Friday, April 30, 2010

What is Unschooling? (As defined so well in Barb Lundgren's email about the Rethinking Everything Conference in Sept 2010)

What is Unschooling?

Unschooling, aka self-design, open source learning, or free range education, is not something that we do to our children but largely a process of unlearning, or rethinking, for us parents. Most of us are products of the traditional school system which convinced us that learning only happens when people with power over us - teachers, parents - force, coerce or otherwise "motivate" us to absorb information that people with power over teachers - education and developmental experts - decided that we should know.

We were all born with a drive to learn that is more compelling than almost any other instinct. If we step back from the power struggles, we can be allies with our children in learning, solving problems and creating what John Holt called
"a life worth living and work worth doing."

Unschooling is deprogramming, healing, regenerating. It is remembering to relax and trust our own and our children's innate ability to choose ideas and activities that promote lifelong learning and growth.

How Does Unschooling Work?

Lives of the unschooled vary with each person and each family. Unschooling can cost nothing or cost a million bucks. Unschooling at its most fundamental is child-led learning, based upon the child's interests, developmental readiness, motivation and abilities, and nurtured by parents and the community, their environment, geography, curiosity, and each nurturing participant's skills, talents and enthusiasm for life. Each hour or each day may be different for the unschooled child/teen or even routine and structured if the child thrives on elements of routine.

There is no formula for unschooling how-to; the process of listening, communicating, sharing ideas, exposure to people, places and events begins to set the course for the directions an unschooled child will desire his life to go.

Unschooling is a diverse and organic process of discovering the world and one's place in it, all on the child's terms.

Everything from sleeping/awake patterns, meal times, food preferences, the extent to which she desires socialization, her interest in reading, writing, playing, daydreaming, cleaning, traveling, inventing, creating, etc. etc. now falls into the empowered realm of the unschooled child, all occurring or not as a function of the big wide world of internal and external stimulation which enters her world constantly.

Whether the unschooled child spends hours behind a book, a calculator, a computer, video games, playing fantasy games with friends or alone, all is determined by the unschooled child and nurtured by those who care for and about her.

In the unschooling family, parents are often challenged to unschool themselves in the process, meaning that they too begin striving for more freedom-to-be and following the dreams and desires they have for themselves.

A successful unschooling family will be one where each person is not only able to ask for and fulfill their ongoing preferences but each is nurturing and supportive of the others.

Communication, experimentation, equality and unconditional love are elements of
an unschooling family at its best.

The logistics of how, why and who does what in such a family is both revolutionary and magical. The dynamics of every family are critically different and the nuts and bolts of achieving harmony vary accordingly. Such are the topics of the Rethinking Everything conference!

How to Begin Unschooling

Watch your child and look for clues that tell you he is interested or ready for something. This is happening all the time.

Fill your home with resources that excite your child and the list will be different for each child. Inexpensive materials can be had through store sales, thrift stores, hand-me downs, gifts, garage sales. Many materials can be hand-made and books on how to make them available through your library or interlibrary loan.

Teach yourself to be resourceful in ways that foster your child's curiosities. For example, if your child is bored with the local parks, find new parks in new communities. If your child wants more pets but you are at your pet limit, find others who can give him the exposure to animals he is looking for: farms, pet stores, zoos, rehabilitation organizations, pet sitting, etc.

Don't follow any compulsion you feel for purchasing text books unless your child asks for them. When she asks for them or for the type of learning that only a textbook can offer, buy or borrow them! Just because a child wants school books or college or structure - or school for that matter - does not mean that unschooling is not taking place. Remember that unschooling is simply child-led learning. When she loses interest in the books, put them aside.

Expose your child to everything under the sun, and especially more of those things that are of interest to him - there are no limits to what they should or should not know; your child will make it clear to you how much information he needs at any given time.

Subscribe to magazines and buy/borrow books that follow your child's interests, rent/buy DVDs, venture out and find people who can foster your child's interests and curiosities. It's OK and totally normal to not have all the answers and in fact, a valuable learning experience for both of you. Tell your child honestly when you don't know a thing or have never thought about what he is talking about or asking for. Brainstorm together on how you find out what your child wants or needs to know.

Stop telling your child what to do. If a thing must be done, such as brushing one's teeth or leaving the house to shop, etc. and your child does not want to do it, treat him the way you would like to have someone treat you in similar circumstances: sometimes being straightforward and rational and honest is most effective, sometimes turning it into play works. Respectful communication and your child's critical need to trust what you tell him will allow each of you to want to help meet each other's needs and enjoy doing it.

Don't worry when it seems like your child is just playing all day - developmental experts agree that huge amounts of play are critical to their development of intelligence. Some experts believe that play should be all we do, whether we are "working" or not. (Shouldn't work be play?)

Play dates and times should always be set by the child, not the parent. If you cannot accommodate your child's wish to have a friend spend as much time at your house as you believe is possible, for example, help your child figure out how she can meet her needs in other ways.

Encourage your child to spend their time in ways that bring them feelings of joy and contentment. Do not put yourself in the position of being an enforcer of all that your fear and experience tell you she should be doing with her time. Bribery, coercion, punishment and rewards do not work and only make your life more stressful and difficult. Never use time-out. Discipline is never useful or productive - self-discipline is the only discipline that works and is achieved on each child's own timetable, on their own terms.

Recognize how important role-modeling is:
what your child sees you do every day,
what he hears you say about yourself and
others, how you treat yourself and others,
are the most important things your child will
pay attention to, learn from, and pattern.

There are no short-cuts or tricks here. You must learn to be a true model of your ideal. Once you have achieved a good measure of living up to your own expectations, don't expect your child to follow suit. For example, if he sees you working hard every day doing the things you love to do, he very well may have no interest in the same things you do, but rather will learn that he wants to spend his time doing the things he loves to do.

When tempted to share with your child how fearful you are that they will not learn all that you believe they should learn, write it down instead. Keep notes on your feelings, observations, ideas and compare them from time to time. Find others to talk to about your fears.

Unschool support groups are great resources, as are books, magazines, email lists, websites, etc. With your child, focus instead on what they ARE interested in. When your unschooled child spends all his time in a math book, don't talk to him about how he should be reading instead. If he wants to play video games all day, get him more video games.

When the interest is fostered unconditionally, any contrary or rebellious motive for
behavior will fall to the wayside and allow true interests and skills to develop.

Unschooling results in rich, creative and powerful lives on each person's terms. Living in community, whether it's with a family, an extended family, a town or the big world, with respect for each person's need to understand themselves and be true to their unique and ever-changing desires allows each person to honor those values in each other.

Unschooling does not result in out-of-control chaos: it results in communities of people who listen to each other, respect each other's wishes and desires, supporting the community's commonly agreed upon goals.

How will your unschooling community evolve?
Interested? Want more info? Check out the conference here:

Correspondence with Peter Gray re: reading and psychology today blog

On Mar 3, 2010, at 11:17 PM, Laurie Wolfrum wrote:

Hi - I'd love to contribute to your blog, but I am not sure what topics you still are working on. I saw your reading article and am assuming that you would be more interested in information on a different topic.

If you have time, could you tell me what you'd be interested in receiving personal stories about most? Thank you, Laurie Wolfrum (unschooling mom to Katie 12, Keli'i 8, Makana 4, and Kanoa 1)

PS : While my sleeping baby is in my arms and all the other kids are busy, I'll send you some stories about how my kids have learned to read in their own time and their own ways. I know your article is done, but I love sharing our reading stories and wished I could have sent it to you earlier.

My daughter Katie (now 12 and still a book lover) read at 3 1/2 years old. W read often to her and since my husband and I both enjoy reading when we have time, she witnessed us doing so. Plus we had the time to read as she was our only child at the time. For a short time (when she was 2 maybe), I hung up huge white signs with black writing in our house like "window," "exit," "bedroom," and made a few signs just based upon whatever she wanted to learn how to read (I asked her if there were any words she wanted to learn how to read). I was planning to do flashcard type things with her with those words - and did so, but this only lasted for a short a couple of months and then we stopped (either we grew bored of it, didn't remember to do it, or she wasn't interested...can't recall exactly). She learned how to read anyway. Probably just because she wanted to! I have on tape her at 18 months old reading word for word almost the story of "Danny and The Dinosaur." I couldn't believe she was saying so much of it correctly (or nearly exactly), but it was memorization I suppose. It was amazing to me. It was one of her favorite stories. (It still is with our other kids too!) I do remember being at a diner with her and my husband when she suddenly screamed "No!" She was pointing to the No Smoking sign - this was the first thing she read. I used to read "No Diving" signs to her at the pool too, so maybe she made the connection there?

My son Li (now 8) began understanding little by little over the past two years how to read. He is passionate about Magic The Gathering (a strategy type of card game) and reading helps him know what the cards can do and how much attack and defense they have. He also learned I think by using the computer for online games, looking up Magic Card information (to see how much each is worth so that he can then trade them in for a fair price for more Magic Cards), by playing board games that use the computer (like Pokeman), by wanting to cook, put in his data for certain things (like the Wii to make his Wii as well as for other things like to create his own email), etc.

My younger daughter is 4 and "reads" by saying aloud what is happenning based on the pictures and based upon what she remembers from reading the book before (she knows the story already). She knows how to spell certain words (like cat) and gets excited at spelling them. Also enjoys (like my other kids did when they were her age) making up crazy misc spellings with magnetic letters on the fridge and asking us what they spell. That must be a phase or something as she is the third one to do that. Like Katie and Daddy, she brings books to the potty with her! Sometimes she asks us to read them to her while she goes, other times she reads aloud (in her own way).

My youngest son is 14 months and loves looking at pictures in books, especially books about dogs (we don't own a dog, but my family loves the Iditarod and Yukon Quest and anything about dog mushing). We look at pictures in the house (with dogs) and online too (family photos of people and places, etc). My husband brings down the big book (like a coffee table book) about dog mushing whenever our little guy motions for it (he knows just where it is up high on the bookshelf).

We also still have the same foam letters that Katie had when she was a baby for the kids to play with. Katie had those and other plastic letters too though - we'd spell various words, our names etc with them and put them in ABC order just fooling around with them.

That is a brief story of our family's adventure in learning to read so far.

------On Thu, 3/4/10, Peter Gray wrote:

From: Peter Gray
Subject: Re: Your Freedom in Learning Blog
To: "Laurie Wolfrum"
Date: Thursday, March 4, 2010, 11:36 AM

Dear Laurie, Thank you for this great addition to my collection of stories on reading. Even though it is too late for my blog post on that topic, it is not too late for further work I intend to do on children's teaching themselves to read.

I plan to do soon (within about two weeks) a post on math learning. My preliminary plan is to break it down to three components:

1. Survival math. (The kind of math we all learn in the course of actual life, and the only math that most of us ever use in actual life.)

2. SAT math. The math kids learn so they can get into a competitive college, whether or not they are interested in math or will ever use it in their careers.

3. Fun math (or Real math). The math people do because it's fun; the kind of math that real mathematicians do!

If you have stories to contribute on math I would love to get them. Also, I'm still interested in the whole list of topics that I listed in my Jan. 6 post "I want your stories of self-directed learning."

Best wishes,

Peter Gray


----On 3/4/2010, I wrote - Thank you! I will see what I can do when my kids are busy and the house in generally quiet! I hope to put something together. I love this kind of thing (I ended up getting a teaching certificate in NJ, ME, and HI and a BA in psych - I am an analyzer, yet have learned to trust each individual to do their own learning and to offer things I think they are interested in instead of try to "teach" in the conventional sense) Laurie :)

Here's the link to Peter's blog article regarding learning to read -

Unschooling your five year old...

Below is a note I sent to a friend about unschooling and her five year old...thought it was worth posting as it gives an idea about what unschooling means to me personally.

I wanted to respond to you about your five year old and give you some more info on unschooling (in case you wanted to think more on that possibility). Also, if you ever want to talk, I would be happy to share more about how things work for our unschooling family and how we got into it, how our kids have lived a regular life and learned different things, etc, etc.

Here's a long list of info about unschooling - I know it is hard to "relax" into it...but that is exactly how to do it. Typically, you will gain confidence over time as you see your child learn in spite of you not making him do specific educational activities.

Kids weren't forced to learn to walk...they did it because they wanted to do it. Even though it took time and they fell down, eventually with loads of determination and practice they were able to do it. Kids aren't slackers! They are busy people with brains like sponges!

When kids aren't forced to do learning activities, they still learn just by living an active full life with a parent who brings to them resources that they would love. When you know your kids because you spend so much time with them, you can be on the lookout for resources that would excite your children or cater to their passions (whatever that passion is in the moment). One thing leads to another...connections happen..learning takes place. Kids continue to crave more information or further their current interests which lead to more learning and connections.

When kids are engaged in the things that they love to do, when they care about what they are doing, when they want to do what they are doing, they will learn. And what they do learn will have meaning to them - likely this learning will stick more because of it having meaning (as opposed to learning just to take a test or just because of having to follow a lesson plan).

The thing I want most for my kids with regard to education is that they know they can learn anything they want to if and when they want to and that learning can be enjoyable. For us, happiness comes first, all else follows..even education. But education *does* follow as it does so naturally by living a full, happy, and interesting life with parents that seek out experiences, activities and resources that their children's would be interested in. And attention matters too....parents need to pay loads of attention to their kids too - give lots of time and attention. And remembering to be grateful for our kids and for the things we are able to do for them and for the time we can spend with them.

Each child learns in their own time and own way, not on anyone else's schedule. That is one great thing about homeschooling - we don't have to force our kid to read x dificulty level by x grade, nor learn by any certain method. Peter Gray has a great blog about learning - I will see if I can find it....


Peter Gray and Unschooling Math

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology; published articles on innovative teaching methods and alternative approaches to education; and is author of Psychology (Worth Publishers), an introductory college textbook now in its 6th edition. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current writing focuses primarily on the life-long value of play. His own play includes not only his research and writing, but also long distance bicycling, kayaking, and back-woods skiing.

His PT blog is Freedom to Learn.

Here is a link to a recent article he wrote for his blog -

Below is what I sent to Peter and his response regarding unschooling math -

Hi Peter! I will try to put some information below on how our family learns about math in our everyday life.

It would be truly difficult NOT to learn about math (or any of the traditional "subjects") by living a full, happy life. The various "subjects" are naturally part of life - they are part of our lives morning, noon, and night. Sometimes one person (or more) is very engrossed in one passion for a length of time (like my daughter Katie with dogsledding*, a certain novel or book she is writing or reading or my son Li with Magic The Gathering card game or Pokeman or creating his own bakery or something else).

* Dogsledding led to Katie writing to mushers, learning about mushing, geography of Alaska, watching the Iditarod and Yukon Quest online and following the mushers and figuring out distance and speed so we could guess who would come in first or next, having an Iditarod musher (Scott Smith) come to talk to our homeschool group, meeting some local mushers, going mushing, saving money to go mushing, having a bake sale to save money for mushing, becoming friends with mushers or musher enthusiasts on facebook and having conversations with them about the sport, etc

People can learn math and logic from so many things from reading to cooking to dividing up food or slices fairly to playing sports (figuring out the odds of winning or what angle to kick the ball, etc) to playing games (tic tac toe, sorry, connect four, tons of games...see Danielle Conger's "math" blog for some that she suggests to be related to "math"- to playing video games (yes, really!) to calculating how far it is to walk around the block or to figure out distance, rate and time when going somewhere or wanting to go somewhere and to see if you could actually do it...real life things. When you want to know something and it isn't drudgery, you just find it out. You learn. And most of all you understand concepts because they really mean something to you. For example, last night my son Li (age 8) asked me what 36 times 15 was. He knows how to do alot of calculations in his head already, but did not know how to do this one. And he doesn't know how to write out and calculate multiplication yet, so he asked me. I showed him how I do it, got the answer and asked him why he wanted to multiply those two numbers. He said it was because he wanted to buy a big pack of Magic The Gathering Booster Cards which had 36 packs of cards with 15 cards in each pack and he wanted to know how many cards he would get in all. This is just one example. Tonight we went grocery shopping and we calculated which Tropicana Orange Juice container(s) would be the cheapest - one big plastic bottle (which had twice the amount of ounces as the smaller one) or two smaller containers. We actually saved money by purchasing the two smaller containers of orange juice. (And I was glad we were not buying plastic - which made me feel like we made an environmentally friendly decision too!)

My daughter Katie is 12 1/2. Over the past year, Katie's schooled friends have told her they are learning algebra and that it is hard. A few months ago, she *asked* me to help her learn about algebra. One night, after the rest of the family was asleep, we sat on the bed and went over basic algebra together. I offerred to show her more in the morning, but she said that she had learned enough for now and that she knows if she wants to learn more in the future, she can.

When Katie was younger, she asked me to quiz her on multiplication or addition facts. We typically did this while traveling in the car or laying in bed late at night. We still do this sometimes with the other kids too, but only when it is played like a game, not to drill the kids on knowing the correct answers.

The kids and I love to play "Guess the number!" We do this whenever we are bored at the moment, waiting for an appointment, waiting in line, traveling in the car, etc. In this game, one person thinks of a number within a range of numbers and the rest of us guess. We are told higher or lower until we finally guess the right number. We take turns being the guesser or the person who thinks of the number. (When I am the guesser, I usually guess the middle number so I cut the range of possible numbers by 50%. ie..if the range is 0-100, I will guess 50. That is just the way I like to play the game for the first few guesses. I've talked to the kids about why I usually guess the middle number of the range, but they still just guess whatever number they think it is. I don't mind if they don't play it like me as it is just a game, but I do share why I do things with them sometimes. In any case, we all like that game - a favorite for sure!)

We do have a multiplication chart hanging up in the living room and we all enjoy finding out different patterns in it. (Someone once told me that an easy way to learn anything is to hang up whatever it is you wish to know (or others to know) on the wall in front of the potty! Well, our chart is not on the wall in front of the potty seat, but we do see it often by sitting or laying on the couch.) So far, Li, Katie, Jim (my dh) and I are the ones who enjoy looking at it the most.

We have these cool logic (math) books called "Math Perplexers." I love to do them and Katie and Li have enjoyed doing them with me. We also have Sudoku books and other things strewn around the house and in the bookshelves. We don't ever force the kids to do them, but they are there and sometimes come out for one reason or another. We have especially loved the Sir Cumference and other Charlesbridge math books - so clever and entertaining (! Pattern blocks, tanagram puzzles, legos, wooden blocks, math manipulatives of various sorts (like cuisonnaire rods - which may only be used to *play* with or not....but either way it is a learning experience!)

When Li plays Magic The Gathering, he is constantly doing calculations of his life and figuring out which card would be best to attack an opponent or defend himself. There is strategy involved in it all. Many of the cards allow you to do a certain thing if you use x amounts of points or tap certain mana that you have already put down. Tokens can be used and dice is used to keep track of your life and for counters. Sometimes paper is used to keep track of each players life. I am surprised how complicated and strategic this game is. - Scroll to the bottom to see the Makana (age 4) and Li (age 8) playing Go Fish. Also, the two bottom pictures are things Li just made up on his own. I ask him about them and he describes them. - Below is from this blog post....(and there are a few other sort of math related things)
"I went shopping in Kana's store and wrote up the amount for each item I purchased. Li and I were showing each other how we added up the numbers. Me by carrying over. Li by adding up the cents first and then adding that amount to the dollar amount. The bottom was another game we were playing involving letters." - Below from this post - "Li explains time to Makana: I overheard Li explaining to Makana that there was 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, half of an hour was thirty minutes and half of half an hour was 15 minutes, which was how much time was left before the next hour."

I would write more, but I need to attend to my kiddos as it is getting late. I hope some of what I wrote is interesting or helpful. If there is anything specific you wish to ask, please write and I'll do my best to answer. I am sure I am leaving out loads of things, but this is the best I could do while my husband watched the kids so I could try to type!

Laurie Wolfrum 207-236-4275

His response -

Laurie, this is really helpful. Thank you for taking the time for typing it out; I really appreciate it. If I have any further questions as I work on my essay on this topic, I'll not hesitate to ask.
Best wishes,

Peter Gray

Good Links for Unschooling/Homeschooling

Note made on 7/3/2014 - For more current information, please see my other blog "Maine Homeschooling Resources and Ideas" as that has all this and more broken down into various pages and is more current.  Click here to go to the "unschooling" page, then you can click on the other pages as you like.
Or feel free to look at this old post as some of the info is still current, but not all. - Laurie :)
Here is the email that I send out when people ask me for information about unschooling....

The first section contains the most helpful links that I think are best for beginning unschoolers. Find out what it is all about by joining the groups, watching the youtube videos, coming to the conference, reading books, etc.

The second section is a post from a yahoo group that I thought would be helpful for those seeking basic unschooling information or for those beginning to unschool.

The third section is the whole "Good Links and Books for Homeschooling and Unschooling." Hope it is helpful!

Laurie Wolfrum (mom to Katie 12, Li 8, Makana 4, and Kanoa 1)


Northeast Unschooling Conference (NEUconference -
End of August each year in Wakefield, MA)


AlwaysUnschooled (Danielle Conger, Meredith and others post
alot as well as many other insightful, respectful people - This is one of my favorite groups.)

If you want to look at what radical unschooling
is all are some good links:

*****"Parenting a Free Child" by Rue Kream (My ablsolute favorite book for parenting/unschooling! (I donated a copy of her book to our local it is available through interlibrary loan if you live in Maine and have access to that lending system!)
-Here's a link to her book...

*****Dayna Martin (from Vermont) has wonderful, honest youtube videos that discussing trusting our kids and unschooling and living joyfully. Here's a link to her web page. Click on whatever video you are interested in from there.

Check out Dayna's book also: "Radical Unschooling: A Revolution has Begun"


" does one go about unschooling? "
http://sandradodd. com/help

http://sandradodd. com/beginning
"I did attempt this once a few months back and felt like they would just play all day and not learn anything at all."
I find the above statement hard to believe. Children learn through play. Even schools know that. Did you have to teach your children to walk and talk? Read some more:
http://sandradodd. com/pam/ilive
-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-
"My hubby does want evidence that they are learning something so I feel I have to prove that we do "school". How do you let go and trust that they are learning or will learn what they need when they are ready?"
http://sandradodd. com/seeingit

http://sandradodd. com/trust
"I guess I am looking for suggestions on starting and record keeping. Is it okay to let one child build all day (tents, forts, club houses and tower from all sorts of stuff) and the other to do arts all day? Are they really learning anything? "
How could he not?
"What about math?"
http://sandradodd. com/math/
The last couple of days I have been pulling out different games to get a way from the workbooks yet still feel like they are getting something. Should I make them play games? "
Make them like force them? Unless you want them to hate games I would not force them ever. If you are playing with them for fun and they want and like them go for it.


However you homeschool, these magazines are great!!

Life Learning Magazine was started in 2002. In 2008, its print edition merged with Natural Life Magazine. However Life Learning Magazine is still being published in a digital edition.

If you subscribe to the online edition of Life Learning Magazine, then you will get password-protected access to ALL the issues of Life Learning in PDF.
To subscribe:

Free selected Life Learning Magazine articles can be read here -

Rethinking Everything Magazine - (online subscription)

Live Free, Learn Free
(This magazine is not being published right now due to family health
issues and it is now an online magazine. I probably would NOT order as I haven't rec'd an issue in some time due to their family circumstances. Maybe someday back issues will be available?)

From a post on 1/2010 - Allie (who staffed at Not Back to School Camp this fall 2009) is making a zine called School's Out! She could use some more readers. The issues are 2-5 dollars each and are about all sorts of things - fmi email Allie at alexandra.hendrick@ .

Idzie is a person who publishes a zine called DIY Life. In it there are articles about unschooling, reducing consumption, safe computer usage for those who don't want their activities monitored, self-defense, poetry and artwork. Contributors include Wendy Priesnitz, Eli Gerzon, and ps pirro, just to name a few from the unschooling community... If you want to find out more about the zine, you can check it out here: http://yes-i- can-write. blogspot. com/search/ label/DIY% 20Life%20Zine And if you want to download it, you can do so here: http://zinelibrary. info/diy- life-zine- issue-1 If you do decide to read it, Idzie would love to hear what you think!


Parenting/Homeschooling Bks/Links:

*****The Homeschooling Book of Answers by Linda Dobson
(Really good for beginning to homeschool because it gives great info on all those questions we have...) Here's a link to some of her other books

*****And the Skylark Sings With Me by David Albert
(He has 2 other good bks too, but this is my favorite David Albert book!)

*****Dayna Martin (from Vermont) has wonderful, honest youtube videos that discussing trusting our kids and unschooling and living joyfully. Here's a link to her web page. Click on whatever video you are interested in from there.
Check out Dayna's book also: "Radical Unschooling: A Revolution has Begun"

To Listen to an interview with Dayna, Click Here
or go to http://www.freetobe parenting. com/Activities. html
(Scroll down to Replay section)

*****"Parenting a Free Child" by Rue Kream (My ablsolute favorite book for parenting/unschooling! (I donated a copy of her book to our local it is available through interlibrary loan if you live in Maine and have access to that lending system!)
-Here's a link to her book...
Another Rue site....
Rue has a yahoo group too:

Link to Danielle Conger's fabulous website/blog: (this link is the one to the "math" page, but chk out the whole site/blog)

2009 Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference audio files for FREE!!!!

Here is a youtube video (an hour and 15 min) - an interview with Astra Taylor, a grown unschooler and independent filmmaker. She speaks about the politics and psychology of education, and her experience as an unschooler and an overachiever.
http://tinyurl. com/yffpl7w or

"How I ended up as an unschooler": com/watch? v=v4RU04OqL6c& playnext_ from=TL&videos= 3c3KUQifPCw

A blog by a now 19yo unschooler (the same woman who does the YouTube video just above):
"I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write.":
http://www.yes- i-can-write. blogspot. com/

Christine Yablonsky and Phil Biegler were on Good Morning America (April 2010 - here's the first piece - and GMA rec'd so many comments and emails about unschooling that the couple was asked to come back and answer some of the concerns and questions. I am putting this link here twice because it is that good! Thank you Christine and Phil!

Christine Yablonsky and Phil Biegler about unschooling were also on Joy Behar's program (news show)

And here is a blog where unschoolers respond to the Yablonski/Biegler/Good Morning America interviews and more:

Cameron Lovejoy's site for the Autodidact Symposium March 12-14, 2010 in Columbia SC:

Book by James Marcus Bach: "Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar" (It is about how he left school because it was stiffling him and his way of learning and how he continues to learn and be successful ever since. He puts a postive spin on his ADD diagnose - he writes about how he DOES learn and how he controls how he does it so it works for him.)

Sandra Dodd's book: http://sandradodd. com/bigbook

Sandra Dodd's youtube videos re:unschooling: com/watch? v=DoG6j8eTjyY
Sandra Dodd Pt 1 : Path To Unschooling com/watch? v=iWOGCg4sHTI
Sandra Dodd Pt 2: Unschooling & Real Learning

Access all 4 parts (3 of Sandra and 1 of Holly, her teen daughter here):

To upload and put on an iPod or mp3 player. You can go to the
source of these and download them directly to listen to elsewhere.
They're Sandra Dodd. One has Sandra and Richard Prystowsky, and one is Ren
Allen and Sandra:

And this is a really old one (approx 12 yrs ago) that's not been announced because it's hard to understand and needs some notes and images to make better sense:

Unschooled teenager Holly Dodd:
and holly

Brenna McBroom (unschooled teen): v=H37T7o9u_ 2M&feature= channel v=gHBtjpQJp80& feature=channel

http://unschooling. info/video
various kinds of things, many with kids in, or some made by unschooled kids

"The Unschooling Unmanual" - exerpts by: Nanda Van Gestel, Jan Hunt, Daniel Quinn, Rue Kream, Earl Stevens, Kim Houssenloge, John Holt, and Mary Van Doren

"The Home School Source Book" by Jean and Donn Reed - Chock full of book recommendations on various categories/topics. Plus lots of interesting and thought provoking comments by the Reeds on life in general.

"The Adventures of Penrose the mathematical cat" - by Theoni Pappas (Theoni Pappas has some other interesting math related books as well.)

"Trust the Children" by Anna Kealoha - I love this book because the title speaks to me. Inside though, it does provide lots of fun activities for families to do and some commentary on the author's take on homeschooling. I haven't read the book in a long time, but I recall it not seeming very unschooly to me nor trusting despite the title. Having said that, it still has tons of great ideas in it, my favorite being this cool other way to play tic, tac toe on page 156 in the numbers section.

"Material World A global Family Portrait" - By Peter Menzel - This is an excellent picture book and shows families from all over the world with their "stuff" outside their homes. It really made an impact on me as to how much stuff we (and others) have and how little people in poor countries have. Good socialogy book (if you want/need to catagorize some of the things you learn/study)!

Love this site for general parenting stuff...

Scott Noelle's "The Daily Groove" (give inspirational words each day with regard to living with our loved little ones so that we enjoy parenting and our lives in general more.)

"Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn
Available in book or DVD. I got the 2 hr DVD from the library (inter-library loan). It was in lecture form and was absolutely excellent!!

FREE Online Magazine for unschoolers:
(Donations appreciated if one is interested, but it is not required and the articles are now totally free.)

If you want to look at what radical unschooling
is all are some good links:

Consentual Living (haven't looked into this too much although it looks somewhat up my alley..."taking children seriously" related? Think there would be things to take and things to leave from this group...)

Unschooling Collected Posts that might be helpful...(haven't read them all...)

Horrible Books: (excellent history bks and they even have math bks too...)

Here is the link for Laurie Block Spiegel (excellent math and english and history, etc ideas and links)

For Math....

Great Math books (request from your library):

This site by a non-profit group offers a multi-sensory approach for Spelling and English (Haven't used it as we unschool those things, but heard from traditional homeschoolers that this was worthwhile to check out)

Pam Leo's website:

Pam Leo wrote an excellent book (also available on cd or mp3 dwnld and read by her): "Connection Parenting: Parenting through Connection instead of Coercion
through Love instead of Fear" You can access a streaming audio interview from her home page too.


There are two Not Back To School Camps - one in Oregon and one in Vermont.
Here's a film about them made by a former camper! Wish there was one for adults!
Not back to school camp video:
This is awesome!!!!!

Byron Katie
Her book "Loving What Is" (has others)
The work for parents -

Naomi Aldort

Alfie Kohn

Good Yahoo Groups:

AlwaysUnschooled (Danielle Conger, Meredith, and others post alot as well as many other insightful, respectful people - This is one of my favorite groups of all.)
Cameron Lovejoy creaated this new group for parents (and other interested people) to ask unschooled children questions, to get the answers from the source.
Here's the description of his list: "Most unschooling message boards are for parents by parents. Usually both parties are speaking of their own children, giving or receiving answers regarding raising these children. Rarely are the offspring answering the questions and concerns of novice unschooling parents. This group is made exclusively for unschooling children, teens and young adults to answer questions about living in an unschooling household, socialization, learning to read and write, bed times and food choices, independence, and above all being an unschooler. This is an open, unmoderated list. Because of this we may get a little spam. If it gets out of hand I will being moderating."




Belfast (Maine) Area Homeschoolers yahoo group - Right now we meet at Point Lookout on Thursdays from 1-4pm or at Belfast City Park in good weather:


Central Maine Self Learners (CMSL)

Creative Partnerships

Discovery Center for Arts and Sciences in Bath, ME (DCAS) - They do group portfolio reviews for $20 or $25 per child in May (I am now certified to do portfolio reviews too!) Bambi Thompson runs this group.







Northeast Unschooling Conference (NEUconference - End of August each year in Wakefield, MA)

Live and Learn Unschoolers Conference (No longer happenning, but used to take place in North Carolina - you can order MP3 downloads of the conference to put on your hard drive or CD)
2008 was the LAST year for this conference

Life is Good Northwest Unschoolers Conference (State of Washington over Memorial Day Wknd - you can order DVDs of the whole conference for $43.00)


Peacefulpartnerships (how to apply peaceful and respectful philosophy that we try to use with our kids to our relationship with our spouses):

Radical Unschooling with Law of Attraction (Dayna Martin's list. She is
a beautiful person who is truly and sincerely joyful...talks alot about the law of attraction, Thework by Byron Katie and radical unsch)

RUL (Radical Unschoolers List)


UnschoolingResources: (affiliated with Live Free Learn Free Magazine) - I haven't been on this site in a long time. It may not be active.

Unschoolingpartnerships: This is a list for people who are already radically/whole life unschooling with their children and wish to take those tools and apply them to their relationship with their partner.*

Other Misc Yahoo Groups:

Unschooling through illness:

Alternative Kids Teeth:


AP_Doctor_Referral (helps those who practice attchment parenting to find compatable drs and other professionals)

FUNNews: (they sell great books)

Unschoolingaroundtheworld: (send/receive postcards from other countries)

For those in NJ: (Nancy Plent's new website The Unschoolers Network)

FlyLadyMentors:(The Fly Lady- house organization and cleaning)

Imagination Tribe: (art cards, etc)

New Atlantean Books: (good ref bks for family care and

Diet related issues (links between artificial color, flavoring, fragrances and behavior):

Great site for kids health to ck out:

An international site focused on natural healing and nutrition, Heal Thyself!
http://heal- thyself.ning. com/

Book Recommendations - need to add WAY more here. Have not chosen to update this yet. It would be a big project!:

Killing Monsters by Gerard Jones (makes kids feel powerful to kill monsters; talks about comics, etc) -I didn't get a chance to finish this book yet. Not sure what I think of this yet.

Puberty/Sex Related Books:
UU churches recommend (and use) "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris
For younger kids: "What's the Big Secret?" (think by Marc and Laurie Brown)

"What's Happenning to My Body Book" - by Linda Madaras - My daughter and I both thought this was a helpful book. The author has one for boys (haven't read that yet) and for girls (just skimmed it so far, but wish to buy it. I have requested it from the library to make sure we like it first and that give me a chance to go through it more looked really good when we checked it out at the book store a couple wks ago.).

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships (Paperback) by Ruth Bell (Author) "Sometime between the ages of nine and seventeen, your body will change dramatically..."

Website for teens on sex (suggested via a post on alwaysunschooled by Meredith around 2/19/2010): http://www.scarlete

"The Guy Book: An Owner's Manual" by Mavis Jukes

**"The Parent/Teen Break-through: the relationship approach" by Mira Kirshenbaum and Charles Foster. Excellent book (what I've read so far) for building relationships with teens (and preteens).

"And the Children Played... " by Patricia Joudry

"Everyday Blessings" by John and Myla Kabat-Zinn

"Living Joyfully With Children" by Bill and Win Sweet

"Child's Work" by Nancy Wallace

"How Children Learn" and "How Children Fail" - both by John Holt

"The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart" by Jan Hunt
Faber & Mazlish How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids
Will Talk

Faber & Mazlish Siblings Without Rivalry

Fitzenreiter, Valerie The Unprocessed Child: Living without School

The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto

Ned and Luz Vare "Smarting Us Up"

"The Teenage Liberation Handbook" - Grace Llewellyn
(Graces home page:

Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife Dorothy wrote a lot about delayed academics. They suggested that reading and formal academics shouldn't be taught until 8 or even 10-12 in some cases. Age isn't as important as readiness. They wrote "Better Late than Early" which contains a lot of research an information in support of delayed academics such as reading. They also wrote "School Can Wait". They present information from the fields of optometry, neurophysiology, sociology and education to support their thesis.

"The Report Card" is a fiction book by Andrew Clements. It is about a girl named Nora who is in middle school and is exceptionally brilliant. Nora does not want to let others know because she does not want to be treated or thought of as any different from anyone else. In fifth grade, her friend Stephen becomes very anxious about grades as do most of the kids. To help show her friend that grades don't really reflect what one knows, she purposely gets all D's on her report card (and one C by accident). I won't give away the rest of the story, but it is a good read! My 12 yr old daughter asked me to read it and thought I'd like it. She was right! I was excited to read it when I noticed that the author thanked Alfie Kohn! Also, the librarian in the book advises Nora that there are always at least two choices to make and to pick the better one. Reminds me of Sandra Dodd's suggestions on her site! Below is a video link in which Andrew Clements talks about his son in Kindergarten who pretended not to be able to read because of the way his classmate treated him.

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach - awesome book that helps us look at the things we take for granted in life and question them!! Highly recommend listening to the cassette tape (doesn't come on dvd as far as I can tell)

Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewelyn

Guerilla Schooling by Grace Llewelyn - (Pam Sorooshian wrote "It will help you
deal with his being in school in an unconventional way" in a post on the always learning list around 4/7/2010)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kana's special dessert from 3/31/2010

I asked Makana to explain how she made her wonderful looking dessert! Boy did it look good!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Let's talk about The Magic Word

I said to Makana today after reading the Daily Groove, "Hey Makana! Listen to this..." and started to read the first sentence aloud. "Most of us were taught that the Magic Word is....what is it?" (I asked to see if she would say please or abre which she learned from Dora.) She said, "Abre!" with a huge smile. Then she asked, "Is that right?" and I said, "Yes, for some people." (Alright, alright, I left out that most of the world considers it "please." But on Dora, abre IS the magic word. And darn it, I like that better. I don't like it when people speak condonscendingly towards kids trying to get them to tell them the magic word before they will help or acknowledge them. It is RUDE on the part of the adult to treat children that way - I'd say it is rude to treat Anyone that way, but this kind of talk is most often directed toward kids. If only those adults would think how they would treat another adult and then treat kids with as much kindness..or even more! Funny thing is that some adults expect adult behavior from kids and yet don't treat them like adults. Not only is it unrealistic to expect kids to act like adults, but the adults aren't even modeling the kind of treatment that they want the kids to give them.

I usually tell my kids what to expect in our society so they can know what to expect and fit in if they want to. But I didn't this time. I guess I was thinking that if anyone ever tried to ask Makana the magic word, that they wouldn't manipulate her to answer them since she truly doesn't know. And I love how she says Abre! Dora is her favorite show..still. She says thank you and please when she wants to and is polite without having to fit into our culture and I guess I will tell her at some point...I am just loving how she still doesn't know "the magic word!!"

Okay, I just asked Li what the magic word was and he said, Magic The Gathering cards (of course he associates everything that sounds like magic to his fav game!) and I said "No, the 'magic word.'" And he said "Aahhh abracadabra???" ;) And I know he was asked by someone a couple years ago "What's the magic word?" when he wanted to know if he could take home a rubber band. Guess he forgot.

Here's the relevant Scott Noelle's Daily Groove which I have read many times before and like and which got me writing this whole entry.
--- On Fri, 4/16/10, Scott Noelle - The Daily Groove wrote:

From: Scott Noelle - The Daily Groove
Subject: [Daily Groove] The (Real) Magic Word
To: "Laurie"
Date: Friday, April 16, 2010, 6:22 AM

THE DAILY GROOVE ~ by Scott Noelle

Get the support you need to be a powerful partner, so
you can create a powerful partnership with your kids:

:: The (Real) Magic Word ::

Most of us were taught that "the magic word" is
*please*. Just say "please" and you'll get what you
want... (Maybe.)

We quickly learned that a certain kind of theatrics
was required to unleash the word's magic: begging and
*pleading*. But pleading always feels disempowering --
not very magical.

Fortunately, there's a word with *real* magic: LET'S.

We used it mostly with other kids, since grown-ups
didn't really believe in magic. Nobody told us it was
a magic word, we just knew intuitively that we could
use it to co-create whatever we wanted:

* Let's play!
* Let's pretend!
* Let's go puddle stomping!
* Let's make a fairy castle!
* Let's build a treehouse!
* Let's start a band!

The essence of letting is *allowing*, which is the key
to creativity. And the apostrophe-S stands for "us,"
so LET'S is really an invitation to co-create.

It's good to model politeness and use "please" with
your kids, but if it turns into pleading, you're
modeling disempowerment. Switch to LET'S and you'll
model empowerment through partnership...

"Would you PLEEEEEASE help me clean up
this mess!?" :-(

"LET'S clean this up together!" :-)

Feel free to forward this message to your friends!
(Please include this paragraph and everything above.)
Copyright (c) 2010 by Scott Noelle

"Inspiration & Coaching for Progressive Parents"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kana's Picking Garden

Yesterday, Kana put on a dress up outfit (ballerina leotard with tutu attached) and wore it all day. She wore it on the wagon ride around the neighborhood, played outside and inside, out to the garden store to get compost and flowers, and the whole time we dug and planted. It is now smudgy with dirt and waiting to be handwashed. I so wish I had a photo of her in her tutu out in the garden. But we were so busy and she got cold and I didn't get a chance to photo her because she needed to come in and get in the warm shower. We both had black hands. It felt so good to connect with the earth! I love the smell of the dirt and ground.

Last night Kana said that she now understood why I didn't want her to pick flowers from my garden. (I remained silent with my thoughts when she said this as I DO let her pick flowers from my garden, but do ask that she not pick them all because I like to look at them. That is why I thought she might like her own garden where she could plant and pick whatever she wants whnever she wants - and it might be fun to have her own garden.) She continued, "Because now I don't want anyone to pick flowers from my garden."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Girls in the Bangor Daily News re: SCA Event at Discovery Museum in Bangor

Here's a link to the Bangor Daily News article that has Makana and Katie's name in it. It is from a SCA event at the Maine Discovery Museum held a couple weeks ago. And by the way, we stopped at Border's and bought the calligraphy set on sale and with a teacher discount for about six bucks! Katie used it that very night!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Peanut Butter Family Homeschool by Bill Butterworth

A few weeks ago, my friend Sue reminded me of a book I gave her a few years ago that she finally finished. It was called The Peanut Butter Family. I didn't remember it, so I ordered it from the library to reread. Here is one of my favorite parts.

page 63 - "From my point of view, excitement is half the battle in education. If students become motivated about a particular subject, they'll do whatever it takes to gain mastery of that subject."

Note: Because we unschool, there is no "battle" (nor should there be if someone is interested and excited to learn something)- but I agree about kids being excited and wanting to do and learn until they gain mastery sufficient to satisfy themselves.

This is a very easy to read, uplifting book about traditional, Christian homeschoolers. Although we are not "school-at-home" homeschoolers and we don't homeschool for religious reasons, I absolutely loved rereading this book and would recommend it to others. I felt that Bill Butterworth was a little condenscending toward his wife and daughter in it, but only because he was likely brought up that way and he didn't think of it as negative. He was a very loving and supportive father and husband. As a matter of fact, that is what I loved most about this book: their family's love for each other spilled out of the pages. I felt so happy after reading it. I also think Rhonda (the mom) would love unschooling if she had known more about it and could trust her kids more. She did read some Holt (so it says in the book). That is pretty cool that she was already reading that back in the 80's.

At the end of the book, you find out that Bill surprises Rhonda with furniture for their house (it was something they never got around to doing). I must have been riding that vibe, because the day after I finished reading it, my thoughtful and caring husband surprised me by washing the minivan!

PS. Sue thought Bill Butterworth came across as a bit goofy and Rhonda Butterworth as an overachiever/type A. I agree, esp about Bill as seeming goofy.

PSS. I remember how we wore those collars down into our sweaters in the 80s - just like Rhonda's on the cover photo of their family. I don't recall anyone in my area wearing suspenders though. Maybe they did that just for the photo?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday April 5, 2010

This morning was kind of stressful here. We were finally leaving the house to meet Rosie and the boys at Cedarworks and I was grateful to be on our way. On the drive, I saw a couple of girls walking home from school and said to Katie something like "Sometimes I wonder if you would rather be one of those girls happily walking home from school rather than have a morning like we had." (Honestly, it wasn't *that* bad, but I felt pretty down and just had alot of negative thoughts. And who knows, maybe they were happy to be out of school for the day after a hectic day of being told what to do and when!) She said, "No way. I love being unschooled. If I never had a bad day once in a while, I'd never know what a good day was! I would rather have a morning like we had rather than spend my day in a prison." Well, I sure started feeling better! Thanks, Katie!! (She has no idea how uplifting she is! Such a wonderful person! So glad she is my daughter!!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Who are we?

Okay - this is weird! I am holding and nursing Kanoa while checking email. I read some posts on the AU list about who we really are no matter what we call ourselves. Then I began to read other emails that came in. I have always been interested in the 5rhythms dance sessions held locally and was looking over one of those newsletters when Li (who had come downstairs and was playing his DS on the couch nearby) said "Who are you?" to his DS as I was simutaneously reading these words:

"A quote from Adyashanti...
"What am I, really? The beautiful nobody can tell us what we are. Nobody can really tell us. Not in a way that's going to be satisfactory to us. Our true nature is self-authenticating. When we bump into our true nature, it authenticates itself. Something inside us knows. what has been sought for, longed for, looked for. This is it. Usually, it's not what we expected..."

Come dance and uncover more pieces of who you are, what you are... It may not be what you expected!

Anna and Kari"

How bizarre and interesting! Something I will think on for a while.

Dad's cat video

Here's what I sent to my dad yesterday - Everyone just saw the video (except Jim who is at work of course) and thought it was so funny. Makana looked at me with uncertainty and asked, "Is Pop Pop a cat now?" I laughed and said no and told her that you used the cat graphics just because they were funny and she agreed that they were funny and we both laughed! I swear, she really wondered there for a minute! Love, Laurie :)

March 24th thru March 31st 2010

3/24 - Makana's drawing with wet fingers or the special marker on the Dora drawing pad. This pad is so just use a special wet marker to draw and the picture stays until the water evaporates. So you can use it again and again. There is also this truck that follows the wet lines you make. The kids have lots of fun with this toy.

3/25 - Katie and Kanoa watch something on the computer. See Makana in this photo too. Probably Elmo??

3/26 - This is the card I sent to Neil for his birthday. I know I made him a bit wide here...did the best I could. Jim and I laughed as he suggested that I make it right by saying something like "This is how you'll look after you eat all that birthday cake!" Neil liked it and knew exactly which picture I modeled my drawing after. Yeah!

3/2010 - This piece of art I thought was so cool. It got ripped though. Kana stuck a piece of leftover sticker background on a paper and Li made this creature (dragon?) out of it. Really cool imo!

3/29 - What is this? It's Makana's super hiding spot that Katie and Li didn't find her in when they played Hide-N-Seek! Can you see her head?

3/31/2010 - Rowan Walauski

Rowan Blaiklock

Azure Walauski

3/31/2010 - Quinn and Rowan Walauski acting out a scene from their play.

Rowan and Sebastian Blaiklock acting out a scene from their play.

Just look at those expressions!

Even the seal pup got dressed up.

The gang created some movies and put three of them on youtube. They were proud of themselves and my kids look often to see how many views their channel gets.

They all had alot of fun dressing up, making up skits, taping them and watching them. Cool!