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Homeschooling and Friends and Frustration

Playground day was huge yesterday!  The nearby homeschooling chess club was cancelled, and so everyone turned up at the playground!  There were all ages of kids from two to ten to mid-teens, and of course 9 y.o. Daize, 7 y.o. Towser, and 5 y.o. Tawnse, (aliases all). 

And before anyone asks, "Playground day?"  Allow me to jump out ahead.  Yup, we have one playground day a week, and it was yesterday.  But, it’s a bit of a misnomer.  Playgrounds are more of a daily thing.  This morning?  The kids were at a different playground where the youngest of the group is taking a cooking class through Parks & Rec.  Buddies who live near that playground often turn up to play some more.  This afternoon, another set of buddies will turn up at math group at a nearby public library.  And so it goes throughout the week.  There’s one day a week we call playground day because it’s set aside for kids and parents to meet at a different playground in different parts of the city.  But, that’s n…
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Homeschooling Stereotypes; Also? We Voted Today!

Homeschooling Stereotypes

The 9, 7, and 5 y.o. unschooling gang, (also known by their aliases here as Daize, Towser, and Tawnse respectively), went to vote with me this morning.  We got to visit city hall which the kids love.  City Hall in San Francisco is a bit of a thing.  It’s ornate in the extreme, and then to top it all off, people get married there.  We haven’t ever been without seeing a variety of gorgeous wedding dresses.

We all took our time taking in all the wonder of the place for the umpteenth time—it actually never gets old, at least not for us—then we headed to the desks where we could pick up my ballot.

The people at the desk observed that it was odd to see three school aged kids at their polling place on a school day.  Before long they’d put together that the gang is homeschooled.  They asked the kids the usual questions.  How do they liked being homeschooled?  The gang’s used to this one by now.  They all responded that it was great!  Next a man asked if they ever get…

Tests for Teachers

"What!? Every teacher should be tested on the things they teach!" said the nine year-old unschooling kid this morning.

We were talking about our word game that had turned into a math conversation and back into a word game, but not before I figured out why any number to the zero power is 1. 

It turns out the answer isn't "Because I said so," as my 8th grade math teach would have had me believe.  There's a more intuitive answer that comes out right away if you talk about raising numbers to powers as shifting rather than multiplication or teacher-inspired mysticism.  It's simply that for the zero power of any number written in its own base, you just don't shift.  In other words you shift zero times.  The kid and I arrived on this purely by accident this morning because we had the time to play with numbers while we were talking about how many different words you could get out of a 26 letter alphabet for each size of word, (one characater, two character …

Let Kids Wear What They Wanna Wear

Just a pointer on kids and clothes.  Not about your kids per se, what you do with your kids is your and their business, but more about kids in general.  Please, let them where what they wanna wear, and keep your comments to yourself.

Fortunately, the gang here hasn’t ever been hassled about their clothes.  Their shoestrings on more than one occasion, but so far, not their clothes.  (Which isn’t to say I haven’t been regaled with the ‘your baby’s too warm/cold/temperate’ nonsense, because I have, but the kids haven’t.)  The fact that the gang have not been hit up about their clothes is somewhat amazing.  Given that they wear a combination of all their available clothes including the clothes I wore as a kid—apparently my dad’s a bit of a clothes archivist, who knew?—the kids here on any given day look very much like Tyler Durden curated their ensemble.  Still, while we get the occasional wide-eyed look from folks on the sidewalks of San Francisco—to be fair, highly stoned folks—we’ve ye…

Five Things to Practice for Independent Walks

Getting kids ready to head out into the world on their own?  Here are some the things the kids here did to get ready.

Get down on the groundAs each new kid here learned to toddle, I took them out of the wrap as often as I could so they could walk beside me, instead of on the side of me.  The kids generally loved it. They got to explore.  They got to interact with the world.  I got to see the world from their perspective: only a few feet above the surface of the ground.  The kid, noticed things I hadn’t seen before.  They showed me their world.  Was it slow?  Yes, yes it was, but it was more than worth it.  The more they walked, the more they could walk, and soon, I was free of carrying kids, and had buddies I could wander around with.Learn to LeadEarly on it’s nice to have a rapport at a distance with your kids.  A few simple instructions like left, right, stop, and u-turn are all they need to know.  These things come in handy, but you don't have to take my word for it:

When Two was…

Five Ideas for Preparing Kids for Public Speaking

Eight year-old No. One stood in front of a room of 50 people at the junior track of engineering conference with a mic and a laser pointer.  She was describing a two-bit binary adder she’d built, and she nailed it!

She and her sibs pretty routinely speak in public—although not with that big of an audience—in one form or another.  To them, it’s not a big deal.  It’s something everyone else around them does, so why wouldn’t they?  They never got the memo telling them that public speaking was something to be feared.

Part of their comfort—I think—has to do with the fact that they inadvertently grew up speaking in public; thanks in part to me being lazy.  Here are five things we did together that I think got them used to the idea of public speaking.

Paying the ticket at the restaurant:  It’s always been the job of the youngest kid to take our money for the restaurant bill to our server.  The three to four year-old kid wanders around, finds the person, and gives them our money.  It doesn’t s…

Does Math Matter?

Yesterday when I wrote about the 8 yo kid here learning algebra, I left out one caveat.  Math is kinda one of our things around the house.  We’re all immersed in it all the time.  My partner studied physics with a minor in math.  I studied engineering.  We both enjoy math, and consequently, we talk about math often, whether the kids are nearby or not.  So, math might be easier to pick up at our house just by virtue of being there.

Here’s the thing though, when everyone frets “yes, but how will the kids learn math?”  Beyond the fact that if their interested in it they can find resources to learn it, beyond that fact, maybe it just doesn’t matter.

Every family is into something, lots of things really.  If the family's cooking along without anyone knowing trigonometry, perhaps that’s because the things they’re passionate about just don’t need trigonometry.  And guess what?  The kids in that family will be immersed in those passions.  Passions all the other kids may not be as exposed …