Trailer Park Unschoolers

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


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Science Means Yogurt

Yesterday we started the process of making yogurt as a part of our summer activities.  I almost said “homeschooling” then wanted to correct it to “unschooling”, but the truth is it’s really just living.  I guess that’s what unschooling is about.

It was bright and early in the morning (and by that I mean 8:30) that we got up and went over to our neighbor’s house.  It all started with reading the ingredients list on the yogurt container as a starter.  We talked about the different bacteria, and how the bacteria aren’t bad germs, even though they are germs.  The kids thought that was pretty cool.  Our only regret is not having a microscope to view the bacteria with.  That would have been cool.

We talked a bit about what makes an “active culture”.  Our neighbor was funny about it.  She had the kids pretend to be inactive if it was too cold to do anything, then they all jumped around the room when they were the “active” culture at the right temperature, then got sluggish and slow again when the temperature got too hot.  It was a great way to show the kids the difference between active cultures and inactive ones.  I never would have thought of doing it that way.  As much as I teach kids, I really don’t teach kids.  I teach as though I’m talking to adults.  Our methods really differ, but I think that’s a good thing.  It’s good for the kids to learn from different teaching styles.

After that each of the kids got to pour some of the milk into a giant pot.  We heated the pot to 180 degrees (to kill all other possible bacteria sources), then waited for it to cool down to 120 before we added the yogurt culture.  In the mean time the yogurt was mixed in with some of the milk that had been set aside and cooled so it would be liquid enough to mix in with the other milk.  We called this the “mother culture.”

Of course, when I think of “mother culture” I think of a book I read last summer, Ishmael.  It was a good read, but “culture” was viewed as a cage, trapping people from having real and meaningful experiences with each other and the world around them.  The idea of “mother culture” made me laugh because in my head that was not a good thing, but I suppose it fit.  We were “infecting” the milk with this “mother culture” to make something new, so I was amused.  I think we may end up reading Ishmael when the kids get a little older, or when we become more accustomed to reading together.

After the yogurt had cooled enough, we mixed the “mother culture” in with the yogurt to make our yogurt.  The kids quickly put all of the yogurt jars onto the table at the center of a towel, which was wrapped around them so the yogurt cultures could stay warm and do their magic.

That’s when the hard part came, the waiting.  We ended up going back there today to check out the yogurt because it would have been done too late for the kids to go check on it.  The yogurt was put up in the refrigerator to wait for them to check it out.

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Luca was super excited to make the yogurt, but was the only one who didn’t want to try it.  It was a little more runny than the neighbor had hoped, but about par for the course for commercial yogurts, from everything I could tell.  Here Luca is telling us all about the yogurt and what it looked like.

I’m seriously considering looking into a yogurt maker.  I know we can make it without one, but I would feel a little happier with one.  We can always get some fresh berries and things to mix in with the yogurt, and smoothies would definitely be a good thing to add in.  I bet even Luca would love a strawberry smoothie with fresh yogurt.  It’s something to look forward to doing in the future.

As for today, I’m posting this while I’m home from work.  Luca was restless last night for the second night in a row, so I got no sleep.  Luca wanted me to stay home today, so I did.  Hopefully Luca will get settled and follow a regular sleep routine soon.  As you can see from the picture, we’ve started to keep Luca’s hair up too.  We just found out Luca’s hair is long enough to French braid, and with keeping up the routine of brushing any time Luca eats anything this helps keep hair out of the way for that too.

Also, up and coming, Luca is getting a special present for his surgery ordeal.  More on that when it arrives…  And Luca’s birthday is coming up.  Poor kid lost all those teeth just as a birthday was coming up!  It’s okay, though.  It just means we’ve got to make sure Luca gets an awesome present for being so brave.  On top of that, Luca got $20 from the tooth fairy for all of that.  It’s been an ordeal, but awesome is on it’s way.


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Reading Is Hard…

Sander has been having the most difficult time with reading.  It’s been a challenge for him for quite some time, which is why I pulled him out of school.  They were teaching him whole word reading, which wasn’t helping him any when he encountered words he didn’t know.  It was a frustrating experience for him, so we decided to do something different for him.

Now we’re working on phonics.  It’s already made such a difference in how Sander reads.  It’s not the natural “when he discovers it” kind of experience I’d hoped for, but we’re trying to keep with state standards.  We don’t read together as often as we should, and most of our reading is the easy readers as a part of the Primary Phonics workbook set, but we’re getting there.  He’s building the skills he needs to read, which is the general idea of it anyway.

Today we read one of the Rookie Reader series.  As much as I love the idea of those as beginner readers, they’re really not so easy.  I’ve come to discover that many “beginner” readers have a lot of really challenging words, several with multiple syllables.  They’re not exactly easy reads for a kid that’s just learning to read, which makes it challenging, especially for Sander who is definitely a reluctant reader, if you want to throw a label on it that way.  He finds those books really challenging, which makes enjoying the time reading them that much harder.

One of the problems Sander has with reading is sounding things out.  He tries, but he keeps mixing up the sounds and adding sounds where none exist.  This leads to the frustrating challenge of trying to straighten him out and getting him to read only the letters that exist and in the right order.  It’s really hard to have patience with him while he struggles through.  I’d almost rather read to him instead of watch him struggle to figure it out and get frustrated.  While the whole word method of reading made him equally as frustrated, I think phonics and sounding things out are equally frustrating for him, though he’s definitely making more progress this way.

I have to admit, it also helps that I’m not the best about getting him to read either.  We’ve been known to skip whole days instead of working with it every day.  I don’t feel like fighting with him for daily reading is really going to help him love reading, even if it’s going to make his reading skills that much better.  It’s hard to be motivated to push my kids to do things they really don’t want to do.  I don’t see it as necessary.  I guess this ties back to the days when we used to be pure unschoolers, something I really hope we can get back to as my confidence with working with the system grows.

In the mean time I’ve gotten a lot better at reading to the kids before bed.  Luca doesn’t last long through the stories.  Generally halfway through the chapter I have a sleeping Luca on my lap.  Sander isn’t a huge fan of reading stories before bed, which doesn’t help things much, though I think it’s because he’s just not a fan of Peter Pan.  I think if we were reading a story he was more interested in, that would help.  We’ve talked a bit about what comes next and we’ll see what we end up doing.  We’re halfway through Peter Pan (which isn’t surprising as it’s not an overwhelmingly long book), so we’ll be on to another book soon.

I know reading aloud to the kids isn’t really helping Sander with his reading skills, but I can’t help but think it may eventually increase his love of books.  If I can read stories he really gets into I’ll be able to inspire his love of books.  If he loves books he may be motivated to work on his own reading skills so he can get the stories without having to wait for me to get around to them.

Isn’t that really how unschooling works, though?  You inspire your kids to get into things because you expose them to those things.  Your kids want to read because they learn books are enjoyable.  That’s how you unschool reading.  They learn to read because the words show up in their video games and they want to be able to read it on their own.  They learn to read because they get tired of having to wait for someone else to read everything for them.  They learn to read because it’s a useful skill, not because it’s something they have to do.

Of course, that backfired with Corde.  She just wanted me to read everything for her.  “Reading is boring,” she still says even now, but she would listen intently whenever I would read a story aloud.  She’s a bit old to enjoy read aloud stories, but she still hasn’t gotten that spark of wanting to read on her own.  She’s started reading Coraline and hasn’t gotten past the first chapter, and she’s been working on it for a almost two weeks.  I honestly think she’s never going to take to reading.  She much prefers to watch Netflix or play silly little games on her phone.  At least texting is making her spelling improve.

Luca, on the other hand, has really taken to reading.  It’s frustrating because Luca wants to read everything, but doesn’t have the skills to actually read any of it.  It’s frustrating for Luca because he wants to read the same as the rest of the kids.  It’s doubly frustrating for me because I have to explain to Luca that, until he can develop the skills himself, I still have to do the reading.  In the end it would all be so much easier if Luca would learn to read.  I have a feeling once Luca learns, nothing will stand in that kid’s way!

Beekee is much more of a reader than Sander and Corde.  He can sit for hours reading on his own, though given the choice he would rather play video games or watch television.  I’ve taken to instituting reading time during the day so that Sander and Beekee have to read.  Once Corde is home, that’s when she’ll do her summer reading.  Beekee really seems to like this time, though he does have a tendency to just look at the books rather than actually reading them.  At least the idea is there.

This all brings me back to Sander.  I’m not sure how I’m going to help him become a reader.  Maybe if I keep picking up Kindle edition books that will help.  I like the Kindle edition books because I can download them as many times as I like and they take up no physical space to store.  If the kids want to read them when they get older I can always get them their own Kindles to load up with all their favorite stories.  That may be what it takes to get Sander interested in reading.  The challenge then is picking out books that he’ll really enjoy.  Peter Pan is not a win, in spite of the adventures and everything else.  I think it’s far too wordy and not enough action.

If anyone’s got suggestions, I’m all ears.  I’ve already decided we’re going to do Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and likely the Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Extraordinary Children.  We’re definitely going to read Coraline.  I just don’t know where to go from there, maybe the Redwall series.  There are too many options and I’ve got to admit, I’m not up on what kids are reading these days.


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Little Artist and Growing Greens

Let me first say that I’m so happy with Luca.  For the longest time all Luca’s pictures were pretty much scribbles.  I was starting to think there may be some kind of developmental delay or something.  So far as I’m aware kids have usually graduated beyond scribbles by the time they’re entering kindergarten.  Luca is almost there and still everything is scribbles instead of proper drawings.

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This is the picture I was given by Luca today.  This is “Bear”.  It actually looks like something.  I had only ever seen one face before, but this is a whole person.  I absolutely love this little picture.  I love that he does the eyes like empty orbs too.  There’s something I find so endearing about it.  I can’t help but be a proud mama after looking at the pictures I’ve gotten today.  Maybe Luca isn’t so impossibly behind on artistic talent as I worried he would be.

Then there’s the garden.  Well, I hesitate to call it a garden.  It’s only a handful of plants on our porch, but it’s doing pretty well for itself.  Everything is growing.  I’m not sure how much bounty we’re going to get this year, but it’s at least something that looks nice and will hopefully yield at least some tomatoes for Corde to chow down on.

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Everything is growing so well.  Those tomato plants were at least half the size when I brought them home, perhaps smaller than that.  The two closest to the house are smaller, but I think that has to do with getting less afternoon sun.  These ones are doing fantastically.  One of my tomato plants even has it’s first flower!  It’s so exciting!

And the strawberries already produced three strawberries.  I wasn’t really sure the tiny blobs they produced really counted as anything, since they were so small and misshapen, but apparently they were actual strawberries.  One of them managed to go bad within a day of it getting ripe.  One was stolen.  The third went bad and dropped off the plant just recently.  I think I’m going to have to keep a better eye on those plants.  Growing strawberries is completely new to me.

I’m going to have to invest in some kind of animal repellent too this year.  Last year we had a number of tomatoes, but they were all consumed by squirrels and left half eaten on the railing.  I don’t want to see my tomatoes go to waste like that again.  I’m not here to feed the squirrels!  Hopefully this year we’ll have better luck.

So that’s been our day in the 90 degree weather we’re having.  We’re just trying to chill and enjoy it for what it is.  We may call it before the public schools let out this year.  We’ve certainly been working hard enough at it!


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Absences

Yeah, I’ve been away a while again.  This happens.  I just got a new job working weekends so I’ve been incredibly busy.  I’m working Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and cramming about 20 hours into those three days.  It’s a lot of time on my feet and it’s really exhausting.  I’m in a garden center, so my job seems to be “plant mover” more than anything else.  I’m learning a lot, but it’s definitely not an easy way to make a buck.

There is some good to this whole working thing, though.  I was able to get some plants for our porch container garden this year.  It’s nowhere near as epic as last years, but it’s something.  We’ve got eight tomato plants, nine strawberry plants in a strawberry planter, and a little container of watermelon plants.  I’m not expecting to get much from the garden this year.  I’m guessing we’ll get enough tomatoes for Corde to eat straight from the vine.  Hopefully she can get them before the squirrels do this year.  We’ll probably get a handful of strawberries, not enough to do anything fancy with.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get any watermelons at all.  We didn’t last year.  Still, we’ve got our little garden going, and that’s something we can be pretty proud of.

This is Luca singing to “all the beanies” last year.  That’s a pretty good view of all of our garden at the time.  It got even bigger than that.  Most of what we grew didn’t end up producing much, which wasn’t so great, but it was fun to work on it.  Unfortunately, being a container garden, there wasn’t much for the kids to do.  There was no weeding or anything of that nature.  It’s pretty much just watering the plants and letting them grow.

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This is our happy little porch garden now.  We’ve got two patio tomatoes, two “Lemon Boy” tomatoes, and a handful of cherry tomatoes of different colors.  In the corner is our blackberry bush, which isn’t doing much yet.  You can also see the terracotta strawberry planter I got last year.  We tried some bare root strawberry starters last year, but they didn’t do anything.  This year I went with actual plants.  Apparently you’re supposed to put a tube of PVC piping down the center with holes drilled in it to spread the water better.  I have no idea about that.  We’re just rolling with it the way it is.  It’s not a huge expanse of garden, but it’s something.  Oh, and there’s a serano pepper (maybe?) in there along with a start of an apple tree, though who knows what’s going to happen with that.

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Luca’s favorite part is the strawberry planter.  As you can see we’ve gotten a good bit of rain, so I haven’t had to water any of it yet, but it’s looking pretty good.  You can see two white little strawberries forming.  Those were on the plant before I even got it.  Luca was so funny about it too.  “What?  You got me white strawberries?  Really?”  I had to explain that strawberries don’t start out red.  They become red as they ripen.  This will make a lot more sense when the strawberries actually ripen.  We’re excited to see some new strawberry blossoms appear when they do.  It’s going to be a learning experience because I’ve never grown strawberries before.

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This is Luca’s favorite part, the little starts of strawberries beginning to form.  It’s something we’re definitely going to be watching in the future.  These were like that when we got the plant, so we have no idea how long it takes to go from flower to here, but it’s something to keep an eye on.  It’s exciting to see the start of berries already being on some of the plants.  I didn’t see them when I picked out the plants.  To be honest, I just threw nine plants into a tray and hoped for the best.  It looks like we got some plants that were at least healthy enough to do something.

And this is Luca checking out the plant to see if there are any new strawberries to tell us about. This was on Friday before going to the doctor.  As you can see, it was rainy and gross.  Luca had to borrow Sander’s raincoat.  Don’t ask me how but somehow we’ve managed to get by without having any raincoats.  This one was sent to us by Great-Grandma and hasn’t seen much use.  I really should get us all some decent rain gear though, even if we don’t use it much.  Anyhow, Luca enjoys looking for strawberries.  Once the tomato plants are a bit bigger, I think looking for tomato blooms is going to be a thing as well.

That’s one thing I can say about all this.  The kids are going to get a chance to learn about growing things by watching things grow.  Unfortunately they’re not able to see it come up from seed, but some day.  I’m not much in a place to seed start right now.  Not only that, but I just can’t see myself doing it with so little space to actually garden.  I wish we had a place with an actual garden plot.

And speaking of places we wish we were, currently Oz is looking at getting back into the military.  He’s got some old tickets to pay off before he can get back in.  It’s not an ideal life, but it would give us a chance to do a little bit more and would open up our budget.  So everyone, wish us luck with doing it.  We’re going to need it!


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The Things My Kids Don’t Know

We’ve been following through with Story of the World, and the kids discovered that Anansi is just a really cool character.  They absolutely loved the story of Anansi.  So what does this have me doing?  As a good mother I go to the library website and request every story known to man with Anansi…because I’m that mom…

It got me thinking about something I hadn’t even realized I’ve never done with the kids.  We’ve never read Aesop’s fables.  We’ve also never done Just So Stories.  These were so much of a factor in my own life that I can’t believe we haven’t done anything with them.  They are living proof that (to some degree) I am a failure as a mom.  How can I neglect these things that were such a part of my own childhood?

I’ve already realized that my kids were growing up in a weird little bubble when I realized my kids don’t know how to sing Twinkle, Twinkle or The Wheels on the Bus.  I’d never taught them to sing Do Your Ears Hang Low.  We never sang any of the classic kids songs.  For that matter, we rarely sing as a family.  The only one we regularly do is On Top of Spaghetti, which Luca insists on me singing at least fifty times over when we’re walking to or from jujitsu.  I really need to brush up on some other fun songs because that one’s getting kind of old.  (Of course, it might help if I actually remembered the other three versus, so that’s a thing.  Luca would probably find that MUCH funnier.)

But my kids really do seem to live in a bubble where they don’t know the traditional stuff kids know at their age.  I mean, how many kids Sander and Luca’s age are studying history?  I find it not at all a problem that they don’t know how to sing those childhood songs every other kid seems to know.

And as Sander’s bus drives by the house, I’m reminded again why I’m so glad he’s home.  I don’t have to worry about him getting off the bus at 4pm, then still having homework to do, and being too tired to do it.  Jujitsu wouldn’t even begin to be an option if he was in traditional school.  He wouldn’t be home for more than an hour and a half before I had to bustle him back out the door!

I digress…what was the point I was making?  Oh, yes, that my kids don’t know the stuff I knew when I was their age.  I guess that makes me feel that my kids are growing up with a weird existence.  I’m not raising them on a healthy diet of children’s songs and things like that.  The kids hardly watch television (aside from Luca who binges like nothing else), and we don’t listen to the radio tons, so they don’t get a whole lot of that poured on them.  They live in this weird state of reality that was so much different than my life growing up.

Yet I can’t help but feel their lives are somehow lacking because these really cool things haven’t been explored by them.  They haven’t learned about Aesop’s Fables or read the Just So Stories.  Now they’re being introduced to Anansi, which is the closest they’ve come to any of that.  While those stories are really cool, we’re just now getting to them, and those were the only ones.  We need to incorporate more of that into our learning time, I think.  The kids would probably dig that kind of stuff.

At the same time, the things my kids have been learning are pretty awesome.  They’ve gotten to watch a garden grow last year.  They’ll be seeing it again this year.  We’re going to be spending time in nature as soon as the weather gets warm, and we’re going to start making note of the things that indicate the change of seasons once Daylight Savings hits and we’ll still have light when we go to jujitsu.  We’re delving into a lot of history, which is great for the kids and they’re really digging into it.  These are things I thought were pretty cool when I was a kid and it’s great to see they’re enjoying it as much as I do.  They’re really getting to experience some awesome things that way.

It isn’t too late to introduce the kids to things I feel are missing in their lives.  Aesop’s Fables will continue to be around.  I’m sure I can find a free ebook with them on Kindle.  The Just So Stories can be gotten from the library, I’m sure.  Since we’re homeschooling there are far more options to bring them up as a part of our homeschooling activities, and I no longer have to worry about Sander getting off the bus at 4 and not being interested in doing anymore school related anything after that.

Now we’ve got this incredible opportunity to fix what I feel like is a major failing in raising my kids (at least the younger three).  I still have time to get them knowledgeable about the things they don’t know, things that I’ve come to understand most kids don’t know anymore.  It’s a chance to open up a world to them that they’d never even known to consider before.  I have a feeling we’re in for a really great experience.


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The Art of Negotiation

One thing I’ve learned as a parent, especially as a homeschooling parent, is the art of negotiation.  I’ve tried not to be that parent that manipulates.  I try to let my kids be my kids, but sometimes I really have to set my foot down on things.  I hate doing it, but it’s necessary for my household to operate.  Things such as bedtimes (because of neighbors) are non-negotiable.  Other things?  They’re a lot more up for discussing.

While there are a lot of things that are up for discussion, I’ve come to learn to choose my battles.  There are some things (like lunch time) that have become fixed points in time, but other things are a lot more fluid.  Even the things I try to use as fixed points have been bending a lot lately.

For example, I had curriculum that the kids were supposed to do every day.  The problem with that was how incredibly daunting it was to face a day of solid block curriculum.  Though I know she has the best of intentions, my aunt keeps giving us more homeschooling curriculum and supplies and it’s starting to feel like our day is turning into a solid block of structured learning, exactly what I wanted to avoid.  I’ve got a lot to figure out with making it all work.

This is where negotiation comes in.  Today none of us were feeling homeschooling (that happens), so I was debating on just not doing it at all today, but knowing how things would turn out if I just said they could do whatever, I opted to at least do something.  We decided to do the Story of the World along with a book on Imperial China.  Then the kids did their computer time (which they pretty much love), and we moved on to workbooks.  Beekee was the only one that really dug the workbooks.  Sander did some of his math, some sight words, and a couple easy science and geography things.  Luca did nothing at all, not even Starfall today, just the computer time.

While on some days this would seem like a fail, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is what parenting is about, being able to negotiate with your child to get the things that must be done accomplished while letting go of things that don’t matter as much.  This factors into everything we do.  The important stuff is fixed (like bedtime), but the less important stuff (like what they wear to bed) is up to them.

In some ways this is easier than others.  I hate the “You have a choice between these things and that’s just the end of it,” but there are times it’s practical.  “We’re going to have dinner.  These are the things I’m willing to make.  Everyone gets a vote.”  I don’t want to leave the kids to pick anything in the house.  As much as I might not care if the kids want pancakes for breakfast, if I’m not feeling up to making it, I’m not making it.  That’s just how it has to be sometimes.

And isn’t that teaching them about life anyways?  Sometimes the world isn’t full of options.  Sometimes you’ve got to pick from a list of things that aren’t always appealing.  Maybe you have options on jobs, but none of them are going to be quite what you want to do.  Doesn’t matter, you still have to have a job to pay the bills.  Waiting for a fun job to come along may not be an option.

Sometimes it’s a matter of respect too.  In the case of dinner, it’s respecting my boundaries.  “I’m tired and I don’t feel like making anything at all, but here’s what I am willing to make.  Which one do you want?”  They need to understand that sometimes I’m all about the roast turkey with all the good stuff with it.  Other times it’s all I can do to throw together mac and cheese.  Some days Oz makes french fries from scratch.  Then there’s most days, where he works and isn’t up to doing anything but being home and playing video games.  It’s about respecting the other person’s needs.  That’s important too, especially if it goes both ways.

Teaching kids to negotiate is also an important life skill.  If they have to do a lesson they don’t want to do because they’d rather continue learning about something else, more power to them.  If they want to spend all day watching YouTube videos, and I feel there’s stuff to get done, it’s good for them to learn how to get what they want, and to meet their responsibilities too.  It’s healthy for them to learn to negotiate in their environment.

It’s reasons like these that I leave wiggle room in a lot of things.  Lunch is always at noon, but we can make it later if the kids are really into doing something.  Normally we don’t break for lunch until we’re done with what we’re doing, but sometimes they eat lunch while working.  We normally do snacks when lessons are done too, but sometimes we have them with lessons.  Bedtime is generally at 8pm for the younger three, but they stay up an hour later, sometimes an hour and a half when we go to jujitsu.  Because of that I leave them some wiggle room on the days they don’t go to jujitsu too.  I like to keep our home flexible so they can find things to practice their negotiating skills on.  After all, they can’t learn how to navigate their own way in life without being allowed some freedom to flex those muscles, so to speak.

But, speaking of jujitsu, it’s almost time to get rolling out.  We’ve got to get ready, especially if I want to pop into the library before class.  We missed Friday last week so I’m feeling the guilt of paying for something we’re not doing bad this week.  If we’re going to be paying for it…again, negotiation.  I don’t really want to go, but I’m willing if the kids are willing, and they’re definitely willing.  Oh the lessons we teach by example…


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Unschooling on a Budget: YouTube Is Your Friend

For the longest time I used to say “I don’t YouTube.”  It was true.  I don’t like wading through endless amounts of content to find something good that I have to preview for the kids, fact check, and all of that.  However, there is a lot of good content out there.  (Of course, if you’re reading a blog, you probably already know this…)

Sometimes you hit on good stuff by chance.  Other times you’re led to channels that are generally really good.  I was lucky enough to find a few good channels as a result of Nerdcon last weekend and we’ve been doing a lot with that.  I’m including some of the videos we recently watched at the bottom.  There are plenty of other shows to look into as well.  I’m sure there are hundreds of other channels out there that offer a good deal of educational content too.  These are just some I know about (and if you know of good channels, feel free to add them in the comments!

My kids are (mostly) young enough that they’re not ready to traverse YouTube alone, but I let them be the guide.  We’re working our way through Animal Wonders MontanaSciShow Kids, and SciShow right now.  We’re planning on adding Crash Course KidsCrash Course (for Corde), and The Brain Scoop.  They’re all done by a close network of people, but they’re decent, educational sources, and the kids seem to think they’re pretty fun.  This gives us a whole bunch of topics to learn about, even if it doesn’t all sink in at first.  We can always go back and watch them again if the kids are interested.

The wonderful thing about YouTube is it offers a whole world you might not be able to explore otherwise.  There are cool experiments that are shown online, along with the science behind them.  Some are too dangerous or involved to do at home.  Some are just not practical or too expensive to make it practical.  If you’re working on a budget, this can be a great way to show your kids the science without the cost of doing the experiment.  YouTube is free, so that can help a budget greatly.  Then you can save for the experiments you really want to do at home, or for projects your kids are really interested in.

For older kids, YouTube can be a great way to explore new concepts and ideas.  Corde has watched numerous videos with theories about what’s really going on in My Little Pony, or speculations of what the newest Pokemon could be.  It’s not traditionally educational, but she finds it fun and it gets her thinking.  There are thousands of videos on Minecraft out there and many of them tutorials that can generate new and interesting ideas.  Then there are all the videos that teach kids how to create.  There are art lessons, robotics lessons, even music lessons on YouTube.  I know someone that taught herself to play guitar with nothing but lessons on YouTube.  It’s amazing what kids can learn or be inspired by on YouTube.  The opportunities are endless.

I give Corde unlimited use of YouTube because there’s so much to learn on YouTube.  She mostly uses it to look up stuff on Pokemon, but I feel like it’s her choice to find what she’s interested in.  Maybe she’ll start watching videos on cooking and baking, given she’s interested in going into culinary (and may opt for a vocational school over homeschooling next year).  There’s just so much for her to pursue.  When the other kids are old enough, I have every intention of doing the same for them.

I really encourage you to check out the channels I listed earlier, but if you want a sample, here’s some of what we’ve been watching around our house.