Tag Archives: homeschooling

The Wandering Market Family is Expanding. This is the beginning.

Yesterday I stared into nine month old Aayla’s potty of her morning excrement. A bright pink balloon was staring back at me as if saying to me again “what are you doing?”.
Even though we were careful, she had somehow found and eaten and thankfully pooped out a balloon.
It reminded me of the video I watched of The Midway Project where they photograph carcasses of birds decaying, exposing their insides full of plastic. This video really affected me as I thought about all the plastic trinkets we have had at birthday parties, festivals, camping and on and on. A party often feels like an exception to be less mindful as we bring out the plastic toys and disposable cutlery to celebrate the event.
I think a lot about discontinuing my use of plastic as a way to support the earth. I know others are doing it and I could too but I haven’t yet.
But this post isn’t about feeling guilty. It’s about finding what inspires you to be better and do better as it leads towards our ultimate fulfillment.
Stick with me.
I have been sitting with these feelings for a while. I ponder them as I haul out massive garbage bags to the back to magically be taken away and be buried into the earth. I can see the overflowing dump from the edge of town. It is surrounded by fields of food growing around the massive heap. Garbage that has flown in litters the wheat and peas and barley and we see each other at the post office and smile as if it doesn’t exist.
This is only a small drop of polluted sand in Saskatchewan compared to the other problems like the chemical runoff into fresh water which is also the water we drink.
My neighbour doesn’t live there anymore but she comes back once in the summer to douse her yard on a windy day with chemicals. It’s just a few feet away from where we grow food. What are we doing?
I’ve sat with this for a long time, waiting to feel empowered by love and not my anger.
The time has come.
I love watching my children playing with such easy joy in the sand. We went to the lake yesterday. I sat with Aayla while she slept. I watched our future unfold as Michael walked around picking glass and other garbage out of the earth where they were playing. I noticed the children begin to follow him around and Nova even began to help him pick up. She came to me curious about things that biodegrade and things that don’t. She began putting various collected garbage in water to see what would break down.
These events inspired in me the thought

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What do Unschoolers do?

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People are often curious about what we do all the time. If we don’t go to school and we don’t homeschool, then what do we do? Let’s take a look at what the kids are doing…
This is my oldest son, Michael. He is twelve and has been mostly at home for his school years except for two months when he wanted to try out school and kindergarten in an alternative, open concept school. (which he loved, by the way.)
I’m absolutely astounded by the things that Michael is doing and that it is self initiate and directed. It is showing me that when people are given the space and the freedom to explore their passions, they can create and accomplish amazing things.
Michael made this outfit of the character Ezio off of a video game. The pieces are all sewn from material; made from scratch. It looks quite complicated from the creation of the hood to the red reverse appliqu├ęs (a term from Grandma) on the tunic. He also made the hidden blade with a combination of springs and other things. I see the way he gets an idea and follows through with planning, research and then production. His sense of self is developing as he finds the things that give him great joy. He is thinking about ways to use these joys as a means to support himself in the future. As a parent, the main thing I aim for is for my children to develop a life that is based on doing what they love. I hope they will never have to work jobs they hate simply to make ends meet.
Michael is also teaching himself to play piano and plays some beautiful and complicate songs from composers like Beethoven and Pachabel.
It turns out that I can let go and I can trust them to live their lives, gathering the information and the skills that they need to survive.
And this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
What amazing things are your children doing?

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Life Rocks Unschooling Conference 2013: Supporting one another.

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It’s been a week since we left Life Rocks. I’m feeling ready to start writing about it more in depth. Everyone has been asking me about it. I’ll break it down into topics and moments when they strike me.
While driving home, I have been repeatedly asking myself:
What has impacted me the most?
The answer is clear and easy.
It’s how much we need each other.
The week at Life Rocks was not only fun and inspiring and joyful, but it was healing. I could feel myself opening up and releasing fears and deep seeded beliefs in such a free atmosphere. I felt like I could walk up to anyone and ask them for help. I felt supported to express my flaws and dysfunction, and I did! I saw many other people go through this as well.
For many, the usual fears would come up surrounding our children’s behavior. There were a few “fights” in the beginning between children. I could sense within me that old feeling of “I should leave. Disconnect. Feel shame.”. Life Rocks proved for so many to be the perfect place to work through these. There were many inspiring speakers who touched on this and morning mom’s groups where it could be discussed freely with a person designate to keep the group on track. It was said repeatedly that freedom is NOT treating our children in a way that is intended to change their behavior. That’s a hard one to learn, especially if your child is aggressive.
But what do you mean? Do we accept their bad behaviors? Oh, it’s so much deeper than that. It’s about acknowledging where someone is at and loving them regardless. It’s about being our authentic selves regardless of another’s actions. It’s about offering clear and open support for the child, or anyone. Forcing someone into joy or peace is NOT freedom. I learn to live this mostly with my acknowledging words and with silence. I am loving being there with my child and understanding and I can say peacefully “You really wanted to smash that window with a rock.” And he looks at me and nods and cries.
I don’t feel that I’ve totally developed these thoughts. I mean what do you do when there is danger? You stop it. You change the outcome, right? I’ve learned that I don’t really need rules or guidelines. I can take each moment at a time and ask it “what do you need from me?”
These revelations come when in an open and beautiful coming together of love and freedom. It happened. It felt so natural. It felt safe.
I told people things that I’ve never spoken and they did the same. We had moments of tears and stress and releasing “what do I do now?!?” Because it is not always easy or comfortable to take children from home and put them with strangers and foreign foods and activities. We worked through it and it created bonds that will continue to grow and last a life time. We know how we are all going through a lot of the same stuff. It’s not easy to be different. Or rather, it hasn’t been easy. But we’re working to make freedom and joy easy. Future generations won’t have to fight for it because it will be common and feel natural.
These Life Rocks feelings have translated into all of life as we journey home. We’ve been meeting people along the way and I am continuing to share wonderful connections. We’ve stayed with two Unschooling families. One which we met at the conference an another that I met online. I’m so in awe of their generosity and openness.
As I write this, I am seeing a mom point to one of those huge, chemical ridden hotel make-your-own waffles and she tells her child “Eat this or you’re not swimming!” And “People won’t like you if you talk like that.”
I breathe and smile at her. I can appreciate the journey it takes and I can see her pain and fear. I can also see her kind intent and human nature.
It really makes me think about how much we need to fully support and love one another.

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My Child’s Future Is None Of My Business!

Someone was asking me the typical questions about Unschooling, how it works and such.
I answered it in a blog post.
She said it all sounds great but what about university math.
And then an unusual thought struck me,
” That’s none of your business!”
I thought further,
” Whoa, maybe that’s true!”.
Maybe my children’s future careers and post-secondary educations is none of my business!
I am trusting my children to learn what they need and desire to, in their own way, at their own time and that means totally letting go.
I think a lot of energy is put into who are children will become. I aim to eliminate that stress. Stress and worry make me tired and unhappy and a cranky mom.
If my children decide that they love math, I imagine that will start to manifest as a young child and that’s where it will begin.
If they need highschool math, then they will find a way to get it.
When people are doing what they are
passionate about, it becomes easy.
Or atleast hard in that really satisfying kind of way.
If university math is something they want to do then the motivation will be there, and that’s the most difficult part!
So, I think I’ll leave it to them, while remaining available to support all their endeavours. It’s not my business what they want to do.
I hope it’s something cool.
I secretly hope they will all be inspiring artist, musician, wandering vagabond types, happy living off the land. Maybe that’s just me…Honestly, I just want them to be happy. And we do that by following our passions.

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How To Unschool

1. Live. That’s what Unschooling is. With no separation between life and learning, just live.

2. Learn, grow and research. Read books on the topic of alternative education as well as unschooler’s blogs and websites. Not only does this help you understand Unschooling but it sets a good example for your children. It shows them they we never stop learning and that the world is fascinating! I recommend Dayna Martin for her book “Radical Unschooling”. Also, anything written by John Holt is a great place to start, and end!

3. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey. Don’t worry that you are not doing enough, we are always enough. There is no one way to Unschool, it all develops in it’s own beautiful way. If you find that you are having doubts about your abilities, forgive yourself immediately and start over! I am doing my best! I am enough!

4. Take interest in your children’s interests. This helps them go deep into their experiences and learning. It will show you where you can help and what resources they may need. It also let’s them know that we value them and their lives.

5. Focus on your own growth and development. Do you have any unresolved fears? Are you believing thoughts that aren’t true ? Where can you improve? We all do it, but the trick is to asters it and get better and better. We deserve to be happy and joyful! I use Byron Katie’s the work, to address my harmful thoughts.

6. Say less, watch more. Trust. It seems that as a society we are quite deficient in our abilities to “deal with” children. We also seem to be lacking in being able to build connections with our children. So often I don’t know what to do or how to be and so I must be silent. Most often the situation resolves itself without my harmful interference. Or a peaceful resolution becomes clear to me and I know what to do.

7. Do things that you love. Listen to music that brings you into what Brent Cameron and Barbara Meyer, in their book Self Design call “A Resource State”. What brings you to life?

8. I like to make lists. What are our interests? What are we passionate about? What do we want to do? What do we love? I do this for each person.

9. Keep records. I use a calendar or a journal to record what the kids are doing. We are required as “homeschoolers” to submit a report every year and the calendar helps
me remember what we did.

10. Ask yourself lots of questions! Like “Is it harmless?”. So often I feel the need to stop my children from doing something that is harmless. Life is much easier when I go with the flow. Also they are more likely to take me seriously when I am not constantly giving them directions or orders.

11. Share your thoughts. Find someone safe and non-judgmental with whom you can talk about your experience of Unschooling.

12. Let go of who they will be. Worrying that they may be criminals, drug addicts or just unemployable may affect your parenting. They are who they are, let them be and let them discover it for themselves! It’s a wonderful process when unimpeded by pushy adults with their agendas of who they think children should be.

13. Provide them with opportunities to try new things and be prepared that it may not be for them. And that’s great!

14. Let them be around children of all ages. One of the best things that I have noticed about homeschoolers is that they do not discriminate against children of different ages.

15. Refrain from comparing your children to others. I’ve completely abandoned the developmental charts and I love it! It’s so freeing!

16. *bonus* from homeschooling mom and blogger, Janelle
“I would add an encouragement to read outside of your interests. Even if you are an unschooler, it can be valuable to read from the works of Charlotte Mason, Susan Wise Bauer, and others. I like to explore all kinds of ideas, not just the ones I already agree with! ”

You can do it! You are already doing fabulously!

In life and learning,
Nadine

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