Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why we unschool

I suppose I should bother to explain why we chose unschooling. Or at least why *I* chose unschooling, and my husband agreed.


Once upon a time I was on an international parenting forum where a 14-yo unschooler was posting along with all the adults, and he sounded way more engaged, interesting, opinionated, politically involved, inspired, etc. than most people I know who are in their 30s. So, that pretty much sealed the deal right there. The end.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Maniac toddler = Florida vacation?

These days we spend many hours inside because of the cold. And Ottar spends a lot of time throwing objects, pouring water on the floor, and peeing on the furniture.

Sometimes I think maybe I did something to make him this way.

Then I think, maybe he was meant to be this way, and he just wasn't meant to be inside. Like me (who apparently acted just like him when I was little) he was meant to be raised in a stick hut in the jungle. But something went wrong.

The next best thing *I* can think of is hopping in the car in this -6F weather and driving down to the Florida coast, without thinking about it first.

Unfortunately there is some holdup with my husband's paycheck. But that gives me just enough time to consult with AAA and get the car tuned up. Then, I think we're off. Why not?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

These *lovely* winter mornings

I think it was in 1996, when I met my friend Hilary, that I first became enamored of The Leisurely Morning. She had a job with a 10:00 start time and her boyfriend was in school, so every morning they would set the table with placemats and a little pitcher of syrup and little orange juice glasses, and make waffles and drink coffee and chat. I had never thought of having mornings like this - except on weekends - and I was so excited to give up my rushed early hours. Give or take some months here and there where I had early-starting temp jobs, I must say I have completely transformed myself into someone who lives for the slow-paced breakfast! I had already been living this way for 7 years when my first son was born, and now that he is "school age" I am so glad that I don't have to give this up in order to send him off on the school bus.

Actually, I usually get up before him, with my two-year-old, and he (now 5-1/2) gets to sleep in!

I must admit we rarely eat waffles, but we always at least eat hot cereal, and I get two cups of tea or coffee before leaving for the day. We often make pancakes and sausage. Mmmm. . .

I just talked with a friend who has to get up at 5 a.m. in order to get her daughter ready for school (and she has to drag her kicking and screaming to the bus, and force her to stay on it). She said "I know hearing this is going to make you extra glad you aren't sending Ezra to school."


Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Charlotte Mason Companion

So, I am wading through _A Charlotte Mason Companion_, because I looked on the shelf at the library in the homeschooling section one day and found it the only thing that looked interesting. I have never read Charlotte Mason's work, and I don't think I'd agree with a lot of her beliefs, but I am getting lots of inspiration, nevertheless, from this book.

My new tradition, I hope, is that when I read a relevant book that I like, I will post some of my favorite inspirational or thought-provoking quotes on this blog.

So here are the ones I've gathered so far:

"It should not be "How much has our child covered?" but "How much does he *care*?" and "About how many things does he care?"

"Charlotte urges us to give children a regular feeding of ideas through sweeping tales of history, wonderful inventions and discoveries in science, lives of great men and women, stories that radiate the moral life as well as paintings, plays, psalms, poems, symphonies - and everything else wonderful we can think of."

Here are some of the author's suggestions for family reading time:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Five Children and It
Pinocchio - Italian version
The Little Princess
The Silver Skates
Little Women
Swiss Family Robinson

She also suggests we always read "living books" which are loosely defined as "written by an author who takes special interest in his subject", with facts presented in a story form, and "a rather warm and personal forward, preface, introduction, or acknowledgment" (this is opposed to something like a textbook, or those annoying "fact books" that everyone loves these days - (which drive me crazy!!))

"We are living in an information age. Today's children are exposed to much information, but they come away with little knowledge. Why? first, most schools use books that are purely factual. Such books can actually be an obstacle to acquiring knowledge because they are not the kind of books children naturally "take to," or can narrate from. Children need books written in literary language to narrate from. Secondly, children are persons, not parrots. Workbooks obligate children to parrot back information. Knowledge is not attained through these means because the child really hasn't narrated (or thought the ideas through and made them his own.) Narrating invites children to meditate, that is, to think ideas through to their conclusion. C.M. observed that what the child digs for himself becomes his own posession. Narration develops the power of self-expression and forces the child to use his own mind and form his own judgment." (And I would say this is true for everyone, not just kids. . . )

More about narration:
". . . the mind of a child is best opened by way of his mouth. . . You cannot fill a bottle with the cork in. You may pour your stream of knowledge upon them till you drown them, and not get a drop of it into them because their mouths are shut."

"Why not ask what the poets have to say about whatever you happen to be studying?"

"I invite you to make it an educational goal to raise magnanimous children. . . A magnanimous person thinks great thoughts but also is generous in overlooking injury or insult - for example, he or she rises above pettiness or animosity. His intellectual pursuits do not make him "too good" to do lowly chores."

"Charlotte knew that the self-educated, self-made man is energetic, curious, and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm, more than any other quality, has powerfully and permanently influenced the shaping of mankind. Enthusiasm has swayed the hearts of nations and determined the lives and characters of many individuals."

". . . Nature walks and first-hand scientific observation not only provide the groundwork for all the sciences, but . . . being outdoors - and for children, engaging in the huff and puff of play - provides the recreation that gives us rest so we can return to the indoor work with greater enthusiasm."

I hope you have enjoyed!