Category: Untraditional Education
I experimented a bit with different recorders for my phone after both Shamus and Issac complained about the horrible sound quality of my original recordings (purists) that might work better for my drive. I found one that I think works all right. At least I sound like myself. And since I have no script (because I am driving when I record) it is still rambly but now that I have recorded several (which I will be rerecording with the new recorder) I am figuring out how to do this whole “talking while driving with no script about a specific subject” thing better.
The recording is still not perfect. But this one was recorded while it was pouring rain whole I was driving and the sound isn’t absolutely horrible so… step in the right direction.
So welcome to the new, new Unschool Carpool starring just me… Heather Young (and other people when and if they are in the car with me. I do have a two part episode that I recorded with the kids that I will share despite it being recorded with the old recorder because now the kids are in Texas so I can’t rerecord it. )
The Unschool Carpool new intro- episode 1- MP3
The Unschool Carpool new intro- episode 1- OGG
On the Christian Unschooling Facebook group we get weekly requests for unschooling podcasts, especially ones from a Christian perspective. My team has been trying for ages to find time and energy to get together and make a proper podcast. We ideally would like to make a group one using our admin team. But it just hasn’t happened. We all are working or going to school and there is no way we can fit a regular (or even irregular) meeting time in our already busy schedules.
Enter the (Christian) Unschool Carpool podcast. I drive to the university 35 minutes away several time a day. Sometimes I have my charge in the car (5 yr old A, who is lovely and sweet and super fun and loves my cell phone full of games for her to play.) But the rest of the time I am on my own. This means lots and lots of audio books…. BUT it also means I have plenty of time to record in a relatively quiet (aside from traffic noises) environment. It also means no script. Which means I ramble. Because that is what I do. I would do it even if I HAD a script. But since I am driving the same long straight road day in and day out I have this nice long boring stretch of road where I can drive and talk at my phone about the questions people have asked about unschooling, radical unschooling, Christian unschooling, and all the other stuff people ask over and over again.
Obviously this is not nearly as interesting as a conversational podcast (which I did record with the kids on an hour drive to Pittsburgh and which was very, very fun) but it is a start. And if it works then my co-admins can answer the same questions and then, when we find time, we can record some together. At least we hope so.
This first podcast is available as both an mp3 and as an ogg (and I will also try to upload it to my youtube channel for people who prefer that but for right now we will try it this way.) Eventually I will upload it somewhere that works for rss but this is a start. It isn’t perfect. I don’t have time for a lot of editing and I am just learning to use the audio editor so please forgive the weird cuts (I pause a lot when I am talking on a good day and while recording… I pause more so I was playing with removing them) and the sounds of traffic.
This podcast is the first, obviously and therefore basically an intro. A “how we ended up unschooling in the first place, and how we ended up becoming radical unschoolers” type story. It is a story of us, as a family, and how we got where we are. How God brought us here, because He most certainly did. (Did I mention rambling? Yeah.)
The (Christian) Unschool Carpool (mp3) episode 1
The (Christian) Unschool Carpool (ogg) episode 1
After years of trying to get back on track (and pay off our debt) this is apparently the year of fixing. Fixing the car, fixing our health, replacing things that can’t be fixed, just plain getting things back in order.
- Shamus has gotten a benign cyst that I was sure was a unicorn horn starting on his forehead.
- Rachel has been diagnosed with moderate hearing loss . She has cheap over-the-counter hearing aids that rub but which help enough that she willing wears them anyway. Our goal is to be able to get her a pair of digital ones (including bluetooth for music, phone, computer) BEFORE she moves out in the next year.
- New glasses for Es and I – much needed, including reading glasses for me. This would make me feel old except that I have needed reading glasses off and on since I was 18.
- Replaced dead Wii with Wii U.
- New sewing machine to replace multiple dead or nearly dead old ones.
- Full glaucoma workup for both Shamus and Es because apparently there is weird eye stuff running in that side of the family.
- Get Rach in to doctor for proper inhaler script, permission to get hearing aids (because the FDA is weird), and get her driver’s permit physical.
- Get car doors fixed- our car has issues. Every door has something wrong with it, 2 don’t open at all, one only opens from out outside, one only opens from inside and one works but has a broken bit so you have to open it just so.
- Get Rach decent digital hearing aids that suit her needs. Preferably ones with bluetooth that can be adjusted from her phone and can be used with bluetooth so she can easily do what she does, like talk on Skype, listen to music, watch movies.
- Get a good printer for printing art so the girls and I can, you know, print our art.
I am sure there is more that I have forgotten.
Lots of general stuff going on:
- Rach graduating and moving out (soon).
- Rach working on independent study of art and possibly video game design and programming.
- Me working on the book illustrations, working full time, and working on several websites.
- Es working as content manager for a website.
- Es designing and creating a video game.
- Es writing a webcomic.
- Issac doing his thing (mostly video games, Lego, and hanging out online with friends while growing and eating and growing some more.
- Shamus writing, writing, writing, working on Good Robot, writing some more, doing Spoiler Warning and the podcast and writing some more.
The last couple months or so have been crazy busy.
We moved in the fall (that is a huge story that eventually I will tell, when I have time, and words). Es started volunteering at the library. Rach got a job, then lost it due to age restrictions (company policy vs store policy.)
The kids are all teens now, and wonderful, awesome, brilliant, fun to be around, and all busy with their own stuff. I don’t post things about them unless they give permission (never have) and now they are older and more private about their stuff and well, I have less to share. We have several new projects we are working on as a family.
Life as we know it is swirling and changing and adapting. I go from times when the kids want all my attention and it is a swirl of activity to times where no one is around– all asleep, or busy with their personal projects, or talking to friends.
A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on
My own projects go in spurts. In this season they often get set aside to talk out personal issues with the kids, discuss how somethign works or why, or how people work or think or why people can be dumb sometimes.
A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on
It is all such a whirl of color and activity interspersed with times of quiet and nothing that it is hard to keep track of coming or going.
A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on
Our big current project – the kids and I (I’ll let Shamus share his own as he sees fit) is body butters. (For sale here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SeriouslySimpleStuff) They are fun to make and pretty and the kids love them as much as I do.
A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on
A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on
And there is more happening but I will leave it for now. Life is beautiful, and fun, and wonderful. We have a new warm, safe place to live that is everything we could have asked for, if we had thought to do so. This season with teens is absolutely awesome.
A photo posted by Heather Young (@gracedbychrist) on
We get the “my kids are doing nothing but play video games/watch tv/look at a screen and I can’t stand it, what should I do?” question about once every week or so on our (now huge) Christian unschooling Facebook group. It has become the norm. We are all kind of tired of it. Really. For many reasons. Mostly because we hear the fear, we know the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred yet, and we know it will be a fight to get there, and that part is exhausting. The following is a recent response that I wrote while super-short on sleep 😀 but which ended up covering all the basics in one place.
To pull from something my dear friend Pam often points out; how much time is “nothing other than game on their PC/ds/Wii”. Do they get up to get a drink? Go to the bathroom? Eat something? Sleep? If they are doing those things then clarify. They are doing something other than just playing games. They are probably getting up. They may even jump around, do other things. They may spend a few minutes getting something, look something up, they may even go play with something else for a while, go outside, play together beside the tv, they are very likely doing something else too. We need to see those things and recognize that no, the child is not spending “all their time”, they are spending more time than we feel comfortable with. When we start out with a generalization, it is really hard to get from the viewpoint of seeing it in a negative light to seeing “screens” as many different types of learning and internal things going on and the screen itself as just the media they are getting those things.
My husband spends the majority of his day in front of a screen. Working, playing, socializing. He does many different things and yes, he has always preferred doing things in front of a computer screen to elsewhere- there are just so many more things to do, it is a vast world full of many, many types of media in one place- no huge mess to clean up when he wants to play a game, he can write quickly and efficiently, read quickly and move between many different things to read, watch a movie, change the movie, and so on. It is an amazing, miraculous thing that allows us to communicate with our friends across the world (he collaborates with people all across the US weekly on huge projects), work anywhere (he works with people from all across the globe) and so on. It is amazing that this technology is available in our lifetimes and our children get to learn the language of it now, easily, without fear. Our kids are going to live in a world where much of their time is going to be in front of the computer. Some people won’t, but the vast majority will. They will use it for work, for play, for socialization, and as unschoolers we have the freedom to let them learn it right now, first hand, and be proficient at it. This is a huge boon compared to kids who are stuck in a classroom unable to look things up as they are interested. Our kids will be well prepared for the future, right now.
“Technology is here to stay. So why would I choose to keep my kids illiterate in the language that they may need for the future? A half an hour a day does not give kids time to explore the land scape.” ~Aza Donnelly
That said, if you are still really uncomfortable with how much time they are spending, then you get off the computer (you are here, reading this, communicating with others, online) and do really cool things out where they will see. Things that they will love. You make things available that go with what they love on their games (you will probably have to get online to research those things). You find things that associate with what they are doing so there is a connection- if they are into a game that has an associated tv show or other media then there are probably lots of products out there related to it- pick up a book connected with it, or some figurines, or whatever. If there is a website that has info about the game they are playing (hints, a walkthrough, a wiki- my kids learned to navigate the internet and read because they loved looking up info for their games) put it on your screen and show it to them. If the fact that they would be reading it on a screen bothers you, then you can often buy a gamers guide but they do get expensive. Offer to help them create a database of the characters and their skills, or print up ones you find online for quick reference. Pick up a gaming magazine for kids, or a book about the collectibles or whatever. Find ways you can connect with the kids where they are, ask them about the games, the shows, whatever. Bring them healthy finger foods if you are worried about what they are eating or that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them about the game, what they are playing, the plot, the people in the games. Let them know you are thinking about them and want to encourage their interests. Find some aspect you can understand and join them where they are.
This will help you connect with them and really get a feel for what they are getting out of all the things they do on that form of media, and maybe even why. And as they feel you are really trying and aren’t going to “take it away” and that you aren’t frowning about it at them, they will loosen their hold on it a bit and gradually they will start joining you in the cool things you are doing (not all), they will start looking at the books, playing with the associated toys or crafts, and so on. (Many of us have minecraft posters on the wall, or Pokemon, or Skylanders, or Terraria, and books, and action figures, stuffies, houses full of geek references.) Meeting them where they are will help you feel connection with them again (which is usually where the parents panic when they start feeling the kids are doing “nothing but screen things”.) It takes time for both sides, but it is like learning another language and our kids get to do it first-hand and be prepared for this changing world where screens are an everyday all the time part of our lives.
*I am a lazy blogger. Mind you I have been blogging off and on since 1999. Why yes, I had a blog on the original “Blogger”. I remember vividly making one, being so excited (I had a new baby and was one of the early “mom bloggers”), and then Blogger reset everything after a crash and I lost my blog. We all had to start over. Sigh. Anyway, point is nowadays I seldom have time to blog, what with working full time, having 3 teenagers, running the Christian Unschooling facebook group (nearly 2000 members now), and well, life. So you mostly get posts that are reposts of things I have written elsewhere, because, posts.
The following is in response to a new to unschooling mom asking how to make sure her passionate about art daughter was learning math. Obviously my post here is proof read, formatted properly, etc unlike the original post which I wrote on the fly. 😀
With art, math is more of a natural thing that happens and less of a “this is math” thing. If I try thinking of math while I draw/paint my brain actually stops doing the type of art I want to do and I get too analytical to do the more organic work I prefer. (I play a lot of logic/puzzle video games which use the math part of the brain when doing programming and very architectural drawings and tend to spend more time watching vibrant/visually stunning animes and movies and listening to music when painting- helps my brain get into the right mode to work). That said you do use math naturally as an artist and it develops as you develop. So this is more for the mom and whoever else is worried about the child learning math than for her.
You use a lot of math think to do perspective, scaling things for drawings- whether up or down, composition, layout, proportions, as well as anytime you work on a realistic drawing it is all in your head visual math. The only art I can think of that does not use math as a default would be doing complete abstract (and many abstract pieces are full of math). Anytime you are taking something real world and putting it on paper (including fantasy and manga style, but I am saying, anything you could build and see rather than abstract concepts) you are using an organic math in your head to decide where things go and how they fit and where the lines should go. Mostly it is because when God created the world He filled it with patterns and lines and you can’t draw without replicating those at least in part, and the more you do it and the better you get the more math you are actually using, whether you recognize it or not.
Nowadays I can actually see myself doing it, and my art is much better because of it, though when I was young, math made me panic and I had to “ignore” the fact that I was using it and rather intuit it to get it figured right. I still intuit it, but I also intuit most math in other things- if I think about numbers my brain switches them around (there is a name for it- it is called “dyscalculia”- makes doing bills extra interesting), but if I let myself not think about them and intuit the answer it is almost always right.
There is a big difference between conceptual math and arithmetic- arithmetic is 1+1 and people naturally get that stuff because we use clocks and money, bake and play games, and everything else in the real world that uses arithmetic every day. Art, on the other hand, uses a lot of conceptual math- the scientist/mathematician stuff that most people don’t think of as “math”, it is just another form of that. Seeing patterns and using them to know where to put lines and color and shape is much more conceptual than it is arithmetic . That said artists do also use basic arithmetic for figuring proportions and things in more complicated drawings and layout- think M.C. Escher type stuff.
More on the difference between conceptual math and arithmetic here: http://www.christianunschooling.com/math-think/
Also, is you want to see where I am actually posting my art nowadays on a semi-regular basis you can visit my tumblr here: Pocket Lint of the Soul
Our oldest is back in Texas for a 3 week visit. Everything fell in place perfectly for her to spend her 16th birthday there at her best friends’ home so we went ahead despite winter’s unpredictable weather.
The first day of the trip was awesome despite the bus leaving an hour late and driving straight through due to snow and ice. She made friends with a girl about her age from China who barely spoke English. She helped her get where she need to be and do what she needed to do. They watched their favorite shows together (Thor which they watched in English with Chinese subtitles and Heartstrings- a Korean drama which they watched in Korean with English subtitles). They shared Rachel’s food (there was snow and ice and they were running late so they they didn’t stop at any of the normal stops for food). It was amazing and wonderful and Rue was thrilled that God was clearly in this trip.
The second day was HARD. She had a pack of Pocky left for her breakfast and wouldn’t get in till 9:30pm. (I really wish I had bought her a few more buns at the Asian grocery store (I ran in while she waited in line to get check in.) They were running really late still so weren’t making any stops and when they did stop there were only broken machines. At one point the bus broke down. She had a layover in Oklahoma City with no way to get food as the machines were all broken. Finally they got to Amarillo where she missed her transfer and her luggage had gone missing (they think it went to Dallas but so far no one is sure as it hasn’t turned up yet yet.) She ended up stuck in Amarillo, well after the time she was supposed to be in Lubbock, after everything had closed, waiting for our friends to drive an extra hour to come pick her up with no way to get any food and no luggage.
They took her to eat, took her home, found some clean clothes for her to wear, and they all crashed. Today they are heading into the city to the Greyhound station to see if they can track down her luggage and go thrift shopping for some new clothes to tide her over. A friend is sending a replacement for her Bamboo Tablet (which was in her luggage) and she received another pair of headphones as a late Christmas gift. So the big things that were lost (if the luggage isn’t found) have been replaced. Her brother gave her some money for her birthday and she will receive a little more which will help cover the rest of her loss. Not the most fun way of spending your 16th birthday but being with her best friends will make up for it.
We are praying that her luggage does show up and soon since we aren’t sure how much to replace and what to wait for. Regardless it will make a great story someday and she still has 2.5 weeks of time with her friends before she gets to deal with Greyhound again.
*I wrote this in my Christian unschooling group in response to a young mom with a 15 month old wondering if she would ever have time to do all the things she wanted to, to learn all the things she was interested in learning. It occurred to me that she is not alone. I remember being that young mom wondering if I would ever get a full nights sleep let alone be able to do things I was interested in, things that weren’t just about my family. And how were all these super moms doing it all?
This is just a season. Everything in its seasons. Pregnancy is a season. New baby is a season. Toddler is a season. There was a season of me stuck at home in a new town with hubby gone all day, pregnant and with a toddler. We had a season of 3 kids under 5- all in diapers at least part of the time. A season where one child was constantly in and out of the hospital. Several seasons where I was too sick to get out of bed. We have also had seasons of going all the time. Of passionately learning new things- I have learned a little of several languages (Not a natural language person so it is more osmosis for me- watching a lot of tv in that language and just exposing myself to it). Learning to cook for food allergies. Learning natural remedies and cheap healthy foods. Learning wild crafting and herbal-ism. Learning how to be a homemaker. Writing a book. Editing and publishing my own and my husband’s books. Marketing books and art. Learning to code html and php. Hosting and maintaining websites for myself and others. Blogging. Reading the Bible through multiple times and really studying it. Researching pretty much everything. Running several websites and Faecbook groups. Learning to fix things myself and then doing it. Working for an antique appraiser. Working as a caretaker for an elderly woman. Taking care of my own grandparents.
I have been married 17 years now. I have a nearly 16 yr old, a 14 yr old, and a 12 year old. There have been many many seasons. There are many seasons to come. I have no idea what will come next. Some of the seasons rotate around my children. Others around other friends or family members. Some mostly around myself.
The biggest trick is learning to focus on the here and now- to do the next thing and not worry about the other stuff, but also knowing this IS just a season so you can enjoy it fully. You can keep your goals in mind, you can have a list, the list will change. Your passions will change.
One of the wonderful things about unschooling is that passion for learning in YOU will encourage the passion for learning in your children so when you hit a season where you can you do- you study and research and learn. And when you hit a new season you do what you need to do for that one. And you build on all that stuff that you have learned and are able to learn and grow more and it benefits your kids as you do so.
Think about a time you have been under a lot of stress.
A person you know and respect gets angry and starts yelling at you for reasons you don’t understand.
Your boss berates you for something out of your control.
A close friend is struggling with stress at home and lashes out at you about something trivial.
A bereaved loved one takes their frustrations out on you.
A dear friend misunderstands something you said and refuses to discuss it or listen to what you meant.
A client is angry about a situation you have no control over and takes it out on you.
A bossy family member insists you do things their way when you know it would not be best.
Your spouse had a bad day and lays into you about something unrelated.
You mess up in a big way and feel bad but don’t know how to fix it because you know the person involved won’t take it well.
You screw up and try to fix it but don’t manage to do it right and the other person is furious.
You are trying to learn something new, working really hard at it, and someone teases you for not getting it already.
Someone treats you as a second class citizen because of something you can do nothing about.
Someone blames you for something you didn’t do.
Someone with more experience, expects you to understand why they do what they do but doesn’t attempt to do the same for you.
Someone demands you show them respect when they show you none in return.
Someone belittles you in front of others.
How do you feel?
Does fight or flight kick in?
Do you panic?
Do you fight back?
Do you empathize and realize that person is having a bad day, week, year and stay calm?
Do you belittle the other person?
Do you try to make peace?
Do you take it all on yourself, blame yourself, and accept full responsibility even if it wasn’t your fault?
How does your heart feel?
Do you have anxiety? Stress? Do you just move on as if nothing had happened? Do you internalize it and hold on to it? Does just the thought of the situation make you sick inside?
What if this was a regular occurrence? What if you were dealing with this person on a regular basis? What if their treatment of you was constantly belittling, blaming, or just plain stressful? What would you do? How would you respond?
Would you lash out at them?
Would you respect them?
Would you be timid around them?
Would you avoid them completely?
Would you feel sick all the time at the thought of dealing with them?
Would you willingly tell them everything or avoid speaking to them as much as possible?
This. This is what we do to our children.
This is what we do when we are having a bad day and lash out at them for knocking over their water.
This is what we do to them when we get angry at the mess they left and didn’t notice.
This is what we do when we accuse them of motives they had not even considered.
This is what we do when they don’t know what they did wrong or we misunderstand but don’t listen.
This is what we do to them when they are having a bad day and we belittle their feelings or even get angry at them.
This is what we do when we tease about past mistakes, point out failings, make fun of what they like.
This is what we do when we treat children like second class citizens, demand respect without showing them respect.
If we as adults get sick, stressed, frustrated, try to escape, or place blame when others treat us like this. If we get angry when we feel we have been unjustly accused or when others attribute motives to us that we had never considered. If this is true of us, mature adults who have had plenty of time and experience to learn how to deal with these situations, how much more so for children, who have not yet learned empathy, who are still learning how to navigate the world, and have people they love and should be able to trust treating them this way on a regular basis? No wonder teenagers refuse to share what is upsetting them, refuse to talk about how they feel, prefer to hide what is going on lest they get blamed or berated. By the time these children reach young adulthood they have spent the large majority of their life living with constant stress and dealing with loved ones who treat them with less than respect.
What if, instead, you are treated with gentleness and respect? What if in a misunderstanding the other person regularly gives you the benefit of the doubt, values both your feelings and your opinions? What if the other person, treats you with respect and grace and gentleness rather than blaming and demanding respect?
What about our children? What if they are respected, treated with gentleness and understanding? What if we recognize that they are struggling way more than we see as they learn to navigate this world? What if, instead of assuming they are just doing things to get on our nerves, we recognize that they are having a rough time, they are in pain, struggling to learn something new? What if – instead of rushing them to new things because we are sick of picking the same toy off the floor in their new game – we stick with it, recognizing that they are learning something- that this game is part of their development and that it takes lots of repetition for them to figure it out? What if when they make mistakes as youngsters we try to understand what is going on both what really happened and if there are any struggles we have been missing? What if when they lash out because they are having a rough time we recognize it as just that and look deeper, helping them work through all those emotions? What if, by the time they are teens they have had lots of grace and understanding (real understanding)? What if they really know they are loved and respected because they have had the opportunity to live with love and respect- where their opinions and feelings really matter?
Which young person is going to be healthier and happier? The one who lived with constant stress or the one who lived in a world where he felt valued? Which one is going to make better decisions? The one who is afraid to talk to her parents and so just lies or the one who knows they will really listen and help? Which is going to be more mature and ready to face the real world? The one who has spent most of his life bullied or the one who knows himself well enough to know who he is and what he really wants? Which is going to have the healthiest relationships? The one who has lived in unhealthy relationships or the one who knows her value?