Friday, September 26, 2008

Unschooling and Record Keeping

I've been catching up on my magazine reading, and my favorite is Home Education. It's gotten me thinking about record keeping - not only for legal reasons related to our end-of-year portfolio review, but also just for our own purposes as a family.

Unschooling, in case you wonder what I'm talking about, is a form of homeschooling based on child-led learning. Rather than using a set curriculum, we explore the world via living in it, and exploring our kids' interests and inclinations (and our own, as well). While I'm thinking about it, let me post a link to a terrific article on unschooling, written by a Dad who is also a public school teacher. Long, but very worth a read, whether you're new to this concept or not. Here you go: http://thisdadstake.weebly.com/

Anyway, I've experimented with various ways of keeping track of what types of things we do and learn. Most often, at the end of the year I put together a list of things we've done, and then categorize those things loosely by the traditional school headings (math, science, literature, etc). At the end, I include a list of all the books we've read aloud to them that year. I do this for both kids, and then include a folder with some samples of their artwork and writings, and perhaps fliers and brochures from field trips. Sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to remember all of the things we've been up to. I refer back to my personal journal, but that's more focused on my own perspective and emotions on any given day, so I have to sift out what the kids might have been focusing on.

A couple of years ago, I found an online source for unschooling records, which worked pretty well. The one I've used is here: http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/pdf/unschoolingrecordkeeper.pdf

Just this week, after trying out this form again, I found that it doesn't quite do what I want. So I've decided to go back to plain old pen and paper, and just make notes of what each kid was doing on any given day.

So it might look something like this, which was our actual day yesterday:

Thursday 9/25/08:
Tristan played World of Warcraft, and exchanged IMs with Taryn.
Bridget played Webkinz.
Bridget made two feather masks (we took pictures of them).
We all went to the chiropractor.
Played with fractions, quizzing each other in the chiropractor's waiting room. Also discussed with Tristan how to achieve his goal to attend college in 6 years, and how he can set up a plan to fulfill all the requirements for that.
We went to the farm stand for dinner ingredients.
Tristan had soccer practice.
We all watched Shrek the Third.
Read-aloud time was "High Rhulain" by Brian Jacques.
Tristan did some reading before bed, and played his bass a bit. Bridget worked on knitting before bed.

Nothing overtly schoolish, but lots of learning was happening (we're not really workbook people, at least currently). I also make note of when I take related pictures, so I can add them to our portfolio eventually. This method is flexible, and not terribly time-consuming. I'll just make a few notes at the end of each day, or during the next day, and remember to write down the read-aloud books we finish (which I've been doing for a while already). At the end of the year, my compiling of information should be a bit simpler. I think it's a good solution for our family.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

News Burnout

In the first yoga class of the term, our teacher mentioned that she'd like to keep politics out of the yoga studio. No discussion of the election in the room, or even in the lobby. Several people nodded, and someone said "thank you!" My first thought was "huh? Why would we be talking about that at yoga class?" But when I went out into the parking lot after class, I noticed a couple of cars sporting 2008 election stickers.

In a similar vein, I've had several people make comments to me that assume I'm worried about the economy, and my own survival. I'm not. I'm doing well, and will continue to do so. Why? Because I create my own experience. With Quester's new job in solar energy, we're participating in the gradual conversion from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. Teaching ourselves about gardening and beekeeping is certainly about being more personally sustainable. But why worry?

Don't get me wrong - I do care, I will be voting in November, I'll research the candidates, I recycle and reuse, I'm involved in my community. I just don't see the value in freaking out about change, or living in fear. I think the news media perpetuates a lot of negativity. Since leaving my job in the media several months ago, I've avoided listening to or reading much "news" (I don't even have TV). And to tell you the truth, I haven't missed much.

Maybe we don't need as much up-to-the-minute information as we've been taught to believe. Especially the "everything is in crisis" variety.

P.S. As to staying positive when you get caught up in the bad news cycle, try this:
http://christinekane.com/blog/how-to-stop-a-recession-in-its-tracks/

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

39 and All's Well (an update)

I turned 39 on Saturday, and had a lot of fun at my party with family and friends. We had a delicious feast, delightful chocolate cake made by Mom, drumming around the fire, and presents! Oddly, I like getting older. When I was little, I always wanted to be older, which is pretty common. But even in my 20s and beyond, I've wanted that sort of respect and wisdom that comes with being older. I like it!

Who am I, now, at this place and time? Student, teacher, yogini, writer, soccer Mom, daughter, friend, Love, unschooler, seeker, gamer, bookworm, gardener, beekeeper, dancer, drummer, artist, peacenik, vegan, Pagan, cook, housecleaner, inventor, playful child, fiery woman, cuddly kitten, strange hippie, feline dreamer and way more than that! Ha!

My yoga is treating me so well. Yesterday I went to the first class of the fall session at Wholeheart. It was so awesome to be back. For some reason, I seem to "go deeper" in class than at home. But my home practice is also going well. I'm happy and thankful! Blessed Be!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Magickal Activism

Lots of magickal activism is happening now, on all levels.

In myself, my renewed yoga practice is supporting me in cultivating health, harmony and centeredness, even when I'm outwardly busily swirling through life's daily activities. Even on days when I feel tired, or lazy, or a just little "off," I'm most often making my way to the yoga mat anyway. And it always feels great. In a couple more weeks, I'm starting a new session of yoga at my old studio, with a respected teacher. I haven't been there for a couple of years, and I'm really excited about it! Also, I'm going to be attending a 5 day yoga retreat in October.

In my community, I was honored to be one of 13 priestesses participating in an amazing, intense, powerful healing ritual for a woman who has been struggling with dis-ease in her body for quite some time. This ritual was the culmination of a lot of intense personal and coven work she's been doing. It was especially cool being in the ritual with a dear friend as my priestess-partner, and also with my young daughter, ElvenTiger. I was so proud of her! She, with some help from the family, composed a lovely multi-layered chant that was used in the ritual.

In the nation, I've been reading Starhawk's missives from the protests at the Republican National Convention, and sending energy to support her and her group. Check it out at: http://starhawk.org. I'm impressed with her non-violent magickal actions. I feel echoes of the energies I experienced at Vermont Witch Camp.

On all levels, postive change is constantly being created, and that's what I choose to focus on and encourage. So mote it be!