Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Creating a Fairy Garden

Today, my girls and I were on a mission to create a fairy garden, and creating it was healing and uplifting to all of us, even my son, who sat in the sidelines but was infected a bit by the creative bug
 ( a little bit, I think)

Joanne's very serendipitously had a 60% off sale on garden decorations when we went there to look for some fairy garden toys. It was good timing. We found a lot of moss in our yard to add, and I'm sure we will find many things in nature now to complement the "man-made" aspects of it.

Our garden feels like a magical, serene and mystical place, and I love that we have this "energy" in our yard now, a place to play, make wishes, relax, and imagine, a place that belongs to my girls. I loved how it made them light up as we created it.

 Magic and Nature

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Preschool Unschooling: A new frontier for next year

Six weeks left of the "school year". I am mentally done with our year of juggling "School at Home" with a Cooperative Preschool. From Day One, it has had me on the run with too many things to do at once and meeting deadlines that felt arbitrary to us, but all important to "them"  Our priorities did not mesh. I should have known when the first thing we had to do was spend four days with online "assessment" and account set up with about five different online accounts for my children. Canvas, Acellus, PE tracker, iready, and gmail.  Too much time on the computer, and my kids hated it right from the beginning. The time spent with all of this tracking felt wasted. Hours and hours tracking, reporting, emailing, working through technical glitches, and it only fed addictions and dependency to a "screen."  I felt torn to be in two places at the same time. Time I spent working in the preschool conflicted with being able to homeschool my other two children.  It felt so often I had to be in two places at once.

Preschool: It was disappointing. We chose a preschool that we were comfortable with; one in which both our older children attended. It seemed "to be in the bag" to send our third child there.  (4 years later).  I was looking forward to it from the moment of my pregnancy.  My middle child was graduating that school, when I found out I was pregnant.  We had sentimental attachment to that school. It worked well for us during that phase of parenting.

I did not expect; however,  that I changed so much, that the school had changed so much in those 4 years to make that school no longer a good fit for us.

Still, we worked very hard to make it work, but ultimately, it is just not a good fit for my youngest, or us, or while homeschooling.  It is too much to try to make this work, so next year, I am excited to say, we will "unschool" her.  She is perfect candidate for it. She has so many interests. Right now, she is discovering downspouts and water flow. She notices this "concept" wherever we go. She is already finding her own interests and curiosities that I can "go with." Downspouts can segway into water cycles among many other concepts.  We will need to find a playgroup for her, though, and a new "community"

Older two (upper elementary and middle school: A web school that requires a minimum of two classes to be "online" that has requirements of curriculum completion and assignments and tests was not the best fit for us either.  We have too many ideas of our own and their requirements became a burden that did not allow us enough flexibility to go on enough field trips or do art, or go in unexpected directions.  It gave us a "bit of flexibility" but not enough.  We almost "hated it", actually.  It was frustrating as it did not mesh with our values of how homeschooling should be. We may be closer to an unschooling philosophy than I had expected.

This seemed to be a year of finding what does not work for us, and scarily finding, that I may be more "radical" in my thinking than I had originally thought.  I do not believe in being "off grid" however,  or thinking we can do with without community. I WANT community and believe in community, but so far, sadly these 2 communities did not work out.  I have not given up; however, that we will still find "our community."

In any case, next year I am going to "unschool" my youngest, and do something with my older ones that is closer to unschooling than we have done this past year.  It will be more similar to how we "winged it" the first half year, with the exception that I have much more awareness of what resources are available now. We may still join a different charter for them, if we get in. It is a charter I heard is more "flexible"

I am making summer plans to have tinker boxes, field trips, art accessible, and the computers less accessible in contrast.  I like Artful Parent's idea of "strewing" which I have quoted below.

I have discovered some interesting resources that I am going to try out over the summer in our first wave of de-schooling and unschooling experimentation.

Kiwi Crate

A monthly crate of science activities/art activities

for different ages. There are 3 different crates to choose from.


A Website that has science resources.  Check out the Exploratorium book!

A book and ideas for tinkering for younger children.

Artful Parent
A website and books about creative ideas for younger children
Strewing is the art of casually yet strategically leaving “invitations” for learning and creativity out for your kids to discover on their own.


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