Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!


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I Have A High Schooler…

19260294_10155502250101055_2729313268743668774_nCorde made it through 8th grade, her 3rd year in public schools.  While I’m not a fan of the public school system, I’m proud of her for sticking to it once she made up her mind to do something.  She’s going on to high school next year, and that’s a huge thing for her.  It’s hard to believe she’s already old enough for high school!

Yesterday we celebrated her completion of this landmark with going out to Dunkin’ Donuts.  I took her and her friend out to get something for lunch.  Then they wanted to go to the library for a teen day.  While I trust Corde to walk by herself, her friend’s mom wasn’t comfortable with it, so I walked them to the library.  They got bored there and decided to go to the park.

That’s when things got crazy.  Her friend’s mother didn’t know which park they went to and worried.  She drove around to all the local parks to try and find them when she wasn’t able to reach her son on the phone.  I couldn’t reach Corde either, so that complicated things even more.

Now, personally, I wasn’t too worried about it.  I figured Corde would check in soon enough.  She’s been really good about telling me where she was going to be and letting me know when plans change.  It was still early (I didn’t expect them home until 5:30), and they would undoubtedly check in soon.  The thing that worried me was her friend’s mom saying she went to all the parks in the area and she hadn’t seen them at any of them.  I wasn’t ready to worry yet, but I was definitely a bit concerned.

At the prompting of Corde’s friend’s mom, we went down to the police station to report them missing.  Again, I wasn’t too worried, but I can totally understand where his mother was coming from, and they weren’t checking in and hadn’t been able to be reached in two hours.  I figured the worst that can happen is they get tracked down and everything turns out fine.  My prediction was the kids would be found by the police on their walk home and everything would be fine.

Now comes the point when I’m really proud of Corde.  When they checked in, they were exactly where they said they would be, at the park.  It turns out that they were at a park Corde’s friend’s mom didn’t expect them to be at.  She thought it was too far for them to walk.  I wasn’t totally surprised and I felt a little better when I found out she hadn’t checked that park.  To be fair, it’s a big park and it wouldn’t be surprising if they’d been on the far side of the baseball field and hard to spot from the parking lot.  I wasn’t at all surprised to find out they’d been at the park the whole time.  Thankfully they checked in before any kind of police report was filed, so that’s a plus, though the cop we talked to did ask me to say “hello” to Corde for her.  When Corde got lost at the marathon, that’s the cop Corde talked to in order to get help getting back to us.

This is how I learned Corde really has a decent bit of freedom in comparison to her friends.  I let her go off on her own, so long as she tells me where she’s at and checks in if plans change.  I let her walk to the library by herself, all of a mile away.  The park she went to was the bigger one that’s a little further away than the local one.  I have no problems with her walking there from the library.  I would be okay with her taking the bus to the mall or the movie theater.  For the most part, all she has to do is say, “Mom, I’m going to X and I’ll be home around Y.”

That’s not to say we haven’t had a few bumps in the road.  She’s gone over friends’ houses without telling me when she’s going to be home, then she doesn’t have her phone on her, so I can’t reach her.  Then there’s times when she’s late and forgets to tell me.  One time she told Oz I told her she could go swimming with her friend, when I hadn’t given her permission.  I said I didn’t care because I was at work, but she knows when I’m at work she’s got to ask Oz for permission.  These have all been little bumps in the road, but we’ve gotten through them.  Overall she’s learned from these mistakes and things get better from that point on.

Corde is a great girl, and I can’t wait to see the kind of adult she’s going to grow into.  While she can be a bit of a drama queen, she’s also funny, creative, and wacky.  She’s obviously proving to be responsible (even if she’s not always reachable by phone), and for the most part is pretty honest.  These qualities are going to do her well when she gets older and goes on into the adult world.  Now if only that wasn’t so frighteningly close!


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Off To Town Hall

We went on a little adventure today, thankfully before the rain rolled in.  We took a trip to Town Hall.  Actually, I suppose it’s now City Hall, given the status of the town has changed to a city.  We were on a mission, even if we weren’t doing much there.

Today’s trip wasn’t to do anything fancy.  We were just heading down there to get Nika registered with the town.  I’ve been a bad dog mom and haven’t gotten her registered since I got her.  It was about time I did.  So off we went to Town Hall to register her.

While we were at Town Hall the kids learned you have to register your dog there.  They learned that people can get married there.  They loved the beautiful old building it was all set in as well.  So they may not have learned a lot on this adventure, but they enjoyed it.  That counts for something.

This may be a good excuse to research some of the other things that go on at Town Hall.  I’m not sure what they do, beyond keeping records of births, deaths, and marriages.  Obviously you can also register your dog there.  It would be good to know what else you can do there, if for no other reason than the fun of learning something new.

We don’t get out on many adventures these days, mostly due to a lack of a car, but I’m hoping that will change as the weather turns nice and the summer sets in for good.  Of course, you wouldn’t know the weather was turning nice to look at it out there.  We were able to play in the yard for maybe a half hour before the rain started to roll in.  It got pretty wet out there, but the forecast should be turning sunny soon.  And with the sun will hopefully come lots of swimming!


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Imagination and Classic Stories

I remember watching Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables as a kid. I would run around outside and pretend to know them. I wanted a dress from Avolee. I thought that was every girl’s dream.

Fast forward a generation. My daughter doesn’t know any of those stories. It makes me think the generation gap is bigger than I thought. I grew up with such different things. I can’t imagine growing up with all the shows they have now. Everything is so wholesome with morals and lessons everywhere. I had troublemakers and misfits to watch and enjoy, like Tom Sawyer. My kids never seemed to have that.

Today we actually saw a couple shows that amused me. Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables are back! Of course, they’re in television format, but it’s an improvement. At least kids can grow up with the same wild, creative characters.

Thankfully, my daughter made me smile. She said she had those books and pointed out we’d be reading about Anne this year. It was nice to know she actually cares about books.

In other news, the morning imagination time continued today. The kids were wizards for most of the morning. Next they were fairies. They all played together for a good long while, until I made them come in. Surprisingly, there were no complaints about having to come in. They were pretty cool with it all.

The country life is doing us better with each day. The sun is shining. The weather is nice. We’re really enjoying it out here. The kids went from bored, whining, and fighting to always having something to do. The transformation is magical, just what they needed.


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New Habits

Living out here in the country made me realize how good this could be for all of us. We’ve gotten into some much healthier rabbits. I could get used to this.

Being in the country has removed us from being in such close contact with the neighbors. I don’t have to worry about rules demanding the kids be supervised when they play. I just let them go out and poke my head out to check on them every few minutes, or not at all depending on who is outside. I don’t have to worry about the neighborhood kids convincing my kids to take off to somewhere I’ll never think to look for them. I don’t need to worry about nosey neighbors reporting me to CPS because my kids choose not to wear shoes to play outside or because they look dirty (probably because they were just playing in the dirt!) It’s so much more relaxed. I could get used to this.

This morning we started a new habit. Before breakfast the kids went out to play. It was in the 50s and beautiful. The kids played pirates for a while, searching for treasure, then they created a house in the trees. By the time they came in they were all pretty hungry. They didn’t have enough, so they asked to go out and play again. Now they’re exploring mansions under the trees. They’re getting plenty of sun, fresh air, and exercise. They get out every day to walk, run, climb, and explore. They do art with the things they find in nature. They use their imaginations.

Best of all, they get along. I’ve never seen the four of them play together before. Usually Corde is doing her own thing, Sander and Beekee play together or on their own. Luca just explores. Instead they all go marching across the yard, deep in some imaginary land together. The four of them are one little pack, sticking together with no fighting, encouraging the one who wanders off alone to get back into the game, and having genuine fun! This is almost unheard of from them. Even better, the bad attitudes completely disappear!

Clearly this is good for them. I’m starting to think on ways we can keep our family out in the country. Unfortunately, Oz doesn’t want to live the country life. He likes being able to go talk to the neighbors and hang out at the drop of a hat. He’s the kind of person that just likes to drop by. It’s a waste if gas to do that in the country. It means calling and planning ahead. He wouldn’t be able to just wander off without telling anyone to talk to this or that neighbor. He loses his freedom to just disappear, which is actually a good thing. It means he has to communicate. It also means he’s cut off from a lot of drama, something I’ve come to notice he thrives on. I think that’s a good thing too. It’s time to grow up and leave the drama behind. There will be enough drama soon enough when we have a teenage daughter in the house! That’s only a few years away!

But for now I’m trying to find a way to keep our country lifestyle. I want to get set up in a way the kids can really blossom and grow. They’re so happy out here. It would be a shame to change it.