Posts Tagged ‘Unschooling’

Chicken pox is my beer.

May 20, 2013

Yes, you read that right. Chicken pox is my beer. It makes me lose my inhibitions and live an awesome life.

We are naked in the front garden, running around in wild circles, waving at neighbours, making a nest for our Angry Birds. We are dancing unabashedly to the Moto Moto song, singing along that we like them big and chunky.

We are running up to the bath, empty two litre bottles (from my new sparkling water addiction, as I have not had Diet Coke in months now. Sob.) in hand, and that bathroom echoes laughter and science and splashes. Pouring into big bottles, hitting them on the sides to make water erupt upwards, working together to hang out, music pumping in the air.

We are on a pirate ship, Snort’s new-to-him bed, looking at maps and searching for treasure. We are wearing our pajamas to the drive thru, just to get out of the house and get a treat.

It’s silly, really. There is no reason every day cannot be like four days of holiday time. We have no school, no work, and no obligations that can’t be skipped. But for me, I think the chicken pox gives me a permission slip to just live like we want, with none of my guilt attached. It is a glorious reminder of all that unschooling/autonomous education/life can be, if only I relax and just let go now and then. When we follow the sun, when our days stretch before us with nowhere to go but here, we find new and exhilarating ways to fill the time.

We cut straws and stick the pieces in playdoh to make Angry Birds. We read books and nap in the afternoon to the soundtrack of Phineas and Ferb. We sit in the garden and look at ants, we call people up just to say hello, we trace out the spots on his body  like he’s a dalmatian or the night sky, covered in a thousand stars.

This first round of chicken pox brought joy and peace to my life.

You’d never know he was ill. Snort was his normal self, just covered in spots. Two nights were hell on earth, but the rest of the time was a welcome break from what has increasingly become an overflowing schedule. Now we are in limbo, waiting for the second outbreak of The Pox to hit our house. I don’t think it will be as relaxed or illness-free, somehow, mainly because Coconut is a very itchy child in general.

But I will not forget the lessons I’ve relearned from this first bout.

This week will be a reminder that we don’t HAVE to do anything. We CHOOSE to do things.

I’ve felt so overwhelmed by the amount of invitations to various playdates lately that I’ve literally stopped responding to texts and messages. I will get back to them all, but never did I imagine a life where we would have more social commitments than all those ‘socialised’ school children. 😉 My friends remind me I am a part of this family, of this journey, and if it is too much for me, then I deserve a say. I am grateful for all the people we know, all the choices of activities we have. I never thought it would happen like this, so quickly, and I am delighted and surprised by it.

But I am also grateful for last week, for that one hiatus where no one expected to see us, where we had nothing but time and everything to do with it.

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.

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.