Wednesday, September 14, 2016

late summer goodness

August 16 - 31: glimpses into our unschooling lives

in the garden

pickling beets and green beans

at the park

at work (Echo Valley Farm)
ready for the oven

ready for market

Echo Valley Farm tour
greeting us at the gate, waiting for corn
inside the straw/clay built house
inside the yurt
medicinal herb garden nestled in the hills
It smells so wonderful inside the drying shed full of herbs and teas.

Camille's humorous card for her friend's 13th birthday

girl and goose gathering green beans

waiting for the parade to begin
Camille playing sax in the band

strolling the bike path with Ayla 
while her sisters make boffer swords at the library


in the garden

playdate for Ayla

nail art by one of Camille's friends


What do random photos of our summer days have to do with unschooling? Everything! Life is learning and learning is life. What if your kid wonders about why a beet is red? Or wants to rub it on her cheeks to see if it looks like blush? And then wonders about the history of makeup? And then wants to know more about Ancient Egypt? And then, who knows, maybe Egyptian hieroglyphic numerals? Where does the learning begin and end?

It certainly doesn't have to start with a beet. It could be hip hop, or archery, or Minecraft, or ... I double dog dare you to find an interest that wouldn't lead to history and science and math and art and reading. These are not separate, distinct subjects anyway. Life is not that tidy. :) I'm not saying that every interest has to turn into a "teachable moment" or lead to Shakespeare or some such, but just that children couldn't be stopped from learning given the freedom to do so and an information-rich environment, even better if they have support and encouragement. It is part of our human nature to be curious about our world and to follow our interests. Children needn't be "taught" how to learn, they are masters at the curiosity-driven life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

more summer days

I often get asked if we homeschool during the summer. It can be a little hard to explain, this life of ours, (if the school-education model is the one that most people imagine we are re-creating at home). The short answer is "we do learning activities year-round, but we don't use a curriculum so, it's a bit open-ended..."

This answer (understandably) leads to, "but if you don't use a curriculum, what do you DO?"

I dislike the idea the education is something that is done TO the child (for their own good, no less). This makes it a stressful, top-down, (get all of the answers RIGHT!) method of educating. That being said, summer is still full of fun and learning in all good measure (as are all of the seasons). We read and watch and question and theorize (and wonder aloud who's hypothesis is the most science-y) and seek answers. We grow and forage and romp and stretch our muscles and our minds everyday. We laze around and watch clouds drift or ants march. These curious children couldn't be stopped from learning anyway. They want to know it all. The what and why for.

Here's my random photo love from August 1 - 15th. 

Ayla and I picked a garden bouquet to give to her friend's grandma.

One of Camille's friends had a sweet bunny that needed re-homing. Naturally, I said yes. Her name is Blue and she is soooooo soft.

Ayla and her friend spent a day at Circus World Museum and they were eager to perform some clown stunts and jumping tricks for us when they returned.

We tried out Sylvia's new flower press with some pretties from around the yard and garden.

zucchini harvest

pool time with friends

boy kitty, Sparks

Blue gets a lot of love (and fresh veggies) around here.

Ayla and her friend even gathered some hay from our field for Blue, before foraging around the edges for wild blackberries. Yummo.

Poor Jupiter Zeus Goose is the only yard bird left after a series of predator attacks on our duck house. He now likes to hang out with us and Carly (our pup).

One day when Sylvia and Ayla were visiting the grandparents, Camille and I spent a day in the city. We got iced coffee and treats at the Chocolaterian Cafe inside the public library and tried to figure out how many small town libraries would fit inside this huge multi-story building. I used to work at this same library when we lived in the city (Camille was tiny), but that was before it was completely renovated and certainly before it contained a fancy cafe!

food cart tacos!

We visited the Wisconsin Historical Museum. It's amazing how much you can read and observe when you visit such a place with just a teenager and no little siblings! I know I've mentioned before how much I cherish spending time one-on-one with each of my kids, but as they get older this time really becomes so important.

not yet too old to play and build a log cabin out of packaging tubes

garden harvest sampler


We spent a day out at Peoplefest, a rural outdoor music festival and on the way home we were graced with a wonderfully vivid rainbow.

Papa, Camille, and Carly-dog strolling the bike path

This pepper from the garden looked so surprised when I cut it to it. I felt a wee bit guilty. ;)

These simple, messy, busy, lazy summer days are the stuff that life is made of. Friends coming and going, meals shared, owies kissed, anxieties soothed. For all of its ordinary presence, it's quite a wonderful life.