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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…
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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 …

Unschooling and Algebra

Another question I see come up all the time in the context of homeschooling and especially unschooling is “How do you teach  math?”  There are lots of different ways.  I know people that use curricula, I know kids that attend math circles where they work out math problems with other kids, I know kids that learn math as they run into a need for it in the real world. When the real world example pops up, people tend to ask, “Yes, but how will they learn complex math like algebra and trigonometry?"

To which I respond, “The kids here learn those things mostly by talking.”

And that’s how we do it.  Talking.  Usually in tiny snippets at a time.  My partner and I started working with the kids on math as we hung around in coffee shops.  We'd ask the kids—now 8 y.o. No. One, 6 y.o. No. Two, and 4 y.o. No. Three—questions about adding or subtracting.  They'd generally work them out on their fingers.  This worked great all the way through multiplication, but when we hit division the f…

Unschooling, Assessing Learning, and Character Charts

The eight year old kid—No. One—leaned in,  “I think Mary has a really good idea about character charts.  I’ve got two books going, and I’m stuck on both of them, and I think that would really help.”  I quietly shushed her because Mary was still presenting her thoughts on outlining novels to the room of assembled writers at one of our favorite libraries, but my mind was reeling.  So many things had just happened!

First, I didn’t know One was working on two books.  I knew she was working on one book, but not two.  The kid had started a second book, and I didn’t even know.  Cool!

Second, she was paying complete, and rapt attention to the presentation.  I ususally get some kind of indication from the gang they heard what was being said when they attend talks with me, but that indication usually comes days or week later out of the blue.  Not today.  Today, the kid was clearly latching onto every word. 

We’ve attended writing lunches since the kid developed an interest in writing—not too lon…

Truly Devious: Project Based Learning Meets Murder Mystery

It’s unanimous, everyone that reads here is a huge fan of ‘Truly Devious’ by Maureen Johnson.  I found out about the book somewhere on author twitter last year a month or so before Christmas.  I thought it would appeal to my partner because she’s into mysteries, but I also thought it might appeal to the 8 y.o. reader here since it’s in the young adult book category.  When Christmas rolled around, I still hadn’t figured out who the book was for, so it kinda became a present for all of us.  My partner read it first, then No. One, the 8 y.o., and finally me.

The book has a twisted time stream, and takes place in two eras.  The official crime of the book, the one the protagonist originally sets out to solve is a kidnapping/murder that took place at the start of the 20th century.  As the story carries on though, the bodies start to pile up in the present time as well.  Are the new deaths murders or accidents?  Are they related to the original murder decades ago?  That’s part of the myster…