Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Good Stuff

Someone posted this on a thread (titled "Are we stuck?") on the alwayslearning yahoo list and it resonated with me because it expresses the sentiments I feel ring true about unschooling: "In addition to this time being short, and precious - you are building the foundation of natural learning in your home. Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them. Some of the core values of natural learning are trust, support, joy, and freedom. You are putting up scaffolding for years and years of learning by the choices you make now. "

Pam Sorooshian commented on the post and then wrote:
"The time spent mothering and playing is not time away from real learning -not to be rushed through to get to "the good stuff" as some may think of it. It is essential to allow real learning and, really, to allowing the child to grow up as a whole, integrated human being.

Homeschoolers think a lot about learning - but they often focus on learning to read, write, do math, or learning science or history, etc. Unschoolers tend to take that kind of learning for granted, it happens along the way. Instead, as we get more and more into unschooling, we tend to focus on things like kindness and creativity and honesty - all those character traits that will determine "how" their learning will be used in their lives."
I loved what Pam wrote so much!  Her comments led me to think about various thoughts related to play in general and how play is connected to relationships, self-esteem and learning.

* Kids learn best when they are happy and engaged in something meaningful to them which is one reason why kids learn so much when they play. 

* If we truly believe that kids will learn from everything and learning is as natural as breathing, we can relax and enjoy ourselves even more without worrying if they are learning specifics that society thinks they should know by a certain age. (With homeschooling, people have the freedom to learn in their own time and way, like they did before school.)

* When kids grow up in a home where they feel good, they get used to "feeling good" as their norm. What a wonderful thing!  And having fun playing is a great way to feel good!

* Another thing that kids learn as we play with them is how relationships work. They get experience  figuring things out in the context of play between (parent and child and siblings). When we play with our kids, it builds positive connection, which is the most important thing to me!

*This brings me back to Pam's comments....when we care for, nurture and play with our children, we are building the foundation of a great relationship. We are in essence showing our kids that we care for them, they are worthy of our time, that they are loved, that we care to spend time with them and do things for them, that we care what they like to do and that what they want to do is important to us. All of this helps them feel like they are important to us. That makes them feel good and increases their self-esteem.

* And to go full circle again....when kids feel good in general, learning flows easier as they are not stressed or in a situation that requires their attention elsewhere and they can naturally focus on what it is they want to learn.

I know Pam alluded to "The good stuff" as being educational because that is what many homeschoolers or other people think (even though she thinks of it much differently).  To me, "the good stuff" is the loving and mothering and connections that forge a caring, trusting relationship. The educational stuff comes naturally and easily when all other needs are met as we follow our interests and doing educational things are part of our lives every day.  In addition, because I am around my children so much, converse with them throughout the day, know what they do and are interested in, notice many of the connections they make, and know them so well overall, I have an understanding of much of what they know (like most parents do of very young children who spend lots of time together).  

It is the time we choose to spend with our kids when they want and need us most that helps build a great foundation not only of love of each other, but of life and learning in general.  That good stuff helps build a good life!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Really Like My Husband and My Children - I have a great life!!

Makana really wanted tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner.  But we had no canned tomato soup, so I offerred to make her homemade tomato soup.  I usually can't remember which book the tomato soup recipe that I like is in, but tonight I easily found it.  I had to stop making it to help Kanoa for a while (nurse, diaper change, connection) and then set up the dvd player in the kitchen so I could cook and be close to him.  Threw in some laundry and began to chop onions and press garlic and add spices.  Only have skim cow's milk though.  Asked Li if he would still have the soup if I used that, he said he would prefer going to the store for rice milk.  Checked the time.  It was just about the time Jim might be leaving work.  Called him and he was willing to stop by the store on his way home.  He even made a list of what other things we needed and agreed to get them (as he is a great guy and knows it is much easier overall than taking the three younger kids with me, although we often do shop together).  So....we're waiting for him and will appreciate him not only working all day, but stopping on the way home too.  Thanks Wolfie, I love you!  And this is only one of the gazillion reasons why!! 

I also want to write that I love Katie so much....she is such a wonderful, fun, bright, cheerful person almost all the time!  I love her attitude and who she is - a truly good person, a delight and a sunny person who lifts others up by her very energy and spirit!  It makes me feel so good that she is doing the things in life that make her feel good and has friends who make her laugh and that she enjoys spending time with.  I once read a snippet of a book written by a man who wrote about his experience having teenagers who got so busy it seemed that they were hardly ever home.  Then after his kids had moved out, he realized how they did still live at home when they were sort of using it like a base from where they took their adventures as when they truly weren't living there, he didn't find any evidence of them being around like socks and things and dishes and such and he really missed that and them.  Reading that made me feel sad for him and was a good reminder to appreciate the time that my kids do spend with me and are living at home.  And when I do have a moment where I wish something was put back in it's place, I remember this man and what he felt and it helps to bring me back to what is important and what I can appreciate now.  Once I feel grateful for evidence that those I love live here, I am feeling like I have my priorities straight again.

I do have moments though where I get off track.  Example of Wolfie helping me remember what is important: I took Katie and Zach to the ice skating rink a couple weeks ago.  It was Zach's first time skating.  Katie took her skates with her.  When I brought them home, she had left them in the back of the van.  No big deal, but I really like to keep the van clear in the back so I can put groceries and such in it (okay....I love things organized too!).  A day or so went by and I put them in the mudroom right on the stairs so she could easily spot them and hopefully take them upstairs and put them back in her closet on the ice skate pile.  Well, they sat there for days (and I didn't remember to ask her to take them up as it wasn't high on my list of things to do, but was something I did want put back eventually).  One morning I was saying goodbye to Jim in the mudroom and made a comment about the skates still sitting there.  Jim said "She has alot going on.  Remember when you were fourteen."  His comments reminded me that she does have a whole 'nother world going on and this was not anything important to get bothered by.  In fact, it was easy for me to simply bring the skates up to the skate pile and be grateful for her being alive and having so many other things that she is interested in.  I smiled and thanked Jim for saying that and he said "Yeah, well don't ask me at night when I'm tired!"  lol!  Love that we can be there for each other like this!