Scenes From a Pet Store

February 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

When we first started homeschooling, oh…about a hundred years ago it feels like now, I often sought out cheap and educational venues to supplement Daughter’s education.  Hands down the pet store was one of our favourite “field trips”.  Absolutely free and simply rife with opportunities to observe and discuss animal behaviour, habitats (natural and caged) and care.

Of course now that said child is almost 18 (5 and a half months counts as almost), I’m hard pressed to convince her it’s as much fun as it was when she was 11. After all, it’s not the Comic Book Shoppe or EB Games. Well, poop to you, I’m going anyway.

So yes, I still occasionally go to the pet store to spend an hour just looking at critters. Usually I’m all about the kittens and cats because with four at home already, Hubby insists that just looking is as close as I’m going to get to another one.  However, the last time I was in, it was all about the rodents.

This little guy had me in stitches. He was scratching furiously at the glass and then he would run to his wheel do a few turnabouts and come back to the glass.  A good five minutes this went on while I watched, totally amused.

Too cute eh? Sitting in his food bowl, munching away.

Is it just me or is he giving me (and my camera) a very stern, “Hey, can’t you see I’m eating here?” look.  In any case, I snapped this pic and went to the next window before he started tossing his niblets.

Awwwwwwwwww, how freakin’ adorable is that? There must have been four or five of them all piled up together snoozing away. I so wanted to just cuddle them.

So there you have a few scenes from a pet store.  All politics (yes, pet stores can be a very hot button issue for many animal lovers and activists) aside, I enjoy my trips to watch the cats, birds, fish and even the reptiles. The best part is that it’s free.

What free things do you do with your (homeschool/unschooling/daycare/preschool) kids?


You’re Asking Me?

September 5, 2012 § 2 Comments

So right on the tails of the last post, I get a text from a friend who is thinking about homeschooling.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it went something like…

“I’m curious about homeschooling and was wondering about the curriculum you use and how you test.”

We arranged to get together later this week and just chat.  She can ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.  I am a little nervous though because I’m not sure how much information is too much.

Though we started out with an attempt at curriculum and worksheets, we’ve come so far from that way of thinking. We just live. We just do what we want. We take interest courses, hang out with our friends, spend time on our computers and watch Dr. Who.

We all cook and garden, do our own laundry, take care of our pets and clean the house. We go on vacation, go to museums and go out for dinner. Like I said, we just live.  We don’t “do” curriculum and tests just for the sake of it. (Though she is considering thinking about maybe sometime testing for her learning driver’s permit. Eek!)

Anywho…my point?  Yes!  My friend wants some information and advice on homeschooling.  I don’t want to try to convert her to any particular ideology or process.  I don’t use the term radical unschooler, though I’m well aware that’s “technically” what we are, mostly because of how it unnerved me the first time I encountered it. Honestly, it put me off because of the general association of the term. I was ready to be a little different, off the beaten path, out of the box even, but outright radical?

That was a little heady for me back then and in that respect, I have put together a short list of the resources I found most helpful when I started out.  A point in the general direction, lots of support, heaps of encouragement and a few words of wisdom.

Yeah, well…it’s the few words of wisdom part I’m having trouble with.

Any takers?  What basic words of advice would you give someone who is thinking about homeschooling?

Yes Shady, I’m looking at you.  Do you see anyone else here?  😉

I Live For Moments Like This

July 26, 2012 § 4 Comments

People ask me, “So what do you do?”

I mostly feel awkward, unsure and lesser than, when answering, “I’m a stay at home Mom.”

My kids are almost 24 and just turned 17.

No, neither are scholars or have any academic accolades. Neither have been champions or even competitors sports wise. Both are products of their environment and are skeptics of standardized anything. They both are avid gamers and spend much of their time in the pursuit of happiness.

And yes, we have encouraged this. We allowed them to shun traditional schooling to try out life instead. We gave them permission and fought with school administrations and boards so they could live freer, less conditional lives.  Over the last 6 years our kids have been and are still encouraged and supported in taking classes that interest them while not being forced to sit through ones they aren’t.  Both of them have successfully completed a college course while neither has a high school diploma.

When questioned about unschooling, 6 years later, I still occasionally get my hackles my up. But more often than not, these days, I feel sorry for the person who still believes that a traditional, brick and mortar, 30 hours a week of inside a classroom, education is the only way to raise happy, healthy, intelligent kids.

Because it’s just not true.

And I live for moments like this. When I see my kids together, happy, interacting, discussing their latest WoW adventures and just in general, smiling.  Or making goofy faces for the camera.

Unschooling After Thoughts

July 26, 2011 § 6 Comments

We’re in the middle of a moderate thunderstorm right now. Woohoo!  It’s cooling the air nicely and the rain is watering the gardens.  Ahhhhhh.

Daughter just got her mark for the first unit of her Independent Learning course and she passed with a very nice grade.  Though we’re pleased she got a good grade, we’re more excited by the fact that she wants to continue. We’ve ordered another course and she’s excited to start working on her Science credit.

It’s definitely school on her terms and I’m just happy she’s enjoying it.

We have to look into whether or not we still need to inform the school board of our continuing intent to homeschool.  Every year since we withdrew Daughter from public school we’ve had to write a letter to confirm that.

This year however, Daughter turned 16 and in Ontario that’s the age of consent.  (Meaning she can decide to quit school and live on her own if she wants.  Scary, but true.)

Anyway, it’ll be relief if we no longer need to write that letter.  Not that it was a big deal in and of itself, it was just a form letter that I changed the date on, printed, signed and mailed.  A no-brainer.  What it is though, is the cutting off of the last vestiges of the “why do I have to explain to you” bee that buzzes around homeschoolers.

Whether they be radical unschoolers or the school at home sort, parents who decide to take a different approach to their child(ren)’s education are often subjected to some pretty annoying stereotypes, questions and opinions.  Many have incredible hoops to jump, lesson plans and tests they HAVE to submit and general justifications to provide, in writing.

My heart truly goes out to them and I know how fortunate we are that a stupid form letter is the worst of it.

For us though, it will still mean the end of an era. Not having to submit that letter will mean the end of looking back at where we’ve been coming from and focus more on the direction we’re going.

Oh, and the other thing…Daughter, who only two weeks ago turned 16, because of her summer COLLEGE course, now has a COLLEGE student ID number and is getting COLLEGE course information in the mail.  Did I mention she just turned 16?

Yeah, I totally ruined her prospects for post-secondary education by pulling her out of public school when she was 11.


The Rewards of Encouragment

January 26, 2011 § 4 Comments

Back in November I encouraged Daughter to write a fan letter to David Tennant (Dr. Who).  Though she thought it was a great idea she was a little hesitant and unsure of what she would say.

I told her to write down whatever she thought she might like to say to Mr. Tennant and ask him anything she wanted to know.  The process evolved into a mini-project as she made both a rough draft and good copy of her letter.  She researched the address, cost of sending it and found out exactly what an International Reply Coupon is.

Then together we walked to the nearest letter box and she mailed it.  Since then it’s been a daily routine of “Mom, has the mail come yet?” with me responding, “Why don’t you go check?”

As it happens today I checked the mail because Daughter was taking her time getting herself going.  With the weather as it has been I don’t make a big deal of this because the mail box is as far as anyone is going anyway.

Well, guess what arrived today????

An autographed postcard of Mr. Tennant dress in his Dr. Who get up.  It’s even addressed to Daughter personally.  I swear you’ve never seen such a delighted 15 year old girl and I think it would take a crane to get the smile off her face.

I’m so glad I encouraged her to do something so extroverted.  I’m also extremely proud of her for doing it and waiting so patiently (almost 10 weeks) for the reward.

It’s a happy day here let me tell you.  😀

My Girl

December 22, 2010 § 5 Comments

I love unschooling!

We’re coming up on our 4th Homeschooling/Unschooling anniversary.  I’ve realized that I don’t write much on that topic anymore.  Last I wrote about it Daughter had started her Independant Learning course and Son had just completed a certification class at our local college.

But today, out with Daughter doing Christmas shopping, it really hit home how fortunate I am to have had this opportunity to spend so much time with my girl.

She’s an amazing, intelligent, sensitive, hilarious, somewhat complicated in her contradictions, compassionate, inquisitive, patient and all around joy to be near kind of gal.  She knows everything she needs to about what she wants to.  She’s a geek down to the bone and damn proud of it.  She’ll Doctor Who and James Bond challenge anyone and win.

And to think what might have happened if I had made her keep going to school.  What would have happened if I had been too afraid to go against the grain?  What would have happened if I ignored her pain?

I’m so grateful that we’re on this side of the what if’s.

It’s A Whole New World

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Daughter started her first high school course this week and Son just signed up for his first college course. Not bad for a bunch of unschoolers, eh?

Actually, I’m convinced that it’s because we’ve spent the last four years deschooling and unschooling that both kids have a renewed excitement for learning and understand the benefits of “choosing” a more formal education.

By stepping back from the “have to” of public education and ambling our way through life at our pace, in our direction and following our own path we’ve allowed ourselves to gain a much clearer perspective about the world around us.

In this day and age an education has never been easier to attain.  Information is everywhere and most importantly access to it is right at our fingertips. Why sit in a classroom for 6 1/2 hours a day when you can go out into the world (or sit at home in your jammies) and find out whatever it is you want to know?

It’s most definitely a whole new world.

Now, if I can just come to terms with how fast my kids are growing up!   😀

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