Music website

I recently came across a site that I wanted to pass along for any music lovers like myself, out there. Unsigned.com features independent artists from a wide range of genres like Dance Artists, Soul and my personal favorite Hard Rock Bands

It looks like they haven't made their official lauch yet but if you pre-register you have a chance to win music magazine subscriptions. From what I read, you'll have the ability to create your own playlists and library. When you get there, click on "browse artists" and choose your favorite genre from the pull down box.

I like being able to give lesser known bands a listen and this site seems like it might be able to open doors for a lot of new bands.
Check it out-I hope you like it.

If you like rock, here's some bands I listened to; Core, Eldest and Faith and Fire.



U is for US because unschooling involves all of us, as a family. It's not just all about the kids.

N is for NOTEBOOKS...both the electronic and the paper kind. They're both staples in our lives. Shopping lists, notes to each other, writing stories, drawing cartoons, daddy's ever growing to-do list, phone numbers and much, much more.

S is for spyro, star wars, saddle club, saturday morning cartoons, star trek, storytelling, space, spy kids and stellaluna.

C is for CHOICES. "You've got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice". -Steven D. Woodhull

H is for HOME...our haven...our headquarters.

O is for OUTSIDE! We spend as much time as we want with friends at the park, swimming in our pool, watching the clouds, riding bikes and looking at bugs.

O is for OUTER SPACE - Jacqueline's passion for space has taken her in many directions like our trip to the Kennedy Space Center where she got to meet an astronaut and the Orlando Science Center where she viewed Jupiter through a telescope and buidling a replica of the Apollo rocket

L is for LATE morning sleeping. :-)


Submissions for Unschooling Voices

The next edition of Unschooling Voices will be out on April 1st. Please have your submissions in before then so I have time to put it together. :-)

Here is the link with all the details. If you'd like to answer the question for the month, you'll find it at the bottom of that page, along with past editions.
I'm enjoying the ones I received so far so keep them coming! :-)

This edition was supposed to be out on March 1st but as I
posted here, some family issues had to be taken care of. Thank you all for your e-mails and comments. They meant a lot to me.

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Girl Scout Cookies

Jacqueline is a 3rd year Brownie (she started as a Daisy) and really enjoys Girl Scouts. :-) She did a couple of cookie booths this year. These pictures were from the last one.

That her wonderful troop leader, Sharon.


Add your unschooling blog link

Add your unschooling blog link (unschooling blogs only please) to this Unschooling Squidoo Lens.

Just scroll down to the middle of the page where it says "Unschooling Blogs" and click "Add to this list". If you have any problems, post here and I'll do what I can to help you with it. :-)

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Remodeling our master bathroom

We've been remodleing our master bathroom for about, oh let's see, 3 years now. LOL We're finally making some progress over the last month and it's been exciting to see the transformation. Billy has tried to do as much of the work as he can himself, to keep the costs down.

First, he gutted the bathroom and put up sheetrock. We hired a plumber to install the new tub (it's the kind with wrap around walls) and then Billy started on the tile floor.

After the tiles were done (he hasn't done the grouting yet), the plumbers came back and installed the toilet (special ordered because we wanted black) and the cabinet with sink (I took the picture before the sink and counter top were installed).

Next on the list are buying the lighting, painting the walls and grouting the tiles. We're getting recessed lighting for the tub area, but we've been checking out fixtures for the vanity area from Premier Lighting. I think we have it narrowed down to a few that we like. Here's one that I think would look good and here's another. Billy is leaving it up to me but he likes this one. Jacqueline took a quick look at the site and she thinks we should get this one from Maxim Lighting because it's called 5th Avenue and she said it reminds her of New York City. LOL!!

I'll post more pictures as we move along. :-)


Shawna the Storyteller

If You knew my daughter Shawna when we first adopted her, you would never believe that this was the same child.

She's been part of a storytelling club, sponsored by the Ocala Storytellers Guild, run by a mother and son from our homeschool group.

On St. Patricks Day, they told their stories to family, friends and children at the library. Shawna told "The boy who sold the butter".

They were all great!

There's one in every crowd. It's just Billy...being Billy. LOL

She may be participating in the 10th annual Ocala Storytelling Festival next month. :-)


Comic drawning

Our homeschool group offers art classes given by a really nice woman named Jane. Jacqueline enjoys drawing and painting but never expressed an interest in taking a class. When the new schedule came out, one of the classes was comic strip drawing, something Jacqueline recently started doing. She decided to take it and see if she could pick up any pointers. The class consisted of Jacqueline and three other boys from our homeschool group.

She said she really enjoyed it and may take another one if it's a topic she is interested in. :-)


Starting gymnastics

Jacqueline wanted to take some gymnastics classes (actually she wanted basketball but it's not in session right now) so I signed her up. She's been practicing her cartwheels all week. :-) I think she's pretty good at it-better than I could do. LOL

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Thoughts on the Dr. Phil show

If you didn't get a chance to see it, scroll down to the next post watch it.
Dayna Martin, who appeared with her family on the show is a member of an unschooling group I belong to. She gave me her permisssion to reprint some of what she posted to our group about the show.

My husband and I were guests on the Dr. Phil show. We flew out to Hollywood from New Hampshire to represent Unschoolers on the show. A few days before flying out, a film crew filmed a day in our life. The day the crew was here was fabulous! We had so much fun and the crew shared openly with us how "real" we were and they all (I'm serious all 3 of them!) asked me more information about Unschooling for their own children! It was a joyful day and I looked so forward to sharing our awesome life with the world! (50 million people watch Dr. Phil).

The kids waited in the dressing room for 3 hours with a friend whom we brought to watch them. The only other family on the show that brought their kids was the other unschooling family! (They spoke from the audience and Deanne did such an awesome job!) It spoke volumes to me that only the Unschoolers brought their kids!

About the show, It was a heated debate and Dr. Phil certainly didn't understand or agree with our way of life, but I feel we held our own and were respectful.They put together our video a bit dishonestly because it was half-truths. They only used portions of some things I said instead of my reasoning behind them. I knew it may happen. Unschoolers may have an entirely different take on the show than the traditional homeschoolers in the audience.

I have no regrets about doing the show! I am proud to have represented us and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I think the positive will shine through for Unschoolers! We tend to be an optomistic group of people.

On the Dr. Phil site, they conducted a poll asking "Which style of schooling do you think is best"? Here are the results of that poll.

6% (935) Public school
3% (816) Private school
80% (17062) Homeschooling
11% (2403) Unschooling

Homeschooling on Dr. Phil:part 1

For those who may have missed it when it originally aired. This is part one of five.

Homeschooling on Dr. Phil:part 2

This is part two of five.

Homeschooling on Dr. Phil: part 3

This is part three of five.

Homeschooling on Dr. Phil: part 4

This is part four of five.

Homeschooling on Dr. Phil:part 5

This is part five of five.

Homeschool group

I really love our homeschool group. :-) What I enjoy most is that we're not all the same. Maybe it's the aquarius in me or the fact that I'm a New Yorker and am used to the melting pot, but I find that I get bored after a while of being around people who think like I do. They're all respectful of their kids (some practice attachment parenting) but the mix of non-religious and religious along with the mix of unschoolers and school-at-homers is what I need to keep me interested. Everyone is open minded to everyone's differences and we usually end up having very interesting conversations because we bring so many different lifestyles to the table.

Here's some pictures of the last time we met at the park.

Day 177: Rain, rain go away....

We had a lot of rain here recently and my non-human children were not happy. Buddie, our iguana, stared out the back door into the screen room that is usually filled with sunlight for her to bask in...

...while my mothers dog TJ, (we're dog-sitting while she's in the hospital) waits on the window seat for the rain to pass so she can chase the squirrels.

And where was Mini? Scroll down a post to see our pampered, um-I mean spoiled, princess all cozy under a blanket.

New ATC's

I found these two quotes in a magazine a while back and have been meaning to make some ATC's with them. I had originally wanted to use them in a trade at the Imagination Tribe, but decided to keep them instead and I hung them in my kitchen.

The first one says "Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way" and the second one says "Be who you are and may you be blessed in all that you are". It's hard to see in the picture, but they're made from textured, hand made, paper.


Day 176

The world according to Jacqueline (age 8):

1) I was talking to Billy on the phone and when we hung up I said aloud, to nobody in particular, "I love my husband". Jacqueline, who was reading in the same room, looked up from her book, smiled at me and said "He loves you too". :-)

2) My daughters always tell me that I spoil our dog Mini and that I give her to many treats even when she doesn't do anything to deserve one. Like when we come home from being out, I give her a treat because she watched the house for us. :-) They tell me that all Mini has to do is look at me with those big, brown eyes and I give her a treat. So, the other day Mini was laying on Shawna's bed and Shawna covered her with her blanket. When I saw her (and took this picture) I said "Aha!!! You're spoiling her too!!!".

Jacqueline corrected me and said, "No mommy, that's pampering, not spoiling". "What's the difference?" I asked, because it sure looked like spoiling to me. "Spoiling is when you fall for it".

Um...okay. LOL

3) The other day, Jacqueline & I were in the screen room, getting ready to go in the hot tub and she said "Do you think boogers and snot are the same thing"? I told her I wasn't sure (with a totally straight face) and asked what she thought. She said that she thinks boogers are dried up snot. Good thing we weren't getting ready for lunch. :-)

Anniversary celebration

The other day was four years that we met our kids. :-) I remember that day as if it were yesterday. We think it's important to remeber and honor those special days (such as the day we finalized) so we went to see Ghost Rider. We had actually never been to a movie all together (Billy took them twice without me) so it made it more special.

HITS: Post Time Farm

Shawna & I went to Post Time Farm to watch some of the jumpers and attend Kids Day. Shawna is very passionate about horses and enjoys being around them.

Trick horse, Cleve Kadidlehopper.

Miniature horses:

Getting a unicorn tattoo:

Looking at horse clippings, a butterfly and a frog through a microscope.

The jumpers:

Show horses:


An Unschooling Article

'Unschool' parents: Kids can be own best teachers
tennessean.com 1/28/07

Suzanne Fisher-Miller cradles son, Ocea, 1, as son, Khai, 5, (foreground) and daughter, Miyana, 9, craft Valentine's Day cards. Fisher-Miller believes in what she calls child-led learning and sees her role as facilitator as her children explore their interests.

It's midday on a Friday, and 9-year-old Miyana flips through a book about dragons before her attention turns to making Valentine's Day cards at the kitchen table.

Her sister, Aeyah, 7, across the table, expertly threads a needle and sews a tiny cape for a clothespin superhero.

While other children their age are quietly sitting in a classroom, the Fisher-Miller children have the freedom to pass the time without order and doing as they please in their pursuit of knowledge.

Younger brother Ocea, almost 2, drops marbles into the bell of a trumpet. "He's using it as a funnel," says their mother, Suzanne Fisher-Miller. Brother Khai, 5, plays noisily with two friends, the back door slamming shut as they run in and out.

What may look like bedlam is a radical style of home schooling that the Fisher-Miller parents think is best for their children: unschooling. It's child-directed or child-led learning. Some call it relaxed home schooling. Topics aren't learned until a child expresses curiosity, and they're dropped as soon as the child is ready to move on.

Their curriculum is whatever interests them in life. There are no textbooks in their East Nashville home, nor lesson plans, schedules or tests.

Their parents say this unconventional style of learning shows respect for their children as full human beings who can learn lessons from everyday life.

Children, they feel, don't need to master reading or multiplication tables until they're ready. These families reject the structure of formal schooling that, they say, crushes creativity and curiosity.

But some education experts — and even fellow home schoolers — feel this free-form style could lead to gaps in learning. They are afraid children do nothing all day or develop strengths but ignore their weaknesses.

'Trusting your children'

When Miyana asked her mom where carrots came from, the family took a field trip to a farm. Learning often emerges in their childish games, like the time Miyana created play people from orange peels and started figuring out how many of them would have to share if she only had three forks.

Her mother, however, did not turn that moment into a structured math lesson about division. Rather, she let it unfold at Miyana's pace.

Twenty-five Nashville-area families are on an unschooling list-serve group, but many more families in the area unschool, perhaps as many as 300, said Fisher-Miller, who established a Nashville unschoolers group last year.

"It's trusting your children to learn for themselves," the 33-year-old mother said.

"Learning comes from the inside. You cannot make a child want to learn," she said. "In today's school system, it's not a love of learning but it's 'Let's push facts down your throat and have you regurgitate it.' The best thing I can give my child is to love to learn."

Author Resa Steindel Brown, an educator and national expert on child-directed learning, said now, more than ever, parents should explore alternative education styles to match the fast-paced world. Youngsters are children of the Information Age, a time of technology and fast media, she said.

"The way our children take in information is much faster and involves more of their sensory perception — think TV, the Internet and Podcasts," Brown said. "The way they pursue information is different from sitting in a classroom with a book reading it from front to back."

Is it best for children?

Some educators expressed concern that this free-form style of education isn't good for children.

"If unschooling is curiosity-led, not all children are question-askers," said Cindy Benefield, who oversees home schooling for the state Education Department. "If they're focused on one area, the child may know everything about gardening but won't know multiplication tables."

"It's risky to put all the eggs in the child's basket," said Mary Jane Moran, an assistant professor of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, where she instructs future teachers of pre-kindergarten to third-graders. She has not studied unschooling.

"If children are the only lead horses, then there is no educational map through which they are led in a purposeful way," she said. "It's random starts and stops. Therefore, there is less opportunity for deep learning."

It may be better to have a negotiated partner ship between a child and and a parent who knows the child's needs and abilities, Moran said.

"You can make curriculum come alive and make it more relevant and tie it in to real-world experiences without throwing out structure," said Terry Weeks, 55, a professor of educational leadership at Middle Tennessee State University and the national teacher of the year in 1988 when he was at Central Middle School in Murfreesboro.

Retired Metro schoolteacher Clata Miller is a grandmother of unschoolers and feels torn over the learning philosophy.

"I would be doing things differently, but I can't say what they're doing is not going to be successful," said Miller, the grandmother of Miyana, Aeyah, Ocea and Khai.

The Franklin woman would prefer a more planned and thought-out learning environment for her grandchildren but respects the hands-on approach their mother takes to tap into the children's interests.

"But as an educator, I feel you have to use your knowledge and experience as an adult to bring to them the things they need," Miller said.

What about gaps in learning, worries Tina Bean, a former Metro schoolteacher who home-schools her 7-, 9- and 11-year-olds.

"It's fine to cater to their interests somewhat, but sometimes you have to say, 'Sorry, you have to do this, too,' " said Bean, 39, who lives in Antioch. "My 11-year-old, given his druthers, would never do spelling and always do math."

The leader of a Montessori school, which also follows a child-centered philosophy but with some structure and limits, explains society's reluctance to accept unschooling this way:

"I think that's because people ultimately do not value children or trust them," said Sherry Knott, executive director of Abintra Montessori School in West Meade and an admirer of unschooling.

"They do not think children are capable, when in reality they are," Knott said.

School systems rejected

Families often turn to unschooling in rejection of what they see as a one-size-fits-all school system they say crushes curiosity and creativity. Advanced children get bored waiting for classmates to catch up, while slower learners can fall between the cracks.

They also shun traditional home schooling because it follows the same mold of telling children what they need to be taught and how to learn it.

"The object of school is to make everyone come out the same. That whole concept offends me," said Chelsea Gary of Franklin, who is unschooling an 18-year-old stepson, Chris, and her other two children, ages 3 and 5. There's nothing a school system could do to persuade her to enroll them, she said.

Chris, nestled in an oversized red beanbag in his bedroom, said he hated reading until his parents pulled him out of school in California in December 2005 so he could direct his own education at home.

"I've learned more in the last year than I ever did in public school," said Chris, who spent the first few months "deschooling," getting used to his educational freedom.

A giant TV, shelves of CDs and a nearby computer loaded with video games are easy distractions in the typical teen-age bedroom. But Chris said he's not tempted because he's more interested in what he's reading, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

"Topics I don't like, I skim it," he said. "It's kind of a cool idea. I focus on things I want to use in life."

Life, he hopes, will mean either being a rock star or chef — that's why he spends the afternoons working at a Panera Bread cafe or rehearsing in a heavy metal band. He's not sure if he'll go to college.

"I want my children to grow up retaining all their creativity and interests they were born with," his stepmother said. " I can't imagine someone crushing that out of them."

It's not a new idea

Unschooling, while still an underground movement, has been around as long as modern-day home-school education — and some say as long as humans.

Each family has its own approach. For the Fisher-Millers, there's an emphasis on nutrition and money management.

"Honestly, what do children really need to know when they graduate from high school — to balance their checkbook, change the oil in the car and check the tire pressure, real-life things," said Suzanne Fisher-Miller. "I think those things are just as important as history, math and reading."

Today's unschooling parents tend to have college educations. Fisher-Miller has a high-school diploma and started a math degree.

They are often two-parent households in which one parent stays home.

"I thought I would never be a stay-at-home mom. I'd been a photographer and artist," Fisher-Miller said.

Her husband, Brian Miller, too, put his photography career — and its long hours — on hold and took a pay cut to work at a Wild Oats Marketplace so he could be home with the family by 3:30 p.m.

At home, they practice "strewing," leaving books, games and other interesting items in their children's path for them to discover.

That's not to say there is no parental involvement.

Rather, these parents said, they must be totally aware of the needs of their children and able to find resources to seek out information, whether that's the local librarian, an entomologist at a nearby college or the grocer who can explain an exotic fruit.

To critics who say their children are missing out on socialization, they say there's plenty of time to make friends outside the home, whether it's visits to museums and the zoo with other home-schoolers, weekly gatherings of home-schoolers at a park or tae kwon do lessons, they said.

"Instead of being shoved into a class with people the same age, they can choose to be around all kinds of different people," Gary said.

Unschooling parents talk about respect for their children, who in the outside world are often treated, wrongly they believe, as "lesser humans" without much say in things.

They trust their children to gain the knowledge they need within their own time frame.

"Elijah hates writing, coloring, and painting," unschooling mother Amanda Slater, 30, of Hermitage said about her 5-year-old.

"It's never a thing he chooses to do. I assume at some point, he'll want to. I don't like children being forced into something they're not ready for," she said.

"Elijah's not writing now, and that would get him in trouble in school," Slater said. "School wouldn't wait for him to read or write until 8 or 9 or let him do multiplication and division in kindergarten, when he's ready for it."

Likes books, doesn't read

Miyana loves books. The pile in the living room. The stacks they check out of the library. The hundreds of shelves full at the bookstore.

However, the 9½-year-old doesn't read yet.

In an unschooling household, that's no reason to sweat.

"What's important to us is that she learn at her own pace," her mother said. "We feel that the joy of reading is just as important as learning to read, and we don't want to force anything."

That kind of pace would not be tolerated in formal schooling, she said.

The brown-haired girl has an extensive vocabulary and can read some words but other times turns certain letters around — like "b" and "d" — because of dyslexia, her mother said.

"When she does start reading, she'll be reading way above her grade level," Fisher-Miller said. That's been the case with other unschoolers who were delayed readers, she said.

Take the now-adult children of author Brown, a home-school program director in California who raised her children to learn at their pace at home.

Her oldest son did not start reading until he was 9, and by the time he was 11 he was taking electronics courses at a local college, Brown said. By 14, he was a computer system administrator for Warner Bros.

"The age of normalcy to read is between 3 and 9," said Abintra Montessori Executive Director Sherry Knott. You'll find 9-year-olds in public and private schools who aren't reading yet either, she said.

But assistant professor Moran said a 9- or 10-year-old who is not reading yet could be at risk.

"There are sensitive periods of development when children are open to new kinds of information," Moran said. "If a child is going on 12 and finally comes around to reading and everyone else has been reading for four or five years, she's disadvantaged academically and socially."

By the time the Fisher-Miller children reach high school age, their parents believe they'll be learning completely on their own.

"A lot of parents would get nervous. 'Are they learning enough or getting enough?' I don't have that anxiety," Fisher-Miller said. "I really believe in my kids."