Introverted Unschooling

Introverted Unschooling

It’s not that we don’t enjoy visiting and going out, we do, it’s just that we enjoy staying at home too.
Late morning and my 9 year old is reading a novel beside me on the couch and my 6 and 3 year old are playing quietly in the play area with the marble run. The 4 week old is sleeping on my chest and I’m typing this out on my phone. A bit earlier the 3 bigger boys went outside while I sat on the couch with a sleeping newborn listening to podcasts (this position is the one I hold most of the time lately). The afternoon will probably look very similar, though I’ll get a nap in and maybe finish folding that basket of laundry I started with yesterday.

 

Our trips outside the home this week included about an hour to town for a chiropractor appointment for me and visiting friends Friday morning. That’s truly it. We didn’t go to church last Sunday and didn’t need to do groceries this week. We don’t have classes or co-ops or more than one playdate per week. And our home is filled with an incredible peace.

We don’t have classes or co-ops or more playdates. And our home is filled with an incredible peace.

Jamie from Simple Homeschool wrote a great post with 15 resolutions for being an introverted homeschool mom that I printed out at still refer to regularly. Her third resolution is about honoring the person God created you to be. I think that unschooling lends itself well to being an introvert because I don’t need to pressure my kids to do things and my main job is to facilitate and observe. My role is to learn about my children so I can parent them in the way that they need.

What is one thing that have been adding to your or your children’s schedule because you feel you “should” be doing it? Are you brave enough to let it go?

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Unschooling Reading Resources

Unschooling Reading Resources

I’m always on the lookout for good unschooling reading resources. The big question to consider when strewing any resources is how do your kids learn? I’ll be upfront and say that I do very little actual teaching to read and my biggest role was to offer the boys opportunities to learn and then sit back to let them choose what works best for them.

My three older sons all learned their letters and letter sounds around two. (The newborn obviously isn’t reading yet.) My eldest started reading just before his 7th birthday and now, 2 years later, is reading far above grade level. My second son, age 6, is reading some words and, if he decides to sit and practice more regularly, will be well on his way to above grade levels within the next year. My 3 year old is practicing writing letters and pretending to read by sounding out words.

These are some of our favorite reading resources:

Letter Factory DVD

Tad the frog goes to the Letter Factory and Professor Quigley lets him sit in on the lessons as the talking letters learn their sounds. My boys have all loved the characters and Leap Frog has done a fantastic job in making each letter and sound memorable. For example, a “monster” walks into the “A Room” and all the little A’s scream “Aaahh!!!”. Don’t worry, it isn’t a scary monster, just the professor in a fuzzy purple costume. The “P Room” is always a favorite as the P says “P” and pops like popcorn. I recommend this to every mama (or grandma) that I know who wants to introduce their child to letters in a fun way.

Letter Factory Flashcards

We bought the DVD and Flashcards as a bundle and these cards have been played with a ton over the last 8 years. They’ve seen better days but, by some miracle, we have managed to keep all 26 together. The kids love to ask their littlest brother what each letter says and the older two build words and ask each other to guess which word it is. The only downside with word-building is that we only have one of each letter, which limits the amount of words. But they are still a great tool to introduce letters and beginner reading.

Talking Words Factory

(Can you tell that we love Leap Frog? They didn’t even need to pay me for this.) This show came with our initial purchased bundle and shows the Leap, Lily, and Tad going to the Talking Words Factory. I think some of the talking letters must graduate to this factory because it is all the loved letters from the previous show, except this time they go through the “word whammer” and get stuck together, along with the icky, sticky letters (vowels). This is the movie that has gotten both of my older boys interested in building words and all I have to do is hit “play” while I’m making dinner.

The big question to consider when strewing any resources is how do your kids learn?

Originator Apps

These Apps are available for Android and iPhone. We have installed Endless Alphabet (vocabulary words), Endless Reader (sight words), Endless Wordplay (spelling/word building), and Endless Numbers (counting and early arithmetic). The Android version (not sure about the Apple store version) has a few words or levels as a free sample and then you can buy the rest as packages. As of this post, I have not purchased any of the expansion packs for three reasons: I can’t figure out which app I should buy an expansion on (which one the kids would get the most out of), I don’t know if the expansion packs will work with my Google account or if I will have to purchase the pack separately for each tablet. They aren’t cheap, if you move beyond the free versions, but the letters and words make fun sounds and are simple enough for even my toddler to drag and drop. Plus it is really cute to watch my 3 year old kinesthetic learner imitate the goofy motions of the letters!

Reading Eggs

We started out with the free 4 week trial that they offer new users. Then got an email to extend the trial for two weeks… then another few emails. We ended up getting quite a bit of free time playing this game. The boys ended up liking it so much that I bought a subscription. The jist is that the child does a lesson full of games and catchy songs and fun characters to guide them, and then they get to hatch an egg with an animal in it (or they hatch an acorn if they are doing a Mathseed). They boys love figuring out which animal they will  get at the end of the lesson and get excited every 5 lessons when they get a new map.

 

My eldest had issues with the timed lessons so I often sat beside him to turn off the ticking sound and would cover up the timer and tell him we would just practice a few times. He now realizes that the timer is irrelevant and he has learned to turn off the sound and ignore the visual. A great lesson for him to learn how relax enough to think under pressure.

 

I like that it lets you redo the game as many times as they like, though some of those silly songs from lessons the boys did a couple years ago are still stuck in my head! (1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive. 6,7,8,9,10, then I let it go again.) I have also figured out how to skip lessons (hint: change the lesson or map number in the address bar of the browser) which comes in handy when some of the buttons are too small to hit or my son really understands the info and just wants to move on.

 

My eldest has finished all the maps in Mathseeds and Reading Eggs and isn’t interested in Reading Eggspress (too much boring reading and questions is what he decided). My 6 year old loves to cruise through 4-5 lessons in one sitting and then doesn’t touch it for a couple weeks. I don’t force him to sit down but I did put a box on his sticker chart. He does his “morning high-5” and then gets to hatch an egg or seed. Again, I’m not super strict about it and give him the option to do it or not. He often decides that he wants to and I have learned to be okay when he doesn’t.

 

Books, books, and more books

The final resource that has helped my kids with learning and loving to read is to surround ourselves with books. I’m partial to non-fiction books with lots of vivid pictured but I do keep a good stock of quality fiction stories around too. My husband reads a chapter of a read-a-loud every night and I read a lot, both for myself and with them, so reading is just a normal part of their lives. My 9 year old has even started reading a bedtime story to his brothers every evening. I know that the library is ideal for getting fresh books but I love to get books from the thrift store to fill our own shelves. They are super cheap and then the kids can read them over and over again. I also often have a book on hand regarding whatever topic they’re interested in. They don’t have to wait until we make a trip to the library and can delve into that book for however long they want. (Though I have noticed I have a gap in my home library when it comes to geology. Guess I need to make a trip to the thrift store soon, yay!) Sometimes they pull a book of the shelves and get interested in a new topic that way. While I agree that libraries are handy, they do not replace a home library.

As you can see, we love both technology as well as old fashioned paperbacks when it comes to reading. We don’t do phonics lessons, or forced reading assignments and probably never will (unless a child asks for it). My goal is for my kids to grow up thinking reading is a normal part of every day life. We love Leap Frog and also purchased a LeapReader Pen and LeapPad a couple months ago. So far they are well loved and I believe they will both contribute to the boys’ growing love of books and reading.

What are your favorite ways to foster a love of reading in your children? In yourself?

Introverted Unschooling

It's not that we don't enjoy visiting and going out, we do, it's just that we enjoy staying at home too. Late morning...

Unschooling Reading Resources

I'm always on the lookout for good unschooling reading resources. The big question to consider when strewing any...

How Can Kids Learn About Money Without Allowance?

At this point, we don't give our children allowance. Partially because our budget doesn't allow for it and partially...

Do We Need a Common Skillset to Live in Society?

  How do you establish a common baseline as what skills are necessary to survive and contribute to society? Also,...

How Can Kids Learn About Money Without Allowance?

How Can Kids Learn About Money Without Allowance?

At this point, we don’t give our children allowance. Partially because our budget doesn’t allow for it and partially because we don’t see a need for it.  The most common objection we hear regarding this decision is “But how can  kids learn about money without allowance?”

Before I had my first son, I was in the financial services industry for several years. I taught people how to make and how to save money and sat down with a lot of people to help them figure out budgets and retirement plans. It was right up my alley as I had been tracking my own cashflow from the time I was able to count. I was pretty particular as a child and it seems to have paid off in the long run.

 

My husband began working outside of his family farm when he was about 13 or 14. He borrowed his dad’s quad and worked for various neighbors. He learned quickly the importance of financial planning as he wasn’t the most responsible with the quad and ended up spending a lot of money on repairs. Instead of driving saner (which would have been my first choice) he started saving a portion of his income for quad repairs so he was always prepared. He eventually saved up enough for his own quad and, a couple years later, his own brand new car.

 

When we got married, we had somewhat different outlooks on the final purpose of money (I was more of a hoarder saver and he was more of a spender) but we both understood the importance of budgets and paying bills on time and not spending money you don’t have. We may have been only 19 at the time but we set up our retirement plan and monthly budget within a couple of weeks of our wedding. That attitude has served us well over the years.

Our parents chose to talk about finances when kids were around so we heard a lot of things growing up that helped us understand how money works.

How does this roll into our parenting journey? Dinner table conversations. Our parents chose to talk about finances when kids were around so we heard a lot of things growing up that helped us understand how money works. They talked about which bill to pay when and how to make sure there was enough in the bank at harvest time to pay custom bills. We overheard conversations about whether it was best to continue fixing the old tractor or invest in a new-to-us tractor. Our parents talked about whether it was better to go into debt to invest in livestock which would make the farm money or whether we should wait until we could pay cash.

 

Our kids now hear many of the same conversations. As they become older and more capable, they’ll be invited into the office to help pay bills. They’ll learn how to write cheques, read balance sheets, make budgets and cashflow projections, reconcile bank accounts etc. They’ll also learn the difference between good debt and bad debt and how to figure out when to go into both. They are already around when we meet with accountants and have seen us discuss financials with my parents (whom we farm with). I know that our eldest hears everything because sometimes he asks very specific questions after our business meetings. Just yesterday he sat beside me and asked questions as I went through my weekly financial review.

As someone who has seen the financial state of many young families and the lack of understanding when it come to basic principles of money management, I’m reminding you to please involve your children in your finances from a young age. The best way for them to learn is to witness those principles applied in real life situations. It may feel unnatural to involve your children in something that many feel should be private, so start small. Perhaps they could stuff envelopes at bill paying time. If they are older, you could show them how to pay bills online by letting them read the statement and enter the numbers. Maybe you could put your children in charge of recording expenses. However you start, you will never regret teaching them how household money flows.

Do you have any other tips or stories to share about how kids learn about money without allowance?

Introverted Unschooling

It's not that we don't enjoy visiting and going out, we do, it's just that we enjoy staying at home too. Late morning...

Unschooling Reading Resources

I'm always on the lookout for good unschooling reading resources. The big question to consider when strewing any...

How Can Kids Learn About Money Without Allowance?

At this point, we don't give our children allowance. Partially because our budget doesn't allow for it and partially...

Do We Need a Common Skillset to Live in Society?

  How do you establish a common baseline as what skills are necessary to survive and contribute to society? Also,...

Do We Need a Common Skillset to Live in Society?

Do We Need a Common Skillset to Live in Society?

Is there an educational baseline? Is it necessary? Is there a specific timeline to accomplish it? Or is there a better way? - Aimed at the Heart

 

How do you establish a common baseline as what skills are necessary to survive and contribute to society? Also, how do you determine how a person meets those criteria in a timely fashion so the system is efficient? I agree that the system does a disservice to some individuals but for the majority it works.

These questions were posed to me by a friend after I shared a photo on my personal Facebook timeline stating that a fish should not be judged by it’s ability to climb a tree.

Here’s the response I gave this friend:

Wouldn’t living/participating in society be the best way to establish the skills needed to live in society? Also, do we need to establish a common baseline? Or perhaps instead of teaching everyone specific facts, we could teach them how to acquire the required knowledge for themselves? For example, the baseline I have for my children includes seeking/trusting the Lord and making Him the center of their lives, learning how to manage finances, taking care of their family, and having integrity in all they do. Those are skills that they learn through participating in society, and church, and getting involved in business and family affairs. I could care less if they ever learn how to solve a quadratic equation, or memorize who the 6th prime minister of Canada was, or know exactly how photosynthesis works.

And what is the definition of “timely fashion?” People used to be married with careers before age 20 and nowadays we still have 30-40 year olds living with their parents who, according to “the system” have been told they are adults but, according to society, do not have the skills necessary to venture out on their own. There are also many individuals who are still pursuing conventional education at those ages who don’t actually begin contributing to society until 10 years later than those who chose to learn career skills within their career instead of in a classroom.

As for efficiency and the system working for the majority of individuals, my personal experience has been very different. Most people I know hated school and learned more about how to live in society after their conventional schooling was finished. They don’t remember and/or use most of the information they were taught in school and, instead, acquired the skills necessary for their vocation through actually participating in that field. I also know way to many people who were made to feel stupid (and some were actually directly told they were stupid) and therefore they still believe that, because they were a fish who was asked to climb a tree, they must be stupid. It is heartbreaking that those “fish,” so to speak, are now too afraid to swim. It may be “efficient” for us to put everyone through the same system, but has not proven effective.

Here is an article where the author states that “The truth is: the sooner you start learning from the real world, the sooner you will find success. School is great as far as it can teach you basic knowledge and allow you to network. However, going to college is not the end — it’s only the beginning.” (Note: Some of the pictures are offensive and I do not necessarily agree with every opinion of the writer, but he does make some good points that are worth considering.)

Another great article on this subjects reminds us that “wisdom, insight and intelligence aren’t a function of how many years you spent in school.”

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying that college & university are worthless. There are certain instances when it can be very beneficial to attend conventional schooling. What I am saying, however, is that conventional schooling does not help us establish a baseline of skills necessary to live in and contribute to society. Many people thrive in their careers, not only in spite of not completing college or high school, but because of it. It gave them those extra years of experience that they would not have otherwise gotten. In fact, some of the greatest business minds that I know never completed high school. Many of the other great business minds I know are not even working in the field of their degree.

The common baseline of skills is established, and learned, by getting involved in society and applying. Skills are learned in a timely fashion (when a person needs them) and effectively applied. My opinion is that the “real world” is nothing like the “classroom world.” We even tell kids, when they graduate from high school or university and start working full time, “welcome to the real world.”

Where do you stand: should we have a checklist of skills or facts that children need to learn before they become contributing members of society? Is there a specific timeline that we should expect our children to learn them? Is there a particular way that these skills should be taught?