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Showing posts from March, 2018

Division: Distributing the Work

Our unschooling math comes in bits and pieces.  The oldest kid here, seven year-old No. 1 loves math problems, so math moves along pretty fast for her.  Here’s how she arrived at the distributive property recently.  Tldr; it came about only because she needed it. “Give me a math problem!” No. 1 asked Mom-person. “OK, what’s 18 divided by 2?  But, you’re going to have to do it as you walk.  You and Dad need to head out.” And so, No. 1 and I found ourselves headed out on our mini-adventure with a new math problem to discuss. One looked at the ceiling of the library lost in thought as we walked.  She glanced down at her fingers for a moment.  “Is it six?” “I don’t know, let’s see,” I hedged.  “What’s two times six?  Is it eighteen?” One looked at me hopefully heading back into her mental math. I needed to visit the restroom before we left, so I hurried her calculation along.  “What’s two times five?” I got a grin, and another look indicating she was thinking about that on

What Would Tatum Do? (Don't Fret just; Fix It!)

And We Went the Other Way My life has been punctuated of late with various utterances of “No,” and “That’s not allowed,” regarding our day to day unschooling activities.  These admonishments have touched on topics including sitting on bar-stools, participating in museum classes, and  even helping out at volunteer soup kitchens.  It’s been kind of exasperating to say the least.  For the longest time I found myself sinking into a pit of embitterment.  I almost wrote about my negative feelings a time or two, but then narrowly talked myself out of it after jotting down a few notes.  Each time I’d giggle, and admonish myself with one of our local idioms, “What would Tatum do?”  If you’ve never heard of JB Tatum, he’s a physicist from Vancouver, Canada who may have never impolitely uttered a negative word, as especially illustrated by this, his most vehement of scientific diatribes. I wondered and wondered how Tatum would handle these situations.  Then finally, (sometimes I’m slow), a

The Farmers' Market Goes Cerebal

4:30 AM "Get up.  It's time to get ready to go." Every weekend, seven year-old No. 1, and five year-old No. 2 get up with me at midnight.  That's what they call it: Midnight.  Since it's the middle of the  night, it's clearly midnight!  We bundle up if we need to and we feel like it; we find out which by stepping out the front door to check.  Then we head out on the mile long trek to the bus stop with our backpacks and shopping bags.  Usually our walk down the hill to Lisbon and Silver where we catch the 44 involves skipping, running, skunk-spotting, and racing down the last block. Today though, with the clouds blowing across the starry sky in air so chill that my fingers aren't quite awake typing this, today, things took a more academic turn.  I spotted the Big Dipper so we took a moment to look at that.  2, who I didn't think knew the word dipper, but who's visual acuity is through the roof, looked at it, and said, "Oh yeah, it looks

Our Screen Time: Paper

I've seen a lot of discussions about how much screen time is healthy for kids lately, and to be frank, I kinda drew a blank for each and every one of them.  For historical reasons--we were grad students when each of the gang was born--we couldn't afford 'screens'. It wasn't a hardship, it just never even occurred to us that we needed them.  So, the gang here doesn't really use screens to speak of.  Seven year old No. 1 can read and write, so she occasionally asks to make addenda to texts to Mom-person, or our Director of Tactical Ops, but that's about it. So, I found myself wondering, "What do the kids do when we go to talks or other occasions where they might eventually lose interest?"  This morning, while looking for contact info for some of our museum docent friends we haven't seen in awhile, the answer flashed before my eyes, literally.  The gang uses paper in place of screens! I haul around little 3x5 notebooks in my back pocket

Baby Led Weaning (We did that!)

Did you know there's unschooling for teaching infants to eat solid food?  I knew we did it, but I din't know it had a name.  That's OK, I didn't know unschooling had a name at first either.  I found out through a Winnie post that what we did is called baby led weaning. If you look BLW up on  Wikipedia  you'll find, among other things, this very unschooling style quote: "Researcher Joel Voss, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University states, "The bottom line is, if you're not the one who's controlling your learning, you're not going to learn as well" (Davis, 2013)" And to think, all this time I thought we were just being lazy.  When our midwife told us that everything we were eating was good for the kid, it just made sense that they would eat off of our plates. Each of the kids started eating our food when they were about six months old. We waited till they expressed an interest in our food, and could hold it, and then let

What Unscoolers Read: Milk Wars

Seven year-old No. 1, five year-old No. 2, and i had a blast last weekend reading through the YoungAnimal/DC Universe team-up mini-series, Milk Wars !  We got caught up on all the issues, and then sat down to compare them to our back issues of Doom Patrol, where a big part of the Milk Wars story line has been evolving for the last year and a half.  We talked about RobotMan, (somewhere there's a 9 panel origin story for him just like the one for Negative Man in in DP #2), and wondered whether the lion in DP #1 had anything to do with the lion from Narnia, (1 just read The Lion The Withch and the Wardrobe a few weeks ago.) 1 and I have been reading Doom Patrol since it came out in late 2016.  It's one of our all time favorites!  Last summer we even got to meet Gerard Way and Nick Derington, the writer and artist for the series.  They unwittingly taught 1 how to sketch Robotman and Lotion. (That's 1's practice next to Gerard & Nick's originals.)  Doom Patrol&

3's Newfound Love of Cooking: Kids Cooking Squids

Three-year-old No. 3 got to drop in on a cooking class a few weeks back.  I love San Francisco and the fact that kids can 'pick up' a cooking class thanks to our spectacular Parks & Rec department.  When we ate dinner that night, she beamed, and said she'd had a blast, and also really enjoyed her friends helping her.  To me , this was awesome!  Not only had 3 made friends in a pick up class, she'd worked with them!  This led to two really cool thing!  First, less than ten days later, 3 made her first friend all by herself at our local branch library!  They drew pictures, sang and quietly talked with each other! The second thing that happened was that 3 wanted to make squid!  She'd seen me, along with seven year-old No. 1 and five-year-old No. 2 make it before.  She wanted in on the game.  That weekend, when she and I went to the 'redhat' market, one of our treasured local markets, for our weekly meat, fish and egg run, she asked if we could get squi

An Unschooling Curriculum: Backwards in Time

Unschoolers love to say they don't follow curricula.  I've noticed though, that you can define an unschooling curriculum backwards in time by what the gang, (three year-old No. 3, five year-old No. 2, and seven year-old No. 1), has accomplished in the last week.  It's kind of awesome, going in, we had no goals, nor any idea any of this would happen! 3 developed a love of cooking! 3 asked to attend a pick-up cooking class for kids at the Noe Valley Rec Center.   (I love that San Francisco kids can drop into Parks & Rec classes if there's room.)    She had a blast!  About four days later, when she and I went to the red-hat for our weekly meat and egg shopping, she insisted that we get squid.  She asked to hold the bag while I levered the squid into it.  (This led to an amusing confusion.;  unable to see 3 below the seafood ice tray, one of the workers was concerned I was dumping squid onto the floor.)  When I was ready to cook, 3 wanted in on that as well.  S

Independence in Another Light: Utility or Grab the Cheese Please!

I had a great remembering a few days ago.  For me, it was a breakthrough moment, for the kids, well, the kids just did what they were capable of doing long before my 'awakening'.  We've tried to set things up so that the gang, 7 year-old No. 1, five year-old No. 2, and three year-old No. 3 are always encouraged to be independent.  When we were grad students, that meant hanging out at campus quads where the kids could wander a hundred yards away or more exploring the area and interacting with people.  As they grew, this emphasis on independence meant trusting that they could successfully and safely range further and further ahead of me.  The whole thing involved  learning to focus on each other, and mutually trust each other.  As the kids learned to listen for me to occasionally holler directions, they got to range out further and further, and explore more and more.  Ironically, (with respect to my 'awakening'), we started this in the somewhat confined spaces of c

Five year-old No. 2 Wants to Learn to Read (Unschooling in Action)

We unschool.  This blog talks all about what our unschooling family does on a day to day basis, but rarely, (at least recently), mentions unschooling.  But, a really cool thing happened last week, so here goes.  Five year-old No. 2 said he wanted to learn to read! Before I get into 2 and his desire to learn to read, I should perhaps point out what unschooling is, as well as what it is to us.  Unschooling is a schooling methodology wherein the curriculum is based on what the learner wants to learn.  The general idea is that kid’s live life, and as they express an interest in a subject, they’re assisted, (if they need assistance), in finding material with which to learn, and perhaps encouraged, (it depends on the particular interpretation of unschooling), and perhaps taught when and if they ask for help. While it might sound as if unschooling kids are dropped into an educational void, and told to swim, that’s not the case.  Parents ‘strew’ educational material they think might inte

Blake's and the Green Chile Cheeseburger

 On our recent trip to New Mexico, seven year old No. 1 and I got to stop at Blake’s, a favorite of almost all New Mexicans!  The place was clean, well lit, and the help was friendly.  At Blakes, they actually cook your burger after you order it.  Since I didn’t feel like waiting, I called our order in from our hotel before we headed out.  1 tore through 7/8s of her adult-sized Lotaburger with cheese, and declared it the best burger she’d ever had.  (If you’re looking for the kid’s size, that’s called an Itsaburger.)  We ordered fries with one burger, and onion rings with the other so we could try both.  Much to her surprise, 1 discovered that she was quite enamored of onion rings, even if they are kind of hard to eat when you’ve recently sold both of your front incisors to the tooth fairy.  I had the green chile cheeseburger!  I add the exclamation point because one simply cannot get green chile on one’s cheeseburger in San Francisco.  If you’ve never had green chile, the experien