Monday, June 28, 2010

Who needs expensive costumes?

Not my boys.

Nico and Lucas spent all morning playing pirates. They don't have pirate costumes, but did that stop them? Of course not. You don't need expensive costumes when you have paper, tape and imagination.

Nico drew, colored and cut out a pirate hat, eye patch, shirt, parrot, peg leg, and hand hook. Then, using scotch tape, he taped them all over himself. Then he ran around the house shouting, "Have ye seen the white whale?". It was way cute.

Then they went off to their room so they could build a pirate ship out of tinker toys. What a fun filled morning.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What about Reading?

In the beginning I used to think that teaching my children to read was going to be my biggest hurdle in home-schooling. I bought into the hype that children needed to be taught, and couldn't possibly learn on their own. I even purchased a membership for an online phonics program, which my boys found boring. I never forced them do these lessons, but I encouraged (ok bribed) them into doing a few lessons here and there.

As our approach drifted further and further into the realm of unstructured learning, I did more research into how kids learn to read. I began to get more relaxed about it, and decided that I was ok with my boys learning to read on their own. Even if that meant they wouldn't be reading by age 5, 6, 7 or even 10. Their ability to read, or lack there of would not, after all, be hampering their learning in other ways.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you see things, I didn't get the opportunity to find out how this works with Nico. I sent him on a two month extended vacation, and while away his Great Aunt, and English teacher, took it upon herself to teach him how to read. She did daily lessons with him, using Hooked on Phonics. Am I proud that my boy can read? Yes! But he was already making strides in getting there on his own.

However, I still get to witness this development in action with Lucas. Even now, at four years old, I can see how he is processing information, which will make it possible for him to read on his own. He knows all his letters, and what sounds each should make. He asks how words are spelled, and points out writing and inquires about what it says. Nico, forever the show off, has taken to reading signs as we are stopped at lights while driving. Lucas will look at the signs, already knowing what they say since his brother just told him, and sound out the words on his own; slowly saying each sound as he looks at the letters. He wants to read, and is taking the actions necessary to help get himself there.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Throughout high school and college, my teachers and professors tried to drill in me the importance of networking. Meeting new people, swapping contact information, and then actually keeping in touch periodically. But as an extremely shy and introverted person, I just couldn't bring myself to step out of my comfort zone. I had a very small group of friends, and found it difficult to introduce myself to new people.

All that changed when I had children, and began my home-schooling adventures.

Not long after I made the final decision to home-school, I put myself out there in a way I had never done before. I joined a home-school group thru I knew no-one in the group, and would be purposefully surrounding myself with strangers. I just kept telling myself "I'm doing this for the boys.", and forced myself to go.

Suddenly things blossomed. I met mothers who were also just beginning their home-school adventures. I met veteran home-schoolers who were willing to take the time to answer my questions, and quell my fears and uncertainties. I made friends, my boys made friends, and it opened our world to opportunities I didn't even know existed.

This past year my boys have attended plays and festivals; gone on field trips to places like a grocery store, fire station, post office and bowling alley. We've had holiday parties and field days. All made possible because I reached out to the home-school community, and others were there to reach back.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Question of the Week

Nico: Why do we only give our dog water to drink? How come he can't have milk or juice or soda?

Me: Well, let's think about this. If he were a wild dog, living on his own, what would he have available to drink?

Nico: Water

Me: So, water is what his body is used to, and if we start giving him other things it might make him sick.

Nico: And if he were in the wild, he would eat other animals and bones, and that's why you gave him the steak bone last night, right?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Television is not my Babysitter.

If you walk into our home, anytime during waking hours, the television will be turned on. Generally tuned to Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. You may, during certain times of the day, catch it on Animal Planet, or the Science Channel.

There are a lot of statistics regarding children and television. I've seen the studies, but I've also seen first hand how my children handle watching the boob tube.

Yes the telly is always on, but the chances of catching my boys statically watching, and doing nothing else is going to be slim. Often times the television is just providing background noise for their other activities.

If you haven't noticed, more and more information is being thrown around at people. Even billboards are turning into picture tubes, playing mini-commercials while you drive by. The information age is in full swing, and I think it's critical for children to learn how to tune out the unimportant, while at the same time being able to listen passively for things that pique their interest. This is what my boys practice daily.

Sure, they may spend the occasional hour mindlessly tuned in, but they spend far more time running, playing, drawing, writing, reading and engaging the people around them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who am I? and What do I have to say?

Hello All,

I am a newly stay at home mom, who has taken on the monumental task of home-schooling my two boys. After months of research, and many discussions with friends, family and my wonderful husband, I have decided to use no curriculum. That's right, we are what is now becoming commonly known as unschoolers.

My oldest son, Nico, is six years old. He is strong willed, stubborn, and loves to think he has won every argument. Currently he wants to grow up and become an animal doctor. In the past he has expressed a desire to be a construction worker or a painter. I think he has all the natural abilities to make one hell of a politician.

My youngest son, Lucas, is four years old. He is my go-with-the-flow child. There's just not much you can do to disrupt his contentment, unless you're Nico, then you'll find a way.

Occasionally I may make mention of my stepson, Matthew. He only stays with us part time, but has played a significant role in shaping his brothers' personalities.

My children are always encouraged to ask about and discuss any topic. We don't censor, dismiss, or try to bring things down to their level. I feel that if they didn't want an honest and complete answer, they would not have asked the question.

This is a place for me to come and chronicle our learning adventures. Join me, as my boys experience no school for life.