Tag: home education

Life as We Know It

Yes, we still unschool.  Yes, it is still working.  Yes, we still both work from home though it has shifted even more from me working to Shamus working while I hang with the kids and keep the household running smooth so he can focus and be productive.  Yes, I still love our life and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Ice Skating

Shamus is working, a lot.  Things are financially stressful but that is another post (and one I have been pondering for a while but which may or may not actually get shared.  All I can say right now is that God is amazing and much more reliable than any paycheck.)  On that point I want to mention mint.com– if you are having a hard time seeing the big picture of your finances, suck at budgeting, or just like seeing everything in one place then it is well worth a look.  It is working great for this financially challenged family and being free helps.  We had recently discussed the possibility of me taking on  a part time job to fill in the current gaps, but various factors nipped that in the bud.  Mostly the fact that me being here facilitating the children’s learning is key (they would learn anyway but Shamus cannot field their constant questions AND write 3 comics a week, 3 articles a week, and do 30 hrs a week programming not to mention keep up on his blog and several side projects.)

Ice Skating

The kids are happily occupied talking to fellow unschooling friends on Skype and text chat, interacting on FamilyRUN, playing Build-a-Bear (their favorite game to play?  School–“except we know most of the answers already, but we get to learn new things too”.)  They are also occupied playing  Plants vs. Zombies, a lot.  Talk about an educational game that  you don’t realize is educational.  Essentially you could think of it as a fun way to learn financial planning and organizing your resources— of course you could say the same thing about Star Craft and other strategy games. At the pondDue to the snow, snow, and more snow they have been avoiding going outside (especially now that there is no ice to skate on).  The kids are also very involved in a new Lego Quest weekly challenge run  by a friend on Twitter.  Lego Quest carRachel is thrilled to have made friends who can talk when she can, Essie is reading her way through multiple series of books (having read all the Gregor the Underlander books in a week and moving on to several other series I can’t remember) , Issac is building all sorts of things and intent on beating Mario Galaxy on his own.  We are spending a lot of time listening to audio books together, playing games together, talking together.

At the pond
Picnic at the pond

Me?  Aside from all the cleaning and rearranging going on (lots of re-purposing and getting rid of which I find a quick way to beat the urge to go buy something new. )  Now that the website issues have been dealt with I have been free to work on painting (trying acrylics still.  It is interesting but maybe I am getting somewhere?)  I am doing less reading and spending time on the computer  (due to eyesight issues) and more listening to audio books which means I am being more productive– I feel like I need to be doing something if I am listening to audio books.  And since the cd player is in the kitchen and we are being VERY frugal in our meals I am spending a lot of time in the kitchen cleaning, rearranging, and baking.  Yesterday it was no-bake cookies (naturally sweetened, carob, peanut butter, coconut, and oatmeal), homemade granola bars (naturally sweetened with oatmeal, cranberries, peanut butter, cocoa nibs, coconut, flax seed), and lots and lots of bread dough.  The day before I chopped all the raw veggies in the house, making a nice salad mix and freezing the rest.  Oh, and I finished a painting–a commission by my sister-in-law for her employers. Watercolor

Home Education Profiling: Normal Us

Today we continue to celebrate Home Education Week with Dana of Principled Discovery who asks:

Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?

I had this posted last night and it was up and got comments then I saved over it by mistake . My brain is silly. Now I am rewriting it to , hopefully, some semblance of what it was.

My husband and I both work from home, he as a computer programmer, myself as an artist and sometimes web designer. We are both constantly involved in projects of varying sorts and constantly learning. We are also both almost completely self taught.

We love having the kids with us 24/7 –though the grands occasionally borrow them and they like to spend lots of time outside talking to and helping our elderly neighbors. There are very few rules in our house–the only real rule being “love your neighbor, brother, sister, whoever which means no sitting on, biting, hitting, hurting, be kind, and loving , be respectful and use gentle voices and doing your chores and clean up after yourself as a way to show love for your family and by doing all this you are showing your love for God”–though we do have a no jumping on the furniture policy. We encourage the kids to research and discover and spend a lot of time having discussions, reading aloud, watching movies together, listening to stories and old musicals on record, playing games together, taking walks, and just being together. My husband often takes time out of his busy schedule to chat with the kids about the Bible, politics, and math concepts while I spend the majority of my time with them reading aloud and talking about many of the other things they are learning including history, God, and nature.

Our main goal is not that they have a perfect education but that we would train our children in the way God wants them to go. We specifically want them to love God with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind, to love their neighbor as themselves, to grow in wisdom and learn to love learning. Everything else is gravy.

This means that we give them freedom to explore and to play. We ask them questions and encourage them to ask questions. If they show interest we make sure the materials they need to explore that interest is on hand. If we notice a particular talent or something they seem to struggle with we make available items and books that will encourage them in that area. Our house is filled with books–on every surface, in every room. If the kids show an interest in something I make books that suit that interest available. They also watch old movies and Cyberchase, play video games, have several computers with plenty of games to play–most have some educational aspect but are not specifically educational, they play outside and do projects both out of their head and out of books, research things they are interested in. They are constantly learning because they are interested in what they are doing–the same way their parents are. The great thing is that it sticks because they are interested so there is less need for relearning.

Catching a Love of Learning

I have been thinking a lot about where I came from, how I got here, and where I am going.   I was blessed growing up.  My parents were both teachers and both loved to learn and who taught me to love learning–not book learning and school but real, day to day, learning.

My dad was a mathematician who taught math and later took up teaching computers.  He kept me immersed in science though I refused the maths side of it.  He loved all things nature and gave me a fascination of museums and nature documentaries.  He taught me how to experiment, explore, and love the world I found around me.  He taught me how to work hard with my hands and to glory in the results.  He taught me to love learning for the sake of learning.

My mother, on the other hand, was an art student who loved the crafts side of art and to read.  She often taught arts and crafts to others and exposed me to many different media and materials.  She also made sure I was exposed to the great artists and lots and lots of books.  Between her and my grandparents–who subscribed me to numerous book clunbs over the years,  I had more books than any of the kids I knew many with beautiful illustrations.  We also spent plenty of time at the library and in the summers would go to the art museum .

My parents never gave me art lessons or drawing books, instead they exposed me to nature and good artists.  They taught me to research the things I was interested in, to proof read and to make rough drafts of things.  My love of learning and my interests were not learned in school–they were caught by being exposed to many thing, by seeing my parents with their multitude of interests, by watching them learn, and by asking lots and lots of questions.  Because my parents encouraged me to pursue what I was interested in instead of just doing what they were doing, because my parents had many hobbies and were constantly learning new things, because they encouraged me to do the same, I learned how to teach myself, how to explore and research, to find out what I wanted to know and what interested me.

What is interesting is that this particular form of education–which I value more highly than anything I learned in “school” and which is one of the reasons we take this same approach with our own children, allowed me to develop beyond my parents.  I would not describe my parents as having great taste or  of being particularly wise or deep–not that I am perfect either.  They are themselves and each has as many good qualities as bad.  However, their love of learning and their willingness for myself and my brothers to grow in knowledge and understanding and to love learning was right and out of that environment each of us developed into our own person with our own tastes and individual ideas.  We may have each attended public school but it was our home-life and the love of learning their that shaped us and made us who we are today–and though my youngest brother is still in high school both my other brother and I are following our dreams, continuing the legacy of learning and growing, both self-teaching as needed instead of relying on outside teachers to impart knowledge.