Experimenting with life

I love the way my youngest daughter's (she just turned 8) mind works. She likes to figure out why things happen and predict what the outcome may be.

For example, a few weeks ago she wanted to know how long she was sleeping before having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. She put a pad, pencil and her watch in the bathroom and marked down the time that she went to bed, on the pad. When she woke up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, she recorded the time. When she woke up in the morning, she also recorded the time. Then she figured out how much time she was aleep before and after using the bathroom. She repeated her experiment several more times that week and then compared them to each other.

Last week we went food shopping and the store just got a new cash register with a large screen facing the customer, that gives a running total of what you're buying. It wasn't there the last time so it caught her attention. As the cashier started scanning our items, Jacqueline took a quick look at what we were buying, predicted it would come out to about $100 and watched the total go higher and higher. It came to $98 (and some change). :-) The cashier told Jacqueline she should get a job there when she gets older. Jacqueline looked at her and said "No, thanks...I want to be an astronaut". :-)

We've had a leaky kitchen faucet for a while, The other day Jacqueline put a 16 oz. cup under the drip because she wanted to see how many times it would fill up in a day. She got her pad and pencil and wrote a prediction of 10 times. Each time it filled up, she dumped it out and marked it on the paper with hash marks. She forgot to refill it a few times so her prediction was way off this time.

:-) I love her mind....I love that she's home and not in school and able to do these types of things.


A quote I like

"When we adults think of children there is a simple truth that we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn't getting ready to live; a child is living. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation. How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize
children as partners with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing them as apprentices. How much we could teach each other; we have the experience and they have the freshness. How full both our lives could be."

- John A. Taylor, Notes on an Unhurried Journey


Book Reviews & Writing

Shawna have been having a blast reviewing books at the Barnes & Noble website. Because of a B&N policy, she isn't allowed to use her first names on the site so she goes by 'S' an unschooler. So far she's reviewed, Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen, Annie & the Wild Animals by Jan Brett and Girls Hold up this World by Jada Pickett Smith.

She's really enjoying it and she's getting a kick out of going back and reading her reviews on the site. :-)

This is quite a new concept for her....that she could actually enjoy writing. She used to hate writing in school. Who could blame her? Being told what to write and then being told it wasn't good enough, turned her off to anything that resembled school writing. Not only that, it made her feel that she wasn't good at writing.

Just like I did with reading, when I removed her from school, I backed off. I gave her the freedom to deschool, while at the same time, made things available to her and showed her how writing benefits my everyday life. That was key to her learning. Shawna is the type of learner that needs meaning and connections in what she's learning. School can't offer her that.

She saw me writing shopping lists, sending e-mails, working on this blog, writing letters to family in NYC, jotting down thoughts in a journal, etc. Soon, she was writing the shopping list, typing her own e-mails, writing to several penpals and having fun with mad libs.

Again, as with reading, her confidence started to build.

She decided she wanted to write a story so we're woring on one together, about a horse who becomes a pegasus by helping a fairy. :-) I'll post it here when it's done. :-)
I bought her a Harry Potter journal the other day and she's been writing it in ever since. She writes her thoughts and her plans for the day.

But...the best writing is when we write notes to each other. :-) I have all her little love notes taped to my computer and she uses mine as book marks.

That's real writing. :-)

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Links to Unschooling Voices #3

Thank you to the following bloggers and web owners for adding a link to this months edition of Unschooling Voices.

Avec Mes Zebres
A Typical Homeschool
The Jaded Dragon Buffet
Karen Edmisten
Organic Learning
Why Homeschool
Every Waking Hour
Throwing Marshmellows
NoVa To WI
Just Enough
Living in Freedom Everyday

If I missed someone, please let me know and I'll be happy to add it here.

To participate in the next Unschooling Voices, please submit your post before October 1st. Here is the link for details and information.


A Day For Remembering

5 years ago today was a day of confusion, sadness, tears and horror for myself, my family and countless other New Yorkers. I know people all over were effected but I can only speak as a native New Yorker.

I'd like to share the link to a memorial site I started five years ago and just recently updated.
I Love New York
The site is dedicated to my friends Marie & Rita, who died in the World Trade Center. There are pictures that my husband & I took as well as as first hand accounts of what happened.


Unschooling Voices #3: Unschooling allowances & money

Welcome!! !

The fourth Unschooling Voices will be out on October 1. If you'd like to participate,
click here for the details. You can read the new question and past editions of Unschooling Voices there also. If you post a link to this months installment, please let me know (by leaving a comment here) so I can thank you with a link back. :-)

This month there are 19 participants who submitted 22 entries. As you click the links that take you to the different blogs and sites, I encourage you to comment on the ones that you particularly enjoy (tell 'em we sent ya!) or maybe offer some words of wisdom to someone at an unschooling crossroads. As you read, keep in mind that everyone who participated is at a different place in their unschooling journey.

On a personal note, I want to apologize for not getting back to anyone this month. Usually when you e-mail me a post, I reply back saying I got it. My mom has been going through some health issues and we spent about 80% of August in the doctors office or driving back and forth from one.

I also want to give a shout out to Ron over at
A Typical Homeschool (where the unschooling carnival got it’s start) for reminding some bloggers to send in their submissions. Thanks Ron!

The (always optional) question for September was submitted by Laurie and she wants to know how unschoolers handle allowances. Before we get to that, here are some of the other posts that were submitted.

Lesa at
Living in Freedom Everyday talks about how she makes unschooling work.

Stephanie at
Throwing Mashmellows looks at whether the problem is (as some parents assume) that the books teachers assign to read are “boring” or whether the problem lies with the concept of “required reading” itself.

Karen at
Two Boys and a Dragon: Unschooling Adventures gives some thoughts on how learning sometimes seems to happen "overnight" and the joys of the non-linear learning process.

Cher at Adventures in Living submitted two great posts this month. The first one is about
kids desire for knowledge based on THEIR interests". The second is a topic I’ve blogged about recently …...food controls.

Jo from
Nourished shares an article by a Robin Grille (A psychologist in Australia) titled "Rewards and Praise, the poisoned carrot."

Kim shares
her "coming out story".

Karen describes how, at her house "planning" doesn't negate unschooling, and vice versa.

Clare tells us why she's glad her children aren't in school.

Laura from
Ramblings of an Unschooling Family, who apologised for not having time to answer Laurie's question, shares some rough spots her family has been going through that she says "show how well unschooling fits into their lives. (Sending you good thoughts Laura)

JoVe, over at
Trictomania talks about a "learning" road trip and getting back into the groove.

Henry at
Why Homeschool relates a story about how knowing calculus saved someone's life.

Jennie at
Creative Homeschooling talks about how her son, who she doesn't use a curriculim with, did on a standardized test, required by their state.

On to the question of the month.......

Sandra gives her views and thoughts, as well as Chris at Zamozo, Michelle at Eventaul Knitting, JoVe from Trictomania, Tammy from Just Enough and a visitor named Lars. Sandra also gave webspace to Sang. and shared her math story.
Thank you!!

There you have it. Unschooling Voices #3. Thanks so much to every blogger who takes the time to share themselves here.

Next months (always optional) question is going to be about math. If you’re like me and went to public school, you grew up being taught math from a text book. Now, as an unschooling parent, how do you live math when you’ve been conditioned to think of math in school terms. How do you go from one to the other?

PS: Am I the only one using blogger who can't save a draft?

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Member submission-Unschooling Voices #3

Lars D. H. Hedbor sent this e-mail as a submission to Unschooling Voices #3. He is answering the question of the month.

"My wife and I come to unschooling from a libertarian viewpoint - it's well-aligned with our values of self-determination, self-ownership and self-responsibility. Our approach to "allowances" and money management in general for our kids is shaped by these values as well.

I've resisted simply giving an allowance to our 7-year-old because I feel that it could start her down the path of thinking that she should get money for simply being there. I'm not so wrapped up in this idea that I think that allowances lead directly to kids growing up to be rock-throwing commies, I do think that it's a poor precedent to set. My wife disagrees somewhat, but is willing to humor me on this point.

That said, I certainly think that it's a great idea for kids to start getting used to the idea of managing money. For our daughter, this takes the form of making choices over whether to go for the instant gratification of an ice cream, or to put money aside to buy another dragon toy. (She vacillates between these poles pretty wildly.) It also exposes her to the elemental mathematics of making and counting change, as well as calculating how long it will take to reach a financial goal.

The solution that we've settled on (for the moment, at least) is to set up a regular schedule of age-appropriate chores that she is responsible for. When she completes these chores cheerfully, completely and on time, we pay her an agreed-upon amount of money - it amounts to a couple of bucks a week - with reductions, if necessary, for chores that have not been completed.

There are also the occasional special tasks, with special payment offered. For example, the apple tree has dropped a good deal of fruit on the lawn, so I'll offer her a bounty of a nickel per apple picked up, which both ensures that she's *very* thorough, and that she can earn a nice chunk of additional change toward that next dragon.

This approach has had its pitfalls -- there have been times when we've asked her to do something, only to be challenged with the question, "How much will you give me for it?" We usually just remind her that there are some things that we all contribute towards the smooth operation of the household, unless it truly is an extraordinary request, in which case the negotiations commence. (This contributes to another useful life, skill, right?)

In any case, while this is far from being any sort of perfect approach (she too often leaves her money around the house and loses it, which discourages her from saving), it seems to be working pretty well for us at this time. I hope this helps!"

Day 136

The 3rd Unschooling Voices will be posted later on tonight but I wanted to share some pictures I have. These were from this past May, when Jacqueline and her Brownie troop went camping for the weekend. I gave them a bunch of disposable cameras and it looks like they put them to good use. :-)

(You can click on a picture to make it larger)

That's Jacqueline, with the pink bandana:

With Sharon, their WONDERFUL troop leader!

That's Jasmine on the left. She & Jacqueline have been friends for over two years and she sleeps over a lot. Lauren is in the middle and is also one of Jacqueline's close friends.