Monday, May 30, 2011

Art group success

Success and two happy children...and a happy Mummy.
I've been wanting to get a group of children together at our house (well just a gathering really) around the same age as our kids to try and ease the change from 4 years old to 5 years old....and the oh my goodness all my friends are heading to school.
It was really good.

I've been wanting to do some art work and see if we and encourage some creativity with paint. I felt it was really helpful with this really small group and all the ages and different stages of understanding. My daughter really wanted to paint a rainbow and had three goes at it before leaving it and moving on to something else. She'll come back ;-) she's a bit of a perfectionist like her parents I think.

I'll put in some photos soon...just have lots to do in so little time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The unattainable ideal

I have been reading Guerrilla Learning...I am finding it a bit hard at the moment possibly because of sick children but possibly because I find some of the ideas a bit hard to comprehend at the moment and probably need to do a bit more reading.

But I've still really enjoyed this part here....see below

Whatever the Reasons, Schools Are the Way They Are and We Can Stop Pretending They're Otherwise

Perhaps no one deliberately aimed to design schools that would leave most of the people in them -teachers as well as children - uninspired, cynical, and defeated. Perhaps our schools are only victims of the trap into which all human institutions, as mythologist Joseph Campbell has pointed out, fall prey: They evolve into systems with their own purposes and ultimately come to exist for the preservation of their own survival, rather than to serve the human beings whose lives they were originally designed to enhance.

Thus government officials wind up working for the expansion of their departments, instead of for the improvement of public life; healthcare systems shift paradoxically toward conditions hostile to health; and religious institutions can grow, in time, to be the least likely places on earth one might experience the divine.

Systems by their nature are unfeeling, rigid, and abstract. They take what is alive and turn it into machinery, sacrificing vitality for efficiency. One function of mythology, said Campbell, is to help people transform and transcend outmoded systems, which have inevitably grown self-serving and gained a stranglehold on the life of the community

No matter what caused our schools to be the way they are, if one looks honestly and openly at them-now and in the past-cynicism and defeat is what one sees. But often we don't look honestly and openly. As parents, as teachers, as grown-up children ourselves, we often ignore our real-world experience of schools in favour of a shared cultural fiction about how school works. We've been subtly indoctrinated into a fable that somewhere there exists a peaceful, orderly classroom, full of happy, diligent children, where the strict but loving teacher inspires young minds to love learning and to develop discipline. But this classroom almost never appears here and now. Where is this ideal classroom? It is down the hall. No.... Then it must be in another school, across town, or across the country Wait, that was several years ago. Oh, you went to that school? It wasn't like that, after all? Did this ideal school exist in the 1950s, or was it in the late nineteenth century?

If our children would just buckle down, implies the cultural myth, or parents were more involved, or teachers were better trained, or the newest ideas and techniques were implemented, or we returned to the basic techniques of the past, our classrooms would work too.

Maybe some people experienced such a classroom in their youth. Or maybe some kids are in one right now. For many, however, the ideal-school myth distracts us from noticing the actual conditions of this school, these children, the reality in which we live. Like unattainable ideals about family life, this ideal is not inspiring but oppressive. It doesn't tell us how to be the way these ideal people are; it just tells us that the way we are is wrong. The unattainable ideal distracts us with an inappropriate question: What's wrong? What's wrong with my kids? What's wrong with this classroom? This school? This teacher? Kids these days? The country? Me?

I find this last part so true in so many areas. I used to blog about children/babies and their sleep needs. When I first started blogging I had no idea how much our culture had developed these ideas and how much we tried to fill them. The idea that children well Babies sleep through the night.

And now children and their learning or the type of school which we see as ideal. So nothing is wrong with our children they are just children. Some learn what you want to learn NOW and some do not. Some learn how you want them to learn and some do not.

It is not the school, or the teacher or the child which is not right .... its the ideal...the dream which someone has started and everyone tries so hard to aim for. Like getting a baby to sleep through the night....yes you can do can make them "cry it out" and you can win...but what is the price that you have to many people do not look at that price or even think that there is a price because they feel that they have obtained the ideal/perceived normal where in fact we are so far from it.

But baby and sleep is a touchy issue...then so is school...maybe both need some looking into.

Fulfilling our Certificate of Exemption outlines in health

Its amazing when you start writing out what you dream/wish for your children and the things you'd like them to understand...they start to come true. Law of Attraction ;-)

As part of our Certificate of Exemption we have to outline what we would do for many is...

Health and Well-Being

Our goal for our daughter is that she understands the necessity of a healthy body, a healthy mind, and to continue to care for her body’s needs. There are many opportunities to learn about health in a home environment, and many ways for her to be physically active.

This time of illness has been a time of reflection for me. I've been worried that we've not been doing any 'learning'...a bit silly really as even while they are flat on their backs their little brains are still going (unless asleep...which has not been often enough for me).

But it also a time for taking note of our body and its needs... something of which I think we have been failing to do in this day and age.

We are moving too fast, we are doing so much, we are keeping up with the Jones so to speak. We've got to be in the city to have a good job, we've got to have a good job to pay for the house in the the right area. Both parents have to work to pay for that....all their children have to pay for it too. So many things tangle up into this reasoning.

But often we keep going and going...and often we ask our children to keep going and going because we need to have that money. How many times have children been sent back to daycare still very sick because the parents do not have enough sick leave to keep them at home. The bugs spread and more children get sick and pass it on to their parents and they get sick but they keep going because they can't take anymore time off of work.

We can not stop. We have to keep doing as John Kabat-Zinn often talks about.... Human doings.

I would like to help my children take care of themselves by proper eating, sleeping, relaxing and when they do get sick taking the time to recover properly... because if we do that we will be more productive. We will be sick less. The work we do will be better because we will not be doing it with our brains half foggy with illness....AND we will not be passing on our sickness to others.

Learning about health is a BIG subject and I don't feel it is really even touched in schools...other than putting a happy face on a picture and talking about it. Empathy is one such quality that we need to learn in the home and from a very early age and good old 0-3 time frame.... and the poor old teachers (quoting Dave here) good luck to trying to teach the school bully about empathy when they have no ground work to begin with.

The class sizes also work against the teachers trying to get these parts of health across....but the topic is so large that well...lots to learn....good luck.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another sick day

Here we are in another sick day.
Watching DVD's now as both children are very tired. My daughter has started pulling the story's apart.
Sleeping Beauty...."How can an owl be out and flying around during the day...and how can he fly with a cape over his wings?"
I didn't ask her how did the fairy's do their magic or the dragon or the.....ok ok.

We've also watched Tangled a few too many times in the last 24hours... "Look that horse is eating paper"

Aside from the cartoons we've been keeping up with our Dinosaur Unit Study and watched a Walking with Dinosaur's this morning. She was really worried that a flying one could not land and find a Mummy.
Some friends of my Nana gave her some kids books for us and my daughter found a few of the dinosaur in the pictures that we've already seen on the documentary.

At the moment I think we're all like sick families...grumpy and tired. I just can't wait till we're all back together. My Nana is up with us...she's great with our son

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Could Leonardo da Vinci come out of todays schools?

polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician,
engineer, inventor, anatomist,geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.
When we study in todays world we normally work in one area....are we aloud to 'dabble' in many areas? Are we aloud to dream? Are we aloud time to think? Create?

I think this post will need some more visits

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sick days while Unschooling

Oh wouldn't it be nice to have a sick day.
But as a Mother/parent you don't get one.
And the children don't get one when they are unschooling either ;-)

Both my children have some flu thing. Sadly my daughter started to show her symptoms on the day of my son's birthday party. Grumpy all morning wanting to be carried or have lots of hugs. As the time got on to the party she picked up and started to ask when our family were starting to arrive....then she crashed just on dinner time.

But the brain keeps going.
The questions still keep coming...even while my daughter was on the couch she was watching and listening and when able would add her 2c worth.
"No Nanma its a plant eating dinosaur" as my Mother talked about my son's birthday present.
"Mum what is that flashing light for on the computer?" its amazing what you see when your forced to sit still.

This morning we started Paper Mache over Balloons with both children coughing and sniffing. They really wanted to do it and I suppose the good side of being at home is you can do a little here and a little there.

I laugh a little as for our certificate of exception we are supposed to supply a timetable/curriculum/ (or the one we will go for) description or routines. So even on a 'sick day' we still learn....even on a weekend....even on a holiday....learning all the time.

Paper Mache over Balloons

This is a follow on from the Balloon fun we've had....see Unit Study in Balloons.
It seems to be a natural progression and sort of funny that in most cases we schooled people seem to feel that you have to show/lead/teach this as "how could they find this out on their own". Ah ha but if we did this would there be a connection in the child's mind and would it be remembered?

Our daughter while caring for her chickens was tearing up strips of paper to fill up their box (so the chickens can sleep in it). Naturally some balloon's were floating around as this was at the time of the balloon Unit Study. It had been raining and some paper got into the children's paddling pool. The balloon's got in the pool...then the paper started to get placed on the balloon's.
Both children covered their balloons with a little help from my Mother.
They were put aside to dry...and forgotten for a little while.

A few days daughter picked up her creation and it fell apart (no glue...just water). She just shrugged and threw it all in the bin....was that it?

Yesterday "Mum I want to do some Paper Mache"...ah ha she's been thinking...."I think we'll put a little glue in the water".
I suggested we google it...and found

To make the Glue

Mix together 1 part flour and 2 parts water

We used some balloons from our son's birthday party.....2 today!

So I was all excited and wanted to take photos to show you and the camera is flat...roll eyes...oh well
I walked out of the room to do some clean up and left the children to work it out themselves.
They did really well.
My daughter was asking what would the label for the flour jar have on it to start with "P" for "Plain Flour". She found it and got all the rest sorted.

She asked my son to mix while she poured the water. They had a loud discussion on how much water to add...she felt that the recipe was wrong and only wanted 2/3's he seeing there was still water left in the cup wanted to add it all....she turned her back for a few seconds and he won...she didn't notice ;-)

One thing I always remember with paper mache was it was always started but never finished. So we've started and there is only one layer...and they both got tired.

There maybe more to this post...but I'm not sure yet

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chalk Targets

I was greeted this morning as I often am at times with "I want to do something exciting!"
We have just borrowed and now brought Di Hodges Book "501 Activities for kids". There is a little picture of each activity so you kind of get the idea with just looking at the page.
I said to my daughter that she should go and look in the book and see what she would like to do.

Chalk Targets.
We obtained an old chalk board from the dump (OK roll your eyes) and drew on it a large circle.
Getting the board set up was a little challenge (very heavy) and "the sun is in my eyes Mum I can't see".

We started off with circles 2, 5 and 10 points. It took a few goes to understand how to throw the ball and aim but I could see her getting better and better.
My son (who is nearly 2) wanted to keep score but in the end was happy with a biscuit.

We had a bit of a half time as my daughter wanted to add in more numbers and fill the whole of the board.
We talked a little about 0 and if you didn't get the target you got 0...her idea was you get to have another go ;-)
I asked if she wanted to time it so we could have equal time allotments then add up...."Naaah"
She kept on at the game till it was time to go to Playcentre with a promise that she could play again this afternoon with Nanma.
Before we packed up my daughter was showing my son "see look the sun has moved over the floor since we first started this game".

Just because I am interested and I've been working on our exception certificate....what does this section of the morning cover?

Essential Learning Areas

Language and Languages - I read the activity out to the children showing them the page

Mathematics - Drawing a circle, what numbers to put in the target, adding up the target points (I would like to show her averages and graphs but maybe not now...too young?

Science - Working out aim, looking at the sun, which ball was the best to throw. Was it best to throw from standing or sitting? Close or further back?

Technology -

Social Sciences -

The Arts -

Health and Well-Being - Keeping physical, safety of playing inside with the different balls, not being too rough with younger brother (knocking him over)

National Curriculum Framework Essential Skills

Communication skills - working with me and her brother

Numeracy skills - Calling out the numbers that she or her brother hit

Information skills -

Problem-solving skills - What should they play/do, How are we to play the game inside,

Self-management and competitive skills - Who got the most points?

Social and co-operative skills - taking turns, collecting up the balls together

Physical skills - Adjusting aim, holding and throwing ball, trying different styles

Work and study skills -

I suppose I could bring up what could we do with this skill....or where it might be used in real life. We've already done the Bow and Arrow (see old post) and we could talk about hunting (she wants a sling shot to get the rats in the garden). About people in other cultures and our own, in history and today that hunt for food.
I would like to show her graphs
And possibly counting/multiplication for adding up the score
We'll just see how we go.

And this was all before the morning really started

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ice Age 3 and Dinosaurs and History

Dinosaurs Dinosaurs Dinosaurs it seems to be at the moment (with a few other things as well...but hey I may not see the connections now but its not my brain)

In Ice age 3 I think it was a nice touch that there is a Mummy Dinosaur and some babies which makes them all the more...real and worth looking into for my little girl.
Bit of empathy going on here I think.

So my daughter has been trying to work out which Dinosaur type the Mummy is and we've gone through the books we have here at home and then moved onto the books in the library. I've kept away from the web as my daughter seems to get a little lost or maybe its just too much...where as books are able to be picked up and put down on your own.

I've been talking about they types of Dinosaurs and the era they came from.
"Hey look there are Dinosaurs that have legs like Blackie (our chicken)" we talked more about that.

We talked about a lot before we got in the car to go swimming. Then we talked about how people moved around the country when NZ was first settled. Using the rivers and the dirt roads.
"Did New Zealand have Dinosaurs?"
We talked about the Moa a large flightless bird...which looked a little like some of the Dinosaurs in her book from this morning.
We talked about the Kiwi and the call they make....which lead into tramping one day....

"Why is there no bark on that tree?"....we talked about some gum trees shedding large sections of bark....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Treasure Hunt

Our daughter LOVES treasure hunts! I used to sigh thinking 'oh goodness here I have to sort out some treasure'.
But for a child who has not been bombarded with 'if you do this you win this' or 'if you complete this you'll get a gold star/sticker' etc.

She is satisfied with just doing it.
So she's done heaps of bug hunts which really go well with our "Bug Unit Study"...but this has taken a bit of a dive as of late as we had a tango with a White tail spider...she didn't get bitten but I did panic a bit.

So the other day I was really surprised that she worked out a really cool game all on her own. We have a nice little bag of balls...all different shapes and sizes colours and she hid each one in the courtyard somewhere and then my son and I had to find them.
It was great! I have no idea where this came from at all as we'd never done anything like this before.
We played this game a few times then...both children decided that they would love to see how far they could throw down our hill. Big sigh now. They promised they would pick up all the balls out of the garden...hahaha.
Grumpy Bear Mother comes out. We've lost two which is not too bad but not great either.

But top marks for a great afternoon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ballet class

Ballet...well...we're giving it a go.
This is the dance class available in out little country town and a lot of families seem to be very enthusiastic.
My daughter was very worried that I would be leaving her while she did the class. Which is what happens at swimming classes. But I assured her that I would be watching the whole time...."Oh but it's such a big place (hall) and your right at the other end".
It was nice to see that some of the other little girls also worried that their Mothers were about to go some where I didn't feel all that odd.
The class themselves seems to be very relaxed. Just listening...and then doing a very small activity and then moving on to another one. My daughter seems to be ok with this but needs about a day to process it all so far....I'm sure as we get along a little things will get better.
She's not keen on doing her hair at the I have no idea how we'll get it up. I've had to show her photos of people with dreads but even then she's not keen. Sigh
Oh well

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Health check for nearly 2

I don't really take much notice of the "Plunket Checks" or the Well Child checks....just tests and boxes to tick.
But I do like to know how Heavy 11.77kg (clothed) and tall 85cm they are.

For our daughter I went a little more often until she turned 2 then really just flagged it away. We did the before school check...oh dear another lot of boxes that she didn't fit in....and oh dear you better watch out for.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unschooling Rules

I've just started reading "Unschooling Rules" I'm not sure if I'm in the right head space for it and I feel a bit sloshy with information.
But I do have a quote.
"What a person learns in a classroom is how to be a person in a classroom"
Our local school here I think is trying very hard to be different as they often have 'outings' but what I see is a heap of kids running up and down the footpath and just really enjoying being outside. Not saying that is bad...but am wondering if smaller amounts of children would be small family sized groups so children can really ask questions or be interested without socializing ;-)

Up Date:
I have been able to read more....and I am enjoying this book. I like how its broken down into really small chunks (about what I can handle at the moment with a bit of the weather blues)

I've read about half but have found this one among many others I like so far.

What a person learns in a classroom is how to be a person in a classroom.

The teacher might be talking about history or math, but what the students in a traditional classroom are learning is how to be students in a classroom.

And they are learning it very well.

They are learning how to take notes. They are learning how to surreptitiously communicate with peers. They are learning how to ask questions to endear themselves to authority figures.

It is impressive, on one level, that we spend billions of dollars and innumerable hours creating this perfect, practice-based environment in which children's abilities to sit still in classrooms are honed. Furthermore, we have built a reward structure to praise those students who can sit in classrooms better than anyone else. We let them run our planet.

However, given that this model is economically running economies into the ground and obesity is a global epidemic, it may be time to collectively build and reward different skills. Learning is a full contact sport. To learn something new, a student has to do something new and often be somewhere new.

Rather than viewing and treating students who want to do something new as troublemakers who need to be fixed, we should recognize that they will be the engines of improvements in our standard of living. Point of fact, they always have been.

To make things worse ...

Sitting through a classroom lecture is not just unnatural for most people, it is painful.

Sitting through a classroom lecture is painful for most people most of the time. We all know this, yet so many deny it or view it as a personal failing.

When human beings are required to sit and listen, we squirm. We watch the clock tick slowly. Minutes can seem like hours.

We escape into our own head. We invent activities to either occupy or numb ourselves. The most talented classroom sitters create micro-tasks to busy their hands and the other 80 percent of their minds.

The pain is cumulative. The first hour of lecture in a day is bearable. The second is hard. The third is white hot excruciating. The highly engaging presenter who periodically arises in the classroom does little to soften the physiological impact of the subsequent dull one.

This reality goes beyond a power thing, or even an interest thing, or a quality of the teacher thing. Even when corporate leaders and heads of state attend highly relevant daylong events at which they listen to the highest-tier speakers, they are suppressing their own body ticks 90 minutes into the lecture. The lunch break becomes an oasis.

Students are psychologically ravished daily by this onslaught. And it is costly on all involved-teachers, administrators, parents, siblings.

This last part of the above has also got my mind thinking about something else which I have been questioning for a long time. I'm very interested in Stress and how it affects us (me) in our lives today and why more so today. I've been reading a lot of Jon Kabat Zinn and thinking about what he says in his books and CD's. We keep our minds so busy. We are always thinking.

Is this something that we have learnt to do from our young age at school. We are so often doing things at school which we are not interested in and we end up giving our brains other things to do just to keep happy.

True we have jobs which take up a lot of our lives. We have children. We need to put food on the table....but we've done that for years...what is the change? Did stress become a part of our lives when our cultures became industrialized?

Well more to think about

Homeschooling Our Children Unschooling Ourselves

I have really enjoyed this book and it really is about Unschooling Ourselves. I felt like it was John Holt writing in many ways....but looking at his own children.
Alison (the Author) does often quote John, but her own observations as a teacher herself are really interesting too.
I feel I've understood a lot more....but wow scary too.
Trust Trust.

I suppose this is where I am at now....just learning what to do or what not to do. I worry goodness what am I going to be like if our children are not hitting the mile stones that relatives and friends think they should be hitting.

Each night I go to sleep over the last few weeks I keep saying to myself ... "Just want them to find learning a happy thing to do"

Some times I wish I could find more unschoolers who would write a bit more about their days....I know I can't be there word for word...but when your an odd one sometimes you just want to see or hear what another odd one is doing.
Its like Attachment Parenting...we are the odd ones in our community. did I become confident in that subject?
More reading.
I can see the affects.
Some times I just don't know....but I wouldn't want to do anything different because it just feels so right.

Well I best take myself off to bed...this first week of term 2 is pretty packed.

Famous Five

My daughter is so hooked on "Famous Five" argh....I don't know how many more lashings of ginger beer I can handle, or huge breakfasts of bacon eggs tomato.....and all the rest....I must be getting fat just reading about it.

Books that were published back in 1942 are really hard to read. I've often read in the first book out aloud few lines before I've realized what I've really said.
Lots of hitting....and encouragement of hitting.
Being really horrible to a person...and being encouraged to be horrible.
Dave and I have been editing small words out of I'm often shocked at what I read. Or if I do read it (before I realized what is happening) I stop all of a sudden and say "wow that was really not nice"

Am I being too picky? Will my daughter read worse...I'm sure she will but not at the ripe old age of just turned 5.
I've often had my Mother grumble at me that I'm reading books too far above her reading age....but my goodness my daughter is begging me to read at any moment she can get in edge ways. She even encourages her brother that he can "have a milk with Mum while she reads" so I've got both of them wanting me to sit down.

I'm sick of them...Famous Five (kids too sometimes ;-)
I suppose I just have to read them all and then when we run out...I can rest. I've never read out loud so much in my life (always had a bit of an anxiety about it).

Some times I wonder if my daughter is really listening as she can be rolling round on the floor with the cat or jumping on the bed looking out the window. I stop...and she quickly tells me "Keep reading Mum".
I wonder if she really remembers what is going on in the book....sometimes I think she gets a little lost or wrapped up as Dave and I often swap reading in the evening so I can help our son off to sleep....
While on the beach a friend stopped by to talk and pointed out the book and asked my daughter what she thought of it....and my daughter gave a full run down of the story...I was surprised.

Only thing is silly me I've not taken note of which ones we've read...and its not like you can tell just by having a quick flick through...hey they could be eating supper again....or buying ice creams and feeding it to dear old Timmy
Oh and little Anne loving playing the housewife....argh....but at least she kind of canceled out by George.

Oh well I guess we all have to start somewhere.