Archive | homeschooling / unschooling RSS feed for this section

Outdoor preschools

4 Aug

Last night I came across a link to a Forest Preschool in Canada. Something about the idea instantly captivated me. My son is such an outdoors kid – he really would spend all day outside if he could. Because of his personality, I’m really interested in these outdoor preschools.

Link to What Are Forest Schools?

And here’s an article about one in Scotland.

Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, there are other things that I would personally like to see incorporated. I think it is great that they spend all day outside, but I also think that some other outdoor activities could be incorporated, rather than just being in the bush. For example the children could feed chooks and collect the eggs. They could grow a vegetable garden. I think it would be valid to incorporate a democratic education angle, as well as some quieter activities, like reading. Books can be read outside though! I think they can also have some directed activities, such as painting (easels can be set up outside), playing with things like wooden go-carts, and cooking (eg. mini pizzas for lunch).

I like the idea of having a yurt as a classroom for extreme weather. I think for younger children it may be a nice space for them to sleep in. And of course there would be a compost toilet.

I am quite excited about the idea of sending my toddler to something like this when he is a bit older. It makes me wonder if I should set one up. But although I would really like him to go there, I’m just not convinced I want to look after other people’s children for a living, much as I enjoy children. Something to think about.

Today a friend posted a link to this lovely video which reminded me how magic the natural world is.

Activity book

26 Jul

I made my son an activity book. I believe these are traditionally called quiet books, and were given to children to keep them quiet in church. Since my intention is not to keep him quiet, nor to go to church! I have called it an activity book. I think they are also called busy books.

This project took me hours and hours. Cutting out the fiddly little leaves and flowers and the tree and the edges of the barn and sewing the envelopes and all the velcro and and and. I think if I had realised quite how time consuming it would be to finish it, I wouldn’t have started it. But I am glad I did, so there’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

My toddler loves it. Admittedly, he likes the pages where he can pull things off (the flowers and barn pages are his favourites for that), and the book is already looking slightly worse for wear. He also really loves the family home page – he gets really excited opening the flaps and seeing his favourite people. At 16 months it is definitely a supervised activity, but I think it will last him a long time – he hasn’t even explored things like tying the shoelaces yet.

The whole book - I love the cover fabric!

Snaps shut

he pages are made from calico

The first page has my son’s name sewn in felt block letters.

The barn and seasonal tree pages.

The family home. Each window opens in a different direction, and contains a picture of his favourite people. He loves this page.

Summertime tree.

Autumnal tree

Winter tree. (The leaves and flowers velcro on and off and can be stored in the pouch of grass.)

Springtime tree.

The paint palette and shoelace pages.

Mix and match the colours. Each paint blob velcro's on and off, the point is to identify the colours. And a real paintbrush, for the sake of it. (Pretend painting?)

Shoes with real eyelets and shoelaces to practice threading and tying.

Texture and mailbox pages

Different textures to explore.

The mailbox snaps open and shut, there are 4 envelopes with tiny stamps on, and the flag pivots on the buttons.

Dress the boy pages.

He has a wardrobe of red t'shirt and blue shorts, polka dot pyjamas, and brown dungarees. They velcro on and off the boy and can then be put away in the wardrobe.

Flowers and barn pages.

The flowers button on and off.

I think the barn is so cute.

The barn doors open to reveal finger puppets. They're supposed to be a pig, frog, and duck but this was a later page and I was getting a bit over it so was a tad lazy with them. My boy loves them though.

The puzzle page. The pouches on the left each contain a different puzzle, which go on the velcro strips on the right.

Leaf puzzle

Heart puzzle

Star puzzle. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I failed dismally at putting this one back together. I'd like to blame sleep deprivation but I'm not too sleep deprived. Think I might redo this one with a simpler star and more even cutting.

Laundry and basket pages.

They are real mini pegs. The basket has an open top that the clothes can be put in.

The basket is for weaving practice. The bottom and right edges are sewn down, the rest can be undone and rewoven.

Clock and tent pages.

The clock hands can be moved when he is ready to learn to tell the time.

The tent can be unzipped to reveal a smiling teddybear.

The last page contains pouches for crayons and a little notebook. Although he loves to draw, he has also been testing his boundaries regarding eating the crayons. So they have been confiscated for a little while.

Anonymity

5 Jun

Although I often decry the anonymity of the city, I am rather glad I chose to keep this blog anonymous. It allows me to be honest. My friends will think I’m crazy when I tell them that two months after leaving my husband I have decided to pursue both homeschooling and taking in another child.

But here I am.

 

Schooling in the context of Peak Oil

5 Jun

With all this thinking I’ve been doing about homeschooling, I have come to the point of considering it particularly in the context of Peak Oil. I’ll be honest here; if I thought society were to continue on as it currently is, then I would be more reluctant to homeschool. I don’t want my kid to be the weird one. I was the poor hippie kid with a single mum and was bullied at primary school and while this is part of the reason I am interested in homeschooling, it’s also part of my personal stigma against it. I wanted my kids to be normal.

Despite the fact that I now recognise the goodness of much of my childhood and appreciate the great things my alternative mum did for me, I am not quite over the desire to just fit in. The other day I was at the Southern Cross for a free mama massage, and a mother there had pikelets for her daughter. I thought ‘what a good snack idea’ and resolved to make some. Mine were made with wholemeal flour, A2 milk, free range eggs, honey, and oats and raisins, rather than white flour and sugar. I watched my son devour them and thought ‘uh oh, I’ve turned into that parent’. I’m glad that my son is eating more nutritious pikelets, but part of me still wants him to be the normal kid I never was.

However, I have been thinking that by the time my son would be due to start school (2015), there may not be the option of public schooling anyway. If there is, it could be so radically different that it either becomes really valuable and I won’t need to homeschool, or even worse than it already is because there are fewer resources but parents have to send their kids there. I don’t know exactly what impact the energy crisis will have on schooling, but it will be massive, just like everything else.

In the post-crisis world, I foresee that my kid won’t be weird for not going to school. Perhaps we will have a return to more traditional tribal / village life; where the kids learn what they need to know to survive. He won’t be the odd one out. Of course I will teach him to read and write and other academic things. But he will get much more use out of learning about how to grow vegetables and build a compost, how to bake bread and preserve fruit, how to carve wood and weave baskets, how to fix things and build things, how to mediate and listen, care for chickens, and understand the weather.

It definitely sounds like I am leaning more towards unschooling, but I think as many homeschoolers have found their own paths, I will find my own path too.

It also sounds like I have made up my mind, which I haven’t. But perhaps I have and just haven’t admitted it to myself yet.

Tips from a homeschooling mum (or mom, rather)

4 Jun

Pioneer Woman is a really cool and impressive blog. I came across it yonks ago but it became a bit more relevant today with my brain going haywire over homeschooling. My brain tends to do that with things. I get a thought in my head and I have to think it really hard from lots of different angles and I devour information. So anyway, I’m always interested in real stories. Not a ‘you could do this’, but ‘this is what I did’.  They have a section of ‘Homeschool Mom Interviews’ and I liked these tips from Asha Dornfest:

  • Don’t be afraid. Only good can come out of giving homeschooling a try. Even if your homeschool adventure lasts a single year, it will be a year to remember, and there will be no lasting academic harm.
  • Be open minded. In a way, it’s just like having a baby. You probably have some deep-seated values about how things “should be,” much of which will change with actual experience. Homeschooling gives you a chance to broaden your definition of learning, and the time to explore different methods.
  • Have fun! When you don’t have to cram activities into the couple hours after school but before dinner, the world opens up in wonderful ways. Go do all the stuff with your kid you’ve always meant to do “when you have time.” This is when true learning happens, for both of you.