Posts Tagged ‘autonomous education’

I need to remember how much I appreciate these 2.5 hours.

April 5, 2013

I dreaded it, this day called today. Coats and sweaters and shoes and hats and backpacks and a walk through the cold to the doctor. Loading kids in and out of cars as we shopped for compost and short style underpants.

But all the things I would have missed!

Standing on the path outside the doctor’s, making our shadows do various body shapes from gymnastics. Watching them form and dissolve with the shifting clouds.

Snort’s exhuberation at finding chilli pepper seeds at the shop, so we can grow plants like the ones in Plants Vs Zombies. The stupidly fun trying on of Spiderman crocs, as the kids chat with with a random lady and we sit on the floor in the middle of the aisle. Buying an insane amount of balloons for TMD’s birthday.

A morning out of the house, only errands and standing in lines and putting coats off and on. But also so much more.


Awesome things you should get right now!

February 13, 2013


I have a lovelie bestie who lives too far away. She regularly sends me postcards of herself in various silly hats, and they adorn my kitchen cupboards so thickly it looks like a shrine…or like I am a stalker. Thank you, Cookie!

Our most recent joy was a package full of finger lights (which you should also get. They fall into the cheap but AWESOME! category for sure!) and water beads. We requested the finger lights as my mother previously sent us four (ha) and they were used every single day till they died, but the water beads were a total surprise. Water beads have been on my list to get for about a year, so I was overjoyed to get them.

We dumped some in bowls of water. They are supposed to soak for five or six hours before they obtain their water beady shape/squish, but the kids played immediately. For AN HOUR AMD A HALF. They watched them change, counted them, made them dance and swirl in the water, used spoons to pretend bake, mixed colours, and Snort did some crazy ass game where they were being attacked by a spoon and had to run away.

These things come in all colours and are very cheap. They are awesome for sensory play and learning, though of course I believe a child’s work IS playing.

I have a feeling these things may be able to dry out, shrink, and be saved for future play….but even if they can’t, they are totally worth experimenting with. Completely Snort and Coconut recommended!

Because why should it surprise me?

February 8, 2013


How easy it is to learn, as easy as it is to breathe. With no pressure, no expectations, no forcing studying of subjects children aren’t ready for or interested in.

Coconut has quite an academic bent, being excellent at both maths and literacy. She is drawn to literacy – loving written books, oral stories, always asking what signs mean, reading some words on her own. She also carts a notebook and pencil everywhere she goes and can often be found poring over it, doing her ‘writing’ and daydreaming. You can imagine how this makes my heart swell.

Maths, though, is everywhere. You can’t escape it. Building with Legos, noticing patterns, counting, using money, measuring, comparing sizes, shapes….your child is exposed to math whether you are consciously trying to do so or not! Coconut does like math games on the iPad, and she chooses to play the ones for 5-6 year olds, as the others have been outgrown. Maths is a casual thing to her, just something she knows how to do.

When she was two, she did her first oral addition. ‘This doll has one bed, and this doll has another bed. That is two beds in this dollhouse!’

This last week, she did her first oral subtraction – first I’ve noticed, anyway. TMD was off sick, and planning to sleep while the rest of us went off to Nana’s house to play. Coconut assigned meaning to placeholders, in maths speak. In real person speak, she used her fingers to represent members of the family. ‘This finger is Mummy, this is Mama, this is Snort, this is Coconut, this is Nana. There are five of us. But Mummy will stay home, so I will put this finger down and then there will be just four of us.’

This shit really struck me – look! She’s learning! She understands addition and subtraction, she is able to do math on her fingers and not just the iPad! I felt amazed. But thinking about it, why the surprise?

She is left to her own devices most of the time, follows her own interests. Of course I guide her, we talk about what we are doing in real life, I answer her multitude of questions. But maths is real to her because we use it. Maths is real because five of us were going to go somewhere, but only four went because one was ill. Girls often do well in maths and science in school until about puberty, though girls are often less confident in these subjects in general. I’ll leave speculative and researched reasons aside to say that in THIS house, in our life, girls live and breathe math and science and they triumph.

We can all make skirts, we can all read together, we can all build structures and do experiments together. We can do what we want, when we want, without being made to feel that we ought to do more, that we aren’t capable enough.

And when I look into my daughter’s eyes, when she casually points at words at age two and reads them, well, I confess I feel relief. Learning is happening, whether I am conscious of it or not. We can’t help it. I just hope the lessons, morals, and ideas we learn continue to be as amazing and productive as the years go on. It’s amazing to see their minds blossom, the connections they make on their own, the mathematical and literacy related leaps they make. I am always surprised by how much they know….which means I have to continue growing and learning and trusting.

Even if I have to use my fingers to count all the ways we develop.

How the hell did this happen?

June 5, 2012

Potty training. Potty learning. Blah blah blah.

It’s been on my mind for about a year and a half. We have gone through a phase of bribing with chocolate and constant pestering from me to just try peeing and see if they need to go. None of this has worked. It has been extremely difficult, but I pulled back from the whole thing.

Dear friends (ah, you probably know who you are) started potty training, maybe before the kid was ‘ready’ (whatever the fuck that means!!), and are still doing it months later. I admire that. I have neither the persistence or motivation to do that. Especially with two at the same time.

So I was like, ‘Eh, some other people seem to think kids will do this themselves if you just leave them alone. I’ll try it, and let’s hope those other people aren’t full of shit.’ This idea meshes with the way we live our lives – why we won’t be sending them to school, for example. Our kids have known their ABCs and numbers for about a year. Both recognize and name letters and numbers. They can add and are great with patterns, colours, and other math-related skills. They have ‘paper’ on my laptop – a document saved for each of them where they can ‘write letters.’ We live in a house of books, of a mama who likes to write, of magnetic letters and numbers. None of this needed to be taught, at least in the traditional way. Kids are like sponges and just sort of soak things up.

But speaking of soaking – though I was so convinced of our choices to home educate, to baby led wean, to free wheel and deal and just go with the flow – potty learning was the one thing I had a really hard time with. I just didn’t trust it.

Yesterday – and I’m still not sure what happened here, I need to ask TMD – Coconut just decided that she was going to pee on the potty. We knew she was probably ‘ready’, aside from a nasty hatred of the potty and toilet. But out of nowehere, all her pees yesterday and today were on the potty. She had one accident today. And, get this, girlfriend even POOPED on the potty.

She has bad poop problems. I’m sure that you are all like, ‘Tell us about the poop! How do you like that book on withholding and constipation you treated yourself to?’ and I’ll get to that in another entry. But, suffice to say, poop doesn’t come easy. I think her second dose of laxatives made it pretty impossible for her to NOT poop tonight, so it was easy to grab a potty and she just did it. No asking for a nappy.

(Please, Coconut, if you read this one day forgive me for telling people these things. But I tell them these things about me, too, so maybe I’m an equal opportunity oversharer.)

I don’t say any of this to brag. I say it to show you how perplexed I am. Because while I was holding back, I had sort of also decided that if neither of them got themselves out of nappies this summer, maybe I would hold Naked Week 2012 in late August to help them along. But, ya’ll, it works. Leave your kid alone and they will probably get out of nappies sometime before they get their first job. And we don’t use cloth ones (sad face goes here), but I’ve heard that cloth nappies help speed things up even more.

But really, what is the race?

This is their childhood. And so much of ‘modern’ parenting seems to be about parental convenience or, possibly, insecurity. Snort and Coconut will get things right, in their own time and way. If they are reading Shakespeare next year, great. If they aren’t, who cares? They will get there in the end. Our kids learn to sit, stand, speak. How to communicate and interact with the world. If they are capable of these grand feats, why shouldn’t they be able to undertake other things?

I guess my job is getting out of their way and letting them do it. Trusting the process.

For the time being, I don’t know what to do next. Go on with our ordinary life (given this will be the first week with a car!)? Stay home to better support her? Whatever I do, I’m going to not offer nappies again. She is in pull-ups for the night, though she has been dry through the nights for a long ass time now. But I guess I just keep subtley reinforcing the idea that it’s Underwear Time, without somehow making Snort feel bad that he is in nappies. He doesn’t seem to care yet.

From my point of view, I’d MUCH rather support one kid at a time in this. And I think once she is really good to go, he’ll probably follow soon after. But see, here I go again – arranging, scheduling, anticipating.

No. Stand back, Mama. Stand back and let your children amaze you.