What do your kids say when you ask, “Hey, would you guys like to watch some television?” I’m sure most kids would want to, even if they don’t watch much TV. What about when you ask what they want to watch? Most kids come up with some kids show, but not mine. Mine want to watch documentaries. Does that make my kids weird? I don’t know. Maybe it does.
So I’ve talked a lot in this blog about our lives as unschoolers who are really poor. A lot of people have asked me over time how I do it, how I expose my children to enough content to figure out what they’re interested in and to be exposed to a wide variety of topics. They want to know how it’s possible when we can’t get out much because we don’t have a car and our environment isn’t exactly rich with opportunities, at least not that we’ve seen. We have to get our opportunities somewhere or we’re not exactly doing a good job as unschoolers. Half of unschooling is presenting learning opportunities. While kids can get a great education from just being kids, I want more for my kids. I want them to understand where they can find information and to find the most fields of interest possible. It would give them a fantastic basis to be just like I am, a person who is full of “useless” trivia that’s a lot of fun. It adds diversity to a personality.
How do we manage? Amazon Prime! Netflix! Those are our two greatest resources. Each program offers a different selection of movies with a bunch of overlap, though I’ve got to admit that Netflix is by far my favorite of the two. We spend a lot of out time watching reality television and documentaries. We watch them, take the facts, and learn.
I should explain something here. By reality shows we don’t mean things like Survivor and other game shows. We watch a lot of shows such as Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes. Beekee’s really interested in watching Iron Chef and other culinary shows of that nature. Take Home Chef is a personal favorite of Corde’s. Beekee likes to watch Overhaulin’ with Oz. I have a feeling she’d like Orange County Choppers or whatever the other motorcycle show is. They’re great shows to give ideas to the kids, expand their own creativity. In a lot of these cases there are problem solving situations that come up that are great examples of what to do (and sometimes what not to do) when problems arise.
Most importantly, the kids love documentaries. Corde’s got a big thing going on with the food industry, as anyone who has been reading along surely knows. Beekee likes documentaries about animals, though we haven’t watched many. Sander is even getting in on the whole thing. Today I told him he could pick any show he wanted to watch. He picked out a CNBC show on “As Seen On TV” products and how they’re marketed and we’re currently watching one on McDonald’s. It’s not surprising since the “As Seen On TV” logo can be seen in many stores and McDonald’s is a brand we see every time we walk to the grocery store. They’re familiar to him and therefore interesting, even if he doesn’t understand what the documentary is trying to convey. I can’t imagine he does because he keeps getting up and walking off before he can really watch enough to understand.
Yesterday while we were walking to the store, Corde had something to say about documentaries:
I like watching documentaries. They make you smart, which means they make your brain bigger, and I want to have the biggest brain ever. You learn a lot of stuff from them. I like it because I’m sometimes so smart even your friends are surprised, Mom! Regular school kids don’t learn half as much as I do. They miss all the things I know about and get to learn about, which is too bad because they’re pretty cool things, don’t you think so, Mom?
I’m inclined to agree with her. Kids in school do miss out on a lot of the things we get to learn about. She’s got a personal crusade against Hartz flea and tick products. She thinks Monsanto is evil, and is just now starting to pick up on the name ConAgra as well. She can talk your ear off about the crazy things GM foods do to your body. She’s become big into taking proper care of animals, even if you eat them in the end because animals shouldn’t have to suffer just because they’re going to be someone’s food. She knows a good deal about American History, more than any of her friends. She’s an incredibly bright kid! I can only imagine how much more we’ll explore together. It’s part of the whole process.
Today came with sort of a sad moment. Corde watched a documentary about Santa that kind of gave her the thought that maybe the Santa myth isn’t true, but she turned it into a beautiful moment, just like me, she’ll never stop believing in the magic of Christmas. She’s decided Santa may not be a real person, but is definitely alive in everyone. I told her the real secret of Santa, why they had the actor come in to play Santa for their kids, was because you can’t ever see “Santa”. If you see the real Santa that leaves your gifts, the magic is gone and you can never get it back. You can make all kinds of crazy theories, but if you see who it is, it becomes less special. For example, the policeman that brought the box of toys for the kids (and that was a LOT more than we’d anticipated. We’d thought one toy for each kid, but it was just a bunch of things for me to split up and distribute), was Santa when he brought those toys. Was it magic? No. It lost it’s magic because it wasn’t some mysterious gift-giver. They knew that policeman was a Santa for them. Of course, they don’t know the Santas that donated all those things, but the general idea is it loses the magic. She’s decided that she doesn’t want to know who leaves her presents (tough I think she knows who it is) because she doesn’t want to lose the magic.
I’m really glad I have unusual kids. I’m glad they often choose documentaries over fluff children’s programming geared at most kids. I’m glad my kids are able to use our television as a portal to the world and things they couldn’t otherwise learn about. As long as we don’t have a car, this is what makes unschooling possible for us. I don’t know what I’d do without Netflix, Amazon Prime, and documentaries!