Adventures in sort-of unschooling

“Homeschool” room







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Potholder weaving


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Asheville trip

We wanted to go to Asheville a couple of weeks ago but the weather didn’t cooperate but this past week I watched the weather forecast and we decided to go once it looked for sure that there wouldn’t be a washout weekend. We left Friday afternoon after lunch and got there around 4. We didn’t know quite where we were (and the kids were hungry) and went to Fatz, which was near the hotel. After that, we went downtown to wander around. A lot of the shops were closed but Kilwin’s was open (our Kilwin’s in Charlotte closed) and the kids got Superman ice cream. Then we went to the drum circle. TBO wasn’t as fascinated as TGO… I’m pretty sure she could have people-watched all night. There are some interesting looking people of all ages in Asheville 😉

We wandered around some more and just before dark we headed back to the parking deck. You can’t take us anywhere because… we broke the parking deck. DH put in the parking ticket to pay, then his credit card (I don’t know why he didn’t just let me give him the cash but… whatever) and the machine jammed up. It wouldn’t give him back the credit card! The gate opened and I told him to pull out before it closed so we pulled out and onto a side road, and eventually into a street lot within sight of the deck. DH had dialed the number on the machine and within minutes someone came out to let everyone out of the deck (after we pulled out the gate went down and no one else was able to leave… and traffic was backing up!). I was in the van with the kids and we saw about 20 cars pull out at one time but the guy wasn’t able to get our credit card out of the machine. We got back to the hotel and called the bank to cancel the card. (We tried to go to parking services on Saturday but they are closed on the weekend.)

Saturday we started to go to Early Girl but there were so many people waiting outside that we went to World Coffee? and it was a good thing because it started raining. We went to Curio (a toy store), Purl’s Yarn Emporium, Earth Guild (the kids got to see all kinds of stuff, including a demonstration on making yarn with a spinning wheel), and had lunch at Chai Pani.

I can’t remember what other shops we went to but we left around 2-ish to go to the WNC Nature Center. We saw wolves, bears, owls, a turkey vulture, some farm animals, frogs, snakes, turtles, cougars, but I think their favorite was the otter because s/he would swim by the window playfully.

We headed back to downtown Asheville for dinner at Early Girl and dessert at a place I’ve forgotten the name to, but not the cheesecake I ate because it was so good! We went back to where the drum circle was but the music was religious so we didn’t stay. There was some festival going on but we didn’t feel like walking to it and headed back to the hotel. The kids had a much-needed bath and were pretty ready for bed after all that walking.

We left around 10 am and headed back home. The kids had a blast! TGO has been carrying around the stuffed kitty she got at Curio, TBO loves his walkie-talkies, and they’ve both played with the magnet set they got. I got a potholder loom at Earth Guild but I’m saving it. Right now they are building a street made of playing cards and a hotel in the mountains.

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Asheville pics


The kids loved filling their shirts with cold air from the AC


Friday night drum circle





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From one of my email groups

I didn’t write this, but thought I’d share 🙂


If my son were in First Grade yesterday

School started yesterday and my son would have been in First Grade. If
he attended, he would have had to be outside at 6:50am when the bus
arrived. That means he would have had to be up by 6am at the latest,
which means that his 7pm bedtime would have been super important; he
melts down without 11 hours of sleep.

The classroom doors don’t open until 745, so he would have experienced
55 minutes of either being in transit or sitting in the cafeteria
quietly. From 745 to 8, he would have gotten settled at his desk. Then
it all starts at 8…the math centers, the literacy centers, the group
work…with no breaks (according to the class website) until 11am. He
would then get 40 minutes to eat and play before heading back to work.
Work would finish at 245. So, he would have approximately 7 hours of
continuous work, except for one 40 minute break. I think he might
completely explode!

He would come home with homework on every day except for Friday. So,
by the time he got home on the bus (around 330 pm), he would have 3
1/2 hours to unwind, eat, do homework, take a shower, play and go to
bed. Then it would start over.

In addition to the homework btw, we would be expected to drill him on
terms like “medial sounds” (for 6 year olds!), because it’s the
language of the NCLB tests. There’s a really long list of testing
words that the kids are expected to memorize each year, not because
they have any value or relevancy in their lives, but because it
improves testing.

He would have PE one day a week. He would have what they call “art” 1
day a week. He would no longer have the luxury of working on free art
all throughout the day with the pleasure of solitude, with a complete
lack of inhibiting rules. He’s very artistic. This would crush him.

We would no longer have the time to take all the “field trips” we
take. As a substitute, the First Grade class would take him to the
Science Center once (we go monthly), the Art Museum once (we go
monthly) and a pumpkin patch once (we would go anyway). If he were in
K last year, btw, there would have been a trip to the grocery store
(er, we go weekly) to learn about “healthy food”, even though our home
diet is FAR healthier than what he would eat at school.

In addition to all of this, there would be the constant barrage of
“spirit nights” and other strongly encouraged activities that occur
out of school hours. He would be fed candy in school, which we don’t
do at home. He would not be able to participate in the hot lunch
program, because they don’t have any regular vegetarian options
(unless mashed potatoes count). There would be a lot of hype to buy
and sell things in the interest of supporting the school. The school
would be promoted as a very needy entity, in the interest of winning
over the kids and families to the cause, and we would be guilted into
buying junk or peddling it to our relatives.

INSTEAD, my 6 year old got up when he felt well rested. He ate a slow
series of mini-breakfasts in the morning. He stayed in his PJs for a
long time. He PLAYED all day. He played and played and played so hard
that it seems to be work; it seems to be a genuine need. Of course,
there were educational moments amidst all this; you are homeschoolers
so I don’t need to describe that to you. But he had a completely
relaxed day with no pressure. I feel good about this.

Sometimes, I get anxious because I think that now we’re entering the
hard-core school years. Lots of people homeschool for K, but then they
send their kids to school. Starting in First Grade, school is
apparently all-business. When I think, “Oh no! He’d never be able to
attend school now because he missed the gentle K introduction to
meaningless coloring sheets, sticker charts and busy work.”, I do
things like read the school’s website. And then I feel really good
about the choice we made for him. I feel content and so does he.

Thanks for letting me share.

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Read all the books!!!

I’ve been reading the kids stories and such from What Your Preschooler Needs to Know (we also have the one for kindergarten) and we also have a ton of books that we’ve bought mostly from library book sales. There are a few I’ve gotten used from amazon and some new ones, but I prefer buying used books since they’re cheaper.

A month or so ago I discovered paperbackswap and moved all of my listings from half.com over since I haven’t sold anything in ages anyway. So I mail out books and earn credits that I use to request other books. It’s pretty genius, actually. I’ve gotten some of the books that we would have used if we’d gotten Moving Beyond the Page, some that we’ve checked out from the library and liked a lot, and some books for myself. The kids really like getting books in the mail and can’t wait to read their new books. And after we read the new ones, the kids keep bringing me more and more books to read until I feel like my tongue will fall out of my mouth 🙂

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Typical Tuesday

On Sunday I looked at the calendar and saw a whole week of nothing. Nothing scheduled, no obligations! But it never works that way, does it?

Monday… it’s only Wednesday and I can remember what we did on Monday.

Yesterday we took Lucy (the kitten we got back in June when she was 8 weeks old from a friend whose husband found her under his car at work) to the vet for her last distemper shot. The vet was running late so the kids got to watch people and dogs (and make me a little crazy in the waiting room). Then I really had to pee and just when I thought we could finally go home, we got in the van and TBO noticed the gas light was on. Argh! So we went to get gas and came home. In the afternoon we went to the farmer’s market to pick up our order from the “beef guy”. TBO talked to him for a bit… he was telling us about the chickens and how they weren’t laying many eggs because they are all molting? or something like that. He’s having a farm day on September 15th and invited us to that. TBO also tried some pickles from the stand next to the “beef guy”. TGO refused – she’s not a fan of pickles.

As we were leaving, TBO wanted a smoothie from the waffle place. We haven’t been there in months so I have no idea how TBO remembered that (or how the owner remembered our usual order).

We came home and had dinner. DH picked up some stuff from the Teeter and then we took the kids to the pool. TGO hasn’t been in deep water since she was a baby and TBO hasn’t in a couple of years. I pulled each of them around the pool while DH watched the other in the kiddie pool. I don’t think DH was a fan of the pool experience though 😉

Oh! Now I remember what we did on Monday – took the kids for haircuts (TBO chose to shave his head) and on the way back (after a u-turn) we went to see what shops were in a new shopping center. The kids wanted frozen yogurt but it wasn’t open yet so we went to a new chocolate shop called Think Chocolate. The kids picked out a piece of chocolate each, which we brought home to share with DH after dinner.

So somehow even though there is nothing on the calendar, we end up busy with typical stuff like haircuts, visits to the farmers market, taking the kitten to the vet, etc. I’m always glad when people talk to the kids – like the “bug guy” who talks as he sprays around the house, or the “beef guy” who tells the kids about his farm, or the plumber who doesn’t seem to mind us watching him as he installs the dishwasher or the other projects he’s done here. 🙂

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He found the writing paper


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Giving Back

This is one thing I want my kids to do – volunteer. It’s a little difficult to find such opportunities, but I’ve managed to find one way that my kids can be involved in giving back to the community. Back in April I started a Charlotte chapter of Binky Patrol. My kids are 3 and 5 and can’t sew or knit, but they can help with aspects of it, like helping me sort the yarn that was donated by Baskets of Yarn. They helped sort by color and then we counted each stack. I’ve been making squares and I figure they can help lay out the squares for a blanket. They’ll go with me to donate the first batch of blankets to the police department. As they get older, they can help with fleece blankets and maybe eventually learn to knit/crochet blankets.

Yesterday I got a little over 11 inches of my hair cut off. As it’s been growing, I’ve explained to them where the hair will be used. I think they get the idea.

It’s probably not much, but it’s something, right?

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Books and Blogs page

I started a page for books and blogs I’ve read related to homeschooling – if you’ve got a book or blog you really enjoy, let me know.

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