandraDodd And in Albuquerque several physical schools were built on the model recommended by the open classroom folks.
13:36:13 SandraDodd But first, the teachers have to really understand and want to do it.
13:36:31 SandraDodd And second, the freedom has to have some reality. It can’t just be “kind of” freedom.
13:36:41 SandraDodd And the BIG one is the kids have to be there because they want to be there.
13:36:56 SandraDodd And so when the everyday realities of public school are laid over that, it fails.
13:37:23 SandraDodd But in the experimental situations, the kids had agreed to be in alternative schools, or their parents had been supportive of it (during and after school) and the teachers were the researchers.
13:37:36 SandraDodd So the theory is great,and the research was done, but it couldn’t work.
13:37:42 SandraDodd In individual families, though it CAN work!
13:37:48 SandraDodd And it does.
13:38:06 SandraDodd And now I suppose the next question will be “but what does it look like” or “what is a typical day like?”
13:38:10 SandraMort My sister was in one of those open classroom projects in the early 80’s in NYC. Ironically, I was part of the reason my mother pulled her out of the program.
13:38:13 Webmama_Tina lol yup
13:39:23 Webmama_Tina Welcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: http://www.mommychats.com/modrules.htm …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:39:34 SandraMort oops. sorry!
13:39:47 SandraDodd I’ve collected lots of typical days accounts and I’ll put the link here, but read them later. There are very many. And in “Reading Rainbow” tradition, I’ll say (in LaVar Burton’s voice) that you don’t have to take my word for it. 
13:39:50 Webmama_Tina no worries sandra… 🙂 you’re the next chatter anyway, you’re good 🙂
13:39:55 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/typical
13:40:11 Webmama_Tina lol
13:40:20 Webmama_Tina LOVE lavar!
13:40:24 Stacey ?
13:40:43 Webmama_Tina sandramort, go for it, you’re up!
13:41:06 SandraMort First, I wanted to thank you for your web site. I have it linked from my blog and it’s the fitst place I refer people when they have questions (and I’m not feeling patient enough to answer).
13:41:22 SandraDodd Thanks!
13:41:52 Webmama_Tina current chatter: SandraMort …upcoming chatters: Stacey
13:41:56 SandraMort I’m the mom of an unschooling family with three kids (8, 6 and 2) despite being a bad influence and nagging my mother to take my sister out of the open classeom setting… 🙁
13:42:01 SandraMort Bad me..
13:42:16 SandraMort We’ve never done it another way, other than one “semester” of “preschool” that my oldest went to at 3.
13:42:16 Webmama_Tina lol
13:42:32 SandraMort (Hey, I’m Jewish, I get to feel guilty, even if I was only 12 at the time!!!)
13:42:35 SandraMort lol
13:43:05 SandraMort My question is what your response is when someone calls you a “radical unschooler”. I don’t feel like we’re doing anything particularly radical and my reaction is always somewhat defensive… the word ‘radical’ usually feels judgemental in that context.
13:43:34 SandraDodd I talked my cousin (my age, who grew up with me) out of homeschooling her first child and she went on to have five, and would’ve been a great homeschooler. Talk about GUILT! And honestly, my first work to help others unschool was directly penitential.
13:43:52 SandraDodd I told myself I was going to help other people for four years to make up for talking Nada out of unschooling.
13:44:08 GourmetMama ?
13:44:08 SandraDodd I don’t mind “radical.” I just hear it as “real” or “actual”
13:44:18 SandraDodd (“everything is satisfactual”)
13:44:24 SandraMort lol ok
13:45:00 SandraDodd When they use it as an insult (as a few do), I just figure they’re trying to discredit me at a surface level, since they can’t do it in any substantial way.
13:45:06 Webmama_Tina current chatter: SandraMort …upcoming chatters: Stacey, GourmetMama
13:45:21 SandraDodd But most who say “radical unschooling” mean (I think) complete, whole-life unschooling.
13:45:52 SandraDodd People who have met my kids never say another negative thing about unschooling. It’s kind of amazing.
13:46:08 SandraDodd When I figured that out, as my kids got older, I started trying always to take one of them with me to any conference where I spoke.
13:46:19 SandraDodd Because my words might be fun and inspiring, but they’re no “proof.”
13:46:35 SandraDodd But when a nervous parent spends any time talking with Kirby or Marty or Holly, their fears dissolve.
13:46:52 SandraMort *nod* An unschooler s hat convinced me (I think you know Daystar, actually)
13:47:03 SandraMort is what
13:47:24 SandraDodd Oh! “is what.” I was thinking “hat” 🙂 
13:47:28 SandraMort he was so literate, so well spoken, had such poise with adults
13:47:47 Webmama_Tina lol i thought you saw a hat that convinced you too, LOL!
13:47:54 SandraDodd When my boys were offered those jobs, it was because of that. They were already whole people even though they were young.
13:47:58 SandraMort no, the laptop keyboard is junk
13:48:10 Webmama_Tina i was going to say…wow, i want to know what that hat said! LOL
13:48:22 SandraMort now you know why I want to learn to knit!
13:48:24 SandraMort lol
13:48:29 SandraMort hats talk to me
13:48:34 Webmama_Tina lol
13:48:42 SandraDodd They were responsible and reliable and calm (and also fun and funny, but not as so many 14 year olds can be, eye-contact-avoidant, or shifty or lazy…)
13:49:04 SandraDodd I used to be that way when I was 14.
13:49:12 waterdog I can’t believe it took me 45 min to get in here. I guess that’s what happens when you’re trying to do it while homeschooling! lol
13:49:24 Webmama_Tina lol waterdog…glad you made it!
13:49:27 SandraDodd I had become pretty distrustful of adults, and school had taught me to stay away from older and younger kids, and just stick to kids my own age. Very unnatural.
13:49:29 Webmama_Tina Welcome to this week’s Mothering Sponsored chat! This is a moderated chat. Please make sure you read and fully understand the Moderated Chat Instructions before participating in this chat. Instructions can be found here: http://www.mommychats.com/modrules.htm …A Friendly Reminder: Please do not post unless it is your turn to ask a question. If you have a question, please post a single \?\” and you’ll be added to the queue. Have your question ready when your name is called. “
13:49:44 Webmama_Tina current chatter: SandraMort …upcoming chatters: Stacey, GourmetMama
13:50:03 SandraDodd Tina, I’m not sure how this works, completely, but I’m willing to stay longer if that’s an option, if others want.
13:50:05 SandraMort well, it’s time for a purl row… and I have to finish learning so I can help the kids learn to knit… 🙂
13:50:10 SandraMort So I thank you
13:50:14 Webmama_Tina oh that’s great sandra, thanks!
13:50:29 Webmama_Tina stacey, you’re up! 🙂
13:50:31 Stacey I keep getting bumped off so I hope this goes through…
13:50:42 Webmama_Tina current chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
13:50:49 Stacey We have been homeschooling for 11 years, unschooling for the last 7 of those
13:51:35 Stacey for the past year or so we’ve been coping with caring for my terminally ill mom and now are all still reeling from her death. I find that even though I consider us unschoolers,
13:52:37 Stacey I feel more like we’re just surviving…I’m not as innovative or involved in the way we used to do school and for the life of me, can’t seem to get back into the swing of things.
13:53:24 SandraDodd If your kids were going to school during that time, they wouldn’t have been learning much and might have been disruptive to the rest of the class. Grief and preoccupation do that to anyone.
13:53:34 Stacey I’m grateful that we’re not following a curriculum of any sort, but now, a couple of my children have turned to that. I guess I feel like instead of unschooling I’ve been unparenting..
13:53:42 Stacey help?
13:53:51 SandraDodd Some teachers are grieving or caught up in their own personal problems, and it keeps them from being fully present there too.
13:54:29 Webmama_Tina i would think its totally ok to be on hold while you all make it through the stages of grief
13:54:40 SandraDodd I don’t see why your children should turn to a curriculum instead of turning to books, DVDs, music, hobbies, friends outside the family…
13:54:44 Webmama_Tina and i’m so sorry for your loss!
13:55:05 Stacey Thanks, and I do know that they’ve learned soooo much from all of this.
13:55:10 SandraDodd In school, a third of the kids are behind, a third are ahead, and the other third are mostly resistent. <g>
13:55:16 Webmama_Tina lol
13:56:10 Stacey I guess I’m looking for I don’t know ? a jumpstart or maybe just some encouragement to continue…
13:56:11 Webmama_Tina current chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
13:56:19 SandraDodd The idea/ideal of school shepherding kids through materials as a group isn’t reality.
13:56:35 SandraDodd The idea/ideal of every teacher being together 180 days a year and fully attentive to every one of 30 kids isn’t reality.
13:57:10 SandraDodd And so the ideal of every unschooling mom doing innovative and involved things 365 days a year isn’t realistic either.
13:57:57 SandraDodd Think in terms of hours and days, of the year (let’s call it a year) that you cared for your mom. It must have been very intense, and I bet the kids learned a lot about geriatrics (the big field in many ways) and medicine and human factors.
13:58:07 SandraDodd Maybe they learned about finance, insurance, laws, traditions.
13:58:31 SandraDodd Maybe they heard more about the history of your family than they would have if you hadn’t known your mom was terminal.
13:58:39 Stacey The completely learned to never pick up a cigarette, that’s for certain.
13:58:57 SandraDodd How many hours did they spend doing (I don’t know…) food prep, meds prep, clean-up, helping take care of their mom?
13:59:15 Stacey Too many to count
13:59:22 SandraDodd When people have measured the amount of real “learning time” in schools, it’s come down to like between fifteen minutes and two hours a day.
13:59:35 SandraDodd Still, schools count it as six hours a day (or whatever, in whichever jurisdiction.)
13:59:45 SandraDodd So six hours times 180 days.
14:00:06 SandraDodd That’s the conservative amount of time anyone claims school “provides.”
14:00:20 SandraDodd With unschooling, it comes to be all the time, every day, all year.
14:00:32 SandraDodd But if you worry about what seems like a solid month of “nothing,”
14:00:46 SandraDodd here is how many days of “nothing” are scheduled by every public school I know of:
14:00:49 SandraDodd 185
14:00:59 SandraDodd Over half the year, summer, vacations and weekends, NOTHING.
14:01:24 SandraDodd A child who is deeply involved in something interesting to him will learn.
14:01:33 Stacey One unexpected bonus of this is that we were all there when she died, something that our entire society is mostly protected from, seeing birth, death,picking and eating their own food…I know that it’s enriched them.
14:01:38 SandraDodd A child who casually picks up some object he’s never seen is learning.
14:02:05 Stacey I guess it’s just hard to squeeze onto a transcript!
14:02:13 SandraDodd I have an article, and it’s online, about looking too narrowly for what you want to find.
14:02:35 Stacey is there a link?
14:02:47 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/seeingit
14:02:53 SandraDodd That might help you, Stacey.
14:03:02 SandraDodd Sorry, I was trying to paste it in and couldn’t get it to go.
14:03:17 SandraDodd Are you sure you need to have a transcript, Stacey?
14:03:23 Stacey Thanks. I love the guidance you’ve given all of us
14:03:31 SandraDodd Very few jurisdictions actually require that.
14:03:49 SandraDodd Thank you for the kind words, Stacey.
14:04:18 Webmama_Tina current chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
14:04:54 SandraDodd I was just telling a young (22) friend the other day that my kids were always the most exhausted
14:05:05 SandraDodd not after a day of physical activity, but after a day of intense learning.
14:05:26 Stacey That sort of describes my kids, too.
14:05:27 SandraDodd If they saw things they had never seen, got to do something they’d never done, met new people and played and talked, they slept like rocks.
14:05:45 SandraDodd But those days might not have looked like something to write a transcript about.
14:05:55 SandraDodd Sometimes the most intense learning of all looks like play.
14:06:07 SandraDodd And that is central to what makes unschooling work.
14:06:06 Stacey I can’t get them to sleep for their voracious reading, they’ll routinely go through a book or two a day
14:06:38 SandraDodd What makes unschooling work is that children learn by playing.
14:06:51 SandraDodd Older kids too. Adults, too.
14:06:56 SandraDodd People learn by playing.
14:07:04 Stacey You’re right. There are so few unschoolers here that I forget what I’m doing.
14:07:05 SandraDodd People can learn without “work” and “study.”
14:07:15 SandraDodd They can learn by trying, discussing, exploring.
14:07:43 SandraDodd Stacey, I don’t believe you need to try to “get them to sleep” either.
14:07:55 SandraDodd Sleep happens when people are sleepy. People will, and do, sleep.
14:07:58 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/sleep
14:07:58 Stacey You’re right!
14:08:44 SandraMort that didn’t go through
14:08:54 Stacey It’s almost as if I’ve forgotten how to walk! What you’re saying are things that I know. Things that I’ve told others for years and now it’s me looking for the answers again <sigh>
14:09:04 SandraMort a shame, sleep is a Big Problem for us
14:09:10 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/sleep
14:09:36 jenajustice ?
14:09:36 SandraMort There are LOTS of pages on this site, but /sleep isn’t one of them.
14:10:12 SandraDodd DOH!! Sorry. SleepING what have I done wrong? http://www.sandradodd.com/sleeping
14:10:18 SandraMort ahhh
14:10:20 SandraDodd I try to make them guessable.
14:10:27 Webmama_Tina sorry, had a phone call…i’m back 🙂
14:10:30 Webmama_Tina current chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama
14:10:49 SandraDodd if you try sandradodd.com/games (or anything) you’ll either get a page or a search page.
14:11:12 Webmama_Tina current chatter: Stacey …upcoming chatters: GourmetMama, jenajustice
14:11:21 Stacey My youngest is pulling at my sleeve, wanting to go swimming…even though it’s going to mean missing out on the rest of this chat, it’s where my heart is leading me. Thanks for the encouragement. S
14:11:35 SandraDodd Have fun, Stacey.
14:11:41 SandraDodd I hope you feel more confident soon!
14:11:43 Webmama_Tina current chatter: GourmetMama …upcoming chatters: jenajustice
14:12:22 GourmetMama First I want to thanks Tina for her hard work running the chat and Sandra for being here to inspire us.
14:12:35 SandraDodd I’m glad to have been invited.
14:12:59 Webmama_Tina oh i wasn’t watching the time…ok so that will be our last question, and the queue is closed now, so we can wrap this up (otherwise we could go on all day! *grin*)
14:13:16 SandraDodd I can go on all day. My youngest is 15 now. <g>
14:13:17 Webmama_Tina aw, thanks for the kind words GourmetMama
14:13:30 SandraMort lol
14:13:39 Webmama_Tina lol, mine is 21mo and my 6yr old has strep throat so i should get outta here soon 🙂
14:13:49 GourmetMama I have two questions, Sandra. The first is that my middle son wishes to enter college to be a nurse and they have requested a transcript. How do you put real life into a transcript for college? The second is how did your kids ever learn their times tables?
14:14:15 GourmetMama Without rote memorization I mean. LOL
14:14:38 SandraDodd Write a narrative instead of a transcript. State in the narrative that many homeschoolers make up transcripts but that it would be dishonest, and that your son has learned in the ways they need college students to learn.
14:14:50 SandraDodd If you need help with wording, go to an unschooling discussion list and ask for help.
14:14:52 SandraDodd Seriously.
14:14:56 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/lists/other
14:15:00 SandraDodd They’ll help you.
14:15:05 GourmetMama oh! What a great idea! Thank you!
14:15:33 SandraDodd I must answer your question with a question (or at least a request for clarification): Please define “learn their times tables.”
14:15:40 GourmetMama Feels a little like a light bulb went off over that one. lol
14:16:17 GourmetMama My daughter cannot do multiplcation. She hates it, hates all math, and we have been struggling to help her learn her multiplication tables.
14:16:30 SandraDodd This is not an unschooling question.,
14:16:43 SandraDodd Because I would have to ask how you know your daughter cannot do multiplication.
14:16:50 SandraDodd Why does she “hate math”? 
14:16:59 SandraDodd Why are you HAVING “math” for her to hate?
14:17:14 Webmama_Tina http://www.googolpower.com
14:17:26 Webmama_Tina for learning times tables with music…
14:17:36 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/timestables
14:17:45 GourmetMama Won’t she need math to get a job or into college?
14:17:46 Webmama_Tina in a fun way, play in the car while driving around
14:17:48 SandraDodd Sorry to answer so many questions with links, but really it’s best. The answers are all written out.
14:17:55 GourmetMama Thank you Tina.
14:18:06 SandraDodd Have you ever seen a job application that says “What is 6×9?”
14:18:16 SandraDodd How do kids in school “learn their times tables”? 
14:18:18 GourmetMama No that’s fine, Sandra, if it’s there, then cool, I’ll go read it!
14:18:19 SandraDodd Many never do.
14:18:40 SandraDodd And I want to say this, too. Most people don’t even know what they mean when they say “times table”
14:18:44 SandraDodd what “table”?
14:18:52 GourmetMama Well, we were required to write them every day until our brains imploded. lol Which is what I wanted to avoid.
14:19:15 SandraDodd And if you write out the big grid of 1×1 through 9×9 (or 12×12) then you have created one single “table.”
14:19:21 SandraDodd And it doesn’t need to be “learned.”
14:19:58 SandraDodd And many schoolkids who think they have “learned their times tables” are reciting things that make no sense to them at all. They have no understanding of what they mean when they recite “nine times nine is eighty-one”
14:20:24 SandraDodd But my kids first “did times tables” on paper for fun for a penny a square to go buy a soda. <g>
14:20:46 SandraDodd Putting math to song is still rote memorization and won’t necessarily lead to any understanding.
14:20:54 SandraDodd But my kids learned lots of things with music.
14:21:06 Webmama_Tina true sandra…they should learn it hands on first
14:21:10 SandraDodd Discovery Toys has (had) a tape called “Sounds like Fun” that was REALLY popular here.
14:21:32 SandraDodd And they learned the days of the week by singing them to the tune of Yankee Doodle (pre-Barney; now kids think of that as the Barney song)
14:21:53 SandraDodd But because the days of the week fit into each of the four lines of the song, it’s also good for learning how long a month is (four weeks, and some…)
14:22:04 GourmetMama So if they get the concept…that 7X3 is the same as 7 + 7 + 7 then they do know how to multiply?
14:22:24 SandraDodd The reason I asked you to clarify is because it depends what you mean by “know.”
14:22:30 SandraMort sure, that’s where my kids are right now
14:22:34 SandraDodd Recite? Understand? Recognize it on paper?
14:22:53 SandraDodd If you read the times tables article I put there http://sandradodd.com/timestables
14:23:06 SandraDodd you’ll see a story of Kirby teaching people older than he was to multiply by 18 in their heads.
14:23:13 SandraMort eva ‘discovered’ the commutative principle the other day… i think that’s the one….. 2×3 = 3 x 2
14:23:22 GourmetMama I guess what I meant was understand in a way to be able to utilize it in other math problems and reallife situations.
14:23:31 SandraDodd But when he went to take that math course at the community college, he didn’t recognize the notation.
14:23:48 SandraDodd I hope you didn’t tell Eva anything like “Oh, that’s the commmutative property of numbers!”
14:24:06 SandraDodd To understand math without knowing mathematical notation is WAY better than the other way around.
14:24:32 SandraDodd But if you start with notation, you can make kids hate and fear math. Schools do it ALL THE TIME, every day (well, six hours times 180 days a year, I mean).
14:24:34 SandraMort LOL No, we were on an escalator, she uses math to distract her from the heights. She had waaaay more important things on her mind than meaningless titles
14:24:38 SandraDodd Don’t try that at home! <g>
14:24:45 Webmama_Tina definitely…to actually understand the concepts fully…makes a heckuva lot more sense then memorizing things they don’t understand
14:24:51 SandraDodd (not the escalator, the turning kids off to math)
14:25:09 GourmetMama So as long as they grasp the concepts then I am overworrying the rest, basically.
14:25:14 SandraDodd Paul McCartney was doing okay musically without knowing musical notation.
14:25:24 SandraDodd He did learn to read and write music, in his 40’s, because he wanted to.
14:25:29 SandraDodd But it wasn’t necessary for being a musician.
14:25:55 SandraMort It’s SO cool… it’s like the joy of watching a baby learn to walk. They just DO. Without knowing the names of the steps involved… it just is internalized.
14:25:59 SandraDodd I would hate to even start to imagine how many potential musicians just turned away from the idea of singing or playing instruments because they were pressed to learn music theory and notation at a young age.
14:25:59 SandraMort and then they can walk.
14:26:04 SandraDodd YES. They can just learn.
14:26:09 SandraDodd That’s what unschooling is about.
14:26:19 SandraDodd Take away the school, the school language and practices and expectations.
14:26:25 SandraDodd And all that’s left is the learning.
14:26:31 SandraMort But math still scares me. I work so hard to not let them see that.
14:26:42 SandraMort Sorry — them “not learning math” scares me.
14:26:50 SandraDodd Don’t be schooly or schoolish.
14:26:56 SandraDodd Be UN schoolish.
14:26:59 GourmetMama She hates math because she is dyslexic and she confuses the numbers so it’s frustrating rather than fun. For the most part she does a LOT of cooking and uses fractions with ease…but anything else just makes her mad.
14:27:04 SandraMort No, I’m not. And they’re learning. I shut my mouth and they do fine.
14:27:11 SandraDodd No, she hates math because someone put “math” in front of her.
14:27:24 SandraDodd There’s nothing to be mad about in the absence of the notation and the pressure and the schoolishness.
14:27:45 SandraDodd It won’t be fun for kids who aren’t dyslexic, for someone to put numbers in front of a person.
14:27:52 SandraDodd Let her ask.
14:27:59 SandraDodd Play games, build things, do art.
14:28:06 SandraDodd Patterns and counting occur naturally in the whole world.
14:28:14 SandraMort I’m told that knitting is really good for learning math.
14:28:18 SandraDodd Let her discover those things in the course of doing other things.
14:28:31 SandraDodd If you think of knitting as “good for learning math” it isn’t good for knitting. <g>
14:28:34 SandraMort Though that’s not the reason I’m teaching the kids… they wanted to know how
14:28:39 SandraDodd EVERYthing is good for learning everything
14:28:40 SandraMort No, no, I just heard that
14:28:47 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/learning
14:28:54 SandraDodd There’s a page with few words. Lots of learning.
14:28:58 SandraMort Well, sure, but vitamin A from carrots isn’t less good for you if you LIKE carrots.
14:29:03 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/history
14:29:17 SandraDodd Carrots should be eaten by people who want to eat carrots, though.
14:29:21 GourmetMama I’m trying to decide when she started attempting to do math….her brother loves it and I think she wanted to do what he was doing…which led to frustration and her wanting to do it to be able to challenge him, etc.
14:29:37 SandraMort Right. And my kids want to learn to knit.
14:29:40 SandraDodd I think you’re thinking of math as something separate from life.
14:30:08 SandraMort the kids aren’t the ones with issues, I am… and I don’t intend to pass those issues on 🙂
14:30:14 SandraDodd Something that is “done” rather than something that is part of looking around and hearing music and all that.
14:30:21 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/deschooling
14:30:30 SandraDodd parents need deschooling way more than any kids ever will
14:30:40 SandraMort nod
14:30:46 Webmama_Tina very true
14:30:50 GourmetMama So she initially wanted to and couldn’t and I think I should have simply encouraged her to try again later rather than again every day.
14:30:52 SandraDodd If a child was in school five years, he can recover in five months. Most of us were in school for 12, 16, 20 years.
14:30:59 SandraDodd Teaching counts for being in school.
14:31:13 Webmama_Tina i’m amazed at how completely some people “dont’ get it”…prime example, was dayna trying to explain unschooling to dr phil, LOL
14:31:23 Webmama_Tina dr phil did NOT get it
14:31:33 SandraMort but he set her up to fail, it was no accident.
14:31:34 SandraDodd And just with any recovery, it doesn’t start until the person consciously wants to work on it, so some parents try to unschool without getting over school themselves.
14:31:41 GourmetMama That is SO true. I have been homeschooling for 9 years and I still fall back into “school” mentality without realizing I do!!
14:31:54 SandraDodd And then they are setting their kids up to fail because they will still see what their kids do through school-colored glasses.
14:32:22 SandraDodd Deschooling for you, GourmetMama! You can do it!
14:32:39 GourmetMama Thank you Sandra!
14:32:52 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/beginning
14:33:29 GourmetMama I’m done. Thank you both. I will explore your website in detail later Sandra. We are making lip balms and salves this afternoon!
14:33:48 SandraMort oh fun
14:33:59 SandraDodd Sounds fun. Don’t forget to look, though. It will make your children’s lives and your life more peaceful
14:34:03 SandraDodd And peace and calm help learning!
14:34:08 SandraDodd Stress and pressure never help learning.
14:34:41 Webmama_Tina jenajustice had our last question
14:35:01 Webmama_Tina i think?
14:35:17 Webmama_Tina i’m getting distracted to the nth degree over here with whining children, so i need to wrap this up
14:35:18 jenajustice Hello, my question is about support for large families .. I have 6 children and find unschooling to be a challenge I 6 people going 6 directions
14:35:37 jenajustice sorry typo
14:35:38 SandraDodd The typical days page might help you with ideas.
14:35:53 SandraDodd I don’t really understand the six directions, because often several kids will be doing things together.
14:36:10 SandraDodd School at home would be a nightmare, for a mom trying to “do lessons” with six different kids,
14:36:12 jenajustice not mine they all goin different directions
14:36:15 SandraDodd but unschooling isn’t like that
14:36:23 jenajustice yes it would
14:36:46 SandraDodd If you just deal with those who need the most help, some are doing things peacefully and contentedly, I’m guessing
14:36:53 jenajustice I often find myself trying to get them to all do the same thing because it is daunting tyring to let them each go their own way
14:37:09 jenajustice and t.v. … ok or not ok?
14:37:17 SandraDodd That doesn’t seem good for learning, to stop them from doing what seems interesting to them in the moment.
14:37:28 SandraDodd If you set your priority on learning and peace, it makes other questions easier.
14:37:41 jenajustice ahhh
14:37:43 SandraDodd I have three things to say to Jena’s questions and then I can quit so Tina can go.
14:37:53 jenajustice thanks sandra
14:38:03 jenajustice nak
14:38:06 SandraDodd When trying to decide whether unschooling is working, remember to compare it to what would be going on if your kids went to school
14:38:12 Webmama_Tina that’s fine sandra 🙂
14:38:18 SandraDodd They’d be doing six different things (homework) not of your choosing or theirs.
14:38:23 SandraDodd And you would be expected to oversee/help.
14:38:42 SandraDodd They would have been taught by school NOT to fraternize with others; they would be less likely to play together.
14:39:00 SandraDodd So don’t compare it to your imagined ideal. Compare it to other real options, and then appreciate what you have.
14:39:01 jenajustice one of our big reasons for NOT being in ps
14:39:16 jenajustice so our kids will actually like each other lol
14:39:23 SandraDodd #2, on the TV question, http://sandradodd.com/tv
14:39:29 jenajustice yes your right thanks for the perspective
14:39:29 SandraDodd and follow the link to Joyce’s page here:
14:39:41 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/joycefetteroll and read what she has to say about TV.
14:40:02 jenajustice K thank you so much and thank you tina
14:40:13 SandraDodd TV is as wonderful as any library, as the internet, as all the books you could own, as all the DVDs you could own,and increasingly, those things above are becoming all one mass of info.
14:40:23 SandraDodd One more thing Jena… wait.
14:40:29 jenajustice still here
14:40:48 SandraDodd About trying to get them to do the same thing because it would be more convenient for you
14:40:54 SandraDodd or seem more… organized?
14:40:57 SandraDodd this might help:
14:41:01 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/rules
14:41:25 SandraDodd If people come to consider what principles are at work instead of just trying to be controlling and making rules, it makes it VERY easy for parents to decide what to do, and for kids to decide too.
14:41:42 jenajustice our house is small so convience and organization are hard to come by
14:41:47 SandraDodd If you know what you believe and what your goals are, then everyday life clears up and you see the benefits and the learning.
14:41:59 SandraMort I’m still stuck on your sleep page — will you be back again on MC, I hope?
14:42:15 SandraDodd If convenience and organization are your primary goals, unschooling might not be viable for you.
14:42:19 SandraMort sleepING, that is 😉
14:42:27 jenajustice that may be the best hs advice EVER
14:42:33 SandraDodd If learning and peace in your family are primary goals, convenience will come secondary to it.
14:42:46 SandraDodd you have to know what’s more important.
14:43:00 SandraDodd For me it was my child’s peace and comfort and learning, and everything has flowed from that.
14:43:08 SandraDodd My relationship with my husband got better, I was nicer to my pets…
14:43:19 Webmama_Tina ahhh, nice
14:43:24 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/unexpected
14:43:29 SandraDodd I did a talk on that. The notes are there.
14:43:31 Webmama_Tina i’m guessing housekeeping wasn’t a priority then either? 🙂
14:43:42 SandraDodd No. I can clean house after the kids leave.
14:43:45 Webmama_Tina i’m in a mess over here, trying to rationalize it, LOL
14:43:55 SandraDodd I know some people with very clean houses and very unhappy families.
14:44:09 SandraDodd If that’s a priority, send the kids to school.
14:44:13 SandraMort well, there has to be a happy medium
14:44:21 SandraDodd Use birth control quickly before another poopy kid comes along!
14:44:26 SandraMort you can’t be happy (or learn) in a pigsty, either
14:44:28 Webmama_Tina lol, i always love hearing that from people…makes me feel better about our pigsty…although a certain degree of cleanliness is needed to have a peaceful home too…huge amounts of clutter is stressful
14:44:32 SandraMort or if cps takes them
14:44:45 SandraDodd If a medium is the priority, life will be a little different than if happiness if the priority.
14:44:54 jenajustice ya bugs take over real fast in south texas
14:45:05 SandraMort well, happiness is my priority and I
14:45:10 SandraDodd So even when you use a term like “happy medium” try to be mindful of what you’re saying, and what your principles are.
14:45:17 SandraMort I’m struggling to get the house out of pigsty-dom
14:45:22 Webmama_Tina here too
14:45:30 SandraDodd http://sandradodd.com/mindfulness
14:45:30 Webmama_Tina i don’t care about it being spic and span
14:45:42 Webmama_Tina just not stinky and us to be able to actually find things, LOL
14:45:43 SandraDodd It helps to hear what you say (read what you write) as clearly as you can.
14:45:51 Webmama_Tina thanks sandra
14:45:56 SandraDodd And then to hear what you think, about your children and your life, as clearly as you can.
14:45:57 Webmama_Tina both sandras, LOL
14:46:13 SandraDodd Good luck, all! Thanks for havng me to chat, Tina.
14:46:20 Webmama_Tina i will be reading your site soon! i need some more ideas and insights like this
14:46:27 Webmama_Tina your welcome sandra and thank YOU for coming!
14:46:31 SandraDodd If you lose the links, just google unschooling or my name and you should find me.
14:46:32 Webmama_Tina this was a very insightful chat!
14:46:42 SandraMort Come again, Sandra
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what we’ve been up to

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we’ve finally gotten the learning village off the ground and running, and i’m quite proud of how things have been going!

here’s what we did in february:

feb 11–valentine’s day party
feb 17–1st origami club meeting
feb 23–1st bird walk
feb 25–savemart center tour

and in march, things picked up even more:

mar 4–art lab
mar 8–meyer’s farms water bank & wildlife project field trip
mar 9–weather class with kev from KMPH
mar 11–1st group games
mar 17–origami club
mar 23–bird walk
mar 25–children’s museum of the sierra and king vintage museum field trips

throw into the mix the non TLV activities: the SCICON salamander trip in feb, our monthly art club that we go to at this wonderful lady’s house who does monthly art for a very affordable rate, with like 10-12 different projects for the kids to free-flow through (usually with a seasonal theme), the mardi gras parade in the tower in feb and the spring egg fest at the discovery center in march…and we’ve been VERY BUSY!

a lot of the events/activities have been documented with photos uploaded to TLV’s shutterfly site, though i still have some recent pics i need to upload. i also upload our family pics of nonTLV activities on our family shutterfly site.

here’s what we have coming up in april for TLV:

if you’d like to see info on any of our TLV activities ahead of time, you can find them on our google calendar, posted to our website.

and mix in there lots of playdates with friends, at least once if not 2 and 3 times weekly for hours at a time…since i feel very strongly about the value of imaginative play and friendships…particularly in the importance (which i think is just crucial) of my children having at least one very close (“best”) friendship…i make sure that our our friends are very much a part of our daily lives. it helps that most of them are also members of the learning village now, and so participate in our monthly TLV activities as well.

things are really going really well! i have lots more things i’m working on (always).  including getting back on track with the story of the world, vol 2. we finished vol 1 awhile ago, and started vol 2 but got offtrack. so in preparation for the next part of the book, i have been listening with the kids to the early chapters of the book that we listened to before, to refresh our memories, and gathered a ton of books from the library on australian aboriginals and new zealand maori in preparation for chapter 10 on the land down under. got some really neat books!

i LOVE LOVE LOVE our public library system! i usually take 2 and 3 trips to the library every single week…sometimes with the kids, sometimes without…each of us has our own card and we often have all 3 max’d out. (you can check out 25 items per account…so that can be up to 75 library items in our house at any given time!) i check out tons of books of every topic…regularly go to different libraries to browse the shelves (politi, fig garden, cedar-clinton, clovis, woodward park…we LOVE going to different libraries to find new things on the shelves), regularly find ideas for specific books to look up or topics to find books on from reading blogs and facebook pages or from talking to friends or from topics that interest me or the children…but not just books…i check out all kinds of videos (especially educational ones, but also classics and modern fun ones) and music all the time as well…we’re currently listening to Iran: Persian Classical Music, and i also have sitting right next to me, cds from eastern europe, china, and a cd called “cairo to casablanca”, as well as the monkees, shawn colvin, and tracy chapman…i am constantly exposing my kids to all sorts of music from all sorts of genres and cultures.  i particularly like to bring home showtunes or artists that i want my kids familiar with (hence, the monkees, whom i love…and i’m going to get some carpenters next time…also frank sinatra, bing crosby, dean martin, elvis, etc…all sorts of greats)

we are all about books over here. i LOVE that i can research on the net, including the library’s own website (& order the books to be sent to our library for us!) for ideas as they come to me…as my kids show an interest in things (such as the origami obsession maeven has had for the past few months…i actually have found some really cute pictures books with an origami theme, in addition to all the books on folding instructions…still trying to find something on the history of origami & japanese culture), or on topics that i would like to introduce them to.

there’s all sorts of fabulous things in the kids nonfiction section that we regularly check out…especially science books and documentaries (in our library, they have them side-by-side on the shelves). my kids LOVE documentaries! we watch probably 5-10 documentaries every month, at LEAST. because we also watch nova and nature on PBS regularly.

and from the library i always stock up on lots of good quality picture books, for both kids, along with the nonfiction books on just about any subject you can imagine…besides the fabulous science books, i have found biographies on historical figures, books detailing math concepts in a fun picture book format, books that play with words and teach about grammar concepts and even punctuation! been picking up poetry and riddle books lately for maeven, and always have a quality chapter book that we are reading together (we both LOVE me reading to her, so we do it constantly…went through probably 5 or 6 chapter books just in the past 2 months!)

and i keep picking up chapter books for her to read to herself, either that she’s requested or that i saw or heard about that i think she’d be interested in. they don’t always appeal to her (like she got the entire borrowers series when we went to woodward park recently, and she really was interested in them but once we got home, she never felt like picking them up so we ended up returning them after her not even opening them. she’ll probably go back to them again later…this isn’t unusual for her.) but many do. she goes through spurts of reading, just like me. she’ll eat up a dozen books in one month and another month she might crack open one. its really varies.

for writing…i used to give maeven copywork, but lately she just writes stuff on her own pretty regularly, so i have been holding off and seeing what she’s creating. she writes books and notes to us quite a lot actually. she makes her own lists and loves to type as well. she made this really neat bird book where she details info and pictures (drawn by her) of a variety of different bird species.

we are getting into birds again, because of our bird walks, and my kids regularly point out different birds as we are out and about. tyren (at 4 and a half) has even been known to say “mom, look,  a mourning dove!’ or “look! a blue jay!” (to which maeven will correct him, “actually, its a scrub jay”, LOL! that’s my girl!)  we got really excited when we saw the great egret in our backyard recently, and maeven and i were just beside ourselves with joy over discovery a rufous sided towhee outside the learning village! (same day we also saw 2 flickers in the same area! VERY exciting!)

and we have been regularly watching our mama mourning dove outside our family bedroom window, where adam has set up a camera to video tape the comings and goings. discovered them when i looked out last week and saw daddy bird going back and forth bringing nest material to mama dove. she’s got a nest in there and we are itching to check it out but want to wait a little to give her time to get really comfortable. just went and checked and she’s still there, cute little thing. 🙂

so that, my friends, is this family’s version of unschooling/eclectic homeschooling in a nutshell! despite some misconceptions, there’s nothing lazy or unthinking about it. every day, every week, there is a LOT of thought and reading and research put into most of the things we do. i doubt my husband even has much of an idea of what all i do for our kids every single week. i have spent a tremendous amount of time reading and researching and constantly continue to do so.  probably always will. i want my children’s lives to be incredibly rich and fulfilling. i think through everything and yet we still are able to kind of go where the wind (aka, our interests and drives) blow us. i doubt myself constantly and yet still find myself proud of much of what we do. and detailing it out like this helps me see that we really ARE doing stuff! it often happens so naturally to the point that i don’t always feel like we’re doing much. but man, we really are!

there’s more, i’m sure, but right now i need to go shower…and i’ve rambled on long enough.

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language arts a-la unschooling :)

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maeven is very into emailing people these days. i use zoobuh for her because its very cheap (i think it ends up being $1/month, but you pay a year in advance) and very kid friendly and safe. another plus is that you can configure it to send an email to the parent anytime the child receives or sends an email. way cool.

so i just got a copy of this that she sent out today:

Hi thea! my mom just got The Double Daring Book For Girls in the mail! if you have not read  it yet, you should! i got The Pocket Daring Book For Girls for christmas and i started reading, it and i loved it and now i have The Double Daring Book For Girls and i know i’ll love it too! maeven.

how cute is that? i got this book in the mail and she’s so excited about it she goes and writes one of her best friends about it. i love it! 🙂  i believe the only word she asked for help spelling in that was christmas. she’s coming along nicely,  i think. 🙂

just furthers my belief that anything initiated entirely by the child and driven by their own desires is MOUNTAINS more valuable than any forced learning. 🙂

this is a child that just months ago had a very difficult time spelling just about anything. and less than a year ago wasn’t even reading all that well. fast forward past many hours of playing computer games and reading/writing emails and reading/writing her own stories and chapter books and letters to family members and keeping a journal (occasionally) and we have a child that has really grown in her reading and writing abilities exponentially all of her own volition!

proud mama? you bet!

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more unschooling thoughts

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a long time ago i started to get comfortable with the idea that there wasn’t any specific schedule of topics and skills that my children needed to learn at certain times. i’ve been comfortable with this idea, for the most part, for awhile…but i still find myself susceptible to the fears of whether my child is learning enough…whether she’s learning the same things as other kids her age…whether she’s as smart as other kids her age. and feeling to blame if she’s not up to the level of others her age.

this is so silly, i know. it really is, particularly when i remember that i am homeschooling, among many other reasons, so that we can have our own schedule of learning. and not be stuck with someone else’s idea of what MY child should know, when.

thank heavens that my brain tends to come back to my original thoughts eventually…regardless of how many times i stray from my path and doubt myself, i still keep coming back to this wonderful feeling that really i can just relax…that i KNOW that the public schools have absolutely ridiculous ideas about what children should know, when.

i mean, for pete’s sake, they have children doing in kindergarten now, what only  30-40yrs ago we weren’t doing til 1st and 2nd grade! and why? because their method of “education” is so ridiculously flawed that they have to buy themselves more time to cram more stuff in because it doesn’t stick. which is just ludicrous because now they have children far too young learning things they shouldn’t even be thinking about yet! teaching preschoolers, and maybe even kindergarteners, to read is just silly!

i’m not saying that its not possible. of course there are children that learn to read and write at 4 and 5. what i’m saying is that the average child, in my mind,  shouldn’t.

i strongly believe kids up to 4 or 5 (and maybe even later!) shouldn’t even think about more than just enjoying all the fun of giggling with friends and making mud pies and painting their hands and spinning in circles!!

i just have to hold that thought when i waiver.

lately, with all the thinking i’ve been doing about unschooling…i’ve been really feeling better about maeven’s education. i do know that i need to still take an active role in things…and i do, and i intend to even do more…but i’m feeling really good about relaxing more about how things are going and to just let things be much more natural and relaxed. really, its been a wonderful relief!

she IS learning, and learning all the time…and she’s proving to me every day how much more efficiently she can learn when its self-guided.

that’s not to say that i think there’s anything evil in teaching children. i still think that there’s no harm in it when the child is interested in the subject matter. i spend a lot of time on any given day explaining all sorts of things to my children. i am happy to be their teacher, and i think there’s nothing wrong with that.

and i don’t subscribe to the thought that all that my children learn should be completely of their own volition. they simply do not have the life experience to  know what’s out there to even explore! of course, i DO agree they learn best when it’s self-driven…but i see no harm in providing opportunities for them to explore topics that they might not otherwise have run into.

anyway, my brain needs a rest and my son finally fell asleep…so its mommy’s toontown time now! 🙂

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no-forced learning, aka unschooling

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i posted this a couple days ago at my main blog, and realized i should have posted it here, on my homeschooling blog. oh well, its both places now. 🙂

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i’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about education again since listening to some radio shows about it…i’ve mentioned them in a few posts recently, i believe (i never can remember what i’ve written after i’ve written them)…

i just was thinking some more about it…i don’t know where i’ll end up or what adventures we’ll still have in homeschooling…but i tend to go with what feels right and good, and steer away from things that don’t feel right or good. forcing my child to do anything “educational”, against their protests, just doesn’t feel right or good to me. i’m not putting value on anyone else for their educational practices…just stating how it feels to me.

one of the big reasons (out of about a thousand different reasons) that i chose to homeschool is that i wanted to ensure that learning was fun for my kids. i’m not saying that every single thing has to be a hoot and a holler…i mean, it has to be enjoyable. i read somewhere (forgive me if i’m repeating myself here…dain bramage, remember, LOL!) that whether or not you retain info can be dependent upon your mood at the time you are “learning”. therefore, if you are in a good mood, with positive emotions going through you (not necessarily pure delight, but not negative)…you are much more likely to understand and retain the information. Whereas, if you are in a fowl/negative mood (i.e. throwing a tantrum or fighting it tooth and nail), when you are presented with the information, it just isn’t going to stick. how could it? i mean really!

therefore, i’ve always tried to back off if i get a negative reaction from my daughter when i’m trying some sort of lesson or activity with her. i’ve not always done this right away, i must admit…sometimes we end up with a battle of the wills…and then after we finally get away from the situation i realize there just wasn’t anything positive that came out of that.

oh sure, there probably will still be some tidbits of info that make it through…some new skills even…but how much damage am i doing to my child’s ability to love learning if i persist in this method of education. i wonder. i really don’t know the answer, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.

just take a look at any public or private schooled kid. how many do any of us know that can honestly say they enjoy school? oh i’m sure they can be found, i’m not saying its impossible…but by and far, children HATE school! i did. my husband did, my mom did, my dad did…i’m pretty sure i’d be hard put to find anyone in my life that didn’t hate school. why? because school, as it exists currently in our mainstream form of education, isn’t enjoyable. it really isn’t.

therefore, if i’m going to take those same methods and apply them at home, a.k.a. “school at home”, then how am i doing anything different? well…sure i’ve taken out all the negative factors of the environment and the massive amounts of children, etc etc…that’s awesome, and i would say that a school-at-home homeschooler is definitely still better off than a public or private schooled child. (in a private school that uses the same methods) but what about that love of learning? perhaps this isn’t important to some people. its crucial to me.

because if you don’t enjoy learning, you will then not only not retain the info you are getting (which, if you don’t retain or understand it, what’s the point of even spending the time working on it?)…but you will tend to shy away from anything that even remotely resembles learning, in your every day life and later after school.

all this thinking is because i’m realizing that i am probably going to have to let go of more of the things that i have wanted to make work. the curriculums i chose (single-subject) for maeven are wonderful, but they just haven’t been working for us. she really is resisting anything forced. and i don’t want her to reject learning.

she’s such a bright and beautiful child, and i want to keep that spark alive in her…that spark of interest and love and joy in the things she’s able to pursue on her own…its really a beautiful thing. and i really feel like forcing her to do any “learning” against her will, is really a damper on that spark. i don’t want to extinguish that…

that’s what most schools do…you see the kids enter school just so excited to learn and within a matter of just a few years, that fire, that spark, is going out and then it eventually gets extinguished. i fear that using a “school-at-home” technique with maeven will do the same thing, and i don’t want to see that happen. that goes against why i’m doing this!

i’m not saying school-at-home doesn’t work for some families…i’m sure there are children who’s personalities are quite right for that method. they probably find a delight in it. but not maeven. she has started to sound like so many public schooled kids, groaning when i say we are going to do some lesson or whatever… getting grouchy when i push the issue. that’s not what i want. this is not a positive learning environment.

i asked her the other day what she thought about learning…you know what she said? she said she didn’t like it! that she didn’t like someone telling her she had to do this and that. wow, major important moment for me to hear that. she’s telling me that’s not working for her. she’s telling me that spark is in jeopardy when i force activities and lessons on her.

so then another day, not long after…i asked her about the story of the world stories…if she liked those? and if she would be happier if we skipped the map work? she was visibly relieved by the idea! she hated the map work! but she enjoys listening to the stories. so, we are now just listening to the stories…and i’ll continue to get books from the library out on whatever we are learning about in those stories, and we can casually read them. and instead of making her do the map work, i am going to just have us both take a look at a globe from time to time and find out where this area is that we are learning about…maybe even copy the map, but not do the mapwork, just look at it. and maybe she can pick out some activities from the activity book to do, if she thinks they look fun.

i’ll just keep offering her ideas of fun activities…but not force the issue. if she feels like it, great, if not, that’s fine too!

and she will continue to learn. she always does! i stopped doing copywork because she didn’t enjoy it. but now she is doing her own writing constantly. she is writing her own books, even a chapter book! and she writes letters to all of us all the time and she writes emails and types to her friends in toontown…and she started spelling words when talking to us…instead of saying her words, she’ll spell them…too funny. i am pretty sure that she would NOT be doing all this if i was forcing her to read/write, do spelling, etc, every day. it would take the joy out of doing those things, and she wouldn’t want to do them anymore unless she had to.

that’s not what i want.

i want her to find the joy i finally did, years after school (YEARS) when i finally started to develop an interest again in learning things…learning them on my own, in my own time…i even enjoyed going back to college for a few classes…because i had been out of that grind for quite a few years, and had enough of a break to enjoy it the second time around. it would have been fully enjoyable to me if it hadn’t been for the assignments, papers and tests, though. i remember thinking that. that if i could just go and listen to the lectures (many of which i found fascinating) and not have to do all the busy work, i would have enjoyed the classes even more!

anyway, just doing lots of thinking on this lately and wanted to post my thoughts. its possible i may continue to change my mind and my views and continue to learn better things that work for me…for now, i’m really digging the idea of “no-forced learning.” it makes a lot of sense to me.

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