Monday, February 28, 2011

Visiting Unschooling Ruminations blog

The Myth of Forced Determination

I've found this post an interesting read as I too still find it hard to understand the idea of "self

learning" and I am very grateful for the last comment on the follow up

"Mary's got butterfly's"

"The nice one's" aka Monarch Butterfly.

My Mum has been up to help today was our son has the flu. She dropped our daughter off at my Nana's while it was rest time.
A new adventure, not done before...alone at Nana's

When our daughter arrived home after an hours visit (Nana still driving...very carefully I hope up our road) she bounces in telling me all about the "Heaps of Caterpillar on Mary's tree".
My Aunt gave us a book of "Back yard creatures" which has just been wonderful as we have been able to look up so many things...and this butterfly is one of the last remaining that we have not seen.

"There was one even hatching...but I don't know if it's alright as the cocoon was STILL green"

Bugs have really become a great part in our daughters life at the moment. We spend time in the garden and also as much as I can exploring in the bush too.

Kawau Island visit

Department of Conservation other wise known as DOC put on an open day on the smallish island of Kawau...Map for a look see

So I with all my wisdom booked myself and the kids to go. Then in the following days Hamish developed a new behavior.....the runner.
Auuugh...pull my hair out.
So quick call and Dad is coming too.

We took our daughter to the island when she was about 20months too. This was a lovely stay. It was one of the last big walks I've done for years...we crossed part of the island with no track, no good map and a vague idea.
A long haul with a baby strapped to your back in a wrap.
We made it and loved it...well my feet didn't.

So return again...this time with running races, sausage sizzle, historic house viewing and treasure hunt. Lots of sport equipment to borrow too and some guided walks.
Dad helped out with the science questions and a short walk was a great learning experience.

This kind of trip is how I would like our future classes to be....I was stressed to start off with (just my nature...but came right after a bit of a sit down and breath with Jon Kabat Zinn)

We have one world and we are it's people

One week on today from the Christchurch earthquake.
It really goes to show that people are more important than anything...and we can pull together and help.

This snip from our paper

"More than 900 international personnel from 12 countries are now working with New Zealand search and rescue teams in Christchurch, Mr McCully said.

Australia had been the biggest contributor to the rescue effort, he said.

It had sent 142 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) workers from New South Wales and Queensland, 323 police officers, a 23 person medical team, three dogs to sniff out survivors and a 75-bed field hospital.

The United States sent 80 USAR workers and 40 tonnes of equipment and the United Kingdom sent 64 USAR personnel.

That generosity was matched by Japan, China, Singapore and Taiwan, which each sent USAR teams and search and rescue dogs.

Japan also sent a team of four counsellors, four fingerprint experts and an interpreter, while Singapore has 116 Defence Force personnel manning the security in Christchurch.

The recovery operation in the quake-hit city will also been bolstered by 1000 sheets of reinforced plastic, 1000 blankets and about 50 power generators expected to arrive from Korea on March 3.

Japan will donate 1000 plastic sheets and 2000 six litre water tanks. Australia is sending sanitation resources including camp toilets." amazing photos

What can you say but thank you

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Earthquake in Christchurch....and the questions that go with it.

I would first like to express my deepest love, hope and sympathy for all who have been lost, hurt and displaced in the Christchurch Earthquake. I have been lucky, as far as I know my family are safe.

Christchurch for me has always been a winter city. I would visit in winter with my Grandfather who worked on one of the outlying ski fields. I have climbed the cathedral tower which is no longer there. Dave and I have visited Lyttelton which I loved.

Since the quake 6.3 hit we've been listening and watching it as much as we can to the news. I find myself often on the edge of tears. I also find myself wishing that I could just jump up and go help. I've spent years in Urban Search and Rescue up until I was married then a Mother....but I still want to help. But my first call is to my family...that was one of my first lessons when I first started to learn still in collage oh so many years ago.

Now I sit on the couch with my daughter who really has no understanding of what is going on. She hears numbers of people lost or dead and asks "why so many"..."why did they not run away"...
Then she starts to tell me what she would do in complete miss understanding of what it would really be like in an earthquake.
She is upset that buildings can fall over (my daughter screamed for about 15mins when she first broke a plate....something which seemed so solid broke)..."Why did they not build them safer?" "How could they fall down?"

"How does an earthquake happen?" We talked about the earths plates crashing and I showed her with building blocks...and she seemed to kind of understand.

Then I've had the hard questions "What happens to the people under the buildings?".... "Why have the rescuers left that building and moved on...where are they going too....why don't they keep digging...I'd keep digging"
I've tried to explain that there is only a certain amount of people to help and only a certain amount of time that people can live (though we are glad to hear often that that time can be pushed out) and that there are other people trapped in other buildings who need help too.

Oh so hard for a nearly 5 year old to understand....what must it be for a 5 year old to live takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes.

Reading books at your level

Reading a book which was said to be for your age group was how I .... didn't learn to read.
I was put off. There were so many books I wanted to look at be it just the cover, the words or even the picture or the fact I wanted to talk to my parents about the content. But I was not aloud to take the book out of the library if I got five mistakes while reading aloud to my teacher on the first page.

Right at this moment my daughter is 'reading' Jon Kabat Zinn's "Coming to our Senses". I'm not going to tell her she can't.
I feel the more she wants to look at books and the more books we have in our house that are interesting then her...and my son's interest in reading will keep going.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is school teaching us to trust only an expert?

There is one teacher. There is one book. There is one curriculum.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Parent Panic Attack 2

I can feel the squeeze of the coming months pressing in on my chest.
Oh dear panic!
My daughter is talking about her birthday a lot. All very sorted down to the BBQ - sausage in bread, Banana cake, Treasure Hunt and NO PASS THE PASSEL!

BUT my daughter will be five.
Her first little friend from playcentre will be going to school about a week after (and he will not be at the school that she would go to anyway if she was to that makes me feel a little better).
It will not be until August that her two other 'best' girl friends will be going to school so we have a little more time.

I stress and worry...I believe we are doing the right thing but I suppose until we've been there done that for a while it will be hard work.

So I'll read some more, visit some more and a new one talk some with local parents...oh how exciting.

"School camp"

I have really begun to sink myself into homeschool even more. I have moments of panic that we will not find some little friends for my children...some one to really click with.

I'm glad I do not have too many issues with just jumping in and meeting new people. We just had a wonderful morning at a Day camp set up for homeschoolers. My daughter was one of the youngest but I'm sure one of the most determined children there.

There was a large flying fox (only for 6 years and older) and I felt bad for having to lay down the law that she could not go...and it was not me holding her back. Oh I was not the best Mummy.

But (and when I get the camera out you'll see) the water slide was wonderful. She was very keen and needed no help or encouragement. The slide was VERY fast.

There were some great team work games which she was really only just getting...but mind you she is really only just understanding playing with others anyway.

photo's to come

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Struggling with a two year old and learning all the time

My son is 20 months going on 5 years. He wants to be like his big sister! and more so.
His sister never really left my side at that age and aways listened to me. My son is discovering boundary's...and running Dave and I down.

I often sit down with the Sears books to see if I can find some helpful information....was I looking in the right place? I don't know but nothing seemed to make me feel any better.
I've always struggled with down feelings but I really hit the bottom a few days ago...on top of my demanding son my daughter was waking at night which was really odd for her and needing to go to the bathroom...this is nearly sorted out again.

Playcentre has become a bit of a nightmare....I feel like writing something about it....along the lines of "How the government killed Playcentre and made it into another Daycare". I've been reading so much about children and education it makes me laugh how we parents are classic examples...Don't push people into doing work other wise they will resent it.
Wow are we all very resentful or what!

So here I was sitting trying to find some information when I gave up...Read a few little lines from Jon Kabat Zinn then picked up John Holts book "Teach your Own"

"I visited two other friends, and their
delightful fifteen-month-old boy. Around dinner time, in the little kitchen-dining
room, I took out my cello and began to play. The baby was fascinated, as I hoped
he would be. He stopped what he was doing and came crawling across the floor
toward the cello at top speed. His parents looked a bit nervous, but I said, "Don't
worry, I'll defend the cello, I won't let him hurt it." He came to the cello, pulled
himself up to a standing position, and began to touch and pluck at the strings,
below the bridge. At the same time, keeping the bow (which he might have been
able to damage) out of his reach, I plucked the cello strings above the bridge, which
made nice sounds. Now and then I could see that he was being overcome with a
wave of excitement, and that he wanted to bang on the cello, as little babies like to
bang on things. But when his hands began to make these impulsive gestures, I
would catch them, like the paw of the pup, and slow them down, saying softly,
"Gently, gently, easy, easy, be nice to the cello." When his motions grew smaller
and calmer I would take my hands away. For a while he would caress the wood and
pluck at the strings. Then he would begin to get excited again. But as soon as he
did I would catch and slow down his hands again, saying as before, "Gently, gently,
nice and easy." After a while he would crawl away, while I talked with his parents.
Then I would play some more, and he would come crawling over for more looking
and touching. I might have to say, "Gently, gently," once or twice, but hardly more
than that. Most of the time this tiny boy, still just a baby, was as gentle and careful
with the cello as I was. And all this in only one evening, the first time he had ever
seen such a strange and fascinating object.
Louise Andrieshyn, a parent in Manitoba, says about this: You've made an
excellent point about the difference between "No" the angry signal and "No" the
meaningful word. ... There is a third kind of "No," perhaps the most common of all,
neither an angry explosion nor a meaningful word--the no, no, no that goes on all
day with some parents. This constant hassling is simply a running, ineffective
banter. The parents don't even mean it; there's no anger or even much reprimand in
their voices... our cultural expectation is that kids are bad, always getting into
trouble, and parents must be dictators controlling their kids (in the name of
How to cope with these 3 kinds of "No" is much more difficult, though, than you
make it sound.
You're saying, if we can become aware of how we use "No" we can change our
use of it. And I agree with you in two cases. First, as parents, we can simply SHUT
UP! if we can sit back and listen to ourselves, we can hear how much negative
harassment we throw at our kids. If a parent would seriously and objectively listen
to what he says (through his child's ears), he would be appalled and could probably
with some effort change that kind of "No."
I think here of Lisey (then 3) who was pouring herself a glass of milk yesterday.
She had gotten it from the fridge, opened it, poured from a fat 2-qt. carton a very
small juice-glass of milk, had drunk it, then had gotten a paper towel and was
wiping up the milk spilt on the table. There was more milk spilt than the towel
could absorb so as she wiped now, the milk was being pushed off the table onto the
I walked in at this point and started with the running "No, No" commentary in a
whiny voice: "Ooooh no, Lisey, you should have asked someone to pour you a
glass of milk--no, don't wipe it up, it's going on the floor, now stop, don't do it, I'11
do it, it's bad enough on the table--look, now you've got it on the floor--you're
making more work for me."
Happily at this point I was struck by a rare beam of sanity and it said to me, "Oh,
quit being such a bitch, Lisey has just poured her first glass of milk all by herself
and you're ruining the whole thing for her."
And suddenly I looked and saw a very little girl trying very hard to grow up--
trying to wipe up herself the mess she had made getting herself a drink of milk.
And I said, "Lisey, I think Sparkle (dog) would like this extra milk."
Lisey stopped and looked at me. I had finally said something of meaning. All the
negative harassment up till then she had been trying to ignore.
I said, "If you get Sparkle's dish we can put the milk in it."
She got it and we did.
AND immediately she began an animated chatter about how Sparkle would like
this milk and how she had poured them both a drink of milk, etc. Until then, she
had barely said one word. In fact, if I had pushed her far enough--"OK, Lisey, get
out of the kitchen while I clean up your mess"-she would have probably ended up
crying (over spilt milk!).
But the happy ending here did not require too much effort on my part because I
wasn't very emotionally involved. My mind could still be objective about the
situation to the extent of being able to control and change it."

I reflected on this for a while...and decided I was making my own life more difficult by saying no...they really want to help and do it on their why stop them? Some times they make a mess but so do i some times.
Its the emotions which get me...I can still hear in my own childhood the no's and the fear...its just the way that many children are treated I'm not alone.

The chapter after this is Testing Adults... again I reflected in this and how my daughter some times acts towards me. I asked her a few times yesterday what she was up too...pushing my buttons...she did stop and think a few times and so did I....I didn't get angry.

The next chapter....
When adults want children to do something--put on coats, take a nap, etc.-they
often say, "Let's put on our coats, okay?" or "It's time to take our naps now, okay?"
That "Okay?" is a bad thing to say. Our lives with children would go better if we
could learn to give up this way of talking.
The trouble with this "Okay?" is that it suggests to the children that we are
giving them a choice when we really are not. Whatever people may think about
how many choices we should give children, children should at least be able to
know at any moment whether they have a choice or not. If we too often seem to be
offering choices when we really aren't, children may soon feel that they never have
any. They will resent this, and resent even more our not saying clearly what we
mean. By giving what we intend as a command and then saying "Okay?" we invite
resistance and rebellion. In fact, the only way children can find out whether or not
we are offering a real choice is to refuse to do what we ask. It is their way of
saying, "Do you really mean it?"
Many adults feel that in saying "Okay?" they are only being courteous. But this
is a misunderstanding of courtesy. It is perfectly possible to be firm and courteous
while making clear to someone that you are not offering a choice but telling them
what you want to happen or is going to happen. When I visit friends, I expect to fit
myself into their life and routines, and count on them to tell me what they are. So
they say, "We get up at seven o'clock," or "We are going to have dinner at sixthirty," or "This afternoon we're going to this place to do such and such." They are
not asking me whether I approve of these plans, just letting me know that they are
the plans. But they are perfectly polite about this.
Some friends of mine have a No Smoking rule in their house. They are in earnest
about this. Inside their front door is a sign saying "Thank You For Not Smoking."
But every now and then a guest misses the sign, or takes it as a plea and not a
command, and starts to light up. My friends gently but firmly inform their friend
and guest that if he or she wants to smoke, the porch is the place to do it, but not in
the house. No one argues, no one is offended. Few adults seem to be able to talk to
children in this way. In the Public Garden, or airports, or other places where adults
and children gather, I hear hundreds of people telling their children to do things.
Most of them begin with "Okay?", pleading and cajoling. If this doesn't work, they
soon begin to threaten and shout. They can't seem to give a firm request without
getting angry first. Then the child is genuinely confused and resentful, doesn't
understand why the adults are angry, or what he has done to deserve the shouts and
threats. If a child really resists doing what you want, it may help to say, "I know
you don't want to do what I am telling you to do, and I'm sorry that you don't, and
sorry that you're angry, but I really mean for you to do it." It doesn't by any means
solve all problems, and it may not even stop the child from being angry. But at least
it makes clear where things stand. And of course, at such times we must not get
angry at the children for being angry with us. We may have a right (as well as the
power) to make children obey, but not to demand that they pretend to like it.

People who write about tantrums seldom give any strong sense that the anger of
two-year-olds is about anything. One might easily get the impression that these
little children are swept by gusts of irrational "aggression" and rage as the coasts of
Florida are from time to time swept by hurricanes. Instead, I would insist that much
of the seemingly irrational and excessive anger of little children-"tantrums'' ;s in
fact not only caused by things that happen to them or that are said and done to
them, but that these things would make us angry if they happened or were said and
done to us. Even in the kindest and most loving families two-year- olds must be
reminded a hundred times a day, perhaps by the words and acts of their parents,
perhaps by events, by Nature herself, that they are small, weak, ignorant, clumsy,
foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly, even
disgusting. They don 't like it! Neither would I. Neither would you.
On this subject, the mother of J, the little boy whom I described playing with my
cello, wrote about his tantrums and how they were both learning how to avoid
J is great. No naps now which means he is super go-power all day with a huge
collapse about 7:30. Me has his room all to himself now, and he really likes to hang
out in there alone for an hour and a half most days, driving trucks around mostly.
I've never seen a kid more into organizing things. He plays with dominoes and calls
them either adobes, for building houses, or bales of hay, and has them stacked,
lined up, or otherwise arranged in some perfect order; same with the trucks; he'll
scream and yell, as per your theory of two-year-old behavior, if you snatch him up
from a group of trucks and carry him off to lunch. But if you give him a couple of
minutes to park them all in a straight line then he'll come willingly. Your theory
(treat them like big people) works out over and over again; brush past him, leave
him behind in the snow when you're hustling up to feed the goats and you get a
black and blue screaming pass out tantrum. Treat them "Big" and things roll along.
Only hang-up is the occasional times you have to take advantage of your superior
size and pull a power play. The trick is to learn to avoid the situations that once in a
while make that a necessity, like not getting in a rush, and not letting them get so
tired they break down completely-like letting dinner be late.
One thing he gets mad about is being left behind by anybody. However, we just
went on a trip.... I was quite nervous about leaving him with friends as he had been
doing his falling down pass out tantrums for our benefit all week whenever anyone
went to town without him (in spite of having the other parent on hand). But he just
waved Bye-Bye and went in the house and had a really good four days. As his
father said, obviously he would only bother to pull the tantrum bit for us. He was
very calm and very full of new games and words when we got him back, and I
know he made progress on all fronts as a result of being away from us and with
other interesting people.
... Later we were to go on a long trip down the river so we left him with some
friends, but decided at the last minute our boats weren't sufficient to carry us and
our gear on that rugged and remote a trip, so we picked up J and just went camping
on the river, taking our boat and going on short hops along stretches of the river
where the road was. Again he was super and loved being with grownups who ate
with their fingers and mushed all their food up in one cup just like him. His father
wanted him to go in the boat so he put him in a life jacket then tied a rope between
them. J hated that and had all kinds of misgivings as water sloshed into the boat
and he got wet and cold, but he didn't complain. Amazingly he just sat there and
looked pissed off for about two hours. I think he was so glad to be included that he
bore with the misery.
Susan Fitch applies this same sensible and respectful attitude to the often
difficult issue of bedtime:
My husband and I have always been concerned with having "our" time so our
son, Jesse's (4) bedtime was very important to us. Although he was very
cooperative, Jesse did not enjoy the limited time he had with his father between his
arrival and bedtime. This left everyone frustrated and unhappy.
One evening while I was reading GWS it occurred to me that he was perfectly
capable of going to bed when he was tired. The next day we talked about being
tired, how much sleep he needed, when to go to bed in order to wake up in time for
playgroup, and about our need to talk with one another and have quiet times. The
tension evaporated with his father, and he immediately assumed responsibility for
getting undressed and brushing his teeth. Because of just this one letting go, our
time alone and together follows a natural pattern that seems to satisfy everyone..
I can't help noting that no cultures in the world that I have ever heard of make
such a fuss about children's bedtimes, and no cultures have so many adults who
find it so hard either to go to sleep or wake up. Could these social facts be
connected? I strongly suspect they are."

These words really helped in so many areas which I am having issues with today. I need to let go more...I need to breath more....I need to sleep more too as this really has a big effect on my behavior. I need to be open to just letting my children life their own life.
I need to work on the okays as I do feel my son is not hearing that I mean it. Even in the short 24hrs since reading this and modifying my behavior I have noticed a BIG difference...oh we are not all angels but getting there ;-)

Whats 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 9 an 56

Oh goodness the numbers keep coming...and I'm adding up as fast as i can...but sometimes its too much.
Most of the time these questions are while we are driving.
I've been told many times I'm terrible at math...but I can still add up

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ted talks

I love these TED talks. I'm excited for our children's future.
He is so right....if we look at nature there are so many answers to problems we have...we just need to look and listen.

BUT we as people need to care....we need to change, we need to want that change so we can work at being different....not to be afraid of being different.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Playcentre ... Doing lots then, again not much

My daughter was very excited about cutting open this odd vegetable...we are not sure if it was a cross of some sort. Pumpkin and Zucchini? She has been playing Play Tycoon so she really understood what I meant when I said they were crossed....and was very excited.

My son spent a long time putting pumpkin seeds into one container then another then back again.

My daughter wanted to stand on the head of her shadow.

My son was let loose at Playcentre with a drill...all the other children quickly picked up their work so he could not make any holes.

My daughter tried out a lovely head of coloured curls.
Very proud of putting in her own nails.

I feel like I've been rushing and then not. I feel like I've been doing a lot then not. My son is in the middle of a growth spurt or teething or some issue....I'm feeling very stretched and tired...I know its only a phase but I can't wait for it to end.
As much as what I love Playcentres ideas there are many of us with many different parenting styles...ways of treating others....and some times it sucks your energy faster than what you can replace it.
Playcentre really lead me to unschooling...child lead learning.