Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Holiday Chaos

It’s the holiday season. I should be updating more often, but it’s been tough. I had an abscessed tooth, which really stunk, and that messed up my sleep schedule a good deal.

This has put us back to unschooling. This is really where I wanted to be to begin with. We’re going to start doing regular game nights. I hope to get some cool science stuff going. I really need to look up some cool history stuff to do together. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to learn a lot together without standard curriculum.

Going into the new year we’re going to be holding on to a couple of things from the past year. We’re going to keep with the phonics program, for now at least. We plan to keep going with the math, at least until we can get in the habit of more practical math. But beyond that we plan to do very little. We’ll probably stick to Story of the World, too. The kids seem to like it well enough, so while they’re interested we plan to stick with it.

In other news, it looks like Corde may finally be coming back to homeschooling. She’s not loving school and has been looking for an excuse to leave. I suggested she at least do the career exploratory because she may not have access to that stuff any other way. It’s worth the experience, but if she wants to quit, I won’t stop here.

Funny, this time last year I was thinking about homeschooling Sander and Beekee. Only Luca was home. Now we’re getting the whole gang back. It’ll be nice to have them all home again, even if it ends up only being a few short years until Corde goes to college. That’s not far off, if she decides to go.

But the holiday season this year has been busier than last year, even if we’ve been doing less work. I had my abscessed tooth. We’ve been sitting for the neighbors two days a week, which means the kids have plenty of social time with their friends. We even managed to squeeze in a few holiday movies. It’s been nice.

Of course, part of this whole thing is what we would do differently next year. We hopefully will have a car by then, so we should be able to get to more events. I’d love to take the kids skating at the Frog Pond on Boston Common. It would be fun to do the colonial Christmas event at whatever historic site they hold it at. We could do a breakfast with Santa in there somewhere. It could be a lot of fun. Then there’s Christmas Eve at my aunt and uncle’s house. There’s just so much more potential on what we can do!

For now, we’re waiting to see what plans for what happens next week. We may have even more stuff to do, or it may just be quiet. Either way, it should be a good time. Christmas is almost here!

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Busy, Busy, But Totally Not…

It’s been busy around here lately, and by busy I mean in the “busy work” kind of way and not in the fun and crazy stuff way.  Okay, that’s not entirely true.  Some of the stuff we’ve been doing is pretty fun.  The kids have been watching a lot of Minecraft videos and the like.  They’ve been having fun with that.

Meanwhile I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.  I knit while they’re doing workbooks.  I knit while they’re watching television.  I’ve even been knitting to podcasts, my personal favorite being CraftLit, which does classic literature.  It’s been a great time for me to do something I love, plus the kids get a bit of freedom to do whatever it is they feel like doing without a hovering mom, not that I really hover, but you get the idea.

As for the podcasts, the kids have really enjoyed some of CraftLit’s premium content.  It’s all of $5 extra every month to get access to the premium books, which is kind of fun for us.  I’m listening to Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) with the kids.  They’re all getting a kick out of it.  With the younger three we’re listening to The Wizard of Oz.  I think when we’re done we may check out the other books in the series.  There’s a lot of them.  While it’s mostly something I do for me, it’s fun when I can get them involved, even if they do check out for a lot of the books.  They would probably like War of the Worlds, which I’m listening too now, but it’s a bit wordy.  I think I may read that to them later, or go back and listen again.

Well, can you tell I love books?  I’m really into classic literature.  There’s something about old stories that makes me happy.  I love that I have a format where I can share it, even if it’s not so much something we do together right now.  Still, I notice them popping in time and again when the story gets good.

So that’s what we’ve been up to, and will continue to be up to for the next few weeks at least.  We’ve got a WWII event coming up over Columbus Day Weekend.  After that there isn’t much.  We’re even planning to go simple with Halloween this year, and stuff the kids can wear in layers.  It was pretty cold last year.  Luca is going to be Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.  Sander wants to be a pirate minion.  I’m not sure how that will work out, but it’s creative at least.  I think A.J. may go as Rainbow Dash again, or he might opt to go the pirate route too.  That one’s easy.  We have pirate stuff on hand.  Corde will probably do an assassin from Assassin’s Creed again, something quick and easy.  We’re trying to go cheap, aside from Luca’s costume.  Getting something for Toothless was kind of expensive, but as Luca’s missing his top front teeth, he’s kind of bonded with toothless, so it works out.  It’s definitely going to be a chaotic month.

As things stand we have no real plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  I think we’re going to aim to keep Christmas cheap.  We’re probably going to do a board game for each of the kids, maybe an inexpensive video game, and some Pokemon cards so they can all play together.  The last thing we need is a bunch of stuff cluttering up our house.  We need to simplify as is, so it’s better to have a couple things, but have them things the kids really want.  I’m thinking next year I’m going to start sooner and knit them each something for Christmas.  If I’m feeling really ambitious I may go for sweaters, but I think I’ll probably be practical and go with hats and mittens or fingerless gloves.

Yeah, it’s been a long day.  We’ve had a lot of cleaning to get done.  Every once in a while we go through huge binge cleanings where we go behind and inside of pretty much everything to get the house looking as good as it can.  This happened to be one of those days.  I’m tired, and so are the kids.  I guess that’s the reason I’m going on and on like this.  Well, I’d better get these kids settled down for quiet time.  We’re all in need of it!


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Fort Warren and George’s Island

(Posted a week late because it got lost in draft limbo…but it’s up now, so that’s got to count for something, right?)

We had quite the adventure this past weekend. We ended up going on Monday due to weather, which worked out well because it was a beautiful day.

The trip in started with a train ride into the city. The kids always love a good train ride. Luca got to read a Cat in the Hat book about sharks, which was exciting because we were going to be taking the ferry in.

This was the kids first trip on a boat of any kind. Beekee was a little worried about being on a boat, but he got over it quickly when he realized how exciting it was. Luca loved watching the white waves coming off the side of the ferry. They all loved the ride out.

When we got to the island they wanted to do a couple things right off the bat. First they wanted to eat a quick lunch. Then they wanted to go touch the water, since we aren’t near the ocean much. After that they went to check out the playground that looked like a miniature version of the fort.

The trip into the fort was a lot of fun, once we got in there. It started with a walk around the fort, then we got in to investigate. The younger three loved getting to use flashlights to look around. I think that was the best part for them. Perhaps if we get a chance to go in the future we can take a ranger guided tour, but for now exploring without being bogged down with the history of the place was a lot of fun.

wp-image-145841421The kids have already said they want to go back again next summer, but I think first up on the list is a whale watch. The kids are super excited to get to do that in the future too. It seems this trip inspired a whole lot of excitement. It was a great way to end the summer!


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Cuddled Up to Sleep

Things have been good since we decided to nix bedtime. The kids do get cranky and need naps from time to time, but it’s gone pretty well. I count this an experiment well worth trying.

The tricky part has been finding a way to get Luca to sleep. If left to his own devices he would be up watching movies all night. It’s difficult because he still sleeps with me and the television keeps me up.

However, I have found a solution to this problem. Luca likes to cuddle. We spend time after the television goes off all cuddled up. Some nights we talk. Tonight Luca just wanted to cuddle to sleep. I’ve got him laying on my arm as I type this into my phone.

You know what? This is what life should be about. Life is too short for reading lessons and curriculum. What it really needs to be about is time together as a family.

I can’t say where the decisions I make today will lead the kids and I, but we will certainly spend more time on the things that matter.

And that’s only going to keep expanding. Luca found the other two tablets today so Sander and Beekee can watch movies while settling in to bed. We just need to get them headphones and they can listen without bothering each other if one wants to sleep.

Tomorrow will bring new changes in our lives, but tonight is simple. I just need to curl up on the bed with Luca and the dog. What better way is there to sleep?


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Doctor Who

It’s been a while since we’ve watched Doctor Who (at least 2 years), so we decided to start it again from the beginning.  This has been a family thing that we’ve always done together, so it’s been fun catching up again, especially since the kids haven’t seen all the way through Matt Smith yet, and none of us have seen the latest Doctor (though all that’s about to change again).  Needless to say, we’re a little behind.

So what does this have to do with unschooling/homeschooling?  I could just be writing about it because it’s something my family has done together, so there’s that, but really?  I think that this definitely has to do with unschooling.

Think about it, Doctor Who has some really creative story lines.  It throws in a little bit of real science along with the science fiction.  There’s an introduction to all kinds of periods in history, blended with fictional ideas about the future and aliens.  Then there’s all the story telling and the blending of a theme throughout each Doctor’s reign.  Each one has their own story arc, which is almost reset at the beginning of each new Doctor.  It’s got some great ideas for building stories upon.

But in reality, it’s all a good bit of fun.  It’s time we can kick back and relax while still engaging as a family.  It influences what the kids play and what we talk about.  It’s become a part of our family identity, something I think makes us all the better for having in our lives.  We’re a part of a culture of “Whovians” and the kids are getting to grow up as a part of that culture.  It’s really kind of cool how it’s helped shape their identities too.

And then there’s the social, interpersonal thing.  There are so many other Whovians out there.  It gives them an identity that they share with countless other people across the whole world, even if it seems centralized to Great Britain, USA, and Canada.  It can be a conversation starter and a way into like-minded communities.  It’s a great way to meet other people.  I mean, there’s no reason the kids should ever go without being connected to other people that share their interests, or at least one of them.  Whatever else they do in life they will always have that.  It only grows as they get into other fandoms, the biggest one I can think of being Harry Potter.  It’s an identity, something I didn’t have much of when I was their age beyond “Girl Scout” and maybe “horseback rider.”

It’s silly to think a television show has so much influence on how kids grow and change, but it’s definitely made an impact, especially for Corde, who identifies with fans of Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and the countless animes out there.  She’s starting to feel like she’s got a place (or at least a collective) that she can call home.  It gives her an identity in the world, and if you ask me (I know, you didn’t) it’s a pretty cool one because she can not only identify with the greater world, but also relates to her family, the whole family, not just her parents.

As the kids get older they’ll undoubtedly watch more of Doctor Who, and will definitely have the opportunity to get in on marathons of the older episodes.  They’ll grow up with the same immersion to Doctor Who as Corde really got into, and it might even give them a identity, a connection, like it did for Corde.  As they get older they’ll find more kids that have the same interest, which is harder for them right now because some of the episodes are a little scary for kids even Beekee’s age.  It will give them something to hold on to.

So it may not seem like much, but it’s a whole world for our family, and something we can truly bond over.  And Doctor Who isn’t the only one.  We’ve watched some of the superhero shows with the kids (Supergirl and Flash primarily).  Then there was A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.  Corde and I bonded over How I Met Your Mother, Leverage, and Bones.  It may sound like we watch a lot of television (we really don’t most of the time), but it’s more than just mind-numbing activity.  There’s so much to it, the elements of story and plot, the connection to other fans of the series, even just having something to talk about with other people, strike up a conversation.  It’s valuable enough that we want it to be a part of our family identity, as weird and quirky as we may be.


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A New Family Day?

The down side is I quit my job.  The up side?  It meant I could have some much needed quality time with the family.  I’d been missing having a day when no one worked, which now I have again, and it felt really, really good.

We decided to go to the park down by Beekee’s old school.  He always loved that park but was never allowed to play there.  Apparently that was the park the little kids got to go to, which I didn’t understand because it was awesome.  The kids really loved it.

IMG_20170729_153831_024The biggest hit were the tractor tires.  It was the first thing the kids played with when they got there and the last thing they played with before they left.  They absolutely loved them, just as much as I remember loving them when I was a kid.  Those were the secret reason I wanted to go to that park.  The kids asked several times to play there, so the tires won out this week.

Sander had a ton of fun at the park.  It seemed perfectly suited to him, with plenty of spots to climb on.  If ever a park could suit a personality, this one would be it.  He was able to sail like a pirate, climb on everything, and even found a wonderful little spot to lounge.  He didn’t want to come home!

Everyone had a really good time, mostly because there was so much to do.  There were a ton of other kids there, which definitely helped.  There were so many people to play with.  I think the kids really needed this social outlet with a new cast of characters.  They’ve been seeing the same faces all the time, so new scenery and new kids to play with was definitely a win.

 

I think one of the biggest hits was the number of things there were to walk and climb across that moved.  Luca nearly took a spill on this thing a couple of times, and Oz didn’t do much better.  It was fun enough that they kept going over it until Luca, at least, seemed to pick up the skill for it.

We were down one family member because Corde had left to go to Rainbow Camp, which is fantastic for her.  It’s her first week at an overnight camp, so she was thrilled about that, but maybe next time she can come with.  This park definitely has one of her favorite things (most parks do), swings!

So, it kind of stinks that my job really wasn’t working out, but I think in the end something fantastic came out of it.  We’re back to feeling whole as a family, something that definitely wasn’t the case when we weren’t ever all home together.  Sometimes the sacrifice is well worth the outcome.


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Sparklers

We went to a birthday party last night.  It was kind of unplanned.  We were invited over by our neighbors last minute after I got out of work.  I really wasn’t in the mood to go, but I figure it was for the kids.  These are their friends, so they may as well get the chance to go, right?

The highlight of the night was getting to us sparklers.  The colored ones didn’t have the same kind of effect that the traditional ones did, but the kids still loved them.  It’s funny how the simple things in life can really make the night.  They all had so much fun with them, which was awesome.

I suppose we could follow this up with a learning experience.  What makes the colored sparklers colored and all of that, but I think in this case we’ll just let it be.  Sometimes fun is really just for fun.  If they want to know the why, they’ll undoubtedly ask.  They always do.  That’s what makes this whole learning thing so awesome.