Last Week’s Unschooling and a Very Thorough Report on How Unschoolers Turned Out


So first the thorough report on How Unschoolers Turned Out. I found this article quite interesting and I think you will too.

I mentioned in recent post ( that there were some bumps in the road in our homeschool/unschool journey.

I’ll get to those bumps in a moment. First, I’d like to just talk for a moment about the highlights of our unschool week before I get all bummed out again.

This past week, we:

  • Discussed B.C. versus A.D. – I was trying to explain the concept that with B.C., the higher the number the longer ago it was, and with A.D. the lower the number, the longer ago it was. We were driving at the time and Emily got by looking at the exit numbers. “Mama, on I-70 were going the direction of B.C. time, and now on I-435, we are going in the direction of A.D. time.” Yep, I think she got it!
  • Meal Planning – I have been including Emily in the decision making of meals – not only when I’m coming up with the week’s list, but also showing her the ads and what is one sale, involving her in finding possible recipes, and asking her for her opinion on what particular meal we should fix on a particular day. She also helps make the meals with me sometimes.
  • Navigation and east/west/north/south – I’ve been very impressed, she knows which direction we are heading about 75% of the time. Miles better than I was at her age!
  • Antebellum History – We visited Missouri Town 1855 as part of our KC-CIRCLE co-op and it was fascinating! It provides a view of life pre-Civil War when much of our country consisted of rural farms and small towns. We also learned that oxen are not a special breed, they are simply educated/trained cattle. My husband refuses to believe this, which means I have work to do to convince him otherwise.
  • Picasso Art – This was another KC-CIRCLE co-op activity. The kids were introduced to the works of Picasso and given artist’s trading cards to create Picasso-inspired art on. The theme was “happy.” Emily made three and we placed them in protective plastic sleeves.
  • Computer Games – Emily has recently started gravitating towards computer games – mainly the free games on I have decided not to involve myself – if I show excitement or approval over the games, she stops, because she realizes they are learning games and that I approve. And recently she has been on a mission to subvert my every learning-centric move. More on that in Part 3.
  • Story of the World – This past week we read about the rise of the Persian Empire and examined the workings of two city-states in Greece – Athens and Sparta – which were very, very different!
  • Lego competition – Emily receives LEGO Club magazine (free to kids, just sign up for a subscription) and saw that there was a competition she wants to enter. We will put the finishing touches on the wording this week (it isn’t an actual model, but suggestions for a LEGO Friends Dream Resort.

Those were the positive aspects of our learning last week.

There were also drawbacks.

I mentioned about a week ago that I was putting together a history timeline. I wrote about it here:

When Emily saw me putting it together she seemed interested and even excited. And that got me excited. It can be touch and go with this kiddo of mine. Anything that smacks of “learning” and she practically runs in the other direction!

In any case, after several instances of me reading Story of the World and asking her, “So, would you like to mark that date in the timeline?” – and her just shaking her head – I finally got a little frustrated.

“So, what is going on? Why don’t you want to use the timeline?” I asked.

She gave me an absolute crap answer. I can’t even remember it other than it was a blatant, “I’m pulling this out of my rear to placate you, Mom, because I have absolutely no intention of EVER touching the timeline.”

And I will tell you that it really depressed me.

I’m a pretty up front kind of gal. I don’t like subterfuge or trickery.

I can remember as a kid that my mom fixed a salad made of spinach leaves and asked me if I liked it. When I said yes, she smiled with a “I fooled you” look and told me what it was. I didn’t particularly care if it was spinach or not – but I didn’t like the feeling of being tricked. As a result, I’ve always tried to deal with others as I want them to deal with me.

Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t give me flimsy excuses. Say what you mean.

I basically told my kiddo she was full of fecal matter. Only I used that four-letter word. A lot.

I told her she could have at least told me I was wasting my time.

At this point, though, I am beginning to realize I may need to take a different tack with her than one that would work for me.

I ended up being down in the dumps all weekend. I just feel so defeated, and then I end up worrying that I’m doing her a disservice by homeschooling her.

I end up wondering, “Maybe I should put her in public school. Maybe learning how regulated her day would be will shake some sense into her.”

I can see it in her eyes, she has hit that age where she has transitioned from believing every word we say, to questioning us in just about everything. It is frustrating.

However, to involve the public schools means FOREVER involving the public schools. Even if she goes for a week or a month to school, and then decides she would prefer to be homeschooled, the public schools will continue to be a presence in our lives.

Once on their radar, we will, at the very least, have to file a yearly notice that we are homeschooling. My Libertarian leanings make this a less than optimal choice.

I don’t want this – for many more reasons than I care to list. So I thought about my approach and realized, “I might need to change my approach to better fit my daughter not my own preferences.”

And this may include sneaky learning. For example, if I really want her to involve herself with this history timeline I made, I may need to do it myself for a while, or set it up like I’m working on a super-secret project, a “Mama only” project that does not include her. By deliberately excluding her, to her face, I may very well encourage enough curiosity to hook her into the project. Once there, her excitement and interest would outweigh her preconceived notions and resistance.

So, I’m having to get sneaky, which goes against my very basic programming. When I weigh the alternatives, her in public school or her simply not learning, it seems like the only viable option.

I guess I’ll do what I need to do to make sure the learning happens.

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Unschooling for 8-26-14 through 8-28-14

Unschooling for 8-26-14

Yesterday (8/26) is a busy day despite not having to do “work work” (read that cleaning houses or teaching classes).

The night before we practiced reading (Emily read to her dad) and I read to her more from The Family Under the Bridge. I mention this because I posted the unschooling notes for Monday before those two things occurred.

Yesterday, we had an interview first thing. Emily was right by my side and although it wasn’t a specific homeschool lesson, she got to watch how an interview is conducted first-hand, so that’s got to count for something!

After lunch we sat down and read from Story of the World. This particular passage was on the Olympic games, more specifically the beginning of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. We then drew pictures illustrating what we had learned. I liked Emily’s, she drew hers from an aerial perspective.

Getting to see how an interview was conducted by a journalist, she then got to witness an interview conducted by me for the book I’m writing. I was meeting with a gentleman from Land Bank and asking him questions on how folks qualify, the approval process, and more.

In the evening there was more reading practice and I made a note to myself to practice reading numbers with her on the blackboard. She still mixes up 21 and 12, 14 and 41, and so on.

Today we are juggling visits from plumbers for quotes and also possibly the pool this afternoon. But I definitely want to get some learning into the mix!

Unschooling for Fall

I’m looking forward to the official start of our unschooling year. Considering that LEARN first meets on Wednesday, 9/10 – I guess that will be the first week of “official” schooling.

And here is how my daughter’s fall 2014 semester is shaping up:

Wednesdays: Art, Girl Scouts, Math Games, and Spanish in the morning at LEARN, followed by free play in the afternoon with the Heathen Homeschoolers.

Fridays: Chariots, Planes and Trains (lessons on physics and more) at Rockhurst Community Center for two hours.

And on at least three days a week with me:

  • reading and writing practice
  • Story of the World history book and interpretive art (and possibly a History of Missouri book as well)
  • math reinforcement through games, baking, and shopping

Also, intermittent classes through the KC-CIRCLE co-op that will include science, history, art, and theater field trips.

Aaaaand … I just picked up the Beyond the Books catalog from Mid-Continent Public Library. There are a ton of things I would like to take Emily to this fall with the libraries. So I will be going through that and adding in events where I can.

It’s going to be a GREAT year!

Unschooling for 8-28-14

The end of the week tends to be busier for me with cleaning clients. Thursdays are especially busy and yesterday I had back to back cleanings.

We managed a stop by the library on the way from one cleaning to the other and I picked up a book on Rosa Parks. I need to visit The Coterie website and find out when they are having the Rosa Parks play and coordinate the book reading with that visit.

Although they state that the play is for ages 10 and up, I think that Emily will keep up with most of it. She’s also of the age that, even if something bores her somewhat, she will sit still and watch. So I think she will get something out of it, possibly a lot.

We continue to read from Story of the World. We are still in Book 1 – Ancient Times and I’m looking forward to finishing the book and moving on to the Book 2, which I have a Teacher’s Key and learning exercises for (ditto for the rest of the books in the series).

I showed Emily a timeline yesterday on the homeschool room chalkboard. I’m concerned that she can’t really understand the true expanse of time occurring. I mean, we are still in B.C.!

I think I will get a binder together and place 30 pages in it – 100 years for each side of a page, makes 6,000 years’ worth of timeline. As we read more, we can mark the dates and details in the timeline and fill it full of information and pictures. Doesn’t that sound cool?!

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Unschooling for 8-25-14


We have had a busy day homeschooling today, despite it taking very little time. So far we have covered:

  • The Family Under the Bridge – I read a chapter out of the book and Emily loves it. Every time we come to the end of the chapter she wants me to read more!
  • The divisions of most schools – elementary, middle and high school – This came up as we discussed her neighbor friend who is now in middle school and I realized she didn’t know that certain schools cover certain ages.
  • Making change – This actually happened the other day when she was in search of two quarters to buy the mega-gumball from the machine in the Mexican restaurant. We might need to play a round or two of The Money Game to remind her of the different values of quarters, dimes and nickels.
  • Cost comparisons – Grocery shopping is always a win-win for this kind of thing! We ended up only getting around $35 in groceries at Price Chopper before heading over to Aldi’s for the rest of our food needs. “Look Emily, the milk is over $1.10 cheaper than at Price Chopper!
  • Learning to question – instead of just blind belief – This has been a recurring theme, mainly due to the neighbor boy who apparently told her that if he does all of his homework and participates in class his teachers will give him $100 each week. Mmmm hmmm, sure they will. She’s starting to doubt some of his wilder claims!
  • We are all related – religious versus science-based – still ends up the same. – Emily mentioned that because she “believes in God” she knows that we are all brothers and sisters. I pointed out that a belief in God is not necessary to know that we have the same small handful of progenitors some eons past and that we all share the same basic genetic markers that make us human. I think she will be chewing on that for a while.
  • I know how to spell food – poof – This was sort of a joke. She was reading the word upside down and made a game of it. She’s picking out words, most of them easy ones, but increasing her reading as the days go by.
  • Story of the World – Odysseus and Cyclops – and interpretive art – We read the story of Odysseus and Cyclops and then drew pictures representing our vision of the story. I drew a small cave with a path leading up to it and pens of animals on each side, with Cyclops in the entrance. Emily drew the sailing ship (with cannon holes) and a time-lapse of the boulder that Cyclops threw at the ship. After that, I wrote a description of our project on the back of the card and Emily asked me to write hers as well.

Our first official day of homeschooling for the school year!


Posted in Advocacy, Arts and Crafts, Daily Conversations, Homeschool - History, Homeschool - Language Arts | Leave a comment

Daily Conversations and Reading While Baking or Driving

I should have taken notes yesterday on what we were talking about, because I have now forgotten. I do remember that lately we have been on a metaphor theme – basically I’ve been giving my almost-8-year-old examples of metaphors in different sayings.

Examples, concrete real examples, make sense to both of us, and seem to really bring the point home.

She learns a great deal by the one-on-one discussions we have. I don’t realize it at first, but later, she will say something to another child or adult, and they will look at me with some level of surprise and comment that she is quite intelligent.

I think that all children are far more intelligent that often given credit for. And if you treat them like they have a big magnificent brain, then they often end up using it far more often than expected.

Lately we have been practicing reading – but in a sneaky sort of way.

“Emily, I need your help making these hamburger buns.”


“So I have this bowl, and I think it said I need flour. Can you check to see how much?”

Or …

“Emily, I need your help finding this place we have never been.”

“Okay Mama, give me the directions.” I hand her the Google map text directions, “Okay, we are on I-35 right now … you want exit 226B …”

She STILL resists reading. However, occasionally she will read something and be very excited. “Mama, I read that!” I continue to reassure her that reading will become more and more natural. I’m dealing with a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist – she resists it because she feels she is not perfect at it yet. It is tough to deal with sometimes.

But I am far more stubborn than anyone I know. I will persist!


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Did You Know You Can Find Me on Facebook?

I write … a lot … about a lot of different things. Gardening, cooking, crafts, homeschooling, and plenty more.

However, you will inevitably find links to more posts if you simply follow me on Facebook. I have pages for The Deadly Nightshade, The Homeschool Advocate and my writer page Christine Shuck all set up to catch my posts.

I don’t always come straight here to make a post on parenting or educational themes, although I do eventually land here to post as many pictures as possible.

But if you are interested in keeping a finger on the pulse of my activities – follow me on Facebook. Here is the link!: The Homeschool Advocate

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Mom’s Ice Chest Challenge


I’m participating in a mom’s ice chest challenge for four tickets to Schlitterbahn. Right in time for my eldest’ and her son’s visit! I love visiting Schlitterbahn … how about you? Are you ready for their new ride?!


Here is my favorite recipe to add to the ice chest when visiting a water park, camping, or other family event …

  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 oz sundried tomatoes in olive oil (don’t drain)
  • 2 rounded Tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper*
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (drained, but reserve 1/2 of the liquid and add back in to the desired consistency)

*Ground pepper just won’t do – get yourself a pepper mill and fill it full of peppercorns

Add ingredients one at a time into food processor and blend until smooth – flavors will intensify after being refrigerated.

Did you know that Schlitterbahn allows you to bring in your own ice chest? And has FREE parking?!

I haven’t been in two years, so I’m dying to go and enjoy a whole day in the park, with the huge lazy river, amazing rides and plenty of fun in the water and sun!

Grab a bag of pita chips from Aldi’s and go for it!

Posted in Money/Frugality/Cost-Cutting, Tips & Tricks | 1 Comment

Funny Stuff … and More Literacy!

For those of you not following me on Bubblews, here is the latest and greatest …

I Tried to Give It CPR

I decided that I would stay at home today and not bop about. Sometimes it feels as if every day we are busy going somewhere and honestly, I needed a bit of a break. Especially because the clutter/cleanliness quotient of the house were getting out of control.

With Emily now doing daily chores, I haven’t felt like I was keeping up my end of things. The kitchen was a mess and the vacuuming I have on the schedule to do on Sundays was still not done.

So we tidied up the upstairs and I vacuumed that. The stairs, which Emily had vacuumed on Sunday, were in good shape and I decided to thoroughly clean the kitchen before vacuuming the main floor.

It took a while. I decluttered, wiped everything down, cleaned the outsides of all the cabinets, and got the dishwasher running. As I began to vacuum the front entry, Emily dashed by me, running upstairs.

Later, when I had almost finished she came over and said, “Do you know why I ran past so quick?”

“You don’t like the loud vacuum?”

“No, I was trying to save a bug I had found being squashed by a plate in the homeschool room.” Still clad in only her underwear, she ran for the nearest door that she thought would not have anyone’s attention, the upper back deck.

“Did it make it?” I asked.

She shook her head sadly, “I even tried to give it CPR.”

I about laughed until I cried. I love that little girl!

Her First Letter

The kiddo has been fully focused on Language Arts this morning.

It started with breakfast and the new Lego magazine in the mail. As she ate her cereal, she paged through the magazine, commenting on some of the different builds. 

After breakfast she located a pen and began working on a symbol/word puzzle – one that shows different patterns for the different letters. You fill in the letter blanks to find the answer to the riddle.

Afterwards, she did a word search, which was also in the magazine and talked about how she wanted to go to Legoland California. We have a Legoland exhibit here in Kansas City and we discussed possibly taking her older sister and her son when they visit later this month.

“Mama, I’m going to go make a scroll.” She said, heading towards the homeschool room. I suggested she use the roll of butcher paper that is sitting on the table and I continued cleaning the kitchen and picking up the main level of the house.

A few minutes later she returned, scroll in hand. “Mama, read what I wrote!”

It was an honest-to-God letter to Tim (my grandson, and her nephew) and my eldest daughter. It had a few creative spelling issues here and there, but it was the first letter she had ever written completely on her own with no suggestions, guidance or other help.

I guess when the gates to literacy unlock, the floodwaters flow freely.

Telling her dad about it this afternoon got me all misty-eyed. I’ve wanted this for her for so long now. Her world has opened up in ways she is only now discovering – and I couldn’t be more happy or proud!

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The Perfect Age for Chores?

We have been implementing chores for nearly a full week now and I wanted to update everyone and talk about how it is going.

Verbal reminders are necessary – It is the first week, and it has quickly become my custom to ask over breakfast. “It’s [day of week] do you remember what your chore is?” She shakes her head, we look at the list (which is written in chalk on the door panels of the homeschool room) and she usually nods and tells me she will do it soon.

Once is usually all it takes – I remind her once, and typically that’s it. No arguing, no complaining, just time to get it done. She even cleaned her room (not messy at all since she hasn’t been playing in it recently) without a single complaint or argument or delaying tactic.

I’ve tied some tv into the queue – I told her that, sometimes, if she simply did her chores without any nagging, she could watch entertainment tv (instead of educational only) for a while. Since she is doing phenomenally well on reading (watch for my post on that soon), I feel better letting her watch some purely entertaining stuff.

She gets $5 in profit sharing – Each week, on a Sunday, she will get $5 to spend (or not spend) how she wants. I don’t consider it allowance and I don’t pay for chores, this is simply her portion of participation in profit from her position as a member of the household.

I don’t have to clean toilets at home anymore! – Terrible? Maybe. But I’ve got her cleaning our toilets on a weekly basis. I demonstrated how this past week with one toilet and the other one will happen today with my supervision. A couple of supervised times and she is on her own to complete it. My toilets will stay clean and she is learning how to do basic cleaning. So far she has been game – despite the ick factor – and I make sure she washes her hands thoroughly afterwards. Just in case!

It seems that 7 1/2 (nearly 8) is the perfect age for chores!

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Reading Progress With Clifford


As hard as it was for me to wait – NOW, this summer, and these past few weeks have been the absolutely PERFECT time for my young daughter to start reading.

A perfectionist (she comes by it naturally – on both sides) she needed to feel competent before jumping off of the deep end. And apparently, that train has now arrived at the station.

Last night we (well, SHE) read Clifford the Big Red Dog. Some of the Dolch sight words still give her difficulty, but for the most part, she is clearly and willingly reading. Small words, big words, all words. Her speed is improving as well.

When we began our evening reading program several weeks ago she was resistant to reading the whole book. This made sense, she was still feeling challenged by the books. So we negotiated. She would read a couple of pages, then me, then her, and so on. As we have seen the fluency grow, she has volunteered to read more and more. Often reading out loud with me as I have my turn.

Last night she began reading, and when it was my turn we both read aloud and I asked, “Would you like to read this book? Are we switching off? What do you prefer?”

“It’s easy, I can read the whole book myself,” she said, “Just correct me if I mess up, okay?”

And that is just what we did. She is doing phenomenally and I for one, am about the proudest and happiest mama around. It was so difficult to wait and we still have a ways to go until full fluency, but she is definitely on the right path.

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Voluntary Reading – A New Development


I will admit it, I have been on tenterhooks for years waiting for the reading to develop, encouraging, gently prodding at times, and holding myself back from trying to shove a love of the written word down my kid’s throat.

Yeah, that last bit never works.


Well, it does, but then you end up with folks who HATE and I do mean HATE to read.

I guess you could say that at times it felt as if it would be a choice between illiteracy and hating reading – and I figured the first one could be fixed better than the latter.


However, things are progressing well. Each night we read, during the day she often helps me by reading while navigating to new pools and new places. And as she feels more and more comfortable with the act of reading, the willingness to continue, to challenge herself to learn more and more words, continues to grow.

This morning, my daughter walked into my office with her birthday dog under her arm.

1-PE with glasses

No, not a real dog. A stuffed one she received at her first birthday that we wrote messages on.

“Mama, I think that Dan and Kurt gave me this birthday dog.”

“Why is that, sweetie?”


“Well, here it says K-U-R-T, and that spells Kurt.” She said, pointing to his name written on the dog. “And here is Dan’s name too.”

I told her that I had bought the dog for her first birthday party and everyone had signed it. She nodded, and then pointed to one of the messages, “I read the first part of this, but does this word say ‘great’?”

“Yes, sweetie, it does. Very good!”

Voluntary reading – it is a new development and very, VERY exciting. I am crossing my fingers that her curiosity will continue to grow and expand and that she WILL develop a deep love of reading.




Posted in Homeschool - Language Arts | Leave a comment