Just Another Ordinary (Extraordinary) Day

Some days just seem so ordinary – but if we have eyes to see, the extraordinary will appear.

  • Miss 9 was awake watching television when I got up …

… She was also looking at a diary and last year’s calendar, and was using her new blue clipboard (a longed-for acquisition). She seemed deeply engrossed but slowly managed to raise her head from her paper world, and the questions began: “Mum, how do you spell February?” “Mum, how many days are in March?” Which naturally progressed to discussions about leap years, the history of calendars, and a little rhyme I learned as a child, to help with remembering how many days were in each month. Continue Reading

Our Unschooled Friday

We’ve been unschooling since the last millennium. (Wow, that sounds impressive, but really isn’t.) When my second son was born in 1999, I decided I didn’t want to miss any more of the daily discoveries of my two boys, so I left the corporate world and embraced an entirely new lifestyle.

Our unschooling day in 2012 of course doesn’t look like it did in 1999. Actually our unschooling day today doesn’t look like it did yesterday. Unschooling means we meet our needs at the moment, and our needs are constantly changing. Continue Reading

What, You Learn on Saturdays?

When I got to kind of introduce myself to the Christian Unschooling community through the Unschooling Portraits series, I described myself like this:

I’m Joan Otto, wife to Chris and mom to Sarah (who’s 12). We live in central Pennsylvania in a house that also includes my mom, a large dog, 5 cats, and a hamster. We’re new to homeschooling of any sort, sort of – I was homeschooled for several years, but our daughter had been in public school until Leap Day – Feb. 29 of this year. We blog about our life at Our School at Home. (Which was a funny choice for a title, really, given that we aren’t “school at home” types at all.)

Continue Reading

Teaching vs. Strewing: An Unschooling Conversation

This discussion appeared recently on the Christian Unschooling Facebook Group:

TRACI: This is just a random little unschooling question I’ve been wondering about. I have been reading/commenting in the unschooling realm for a bit now and I’m trying to understand the negativity towards the word “teach.” I asked in another forum and I was given the answer that if we teach our kids we are influencing their developing thoughts rather than encouraging them to think independently. Continue Reading

Math Think

One of the questions we run into a lot, as a radically unschooling family, is how will they learn higher level math if kids aren’t forced to learn the math facts traditionally, especially if they want to go to college and go into a math or science field. Continue Reading

Summer Learning, Had Us a Blast!

Summer in the desert isn’t a time for a lot of outdoor play. It’s much too hot for riding bikes all day. We tend to save our fooling around outside for evenings and cooler seasons. Unfortunately, summer on the farm is also not a time to travel and get away from the oppressive heat. Because of the odd constraints of farm life and climate, summer tends to be a season of indoor play and learning around here. It also tends to become a time of staying up late and sleeping more during the day.

This summer has certainly been a time of learning. Strangely enough, that “coincides” with this being a summer in which I wasn’t determined to “educate” the children. Last summer marked the beginning of our unschooling journey and my girls spent most of it deschooling. Continue Reading

Fun in the Sun with Mum

When I was a child, my two favourite schooldays were the first day of the year, when everything was new and shiny, and the last day of the year, when we were about to be set FREE for summer holidays! In between those two days, it certainly wasn’t all bad, but there sure was a lot of jumping through hoops (which can get very tiring, I have to say!) and going through the motions that had been chosen for me. And those motions and routines did not serve to switch on my brain any more than their cessation would serve to switch it off. The learning didn’t begin upon entering the school gate and cease upon departure. Continue Reading

How Do Unschoolers Prepare for College

Academic Success Left Me a Failure

“My child is an honor student at John Q. Public School.”

Much is made of academic success in public school. Bumper stickers and window clings proudly proclaim that a budding genius may be aboard the family car. Local newspapers publish lists of “A Honor Roll” students. Every year some local paper gets to publish a glowing testemonial to a local youth who has “aced” his or her ACT or SAT exams. Continue Reading

I Grew Up on a Farm, and I Almost Failed Ag Class

I remember the year I started to understand how innately artificial school was compared to real life experience. All through school I was a bright student. I loved learning, and at times I even loved school.

But school confused me. When I was at the peak of curiosity about a topic, engaged and attentive, it was time to switch activities. Or I was called a teacher’s pet. Sometimes the teacher would reprimand me for being too enthusiastic, for doing the work too quickly, or for helping others.

Nothing would crush my spirits, however, as much as eighth grade did. Continue Reading