Merry Everything

No  matter how you and your family choose to celebrate this change of season, may you be safe, warm and find some time to yourself!

 

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

But Does Unschooling Actually Work?

As someone who was unschooled myself and now unschooling my daughters, I think this is my favorite post of this 3 part series from  Nikki Starcat Shields.

The most pressing of questions, does Unschooling actually work and was does it look like once they are adults?

P.S. We will be taking next week off from posts to enjoy the holidays, have a wonderful break everyone!

 

Okay, so you’ve read my two previous posts on unschooling, and you’re thinking, “Interesting. Sounds like a pretty good philosophy… But does it actually work?”

I’m here to say that yes, unschooling works.

I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not for every family. Some kids thrive in the environment of a “traditional” public or private school. Others do well with homeschooling, but need the structure of a more top-down approach. Some families are in situations where the time and resources to unschool are simply not available.

As the Mom to two grown unschoolers, and friend to many others in the community, I can attest that, for families who choose to unschool, it does work.

What does that look like, once these kids are adults?

I know several unschoolers who’ve chosen to take the traditional route of attending college once they turn 18. Almost universally, they begin by doubting their ability to function within the structure of academia. And almost universally, they soon discover that they excel.

In my opinion, that’s because they weren’t forced to sit in a classroom for twelve years, learning about things that may or may not have interested them. Unlike their public-schooled peers, unschoolers are not bored and burnt out. Also, they are choosing to attend college to learn something particular.

My son’s comment during his first semester sums it up. He took a sociology class, and remarked to me that he and one other person (who was an older, non-traditional student) were the only ones speaking up during class discussions. “I just don’t get it – the topics are really interesting,” he said. I pointed out that most of the other kids were probably sick of the classroom setting already.

In my son’s case, he chose to attend a local community college and learn a trade. He studied heating and air conditioning systems – also known as HVAC. When he finished his program, he immediately had several job offers to choose from. He’s starting his career with no debt, a well-paying job, and a growing savings account.

Other unschoolers have chosen to follow their own paths outside of the college setting. One young woman is working as a nanny and loves it. My daughter, who is about to turn 19, just embarked on a new adventure. She moved across the country with her boyfriend and his family.

She and her boyfriend are about the same age, and their plan is to work for a year and establish residency in their new state, then attend college. My daughter wants to do digital art for virtual realities, so while working part-time in retail, she’s also devoting time to her creativity, and plans to take some community art classes to prepare herself for art school.

At least, that’s the current plan – she’s young, and full of enthusiasm for her changing interests. Which to me is quite normal. One of the huge benefits of unschooling is the freedom to follow one’s passions.

She and the other unschoolers I know have learned how to learn, in a way that works best for them, and feel confident in applying it to their ever-changing interests.

Some of the grown unschoolers in my community are traveling the world, others are entrepreneurs, and a few haven’t yet found their niche. They are writers, chefs, activists, and computer programmers.

Their life paths vary widely.

But overall, they have kept their natural curiosity about life, get along well with their families, and are thriving. The unschoolers I know are happy and love to learn. They are willing to embrace the unknown and follow their passions. They are able to be themselves, authentically.

What more could a parent hope for?

Nikki Starcat Shields is Mom to two grown unschoolers, a published author, and a licensed priestess. She blogs at Starcat’s Corner and shares her callings at Feline Dreamers. Want to learn about how to create a daily spiritual practice that works in your life? Check out her It’s Your Time video.

Twas the Week Before Christmas….

We have almost made it Mama, just hang on a little longer.

 

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house

My children were going crazy!  How about yours?  I have planned to take this week off so I can be with them as much as possible, because they are just a little crazy this time of year.  Especially my 4 and almost 6 year old.  There is just something about the amp up for Christmas and Solstice is this week as well.

I have activities planned.  We got together with friends yesterday and melted peppermint candies into candy bowls and made ornaments.  Our last Girl Scout meeting is tonight until after the New Year.  We are going to the Nutcracker on Friday.  They are getting a long game to play on Thursday for the Solstice.  We have holiday music, baking, and games to play.

My idea of the last week before the holidays would be: reading books, listening to audiobooks while finishing up the last few handmade gifts (for friends and a few left for family), watching a few movies, going for walks or hikes as the weather allows, maybe decorating.  Making some warm cozy drinks.

My kids ideas?  Hot chocolate, more playing in snow if we get some more, counting down the seconds until Santa comes, can we have another play date?  Making stuff, have I gotten something for my sister yet?  Can we make and eat more cookies?

Thank goodness there is only a week left!  We will survive this!  I promise.

 

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Radical Unschooling: Kids Are People, Too

This week we continue understanding Unschooling with Nikki Starcat Shields.

Nikki explores radical unschooling and how you can raise your children with less instruction than you might think.

Join Nikki next week for part 3.

 

Have you ever really thought about the way we treat children in our culture? While we claim to protect and honor kids, often we treat them as second-class citizens. We spend a lot of time caring for our children, but how often do we focus on what they really want?

Last time we talked about unschooling as a way of approaching childhood education. The basic idea is that by following your child’s lead, she will learn more, be more creative, and will also be happier. Rather than a top-down, teacher-to-student type of learning, unschooling fosters discovery and encourages a child’s natural curiosity about the world.

Radical unschooling expands this philosophy into all aspects of your family’s life.

So, back to the way we collectively treat our children. Even the most liberal, caring, justice-seeking people tend to act like a dictator when it comes to their kids. We order children around, dole out punishment for transgressions, and generally act like we know what’s best for them in all aspects of their existence.

Why do we act this way?

We’ve been taught by our culture, and seen modeled in our own families of origin, that this is how you raise “good” children. It’s insidious. Even if we absolutely hated being treated that way when we were kids, once we have children we hear ourselves yelling things that we swore would never come out of our mouths.

We tend to default to parenting the way we were parented.

It’s understandable, in some ways. Parenting is hard work. It comes with a zillion and one responsibilities. And yes, when our kids are young, we are responsible for keeping them from running into the street or eating gross stuff they find on the ground. We have to keep them safe.

But there’s a huge difference between keeping your kid safe and dictating her every move.

Kids are people, too. Inexperienced people, granted. But like us, they have their own inner wisdom – and sometimes they are able to hear it much more clearly than adults, as they don’t have the baggage of a lifetime of conditioning. Our kids have preferences, passions, and dislikes.

Radical unschooling encourages us to partner with our kids around the way we live and learn together. If you’re familiar with attachment parenting, radical unschooling is a natural extension of that.

It requires a certain level of awareness, and more discussion than authoritarian parenting. Your role is to work with your kids on the tasks of everyday life – eating, bathing, sleeping, and yes, even the dreaded “screen time.”

Here’s a good question to ask yourself when thinking about your relationship with your child: “Would I speak to my partner or best friend the way I speak to my kid?”

If the answer is “no way,” then you have a choice to make.

You can continue as you have been. Or you can take a look at your relationship with your kids, and see how you can open things up. Do some reading about radical unschooling. Look at those areas of life that feel like a constant battle, and pick one. Start to bring more freedom into that part of your family’s life.

What if your child could choose his own meal, or her own bedtime routine? It would empower them, and take the pressure off you, as well.

If the notion of radical unschooling appeals to you, take a few minutes to research it further. In next week’s post, I’ll share how this philosophy has affected my own family’s life. Spoiler alert: my grown kids are awesome people!

 

Nikki Starcat Shields is a Mom, published author, Reiki healer, and licensed priestess. She blogs at Starcat’s Corner and shares her callings at Feline Dreamers. Want to learn more about how to create a daily spiritual practice that works in your life?

Check out her It’s Your Time video.

Elving

Purchased gifts whether local or overseas never feels quite the same as experiences and the handmade, even with the inherent flaws.

 

Every year I try to move away from gifts of things and towards experiences as gifts.

This is hard to do with kids.  They want things they can hold, and touch and taste and smell.

And I want a less cluttered house.  Or stuff they will use, and things that won’t break right away.

It can be a hard balance.  A few years ago I tried giving digital classes and then the supplies needed for those classes.  That really didn’t go over well.

We have had holidays themed by puzzles, games, graphic novels and adult coloring books, and even Legos.  This year however there was no theme, there was nothing that all of the kids wanted.  Just a few specific things they each wanted.

Some of my kids are getting art supplies.  All of them are getting a craft kit with a new craft they have never tried.  A few are getting books (but not all of them) they are all getting socks and pjs and leggings or tights.

And all of them are getting a fun novelty hat I have made them.  There is a fox cowl coming, two kinds of unicorn hats, a duck hat that I still have to make and maybe even a BB8.  We will just have to wait and see what we can find.

They made whipped body butter for their Girl Scout Leaders because it was something they could all help make.  I am making a series of the same sewed items for my relatives and friends, and I am not quite half way done (3 of them are staying in the house so that works), there is a sweater for one daughter and an apron for another coming from my mom.

One of my daughters is making homemade playdough for all of her sisters.  And another daughter made some for her Secret Santa in her Girl Scout troop.  I believe there may be some drawn pictures coming my way for the holidays.

At least not everything has been bought.  A lot has been made.  And many of the traditions of the holidays for us are around food that we make together.  Wish Bread on the longest night, St. Lucia buns for breakfast tomorrow for the old date of the Solstice, Pork pies and coffee cake for Christmas Day, Fondue for New Year’s Eve and probably some carnitas for the week in between.  We make as much as possible as a family, together, and it is more than the decorations, what makes the holidays for us.   My hubby and I almost always brew a batch of beer Christmas after the gifts have been opened and the kids are busy.  There is usually a long game to be played on the longest night.

What traditions make the holidays for you?

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

What is Unschooling? The Basics

Today we begin the first of a 3-part series from Nikki Starcat Sheilds.

Nikki will be discussing Unschooling and how it pertains to parenting.

Join Nikki in the blog post below and join us next week for part 2.

 

Have you heard of unschooling? It’s a type of homeschooling that focuses on each child’s unique talents, interests, and preferences. It is also a philosophy on how we, as parents, relate to our kids as people.

Let’s take a deeper look at what unschooling is, and whether it might work for your family.

The word unschooling, coined by author and educator John Holt in the 1970s, refers to the way you choose to handle your child’s education. You might have heard of child-led learning, which is very much part of what unschooling families do. The idea is that any given topic of interest – from medieval history to gluten-free baking to Minecraft – is a valid avenue to learning.

Think about it – we were taught in school to divide everything up into subjects, like math, reading, history, etc. But in actual life, when you learn about a topic, you’re encompassing all of those things.

Say you’d like to start a new hobby, like knitting. You’re reading about your new passion, calculating how much yarn will cost for that scarf you want to make, and perhaps learning which yarns to use and why certain ones are better for a particular pattern. Just from that simple example, you’ve used reading, math, analytical skills, and perhaps some history.

You are free to explore your new hobby on your own time, in a way that feels good to you. You practice knitting – because you want to – and gradually improve, learning more and more as you go. When you feel competent or satisfied, you move on to another interest. Or if knitting becomes a favorite activity, you continue to expand your skills.

This is what kids do naturally. Unschooling allows – and encourages – this type of organic learning.

Actually, the form of schooling we’re used to here in the western world, often called “traditional” schooling, is very new. In the scope of human history, people have been unschooling for the majority of time we’ve been here on Earth. Compulsory public schooling as we know it was put into place in the industrial revolution, and was designed to create compliant factory workers.

To clarify, unschooling doesn’t mean that kids never learn from a teacher in a classroom. Just as you might choose to take a knitting class, your child may find that she wants to learn a particular topic from a teacher. Some kids learn best this way, while others would rather experiment on their own.

The point is, classroom learning isn’t compulsory, and it isn’t the only method unschoolers use.

You, as the parent, become the facilitator, helping your child to find the resources, materials, and people he needs to learn the things he’s most curious about. In the process, he’ll be discovering the most basic skill needed to thrive – how to learn.

Through unschooling, your child’s natural curiosity, creativity, and drive to learn will be nurtured. She’ll also be happier, because she’s able to choose how she spends her time each day, listening to her own rhythms rather than having to work at the pace of a group.

Unschooling in the age of the internet – with a vast library of knowledge available at your fingertips – is easier than ever before.

Many families are finding that unschooling suits their child’s academic needs and makes for better parent-and-child relationships.

Next week, we’ll take a look at how unschooling can expand beyond learning into all aspects of family life.

Nikki Starcat Shields is Mom to two grown unschoolers, a published author, and a licensed priestess. She blogs at Starcat’s Corner and shares her callings at Feline Dreamers. Want to learn about how to create a daily spiritual practice that works in your life? Check out her It’s Your Time video.

The Teenage Brain – And How To Cope

I am loving the book shown to the right, The Teenage Brain, it is really helping me to understand what is going on in my adolescent’s brain, and to know that there are some things she just isn’t ready for yet.  I plan to do a full book review in the future, but in the meantime, here are two videos that help you understand in a snap shot what is going on in that brain.

 

These Girls

Poetry again this week.

 

These Girls of Mine

I never dreamed
that you would all appear
so fresh and new
and wrinkly too
with folds of fat
and fuzzy heads
one after the other
I took care of you
I still take care of you
but my have you grown
what was once one
became two
three
four
And here you are all
in your loud
exuberance
and voices
singing in choruses
You are so full of life
and fights at times
to numerous to count and
yet
I know
That you love each other
with the deep rooted passion
That only siblings can have
That sisters can have
You against the world
Strong Girls
Silly Girls
I can’t imagine life
without them
my darling
my dears
these girls of mine.
Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

In Gratitude

I couldn’t have done this without you.  Thank you, readers, contributors, and friends.  Here’s to another year of changing the world!

 

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

The Thankful Tree

Teaching Gratitude

 

Teach kids Gratitude

Is not in my experience an easy and graceful task.  At least not for my girlies.

But I know that by training our minds to look for gratitude, to look for the good things in life, we can, in fact, train our mind to keep looking for them, and this, this is something that is important to teach my girls, for me and my husband.

So back in 2014 the girls and I made the above gratitude tree as part of our November celebration and part of getting ready for the holiday season and Thanksgiving.  The girls helped me color in the tree and then they each helped write what was on each of the leaves and we added to it as the month went on.

And for the ages of my girls this perfect for their attention span, their need to do everything with their hands, and lots of color and texture.

We didn’t do it this year though, partially because I didn’t think of it, and also because we have a new piece of furniture on that wall.  But we do have a daily practice around gratitude.

Every night as we all sit down for our evening meal everyone is says something they are grateful for.  Preferably something from that day if it is time specific, so this time of year you can’t simply say that it is one day closer to Christmas, you have to also say something else.

Small or big, it’s all good.  Just the other day my youngest actually said she was grateful for one of her sisters, which is a big first for her, and considering how she has been treating them lately, really good to hear.

It is a nice ritual to set the tone of the meal, calm everyone down, take turns listening because we can’t hear if we all go at once, and let everyone have a chance to say something, which in a family of six can be a small miracle in itself at times.

How do you teach gratitude to your kids?  How do you practice it yourself, and is it something you model?

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.