Unschooling On Tuesday

I have received a couple of emails in the last week asking for more of these posts so here we go. Another insight into our daily life.

Phew, things got off to a slow start today. I seem to be in high demand during the night at the moment, which is exhausting. We go through phases like this from time to time and as quickly as they start, they seem to end on their own. I try not to worry about it or over-analyse it and just go with the flow. Still, I am TIRED.

The kids all woke at a similar time and watched some tv while I organised everyone’s breakfast and had my coffee. My seven year old got bored quickly and wanted to go outside with his breakfast. My daughter followed. On the way outside we noticed that our last butterfly had emerged from its chrysalis which was very exciting. We moved it outside so that it could fly away when it was ready. We played and chatted for an hour or so. We played a lot of tag which they both love. My eight year old wasn’t ready to come outside and decided to finish his book instead.

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My phone rang and it was a lovely call from a close friend of mine in Chile. The kids kept playing for a while and then went their separate ways. It doesn’t always work this way, but today my friend and I managed a chat for almost an hour. The kids needed my help occasionally which was fine. They pottered about inside and out. I wanted to include this because I certainly try and fit in my own needs for connection when there is opportunity. This obviously doesn’t always look like a long phone call, but it did today and I left the call feeling like my bucket was full.

After the call ended, my eldest son came to find me to tell me that he had been researching cicadas and that they do seem to really like birch trees. We have a silver birch in our backyard and have been collecting the shells and looking for the nymphs and emerging cicadas each day. He told me about the life cycle and that the shedding we see on the tree is actually the fifth shed. He said that he thinks it is the end of the season as he hasn’t found any shells for the last three days and that this makes sense because they all tend to emerge at a similar time.

My seven year old was busy making a ‘trophy’. He is enjoying using the hot glue gun to glue very small things together. He loves making things, but at the moment I think he is drawn to the risk of burning himself and steadying his hand to make sure he is precise in his movements. The glue gun is currently a daily activity for him and he seems very focussed on the process rather than treasuring the outcome. He helped his sister with the glue gun as well as she also wanted to make a trophy after seeing her brother’s project.

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My eight year old brought me a book we are reading which is code for ‘come outside’ and we went outside so I could read to him while he played on the swing. My daughter came too and busied herself with tying a rope on our climbing frame in different formations while I read. She made a ‘zipline’ which she was very proud of. We read about a few different periods in ‘How People Lived’ before my seven year old emerged from inside and asked me to play a ball game with him.

I told my eight year old he could continue reading himself, but he chose to go inside and start a lego set instead. My seven year old chose a ball game where each person has a scoop and you can throw a plastic ball between the two. We negotiated some rules which we adjusted a bit as we played. I won the first round.

He yelled NOOOOOOoooooo, in a fun way and then looked at me and said ‘fucking’ with a sheepish expression. He was gauging my reaction. I was neutral, intrigued, and waiting to see what his next move was. He was quiet for a moment and then said ‘Mum, the other day someone online in my game wrote fuck you to me.’ It became a bit more clear. His first move was to see whether he could trust me and my reaction with this information. I said, ‘I’m sorry that happened. How did that make you feel?’ He said, ‘I felt sad. And then I thought that was the wrong thing to do and he might upset someone else so I reported him.’ I said, ‘it sounds like looking out for the other players and trying to help keep the game a safe and friendly place is really important to you.’ Our conversation then went down a windy path as he asked ‘why do people swear?’ ‘why don’t you swear?’ ‘Do you ever use those words?’ ‘Is it true that teenagers swear a lot?’ He asked the meaning of some words and when I thought it would be ok to use them. I reminded him that our home was a safe place for experimenting and asking questions. I always find these conversations fascinating. Younger children can exist in such a black and white world where in their mind, certain things are ‘good’ and certain things are ‘bad’. It is so interesting watching them uncover how much of the world exists in the grey and begin to understand that how they operate in this space is always going to rely on their judgment.

We headed inside to see what everyone was up to and I put together some lunch. We had a chat while I chopped things and my seven year old said, ‘why don’t we print a copy of the Mona Lisa and sell it for $200 million dollars?’ This pricked the ears of my eight year old and we all had a great conversation about forgery. They decided they could still sell prints, but as copies for two cents. I said, what if you had to spend $150 on a printer and the ink and paper meant that each copy cost five cents? They decided that they would have to charge $2 and it would take some time to pay off the capital investment before they made any money. But they both agreed that once they had paid off that pesky upfront cost, they would be on their way to thousands in profit.

They obviously weren’t that committed to the business idea because they soon moved on to something else. My three year old was disappointed with lunch and wanted to make her own snack. She decided on fruit and yoghurt and wanted to cut the fruit herself. She always likes to be set up with the chopping board and knife on the floor because it is more comfortable for her.

After her yoghurt, my three year old was soon immersed in painting a balloon and my eight year old returned to his lego. My seven year old remembered that the book we finished a couple of days ago (I Survived the Japanese Tsunami) had a few Japanese words that he wanted me to write down for him so he could remember. I wrote down the words and the hiragana. He looked at it and I could tell this wasn’t what he was expecting. Some things grab kids right away and other interests die quickly. It is just the way things go. He left it on the table and asked to play ‘go fish’ with me. These games are a bit hard at the moment. We have a very enthusiastic three year old who wants to play but struggles with the rules and identifying the right cards. By this stage she was covered in paint so I ran a bath for her and we played go fish next to the bath while she washed.

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Once she was out of the bath, my daughter played with some leapfrog letters she has and asked me which were the letters for ‘poo’ and ‘wee’ and then rolled around laughing at her comical genius. I wrote down the words for her and she set about finding the letters. She is funny.

My eight year old managed to connect with a new friend on Minecraft and he played for about an hour before something went wrong with our internet and he had to stop. He sent a message that they would meet up again in his realm at 7pm.

My seven year old wrote an email to his great grandmother and then wanted me to come outside to play the ball game again. His sister was in hot pursuit wanting me to push her on our swing. These situations can feel tough when you are pulled in so many directions. I pushed the swing with one arm and played catch with the other. My level of competition was lacking for my seven year old so he headed inside to watch an episode of ‘game shakers’ which he has been enjoying.

This was the result my three year old was looking for and we spent the next half an hour or so playing ball, turning into mermaids and playing ‘freeze tag’ which I am still not sure I completely understand.

The day had swung along calmly and I was thinking there was not going to be conflict to write about which is a shame because I don’t want to give the impression that things are always peaceful. Anyway, ask and you shall receive, because a scream came from inside. ‘YOU RUINED IT.’ My seven year old had been making an experiment with various items from the kitchen. My eight year old wanted in on the action and added water without asking. It was the end of the day and had obviously caused some anger. I came inside to help. ‘It looks like maybe your brother wants to do this alone. Maybe I could get you your own bowl or you could give him some space and come outside?’

Outside it was. We read some more and I was deep in the Medieval China section when they described a game that was popular at the time and very strategic. I said to him ‘that sounds like something you would like and be good at.’ He likes board games and is a great strategist. But instead of being uplifted, he looked sad. He said ‘I don’t like it when you say things to me like that.’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry, what part of that upset you?’ He said, ‘I don’t like it when you tell me things that I am good at.’

Gosh this child of mine gets it, while I am scrambling to learn. He is so right. I apologised and reminded him that it only really matters what he thinks of himself and I would try not to make comments. He said he feels like when people make comments like that they are not being honest. We had a laugh as we could both see that the comment in this instance was accurate and honest, but he was letting me know that he doesn’t appreciate other people commenting or giving unsolicited feedback on his skills. I try and be really careful with praise, although I still hear many cringe worthy things fall out of my mouth from time to time. This was such a good reminder that my kids don’t need me to constantly and randomly point out their strengths.

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I headed inside to make dinner and my three year old appeared in an Elsa costume requesting Frozen. This gave me a little bit of time to tidy up and make dinner. After about twenty minutes she asked me to help her with a puzzle while she watched.

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My eight year old was still busy playing with his bostaff when his skype started ringing. He ran in to his computer to play with his friend but unfortunately our internet was still being buggy and they couldn’t connect. He is really excited about this new friendship and had been calculating how many minutes until she would call again all afternoon. He seemed a bit disappointed that it didn’t work out, but he decided to watch a bit of Frozen with his sister. His skype started ringing again and it was his friend from Australia. Minecraft seemed to cooperate and his brother joined in too. They managed to play for half an hour before his friend had to go to school. There was a lot of laughing and excitement.

And that was the day. A bit more pottering about and reading and the kids were in bed around 8:30pm. It took a while for everyone to fall asleep tonight. My husband is away this week for work and unfortunately there are not three sides of me to lay next to three children. But we fumble through and chat about who feels like they can wait.

This is how our day flowed. Like most days, it started with no plan but traversed some pretty interesting territory. There were lots of little moments of drawing a quick picture or reading stories that don’t get included in these posts or they would turn into a novel. But I hope it gives you a bit of insight into what a home day looks like for our family.

3 thoughts on “Unschooling On Tuesday

  1. Really interesting! I like how you didn’t shy away from describing some of the less exciting parts of the day for you as the parent, and also some of the sibling interactions (things I struggle to manage). I’ve just strated reading Unconditional Parenting and it’s really openiny mind to how we talk to children – I thought I wasn’t that bad but I’ve still got a way to go!

    Like

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