Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Political Discussions with 5 year olds

I turned on the TV this morning to President-Elect Barack Obama announcing his economic team. The moment C saw him she very happily announced "That's Barack Obama!". The conversation went like this.

Me: He is a very smart man.
C: I don't like George Bush
Me: Why?
C: Because I don't think he's smart enough to be president.

Out of the mouths of babes...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is there anyone out there like me?

My header tells a little about me, but let me elaborate. I really wonder if there is anyone out there like me. Of course if I were to be really specific I would love to find this person in the Portland area, westside please.

Who am I?

Mom of a 5 year old daughter
Unschooler
Practice Unconditional/Respectful parenting
Jewish Atheist (yes it is possible to be both - see Humanistic Judaism)
Eat traditional (Weston A. Price) style diet

Okay, so I guess even if you aren't on the westside of Portland I'm still being really specific. Well, I also believe in the Law of Attraction. So there you go! Is there anyone out there like me? Is anyone reading my blog?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slightly Radical Unschoolers

There is a wide range of unschoolers. There are those who simply unschool learning. At the other end of the spectrum are radical unschoolers. This is where unschooling encompasses the whole life. Children are given the same power and choices as adults. Both of these options work. There are also many people who live their lives somewhere between these two options.

We are a family somewhere in between, probably closer to the radical side but not totally radical. Lately I've experienced the radical unschoolers who can't accept that you can choose to be a little less radical or for some not radical at all and still be an unschooler.

We tried the total radical unschooling gig. Our daughter was a mess. She thrives on structure and without it she falls apart. This doesn't mean that we structure her whole day. She just needs to know what is going to happen in her day. She needs a plan. She needs to know what she can expect.

We are more radical when it comes to TV and bedtimes. There are almost no limits on TV. She watches as much as she wants, but the TV is off for most mealtimes. There are of course exceptions, for example, when we eat while watching a movie. We try to get into bed by 8:30 but that doesn't always happen. Our usual routine...we head to bed at about 8:30 and Chloe watches TV until about 9:30 (most of the time). Then it's time for her to settle in and go to sleep so that I can have my TV time. She has the option of going into the living room and watching on her own. She never chooses to do that. Truthfully, by that time of day she's tired and wants to sleep.

With no TV limits, she will turn the TV off to go play or help me in the kitchen or something else. Some people, even my husband, are often surprised by this. But with no limits, turning the TV off is not a big deal.

When it comes to food, well, that's a different story. Our daughter has "eating issues" for lack of a better term. She is five now and just started eating in July. Yes, she has been eating for only four months. Before that she drank only milk - raw milk so it was more nutritious, but only milk. Okay, she did it some food: Goldfish crackers for a while, then corn chips, then rolls or bagels. Yes, that was the extent of it.

She ate baby food as a baby, but rejected solids and slowly phased out the baby food. She developed a fear of food. We worked with many professionals and maybe some of it did some good. The real turning point was when (against the recommendation of professionals) I talked to my daughter and told her that she needed to start eating. I told her our concerns for her health and development and she understood.

It has been a slow road, but we are working on this together. I need to set more limits for her around food because if I don't she will eat only bread and rolls. Based on the recent discussion on our local unschooling list I shouldn't do this. I think it would be irresponsible of me not to. I do give her choices and she eats only things she likes. On occasion she does have to try a new food, but she only has to take one very small taste.

For the most part there are few limits in her life. We do have principles:
respect
safety
kindness

If we follows these principles it should all be cake...right? ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What is an unschooler?

This is a question not easily answered. It truly is different things to different people. This has come up in my community quite a bit over the past week. So, I will tell you what unschooling means to me. I'm sure someone out there will disagree or have their own definition. This is how I see it.

In our unschooling world we live our life every day. We don't sit down to lessons or have a curriculum. We do what we love to do or what we enjoy doing. We don't look for things that are educational we see the educational value in absolutely everything. Just try and not learn something from everything you do.

My daughter likes to take classes. She goes to soccer, ballet, swimming and art classes. She loves them all and if she had to pick just one I don't think she could do it. Fortunately she has lots of time to pursue all her interests. We also have our local homeschool resource center, VH. There we currently are involved in non-subject specific classes. In these classes we read stories, sing songs, play, dance and have fun. When my daughter wants to take subject specific classes, she is free to choose them.

Some might say that because of all these classes we are not really unschoolers. I have to say that I disagree. Everything we do is my daughter's decision. My daughter's schedule is busier than I'd like, but she loves all that she does and I support her choices.

Unschooling rocks! We choose every minute of every day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I know she's only 5, but

Man, did it freak me out when she informed me that she was going to school when she turns 10. I know that it means nothing and that she doesn't understand what she's really saying, but it really freaked me out. We are so enmeshed in our unschooling, slightly radically, life that the thought of going the complete opposite direction - eek!

It turns out the only reason she wants to do that is because she wants to meet more friends. I suppose the 10 close friends and countless other friends she is exposed to (10, 20, 30 more?) just aren't enough for her. ;-)

Truthfully, she'd never choose to go to school. It would limit the her other interests too much. If she went to school she couldn't do ballet, soccer, swimming and art. She'd probably have to scale down and that's not something she's willing to do...at least not at this point. She actually wants to add to her schedule. She asked when she can take piano lessons. :) I love it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Conflicted

What do you do when a friend confides in you that her relationship just isn't working? She's not planning on doing anything at the moment, but she just doesn't seem happy with the situation at all.

I've told her that I am here for her. I've told her that if she ever needs a place to go my door is open. I certainly don't want to encourage her to do anything. I just want her to know that she isn't alone. I wonder if I've offered too much? Maybe I shouldn't have said anything. Yes, I'm feeling rather conflicted.