Category: Education

“Screen Time”

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.

Esther playing Sims.
Esther playing Sims.

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.

Rachel watching anime.
Rachel watching anime.

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.

Issac playing online with a friend.
Issac playing online with a friend.

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.

 

Math in Art

*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. 😀

Family Portrait- Heather Young 2010
Family Portrait- Heather Young 2010

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.

Book Dragon- Heather Young 2013
Book Dragon- Heather Young 2013

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.

Dragon Daydreams- Heather Young 2013
Dragon Daydreams- Heather Young 2013

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.

Beach House Portrait- Heather Young 2009
Beach House Portrait- Heather Young 2009

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.

St. Mary's Convent, Freeport, PA- Heather Young 2010
St. Mary’s Convent, Freeport, PA- Heather Young 2010

More on the difference between conceptual math and arithmetic here: http://www.christianunschooling.com/math-think/

Art Media series #2 ACEO- Heather Young 2012
Art Media series #2 ACEO- Heather Young 2012

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

Everything in its Season

*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.

Defined by Hormones

A week ago Rach and I went to the library after her piano practice. She wanted to pick up some old favorite audio books to enjoy while she was drawing. When we got there we found that while working on the teen section of the library they had put all the audio books, all the manga and comic books, and about half the other YA books in storage. All that was available was a smattering of popular and “improving” print books. A whole library of space– room for a huge magazine room for adults, several computer rooms, several open rooms in the basement, a huge new music area, and plenty of other available spots and they had stored away the vast majority of things the young adults actually used instead of finding a place to leave them out while they worked- the project started in April and won’t be done until at least November. Rach was understandably frustrated. I was frustrated and angry at the lack of respect for young people (they had recently done similar work on other sections and never stored any of that away. This is an ongoing issue at this library- if it is for teens then it is easy to push aside.)

What made my blood boil was the response of the librarian we had questioned told Rach, “Just listen to some of the grown-up audio books,” then she looked at me and said, “She is just being a teenager.”

As if Rachel’s righteous frustration at not being able to get to the audio books she wanted because of the thoughtlessness of others was due to her age or hormones. Her genuine irritation at the situation and their treatment of teens was discounted as just being her age.

I want to take a moment and say that our children’s librarian is excellent and genuinely enjoys working with young adults as well as children. He brings in a lot of excellent books, audio books, comics/manga. He has introduced game days and movie nights for the young adults and made the library a natural hangout and friendly place for young people- but he can’t change attitudes. The other librarians as well as the majority of volunteers will quickly sweep aside the concerns of the younger generation, have been known to cancel activities for them for the sake of activities for older adults, and so on. This treatment is reprehensible but it is the comments that irritate the most.

This is something we run into everywhere. Not just at the library, at the store, at the Y, it is everywhere we go. Perfectly ordinary people who have never met either of my daughters automatically discount their very legitimate negative feelings when things go wrong or people treat them poorly as “being a teenager”. Yes, hormones do affect the way we feel- they act like a megaphone for our feelings, especially when we are in the worst of it, but that is just as true during menopause, during the menstrual cycle, during pregnancy. I know the majority of the women I know would be very unhappy if their feelings were regularly discounted because of hormones. “Oh, ignore her, she is just pregnant.” “Oh, she is just cranky because of her period.” “Oh, she just is crying because of perimenopause.”

No. In general teenagers are the only part of our population who regularly have their feelings discounted because of the hormonal stuff going on in their bodies. Everyone else gets the benefit of the doubt.

I wonder how this older librarian or any of the other older ladies who have made “teenager” comments recently would feel if I referred to her regularly as middle aged or a “middle ager”. What if I discounted her feelings regularly because she is dealing with perimenopause. “Oh, you aren’t really upset because you are having a bad day and people are treating you like crap. It is just because you are perimenopausal.” I don’t think that would go over well. And if everyone was doing that to her, after a while she would become pretty sensitive to it.

Our society as a whole tends to treat both young adults and children as second class citizens. We push them to do this and that, to grow up as fast as possible, and then refuse to acknowledge their maturity until a single age when suddenly we expect them to be all grown up. It doesn’t work that way. Everyone is different. We all grow and learn and mature at different stages. We need to respect one another, recognizing that everyone, children and young adults included, are dealing with different things. We all have struggles. We all have frustrations. We all have good days and bad. And as our children grow, we can gradually help them work through the rough spots, encourage them in their strengths, and treat them from early on with respect, recognizing them as fellow human beings instead of second class citizens. I think if we did that we would find that the vast majority of what we call “teenager” behavior would be eliminated.

Oh, and we solved the problem with the library- I suggested Rach go ahead and order the audio books from all the other libraries in the system. Sure it will be inconvenient for the librarians. Sure it may take an extra day but maybe next time they will leave them out instead of storing them away.

Strewn

I have been thinking about strewing a lot, mostly because people keep asking about it. So I thought I would share some examples in our house (way less than usual because we have most stuff packed up and away or gotten rid of.)

Our new "This week's specials" board. This has the main foods available for quick meals and snacks each week.

The chalkboard on the cabinet and the food bins on the shelf and in the fridge are new additions. And yes, they are a type of strewing.   The chalkboard is so when I come home from shopping, instead of making a mealplan, I can quickly note the foods I bought so everyone knows what is available at a glance, and I can remove things if they go bad or get eaten.

Fridge: each person has a bin for the special "just for them" foods. And yes, we are almost out of cheese-- picking some up tomorrow. 🙂 We have two fridges, this one is mostly the stuff people grab during the day, the other is raw milk and backup stuff.

I don’t do meal plans and with everyone having certain foods they don’t like and do and other things they can and cannot eat it helps to have things organized so people can find what they are looking for and know what is there (and hopefully it will help us have less waste.)

Shelves

We have been searching for a solution that would allow the kids (and hubby) to know which foods I bought just for them and which are someone else’ as well as which things I have set aside for them (things which might otherwise get pushed to the back of the fridge.) This way one person doesn’t eat something that I bought special for someone else, at least not without asking first.

Most of our strewing is now via internet– either Facebook or Google chat or even email.  I took the following pictures while taking the other ones– they serve as a good example of why computer strewing works for us. 🙂

Esther playing Sims.

 

Esther was getting tired here– she has been going to bed in early evening so she can get up early and work on her book with friends online in other time zones.)  She spent the next hour after this watching our new Animaniacs dvds (which Issac bought with his own money.)

Issac playing online with a friend.

Issac was playing Roblox and talking to a friend in New Jersey as he does most days.

Rachel talking online with a friend while drawing and occasionally playing piano.

Rach was playing piano, drawing (working on illustrations for Esther’s book), and talking with a friend in Arizona.
The strewing photos here include just a few places– mostly living room and bathroom– yes, I strew in the bathroom.

Our coffee table strewn with rocks and game pieces.

I always keep the red painted locally hand-carved wooden  bowls (I adore these bowls) out in the living room out (there are more on the shelves and on the mantle) and fill them with random stuff that is interesting– some always have cool rocks because we all love rocks and love picking them up and messing with them. The other two contain game pieces from a set Rachel got for Christmas from my brother.

Our shelf strewn with games and rocks and vintage wooden boxes for holding more stuff when we aren't getting ready to move.

The board is on the shelf above (ontop of Blockus–which is an awesome game)– this way when they are bored they remember that it is there. I think next to come out will be the gaming dice– a bowl of those will be fun. In the past the bowls have had Christmas bulbs, random baubles, marbles, and fake cut gem stones from Michaels. Under the coffee table is a vintage wooden box with our magic cards, and another full of gaming devices and dvds. In the shelves on the coffee table are books I think the kids will like.

Books on the back of the toilet. Yes, is blurry.

We always keep books in the bathroom, along with writing utensils in case someone wants to do a workbook or crossword.

Shelf in bathroom.

More often I find the books and magazines disappear from the bathroom as once someone starts reading they tend to take it with them.

Interview with Issac

Interviews continued.  If you missed the first one: Jennifer over at Path Less Taken has been interviewing her kids.  I did that  several years ago with all three (here) so I decided to do it again and see how things had changed.   I started with Rachel which is here, Essie here, and now Issac (who was the hardest to pin down– he doesn’t like to be put on the spot. His initial answer is always I don’t know, then when he thinks a bit he answers.)

Issac does Kung Fu with marker sticks.

1. What is something Mom always says to do?

Nice to meet you, Hungry. (In response to his constant “Moo-oomm, I’m hungry”)

 

2. What makes Mom happy?

If I make her tea or clean up the living room.

 

3. What makes Mom sad?

I’m not sure.

 

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Jokes or tickling.

 

5. What was your mom like as a child?

I don’t know, I forget.

 

6. How old is your mom?

37

 

7. How tall is your mom?

2 ft taller than I am. (a foot off– I am 1 ft taller.)

 

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

Painting

 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

I don’t know because I am usually asleep.

 

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

I have no idea.

 

11. What is your mom really good at?

Painting.

 

12. What is your mom not very good at?

Tripletown

 

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Paint

 

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

lettuce

(Apparently I like salad a lot.:))

 

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

When you finish a painting.

 

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

I don’t know.

 

17. What do you and your mom do together?

Board games

 

18. How are you and your mom the same?

We both make weird faces sometimes.

(Weird=silly)

 

19. How are you and your mom different?

Your hair is longer.

 

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

You listen to what I am talking about.

 

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

Um, to the computer.

(First kid who got this close to right– essentially unless I am taking a road trip my favorite place to go is “home”.:))

Interview with Esther

Interviews continued.  If you missed the first one: Jennifer over at Path Less Taken has been interviewing her kids.  I did that  several years ago with all three (here) so I decided to do it again and see how things had changed.   I started with Rachel which is here and now Essie.

1. What is something Mom always says to do?

*thinking* *shrugs* I don’t know.

 

2. What makes Mom happy?

When I clean the house and stuff voluntairily

 

3. What makes Mom sad?

When I ignore her when she says please clean this up or whatever.

 

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Points out funny things that I have said, points out funny things on the internet.

 

5. What was your mom like as a child?

Me.

(almost exactly to the point of freakiness)

6. How old is your mom?

No idea.

 

7. How tall is your mom?

*Laughs* Still no idea.
8. What is her favorite thing to do?

As far as I know so far, play Tripletown.

(Current obsession so for now, yes.)

 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

I have no idea, because you don’t do it when I’m around.

 

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

Painting.

 

11. What is your mom really good at?

Painting. And taking care of us.

 

12. What is your mom not very good at?

*Thinking* Mmmm, Tripletown.

 (Stupid bears.)

 

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Paint

 

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?
*Long think* I don’t know. Salad as far as I know. I think it’s salad.

 

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

Her painting, her skill of taking car of us, her skill at taking care of us, her skill at cooking, her skill at cleaning, her skill on the computer.

 

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

I don’t know.

 

17. What do you and your mom do together?

Draw.

 

18. How are you and your mom the same?

Personality.

 

19. How are you and your mom different?

Height.
20. How do you know your mom loves you?

Says it every day, says it in her actions, and how she interacts with me.

 

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

*scratches nose in thought* I don’t know.

 

Interview with Rachel

Jennifer over at Path Less Taken has been interviewing her kids.  I did that  several years ago with all three (here) so I decided to do it again and see how things had changed.   I started with Rachel and used Jen’s questions:

1. What is something mom always says to do?

Do the dishes, but politer. And you always say, “Eat a bug.”

(I do– in response to the constant “I’m hungry, what should I eat?” question.)

 

2. What makes mom happy?

Red appliances.

(Which is true I guess…)

 

3. What makes mom sad?

Bears.

(Stupid *grumble *grumble Tripletown bears.)

 

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Showing me ridiculous dresses in the thrift store.

(I do– I find all kinds of crazy things I know neither of us would ever wear and try to convince her to try it on.)

 

5. What was your mom like as a child?

Why would you ask me that? Kind of a brat but I don’t want to say that. Creative with food I guess.

 (The kind of a brat thing is because I was almost exactly like her younger sister, Esther, therefore the “kind of a brat”.  And the creative with food thing is because they hear lots of stories of the messes and mistakes I made in the kitchen.)

6. How old is your mom?

27?

(HAhahAHAhaha– I am 37. 😛  I told her my age and she said, I knew it had a 7– stupid dyslexia.  She is also in denial that I am nearly 40– I am not allowed to say that I am.)

 

7. How tall is your mom?

Shorter than me.

(I KNEW she would say that.)

 

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

Go to the thrift store.

(I love that she picked the most extroverted thing that I do as my favorite– this is my extroverted child. Plus she says it is because I laugh when I go there.)

 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?

Shopping

(Usually she is at babysitting if she is not around, so yeah, I take that time to go shopping so I don’t have to waste gas and stop what I am doing to go pick her up.)

 

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

Art.

 

11. What is your mom really good at?

Art.

 

12. What is your mom not very good at?

Tripletown.

(Stupid bears.)

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Art. Webdesign.

 (She said  she added webdesign because she didn’t like only saying Art for so many questions.)

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

Salad.

(True, though it is more my go to food.)

 

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

Art. (Says this laughing because she has answered art for several questions now.)

 

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

(Not a specific character but rather an anime stereotype)

The anime girl character whith black hair and glasses who always sits in the corner and reads and never says anything.

(Note: this is always the character with the wise advise– I can do that. :P)

 

17. What do you and your mom do together?

My favorite thing we do together is go to the thrift store.
(I am noticing a theme here.)

18. How are you and your mom the same?

(Got the staredown for that one.)
Our dorkishness.

 

19. How are you and your mom different?

Should I start with the top 50? Not a bad thing, just true. Introverted verses extroverted is the biggest one.

(I am the introvert here. :))

 

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

When I come home and my closet or something of mine has been cleaned.

(Good to know.)

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

The library.

Looking back over the original answers and seeing them now, being more radical unschoolers has REALLY changed our relationship.  I am amazed how much more relaxed I am, and apparently how much more fun I am (and obviously no longer fighting my kids about cleaning the house and just trying to make them obey in general– AND the house is CLEANER than it ever was then.  The “take initiative” thing was about them helping out when they saw a mess.  And now they DO, naturally, without me asking because I am not always demanding housework.)  I just read both aloud to Rachel plus my response and she is nodding and smiling in agreement.  So that is cool.  (And she wants me to add– saying bears.  Stupid bears.)

Unschooling in the House

A random list of unschooly things going on in our household over the last few weeks (partially pulled from my twitter/facebook accounts) and including the learning Shamus and I are doing since it all goes together that way.

 

Issac is:

  • Spending large quantities of time playing Terraria and Roblox with friends online.  I love that my shy, introverted boy has found friends his age that are interested in the same thing and has found a way of playing that does not overtax his introverted-ness.  When he needs quiet he walks away from the computer (often leaving Skype open… need to work on that).  He has always talked through whatever he is doing and being able to talk to someone actually involved in what he is doing is a blessing.  He is still shy in person to some extent but this has REALLY helped him come around a bend.  He is no longer afraid of playing on the unschool kids Minecraft server (he was afraid people would talk to him and he would have to respond– he prefers building in Minecraft on his own projects.)
  • Issac’s reading and writing skills have grown significantly.  He is still nervous of typing/writing unless he can copy something but he just had me add youtube videos to his growing list of favorite movies to watch (found 3-2-1 Contact and Square One on youtube and he has been loving them.)  He is now confident that he can type in things he has written down, and confident that he can read what I write for him.  In fact, yesterday he pointed out that he is now putting closed captioning on on all the videos on Netflix that has it because he is enjoying reading what they are saying.  He also had me make a food chart/menu plan for him so he is more confident getting his own foods. It is not a legalistic chart, just suggestions so he doesn’t have to make decisions when hungry.  I love that he is confident enough in his reading skills now that he ASKED me to make him a food chart and it didn’t even occur to him to worry about being able to read it.
  • He continues in his fascination with all things science and math though I recently heard him declare that he was “no good at math” which is funny because this is the kid that uses math regularly without thought and has always thought of it as a game.  I think it was him repeating what he had heard both from his sisters (who are the same way– good at it but imitating what they hear and know is expected) and what he has heard on iCarly and on Ned’s Declassified.
  • Recently he has taken to wanting to watch kung fu movies with me (Jackie Chan and Jet Li with the occasional Bruce Li thrown in) which is another testament to his reading since they are mostly the older ones that have subtitles.  He also watches my Korean dramas with me (especially the ones with action) and no longer complains of subtitles there.
  • Doing tons of experiments with bubbles and various bubble solutions– trying to figure out how water tension works and why.
  • He is teaching me how to play Spore Hero– he takes great pleasure in this.
  • He is showing interest in maybe, possibly joining us in Just Dance 2 (took him a year to try Dance Dance Revolution) now that we have Kung Fu Fighting and Mambo No. 5.  He also loves the song Rockafella Skank but thinks the dance is too embarrassing.

Esther is:

Suddenly looking freakily like Uma Thurman.
  • Recording Minecraft lets play videos with friends that she has been posting on Youtube.
  • Designing a dragon from texture pack up in Minecraft so she could hav ea cool desktop background.
  • Spending lots of time learning about the ins and outs of the computer so she can personalize her user account on the shared computer.  This is carrying over into interest in designing websites.  She now wants me to install a wordpress website for her so she can learn to personalize it.
  • Reading, reading, reading.  She was going kind of nuts because she ran out of books– so we downloaded a whole slew of free ones from Amazon plus she borrowed the Eragon series from my brother.
  • Spending a lot of time drawing and painting– often beside me when I am working.  She is growing by leaps and bounds and is very comfortable in her artistic skin.  In fact I just shared this on Facebook:
    • Just saw Essie on chat say confidently “I am an artist.”   And she is. She spends a lot of her time not spent reading and writing and on the computer drawing and painting. She sits by me when I work, asks questions, and experiments.
    • The thing is she is just like I was EXCEPT she has the confidence to call herself an artist and behave accordingly. It took me YEARS to get that confidence (ps all the way, with all free time spent reteaching what supposed to learn in school but basically unschooled all summer). I internalized all the criticism I received in school and at home and despite drawing and painting from the time I was Essie’s age I didn’t “call” myself an artist until I was in my 30’s.
    • If that confidence and comfort with self (and love of the Lord) is all she takes away from our unschooling lifestyle, then it is WELL worth it.
  • Writing a Minecraft fan fiction novel  She read it aloud what she (with a friend who was spell checking it and giving ideas) had written and it was kind of shocking– it sounded like a real novel. Shamus, who is working on his 3rd novel went on and on about how her pacing was perfect, how she had a good solid voice, etc. Not surprising since she reads constantly but it was a huge jump forward from the last story she wrote (about a year ago.)
  • Using tutorials to teach herself Blender (3-d object creator/animator.) This is especially amazing because my husband and I both used Truspace to design avatars for a game years ago and Blender was too much learning curve.

 

Rachel is:

Essie and Rach voluneered to pull up old tiles and replace them-- because it "looked fun" and apparently it was.
  • Using youtube as a piano instructor for harder songs than learning at class.  Currently learning a relatively simple (compared to the full version) “Moonlight Sonata”.
  • Researching a doll found at the thrift shop in order to sell it on Ebay.  Finding out prices, finding out how much it might be worth, learning to photograph it for ebay, learning how to sell on ebay.
  • Writing a parody of a song for a youtube video.  Practicing singing the song, learning how to record it, as well as learning video editing.
  • Weekly babysitting– voluntary  1 day plus in exchange for piano lessons the other– the Friday one means she gets up, packs a lunch, and gets herself out the door on her own because lately I have been sleeping way later.
  • Taking lots of photos and learning how to take better photos.  She is considering using the money she has been saving to buy a decent camera.
  • Spending time with online friends; chatting, playing Words with Friends, and Tripletown.
  • Doing a lot more around the house on her own.  She is currently sleeping afternoon through evening so  I will wake up to find various jobs around the house done.  Which is really pretty awesome.

 

Shamus is:

  • Playing a game I am not allowed to talk about because it is still in Alpha and he had to sign an NDA, but I can say he loves it.
  • Working on his next book (which I get to read and LOVE)– a completely different setting from this one.
  • Writing stuff for the Escapist.
  • Recording Spoiler Warning.
  • Redesigning a website.

Me?

Oh yeah, I chopped my hair off-- about 10 inches.
  • I am working on illustrations for Shamus’ book.  (You can see them on my Facebook page if interested: https://www.facebook.com/ElasahArt)
  • Editing the final revision of Shamus ‘ book.
  • Formatting Shamus’ book.
  • Attempting to keep the house in order for showings and fix up what we are able to fix.
  • Feeling like I need to share things more online…so I am trying to do that.
  • Helping Esther with some art questions she has.
  • Helping Rachel figure out how best to record.
  • Helping Issac with computer questions.
  • Reading James A Owen’s Imaginarium Geographica series which is prompting all kinds of thoughts about classical writers.
  • Reading a 1920’s girl detective story I found for free for the Kindle.  Very fun.  Prompting much thought about the changes in language and slang from then to now.