Monthly Archives: February 2014

Day in the life of an 6 year old unschooler: Valentine’s Day 2014

 I’ve always enjoyed reading the “Day in the Life” posts over at Simple Homeschool. At the end of the series each year, she invites readers to post a link to their own day. This year, I decided to do that.

The day I chose to do this for was Friday, which happened to be Valentine’s Day. I’d say the only real difference between this and a “regular” day is there’s a lot more sugar and exchanging of cards. Otherwise, even though it’s kind of a holiday, it’s a lot like our everyday. Because we’re unschoolers, learning happens throughout the day. We don’t have a set curriculum and, since we only have one child, we’re fairly free to tailor our life and any “schooling” around Kai and what he wants to learn. Every day is different. This is just one of many days.

By the time Kai gets up, Joe has already gone to work. Kai is awake by the time his dad leaves for work leaves for work around 7:50 or so, but he slept in a bit on this particular day (and Joe left for a work bit early). Today, Kai gets out of bed at about 8:15 or so.

We watch a TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” and we talk about it.

He watches some Ninjago while I fix breakfast. I make heart-shaped pink pancakes with whipped cream and “goodies” on top. It’s a tradition for us. And he loves it.

DITL February 14, 2014

Then, I ask Kai to get ready to leave so we can go to the library. After he washes up and gets dressed, we go through the library books to find the ones we have to take back. We scan the ones he’s read all of it into Goodreads, which is how I keep track of all the books he reads. (Or, at least, a good chunk of them. I don’t get all of them, admittedly.)

Kai looks forward to getting his “holds” from the library like some children look forward to getting Christmas presents. Today, he has a bunch of holds. He grabs them, goes to look for a Garfield book, then spends quite a while reading while I looked for my own books and did a bit of writing.

While at the library, he runs into a friend of his (also a homeschooler). This particular friend is someone we tend to bump into while out and about quite a bit, which always humors me – they don’t live in the city proper.

DITL February 14, 2014

After library, we go home for lunch. We’re pretty lucky in that, right now, my husband’s work is only about ten minutes away – by foot. So he gets to come home for lunch almost every day, something Kai looks forward to.

After lunch, Kai goes to his room for an hour of “quiet time”. During quiet time, he reads, plays with some times, etc. I can tell a big difference in both of us on days that we don’t manage to get quiet time in. It’s really useful for recharging and for getting a break from each other for a bit, since we’re around each other pretty much constantly. Today, he plays a bit and also reads some of the Revolutionary War Magic Tree House book.

After quiet time, we address Valentine’s Day cards to Kai’s dad. He insists on adding a bunch of “Yay!”s to the card… this is a theme he will later continue with my card.

DITL February 14, 2014

DITL February 14, 2014

We also do some other Valentine’s Day activities, which makes Kai pretty excited (he likes to do “holiday learning stuff”):

We spend a few minutes brainstorming Valentine’s Day words and put them on heart, which we put on Kai’s bedroom door.

DITL February 14, 2014

He does some addition using the number of letters of some of our conversation hearts. And eats the candy after he uses them.

DITL February 14, 2014

We break open another box to do graphing. This, too, gets eaten.

DITL February 14, 2014

DITL February 14, 2014

After that, he plays with some of his toys for a few minutes, then he holds the dustpan while I sweep. We take turns vacuuming. He cheers me on while I do it, pointing out spots he thinks I’ve missed, picking up any big pieces, etc. Then, he finishes up his Revolutionary War Magic Tree House book.

Kai’s dad comes home and we have dinner: ice cream. We have a bunch of food allergies/sensitivities so, sometimes, our “special holiday dinner” is ice cream.

DITL February 14, 2014

I’m pretty sure he enjoyed it.

DITL February 14, 2014

After dinner, we exchange cards and Valentine’s Day candy stuff. (This day sure ended up having a lot of sugar in it!)

DITL February 14, 2014

Then, Joe and Kai chill out on the couch while we wait for friends to arrive because tonight is “Grown Up Game Night.” Every two weeks, we have “Grown-Up Board Game Night” with some of Joe’s friends.

DITL February 14, 2014

We always play at least one game with Kai. Tonight is no different: once they arrive, we play a game of Tsuro.

DITL February 14, 2014

After Tsuro, Kai ends up playing Pokemon on my 3DS while we start up the next game.

DITL February 14, 2014

Then, he plays in his room for a while with his cars, then reads a dinosaur book and keeps popping into the living room to tell us facts about the dinosaurs. Eventually, he comes into the living room and ends up falling asleep reading a Magic Tree House book about pandas.

DITL February 14, 2014

One person’s experience is not necessarily another’s.

When Kai got up this morning, I was about two minutes into this video, “The danger of a single story”, so I started it over.

The video is about how only having a single story (even multiple versions of that single story), can cause problems and misunderstandings.

She says, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

I’ve always loved the following passage from Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”:

None of them has ever seen a Jew before. I am aware that everything I do now for the next hour represents “Jew”. I walk in eating an apple: all Jews now will eat apples. I tell them I have never lived in a small town: now no Jew has ever lived in the country.

We talk about the importance of taking in many different stories from many different areas.

We talk about racism.

We even talk about how, when I used to do phone work, people, upon hearing I was in Seattle, would often say, “Oh… is it raining?” (Usually? No.)

This is an important thing for kids to learn – adults, too, since a good number of them leave their childhood not understanding it: One person’s experience is not necessarily another’s.

Six months later.

Time works in weird ways.

Six months ago today, Kai’s mother died. It feels like FOREVER ago and, yet, it feels like no time at all.

I thought I’d have a lot to say today. And I do. But maybe too much to properly get on paper.

Mainly, I guess, what I want to say is that Kai is okay. Our family is okay. Some days are a few steps forward, some are a few steps back. But isn’t this how it is in most families? I think the overall trend is forward, which is good.

He is doing well.

He is loved.

He is happy.

Six months later, he’s still here.

And so are we.

Just For A Moment, Let’s Be Still.

My favorite band is “The Head and the Heart”. My husband, Joe, and I met/had our first date-like-thing at one of their concerts. We planned our wedding around one of their concerts in 2012. They’ll be playing in Seattle again this month and we’ll be going. This time, we’re taking Kai, who has also always loved their music. So, you could say the group is pretty important to us.

We’ve all been listening to their music quite a bit, in part because they released a new album a few months ago, in part because of the upcoming concert. But, also, Kai has been requesting to listen to their new album a lot, both at home and in the car.

While we’re driving around, Kai often requests the lyrics book. But there’s a few songs he doesn’t need the lyrics for at all. One of those songs is called, “Let’s Be Still.”

In particular, he will often loudly sing the following verse:

The world’s just spinning
A little too fast
If things don’t slow down soon we might not last.
The world’s not forgiving
Of everyone’s fears.
The days turn into months the months turn into years.
So just for a moment, let’s be still.

Typically, there’s head bobbing and maybe even a bit of booster-seat-dancing. 2013 had so many changes for him, and for our family, and life just seemed to fly by. I turned around in December to realize I’d nearly missed fall and then, suddenly, it was the middle of January.

But, lately, we’ve been taking time to just relax, learn how to incorporate all the changes into our daily life. Life can go by pretty fast. You can miss out on it, if you’re not careful. Taking time to slow down, stop what you’re doing, and experience life can make all the difference.

So just for a moment, let’s be still.

This post was written for the Write ALM February Prompt-A-Day. Today’s prompt was “Be still.”

Officially deciding what we’d already unofficially decided.

For most families, homeschooling starts with a decision or, more accurately, a few decisions.

First, they decide to homeschool. I don’t know that it was a decision for us, so much. I mean, obviously, it was. But what it looked like was more of a discussion one day while Kai was asleep in the car and the rest of us (the three parents at the time) talked while we were stuck – mainly not moving – in traffic. I had always wanted to be homeschooled. Kai’s mother said that although she had a few concerns, which we talked through, she felt like homeschooling seemed like something that could work well for Kai. Joe had been homeschooled and that’s what he wanted for his son (though what he wanted homeschooling for Kai to look like was drastically different than it was for him in his childhood).

This leads to another homeschooling decision that was ultimately not officially decided until a few days ago: Method. I don’t remember where I heard about unschooling but I know that it’s what I thought would work best for Kai. It was agreed that we would “try it out” but, at the time, it was ultimately not a decisions that Joe and I could make. It was also up to Kai’s mother. She had some reservations. And we knew that, ultimately, if she took us to court regarding schooling, a judge would decide that we either had to use a curriculum or that Kai would have to go to public school.

What this meant was that I felt I had to “prove” that we what we were doing was good, was working, was, in fact, “better” for Kai than any other method of education.

But that meant that I could never “let go”, could not relax into the process. I could not learn to trust in unschooling – or in Kai – because “proof” was necessary. But unlike a lot of education methods, unschooling doesn’t always provide a stack of papers or a linear path, so it’s harder to “prove” at a quick glance.

It has been almost six months since Kai’s mother died. During that time, we’ve been “unschoolish”. But nothing was officially “decided” for any length of time. I’d oscillate between different things but always found myself coming back to unschooling.

Finally, a few days ago, I was once again talking with my husband, expressing fears and frustrations. I mentioned I’d started Kai on an activity that he found fun but then I’d insisted he’d finish it and that it took way longer to finish it than I thought it should have because he kept stopping to play with the pieces in another way. I said, once again, how it felt like we “never get anything done”. The whole thing, by the way, was a huge mistake. I should have let Kai just play with the stuff the way he wanted. What Kai was doing was even very obvious learning. But he wasn’t doing it in the way I’d wanted/expected nor was he doing it at the speed I’d wanted. I told my husband that maybe we need a curriculum, another method, whatever.

One of the many things that I love about my husband is that he’s a very patient man. He lets me work through things out loud when I need to. Finally, though, he said. “You just need to make a decision. All of this back and forth isn’t fair to Kai and it isn’t fair to you. You need to pick something and with it for a while, whatever it is. Give it a chance to ‘work’ long-term.”

So I did. I told him that, yes, we would unschool (he’s an even bigger proponent of unschooling than I am and doesn’t have a lot of the fears and worries that I often do) and I committed to do so for a long-ish period of time.

Instantly, a weight was lifted. It’s as if making the decision and committing long term freed me from the worries of trying to make sure I’d picked the “right” method.

Now, we have a path to move forward on. I’m looking forward to seeing where that path takes us.

Edited for clarity: We’ve been unschooling, except for brief excursions from it when I’ve handed him worksheets or whatever. This is more about committing to not waffle.

This post was written for the Write ALM February Prompt-A-Day. Today’s prompt was “First things first.”