The Unschool Experiment

Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it into our lives. That time of my life is something that I now refer to as “The Unschool Experiment.”

A fair amount of time has passed since then, and my views on this homeschooling method have changed a bit. But first…let me tell you a little story.

John Holt, considered to be the Father of Unschooling is, by far, one of my favorite authors, and I find his ideas about the education of children to be altogether inspiring and quite beautiful. I discovered his books during a period in my life when I was experiencing some homeschool burnout and was looking for a more peaceful way for my children to learn at home.

Holt is a firm believer in a child’s natural ability to learn on their own, especially if they are freed from the trappings of conventional schooling. If a baby is able to learn to crawl, walk, and talk without any formal lessons, then it is only plausible that, if given the opportunity, a child can learn anything they value and deem necessary without any sort of outside coercion.

It was with these ideas in my head that I set out for us to become an unschooling family. Looking back, the first year of our “unschooling” endeavor was actually a bit more like relaxed homeschooling. We had some routines I was unwilling to let go of, such as family read-alouds, silent reading, and formal math curriculum. (Okay. Life of Fred. Not very formal but certainly more formal than most unschoolers would approve of.) Regardless, we were certainly doing less assigned work than we did in the past and much less than most other homeschoolers we knew, so, to me, we were unschoolers.

Eventually, I began to immerse myself in books and blogs about radical unschooling. As a Christian, some of their principles were quite alien and shocking to me, but I slowly began to fall for the blissful writings of these authors and figured that maybe if I let go of any structure at all, we would have this amazing, peaceful life where my children would be happily doing science experiments, reading great literature, and writing novels without any prompting from me.

At first, my children were elated. You mean we don’t even have to do math or listen to you read? Nope. Not even that.

I spent months waiting expectantly for my children to surprise me with ingenious inventions and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. It didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong. There were certainly moments when one of my kids would astonish me with something particularly unexpected, such as when my daughter built a working candy machine out of Legos. But these moments were few and far between. A very large amount of time was being spent on nothing more than watching YouTube videos and bickering over whose turn it was on the phone.

I tried to be patient and kept repeating to myself, Just say yes more! Maybe they needed to deschool some more, or maybe I was failing to see the value in what they were doing.
It may have been either of these things, but once family relationships started suffering and our house turned into complete chaos, I finally gave in and admitted to myself that this just wasn’t working. This “blissful path” I set my hopes on was not what our family needed, and it was far from blissful.

I am not going to go so far as to say that unschooling never works. I’m sure it does for many people, but it clearly does not work for everyone.

Our family needs the structure that accompanies our homeschooling days. We need to know what is going to happen when, and it is such an advantage to have activities planned to keep my kids busy for a couple hours a day.

I am no longer the rigid homeschool mom I once was, but I’m also not willing to let my kids have total sovereignty over their education.

Right now I am in the middle of writing a book on the practicalities of homeschooling, and I would like to share this thought I expressed in it with you today:

“There has to be a point that a parent will concede that this method just may not work for their child. As parents, educating our own children is not only a right but a privilege, and we must see to it that we are holding up our end of the bargain.”

And think about it…do our kids deserve anything less?

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So What Are You Like?

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Today I’ve decided to accept an open invitation from Sue Elvis to answer some questions for the Liebster Awards. I admit that I haven’t heard of this before, but I really enjoyed getting to know Sue a little more. So, here are the questions she posed followed by my answers:

1. What kind of place do you live in? We live in a row home in a medium-sized city. It’s a little cramped for 12 people, but it’s homey!

2. How would you describe yourself (appearance, character and anything else that’s interesting!)? I’m a short redhead who occasionally has the temper to go with that red hair. (I’m working on that!) I can be a bit of an introvert, which may sound odd coming from someone with 11 kids, but, there you have it! My husband is a bit introverted, as well, so it works out rather well.

3. Are you an introvert or extrovert or somewhere in between? Oops! I just answered that in #2!

4. What’s your favourite way to keep fit? I was a dancer for over 20 years, so while that is my favorite way to keep fit, it honestly hasn’t happened in years. My only exercise at this juncture comes from chasing kids!

5. What do you like to blog about? I love to blog about unschooling, homeschooling, and family life. My family is truly the most important thing to me here on this Earth.

6. What is your favourite blog post? (Don’t forget to include a link!) I think my favorite one would have to be So What If We’re Socially Awkward because it addresses the fact that homeschool critics may want to think twice before expecting our children to look to their peers as role models.

7. What do you like to do when you’re not blogging? When I actually have time, I love to read. I also love to go for nature walks with the kids, and those twice a year dates with my hubby are always something I look forward to!

8. Have you ever done anything you insisted you’d never do? Hmm…that’s tough. I guess maybe just the fact that I always used to say that I could never homeschool, yet here I am today.

9. What is the last new skill you learnt? Right now I’m learning German through Mango Languages. It’s also been very educational starting a blog because I was pretty much computer illiterate just a few months ago. It’s been really exciting to teach myself new things.

10. What are your talents? (We all have some. God made sure of that!) I love children (obviously). I’m very resourceful and am very capable of looking at the big picture. I’ve always been a bit of an encourager to others, too. I’m also very open to try new things if I know that I can always change back again if necessary.

11. What do you like most about being a mother? I love my kids’ smiles and their laughter. I love watching my older kids make silly faces at the baby. I love reading to them and watching movies with them (even anime)! I can honestly say that I’m living the life I always dreamed of with a husband I love and 11 awesome kids!

Okay, your turn! I would love to hear some things about you. Feel free to answer these questions in my comments or on your own blog. Make sure you leave a link!

1. How many children do you have?

2. What is your favorite comfort food?

3. What part of the world do you live in?

4. Where is the one place you most want to visit?

5. Do you homeschool, and if you do, what is your philosophy?

6. What is your favorite book or movie (or both)?

7. How would you describe yourself?

8. What is your favorite pasttime?

9. What’s the funniest thing your child has ever said?

10. What was your most embarrassing moment? (Now I’m getting personal, right?)

11. What is your biggest fear?

I can’t wait to hear from you! Don’t forget to leave a link to your blog post, and make sure you invite others to answer some Liebster questions! You can send them to a particular blogger or send an open invitation to all!

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Unlimited Gaming? Not These Unschoolers!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few weeks ago, I had expressed my doubts about unlimited screen time. While there seems to be much to be learned from this time, there are some drawbacks, as well. I decided to try unlimited gaming to see how it would pan out in our house. After several weeks of this experiment, I can attest to the fact that, while some kids may, indeed, be able to regulate themselves, that is not the case with some of my kids. These past several weeks have been very stressful for me, as I haven’t seen that self-regulation that so many people espouse to. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t always happen. All children are different.

I don’t know what I was expecting, really. My expectations may have been too high, but I expected something to come out of this. Even if that self-regulation didn’t happen, I would have been okay if this interest would have at least expanded to other things. For example, there for a while, Arianna was spending a lot of time watching makeup tutorials. I could have gotten concerned with that, but I was able to definitively see that interest grow from watching tutorials, to trying her own theatrical makeup, to making her own videos, to creating homemade makeup and makeup remover. You see? Her interest in this did not remain stagnant. It developed into something more.

Gaming can absolutely have value. It can inspire a desire to code or create original games. Maybe even a fictional story could be written set in the worlds that are explored. Possibly even a comic book could be created depicting the adventures that can happen. I suggested so many ways to expand this interest, but those ideas remained just that. Mom’s ideas.

Before gaming, there were so many interests running rampant through this house. Herpetology, cryptozoology, origami, drawing, and entomology were the most common. Since gaming, these flights of fancy have all but vanished. It is my deepest desire to bring life back into our home through exploration and creativity- not through blank stares in front of a computer screen.

Some people may disagree with this assessment, and that’s fine. I really do see how, in certain situations, having no limits may still be fruitful. It just isn’t here.

So, starting Monday, I’ve informed the kids that no gaming will be allowed before 6pm. I expected some protests and complaints, but do you know what I saw instead? Relief. Sometimes kids need these limits. They do. So what was the response I got when making this announcement? “Can we go to the library?” Yes. Of course we can.

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Learning in Freedom- Our Nature Study Wake-Up Call

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So many doors are opening now that spring is finally here. Yesterday was another glorious day, so we took full advantage of it and walked to a nearby creek.

Watching us walk anywhere must really be a sight for others. We’ve been practicing walking with a partner in a straight line, and it’s really funny watching people drive by craning their necks to see the long line of kids behind me. I know it sounds too schoolish to some, but it beats having them all over the sidewalk, never knowing what they’re going to do. I love to hear the kids talking to each other. Yesterday we passed a cement truck, and I could hear Caollin explaining why the cement mixer has to keep turning. Eavesdropping has its perks!

There is an elementary school, which is right next to the creek ,and passing it was a little depressing. Not because I want my kids to go to school, but because I would love for those kids to experience the freedom that we homeschoolers enjoy. As we strolled past the playground, there were a bunch of kids playing outside, and all I saw was a sea of black because our school district recently implemented a school uniform policy. Seeing all the darkness and sameness there was a fitting symbol for the assembly line learning that is happening in these schools. The school kids always like seeing us pass (we go there quite a bit when it’s warm), and they always wave to us and smile.

Dillon took his fishing pole with him, so as soon as we arrived, he set out to try to catch a fish. The kids all scattered as soon as we got there- that walking in a line is quite difficult for them! They’re all explorers at heart, and that’s just what they set out to do.

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We took a sample of the pond water there (there’s a pond, too) to do an algae experiment later. The water is still quite deep from all of the rain and melted snow, so I eventually tried to lead them over to an area not so close to the water. It lasted for a short time while they found worms, bugs, and tree nuts, but then that blasted water beckoned to them again.

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We decided to cross to the other side so they could roll down the big hill, when we began to hear a lot of voices. We turned around and saw the school children in their line walking past the creek all holding a paper (probably an assignment). I mentioned to my kids that the other kids must be there on a field trip, too. We stood there watching them, with interest, but what we saw made me really sad. Their field trip consisted of walking single file past the creek without so much as stopping to look at a duck. Then they left.

I turned and looked at my kids and expressed pity for those children. While my kids were there and free to explore, the school children only experienced a little tease. I don’t blame the teachers; it would be very hard for them to control that many children at one time, but, at the same time, it was such an illustration of what these children are missing out on.

As we turned back around and headed to the big hill, I glanced back at the sea of black returning to the schoolyard. Then I heard the laughter of my own children as they began to roll down the hill, and I smiled.

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Small Steps Are a Big Deal

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy.]

Since starting this path of unschooling, there have been more than a few times that I’ve worried about whether or not my kids were actually learning, and they always inevitably show me in a big way that, yes, they certainly are. My older kids have usually been my biggest concern because they’re the ones I need to report to the school district. Now that I’ve found the right evaluator and gotten a better handle on things, I’ve been much more at peace and can clearly see progress being made.

With my anxiety over my older children abating, however, my attention has turned more to Bailey(6) and Luke(5). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not freaking out over them like I was with the others, but I have been wondering where my more hands-off attitude was going to lead them. As usual, they’ve inadvertently proved to me today that we’re headed in the right direction.

You may remember from my earlier post about teaching reading that I’ve been letting my younger children take the lead with reading. After phonics became too tiresome for Bailey and Luke both, I tossed them aside and have just been waiting for cues from them.

After becoming more relaxed about it, Bailey almost immediately taught himself to read with a more whole language approach. He still uses the letters as clues, but he usually recognizes words on sight. I’ve been very pleased with his progress but have lately wondered when he would move past 3- and 4- letter words. I needn’t have worried. Today, while reading Life of Fred–Apples to him, he asked if he could read. I said yes but was thinking that he was really going to have a tough time with it, as these words are much harder than in his usual books. Amazingly, he read the entire page to me and only needed help three times- an entire page! The word that surprised me the most was “studio.” This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I’ve only seen him read words like “tree” and “green”- one-syllable words. Apparently, his skills are far beyond what I was giving him credit for, and the problem was the level of books I was giving to him. Progress? Check.

My disquiet about Luke ran a little deeper than with Bailey. Unlike Bailey, Luke couldn’t even remember the smallest sight words and honestly showed no interest in trying. It was the same with phonics- no interest in letter sounds whatsoever. Luke is only 5, so, again, I wasn’t overly concerned but simply curious as to how this would pan out. Luke spends an awful lot of time on his LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer Kids’ Learning Tablet, Green, so I knew he was going to get some practice with this because there are so many phonics apps on this device. (It truly is an invaluable resource in our home.) While reading books to him, sometimes I put my finger under each word as I say it, but he’s always been more interested in the pictures.

Imagine my surprise today when Luke called to me from the living room and said, “Hey, Mom, look! I spelled it!” When I heard him, I walked into the room expecting to see some random letters written on a piece of paper. Instead I saw this…

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My heart leapt when I saw it, and I squealed with delight and congratulated him. Later on, while he was playing a game on my laptop, he asked if he could play a different one. I went over to assist him, even though he probably knows more about this stuff than I do. I was trying to figure out how to get this game started for him and finally said, “I can’t figure out what to do,” to which he rolled his eyes and promptly pointed at the word “game” and said, “Right there where it says game, Mom.” I knew then that everything is going to turn out okay.

These little signs of headway may not seem like much to you, but, to me, they are huge. Just as with a baby’s first tiny steps, these little wins are going to pave the way for so much to come. It’s so easy to look for these gigantic leaps of learning and, somehow, overlook the shuffles that got them there in the first place. Today I’ve learned that even the smallest steps can be a big deal.

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Translating Board Games into Educationese

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy.]

Board games are a fun way to build upon skills your children are learning while providing a great opportunity to spend valuable time together as a family. For those of us who are required to keep logs of our children’s “school days,” it’s helpful to know how to translate these games into a language school officials will recognize, or as I first heard from Kathy Ceceri on About Homeschooling, “educationese.” Below I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most popular board games in our house and the skills they impart.

1.
Monopoly Board Game– This game is a classic, and while some things have changed since when I was younger, such as how to disperse the money, it remains to this day a fabulous way to develop a variety of skills, such as:
-counting money
-making change
-property management
-real estate
-reading
-multiplication (adding houses)
-logic
-strategy
-addition
-counting

2.
Brain Quest States Game– To be quite honest, my kids sighed the first time I pulled it out, but since the first time we played it, my kids absolutely love this game and ask to play it all the time. What I love the most about it is that it is designed so that your children can look right on the game board, which is a map of the United States, to answer most of the questions. This is a great way to teach geography while your children remain oblivious to that fact. Some skills learned in this game are:
-US geography
-US history
-counting
-strategy
-logic
-cardinal directions
-oceans surrounding the US
-reading
-map skills

3.
Yahtzee Jr. Disney Princess Edition– Ireland and Summer love this game. It’s a great choice for preschoolers and younger children who may not quite understand the standard version just yet. Some skills include:
-counting
-matching
-logic
-strategy

4.
Hasbro Yahtzee– This is another example that has withstood the test of time and has continued to be a favorite in many families. Skills involved include:
-adding
-logic
-strategy
-reading
-probability

5.

Scattergories Game– This one has got to be my personal favorite. I played it for the first time on a camping trip after the prom with some friends, and I’ve been playing it ever since. This is an awesome vocabulary builder and just a great game for people who, like I, love language. Some skills built upon include:
-vocabulary
-spelling
-reading
-critical thinking

6.
Apples to Apples Party Box – The Game of Crazy Combinations (Family Edition)– This one happens to be another of my personal favorites. It’s possibly because this game also involves language skills. When my son came home from boot camp for a Christmas visit, we stayed up into the wee hours many nights laughing and having a great time with this game. Skills included are:
-vocabulary
-reading
-comprehension
-synonyms
-antonyms
-critical thinking

7.
Clue The Classic Edition– Another tried and true classic, Clue is a fantastic “murder mystery” game that has entertained generations of children and adults, alike. Skills built upon include:
-logic
-strategy
-critical thinking
-process of elimination
-vocabulary

8.
Twister– Okay, this isn’t technically a board game, but it definitely falls into the category of games, so I’m including it. My kids love this game so much that when we couldn’t find it for a while, they actually used our living room rug, which has multi-colored circles all over it, as a Twister board. Some skills involved include:
-knowing left from right
-colors
-flexibility
-coordination

9.
Scrabble Deluxe Edition– Scrabble is a language game, hence it’s another favored by yours truly. This game can be approached from many different angles. You can play it from a very technical standpoint, even challenging opponents to the validity of words by looking them up in the dictionary, or you can be more silly and use made-up words with imaginative and goofy definitions. Variety is the spice of life, right? Skills engaged include:
-spelling
-vocabulary
-dictionary usage
-strategy
-reading
-logic
-addition
-multiplication (for those double and triple-word scores)

10.
UNO Attack!– This version adds a little twist to another classic game. Instead of a person dealing the cards, a battery-operated contraption holds them, but watch out! It will occasionally start spitting out a load of cards when you draw from the deck, and you have to keep all of them! Various skills involved include:
-strategy
-logic
-matching
-addition
-counting

These are but 10 of the hundreds and hundreds of games available today. The next time you plan a family game night, remember, as always, your children are learning all the time, so pull out that log and practice your educationese.

What are some of your favorite games, and how do you include them in your records?

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Just Let Your Kids Play, Already!

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There’s a disturbing trend happening in our culture today. In a world constantly chasing fame and fortune, parents have begun to prepare their children for this lifestyle at earlier and earlier ages. Gone are the days of teaching 4-year-olds how to tie their shoes and play with their dolls. The good ol’ days of letting your children run, explore, and use their imaginations is almost a thing of the past. We have now entered the Age of Overeducating Your Kids.

It’s a well-known fact that children are maturing at faster and faster rates these days, and adults everywhere solemnly shake their heads and click their tongues in despair because of this. But let’s take a look at one possible reason why this is happening.

Just a few generations ago, children were able to run and play and, well…be kids. Games of Kick the Can and street hockey were to be found in a great many neighborhoods. Kids were able to catch tadpoles and snakes or play house and Barbies to their heart’s content. If your kids’ days look like this, I applaud you because you are definitely going against the grain in society today.

Today’s norm has begun to look something like this…

Image courtesy of Jomphong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Jomphong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*Found out you’re expecting?? Great! Now let’s get down to business. First, find the most prestigious preschool for your child and submit an application before you’ve even had your first sonogram. It’s sooo important for baby to get into the right preschool, or it might upset his/her chances to get into an Ivy League school someday. You can never be too prepared…and those wait lists can be killer.*

Your baby’s 6 months old and not crawling, yet? Better pay for a therapist to come in…we don’t want baby to be behind. Oh, and don’t forget to show those sight word cards to her everyday. She needs to get a head start on her reading.

Happy 3rd Birthday, darling! You can’t really open your gift per se, you see, because we are giving you the gifts of French lessons and computer classes at your preschool! Isn’t it wonderful? What? You want to learn how to tie your shoes? Later, dear. Later.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. There is nothing wrong with these activities in and of themselves, but it’s important to look at the motives behind it. Could it be…

-a hope for economic prosperity for your child

-a complete interest in giving your child a head start on life
or…I think the most popular reason…

-PRIDE…??

Could that have possibly entered the picture at some point? But so-and-so’s son is doing it- we can’t look bad. I feel so good when I tell people all about the wonderful things I am doing for my kids. It makes me feel like a better parent.

I really wish that these types of parents would remember one important thing. Their children are CHILDREN. Let them play. Let them dig up some worms, make mud pies, and get good and dirty. Childhood is but a tiny fraction of a person’s life. Don’t squander it on programming them to be little adults!

And it’s not just parents who are guilty of this. The school institution is just as culpable here. 5-year-olds who enter Kindergarten are expected to sit for long periods of time completing worksheets and busywork. Many adults have a hard time sitting for extended periods of time. Why would we expect this of our little ones? Granted, most children do learn to tolerate this tedium, but at what expense? A broken spirit. What else do you expect after their natural energy and curiosity are pushed farther and farther down until they learn to “sit still, keep your eyes and ears open and your mouths closed?”

Enter our current age of progress at all costs. Yes, children are maturing faster and faster. Of course they are. From a very early age, so many kids are being expected to behave like miniature adults. This is not what I want for my children.

I want them to be exactly what they are. Kids. I want them to get so excited about discoveries that they have to be told to quiet down a little. I want them to come back in from outside with slug juice all over their hands and mud all over their feet. I want to trip over their tents made of blankets and their dollhouses made of boxes. Why? Because then I know they are embracing their freedom to be who they are- not what I yearn for them to be. It’s not about me. It’s about them.

So when I hear my 12-year-old daughter calling for her siblings to come and play school, I can only smile. Because childhood lasts a little longer in this house.

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Multiculturalism- More Than Our Differences

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about Multiculturalism.

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Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

In this day and age of such diversity, multiculturalism is a buzzword you hear everywhere. It is so important to address the assortment of cultural traditions that abound in our ever-shrinking world today. Rather than use textbooks or documentaries, our family uses life experience to broaden our views of the world.

We live in an extremely racially and culturally diverse city. Just taking a walk down the street, you may well pass ten people coming from ten different countries. It would be very hard, indeed, for us not to be exposed to the many differing traditions around us. We have friends from all over the world- Japan, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, and Peru, just to name a few. My husband’s stepfather who raised him and whom my children call Grandpa is from Puerto Rico. We are so blessed to have such an array of friends and family from such a variety of places because this translates into great opportunities for us to experience life in far away places, right here in our backyard.

Devin attended a Shinobi Camp over the summer where she learned about ancient Japanese history and the basics of Ninjutsu. She also fell in love with our Japanese friend’s sushi recipe, and she made it herself over the weekend. Devin has been able to attend the Sweet 15 birthday parties of several of her hispanic friends and has attended church with a friend from Peru where they only speak Spanish. Devin doesn’t speak a word of Spanish but loves to attend because she loves her friend.

And this brings me to the one issue I have with how multiculturalism is taught these days. While learning how different our cultures are can be very informative and a lot of fun, I think that sometimes our differences can be stressed a little too much, and it can make some people feel alienated from one another. We need to shift the focus a little to include what we have in common, too, because when we look at and interact with someone raised in a different culture, we need to look at who they are. Not just where they were born. This is such an important trait to have in this increasingly diverse world. When my children and I see our friends, we don’t think: They’re from Jamaica, she’s from Japan, she’s from Peru. Instead, we think: They’re so wise, she’s a daughter of the King, she’s my friend.

As we go about life learning about our beautiful, kind, and amazing friends, I don’t want our main focus to be on how we are different. No…instead, I want to focus on how we are the same.

Devin with two of her friends
Devin with two of her friends

 

 

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Visit The Squishable Baby to see how you can participate in the next Homeschool Blogging Carnival where we will be talking about Homeschool Mythsconceptions . hmschool blogging button

 

Please take the time to read the submissions by other Carnival participants:

 

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Weekend Review: Breathing a Sigh of Relief

Early this week, I realized just how close standardized testing and evaluations are, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Remember that panic I went through a couple months ago? Well, I had a slight relapse. Homeschooling in Pennsylvania can be a bit stressful because of all the requirements we have to deal with, but being an unschooler here is new to me, and I started freaking out with worry over how we’re going to comply with these rigid laws. Our state requires us to keep portfolios with work samples, and since my kids are more hands-on, I became quite fretful.

I even went against every instinct I have about learning and started having the kids do an activity with me everyday, just so I’d have some sort of work samples. They really didn’t mind it, as we just incorporated a lot of what we learned from our nature walk on Saturday and went from there. On Monday, we examined, drew, and labelled a wild onion that Arianna brought home. We also studied some moss that Bailey brought home and discovered that moss does not have actual roots but little root-like structures called rhizoids. Arianna actually got really into it and went on to dissect a pine cone, a nut, and a wild potato from our outing. We never even knew that wild potatoes existed before this. I mentioned to her that the root of a yellow flower she was looking at looked like a little potato. She cut it in half, and we smelled it…definitely a potato. Google confirmed our suspicions.

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The kids also painted little wooden butterfly cutouts.

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On Tuesday, we discussed the differences between plants and animals, and the kids each drew their own version of a plant/animal hybrid. Dillon and Devin have been playing WOW often, and Arianna is still into her theatrical makeup. We made fruit salad for dinner that day, so the kids had a great time helping me cut fruit. (Actually, I didn’t have to cut any of it- they did it all!)

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Wednesday we watched a cute YouTube video of a photosynthesis rap song. Afterwards, we discussed the root words of photosynthesis and chlorophyll, and the kids made word scrambles using plant vocabulary words. The kids enjoyed watching a documentary about insects on Netflix called “Microcosmos.” We’ve also been reading Farmer Boy and have been discussing the many responsibilities of pioneer children. I’m hoping this will help to curtail their whining over their chores…
Wednesday night some of the kids went to Kingdom Builders, and Arianna went to youth group. I had nursery duty, so I stayed in there with Kenzie.

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On Wednesday evening, I got some exciting news…I found an evaluator who also has ten kids and is an unschooler. It was like a big weight lifted off of my shoulders. Part of the reason I’ve been so nervous about work samples is because of evaluations. I’ve always turned in extremely thick portfolios before, and I wasn’t sure how my evaluator would react to a much thinner binder. This new evaluator is much more relaxed, and since she is also of the mindset that children are always learning, the amount of samples makes no difference to her. Hallelujah. Big exhale.

On Thursday, I informed the kids that they no longer have to do activity time with me, unless they want to. They all said that they actually thought it was fun and will probably continue to do things with me sometimes. That made me happy because I really did enjoy it; I just didn’t enjoy feeling compelled to do it to please the bureaucracy. Learning should not be forced. Period. Ireland was the only one who opted to work with me today, so she made a plant lapbook, and we talked about why plants are important. Speaking of learning by choice, today was my third day of learning German through Mango Languages. I was able to start at Chapter 6; I took a placement test because I did take six years of German in school. I’m having a lot of fun with that. The younger kids have been on coolmathgames.com and Khan Academy brushing up on their math and logic skills. Ireland has been requesting math “schoolwork” quite a bit, so I’ve been printing a lot of Pre-K worksheets for her. Arianna still likes to cook, so after baking a cake, she helped me make stuffed peppers for supper. Yum.

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Kenzie has started pushing her little stroller around the house. She’s not going to be a baby much longer. Sniff.

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Friday will probably be a low-key day. Saturday, Devin has drawing and painting class, and Sunday is her art show. And Caollin and London will finally be getting baptized on Sunday! The water heater for the baptistry had broken, but the replacement was supposed to come in today. They’re so excited.

What have you done this week? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

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Highhill Homeschool

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Join Me at Lovin’ the Weekend Blog Hops

I’m so excited to have been chosen as the featured guest host of the Lovin’ the Weekend Blog Hops for this week!

Welcome to Lovin’ The Weekend Blog Hops with your co-hosts:
Karen from Tots and Me, Rena from An Ordinary Housewife, Erin from For Him and My Family and Aurie from Our Good Life
Thank you to every one who has stopped by, whether this is your first visit or you have been a faithful ongoing participant! 
Please note, there are 3 linkies, please scroll down to the 3rd one to link up giveaways! Thank you so very much!
(Giveaways linked up to either of the other linkies will be removed. Thank you for your understanding.)
We would love for you to stop by all the co-hosts and follow us, then feel free to add your links to any or all of the following linkies.

 We also randomly choose a Featured host each week. This week we are featuring Shelly from There’s No Place Like Home.

 Here’s what she has to say:
My name is Shelly, and I just recently started blogging about three months ago. I have eleven children ranging in age from 10 months to 20 years, but only ten still live at home, as our oldest son has moved out. I started my blog for two reasons- the first being that I constantly have thoughts floating around in my head, so I needed an outlet for them so that I can actually get some sleep at night. The second reason is because after five years of homeschooling, we recently started unschooling after Christmas, and I was hoping to be a source of encouragement for people in similar situations. Most of my posts are about homeschooling and unschooling, although I do also write about our Christian faith and the logistics of having such a large family. You won’t find many how-to posts on my blog, as I’m mostly a philosophical person, and, truthfully, I’m not at all crafty!

Don’t forget to link up to the Lovin’ the Readers Hop if you would like a chance to be a Featured host next week. Please comment with a way to contact you, especially if there is not an obvious way mentioned on your blog. We would love to include a little write up about you and your blog in the next week’s Lovin’ The Weekend Blog Hop post, including a link to your blog. And you will get to include the linky codes on your blog. Sound fun? We’re looking forward to getting to know our readers better.

Here’s how this blog hop works. We would appreciate it if you would follow Tots and Me, An Ordinary Housewife, For Him and My Family and Our Good Life then please head on over to our Featured Host and follow as well. If you no longer have GFC please follow in some other way. After that there are three different linkies you can link to. Whichever one you choose to link to, please grab that button and share it on your blog (the codes are on Tot’s and Me’s sidebar). We’d love it if you could tweet or in some other way share about this blog hop, the more people who know about it, the more potential visitors and new followers of your blog. We’d love to meet some new friends this weekend.  
Some people are more interested in just increasing their numbers, while others really want people who appreciate their blog and want to keep up with their posts. So, there are two separate blog hop linkies. 

The third linky is for you to link up your giveaways.
If you are interested in increasing the number of followers to your blog via GFC, Linky Followers, email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ link up here. We will follow you back if you follow us (just note which one you are linking to):
Tots and Me

If you are interested in gaining followers to your blog who will read and comment and truly find an interest in your blog, link up here:
Tots and Me

If you have family friendly giveaways to link up, here’s your spot. Please make sure to include an end date for your giveaway.
Tots and Me


We are so glad you stopped by. Please leave a comment if you link up and we will be sure to stop by and follow back.

Don’t forget to check out my “Blog Hops” page for other great blog hops!!