Posted in Deschooling, Letting Go Of Fear To Unschool, Unschooling, Unschooling History

How The Xbox Helps To Teach My Children.

As a Mom, seeing my kids playing on their video games A LOT, makes my skin crawl. It kind of makes me crazy. Crazy with worry. This isn’t very healthy, its rotting their brains, its making them lazy kids that will turn into lazy adults. UUGGGGHHHHH!

As my heart begins to race, that lovely Mother’s guilt starts to kick in and my ideal world of living an unschooling life starts to feel as if its falling apart all around me.  That worry and doubt starts to kick in. I know that any unshooling or homeschooling Mom reading this is also feeling the same way at times. I know this because my emails and comments tell me. So it is good to know that in a way, this feeling is normal. If I didn’t feel this way, then maybe I am not quite doing my job as a parent. I also know that the hardest part of this type of life style is to trust.

Dayna Martin, author of Radical Unschooling writes:

“I believe that what my children are learning is their business, and it’s not right or necessary to prod their minds to see what they know. Again, I trust them and their learning processes.” 

So how do you as a parent trust that your child is learning anything when all they are mostly doing is playing a video game or watching videos on YouTube? Well, I am going to tell you.

 

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Xbox or Playstation:

Both of my sons are MAJOR Xbox fans. They play for hours. Now as you may remember from my other posts, my son Brandon is autistic. So playing on computers and video games is a big part of his life. I feel it is a stemming or coping mechanism. I had to really let go of control here and let him be for a bit, and I am so glad that I did. Certain games that he plays has opened up other interests for him, like history. Not to mention he has gained friendships with other boys (yes, I do know that they are not 40 year old men) who live on the other side of the planet. He has a very close friend that lives in Spain. They would talk a lot on Skype and on their games. He learned about other cultures  and their langue. It was kind of fun for me to listen to the boys interact with each other.

One day I walked into his room and he was very involved with watching something on his phone. I was a bit afraid to ask, but I had to know what had him so interested. He showed me a YouTube video he was tentatively watching. It was about a WWII bunker that was discovered. He became interested in this from playing his Call of Duty WWII game. He talked about where the bunker was located and what it was used for among other historical facts. This was a great lesson on history that he found very interesting.

You would be surprised to know how much math is involved with playing these games. When the kids are needing to purchase something for their game, they need to figure out how much it is, then they need to convert it to real money and see how much they will actually need to purchase their coins, Robucks or Minecraft money.

One really big thing that I love most of all how this has taught Brandon how to do research. When he has come to a point in the game that he cannot figure out what to do next, he gets on YouTube and websites and looks up how to beat the game. He reads and watches what others have to say and how they were able to beat the game and then he takes what he has learned and uses it to beat the game. This is an amazing skill to have. There is nothing this child cannot do, because whenever he is up to a challenge he does the research to figure it out.

So I ask you, when your anxiety starts to kick up because your kids just want to play on their video game and you think that they are not learning. Take a deep breath and trust in the process. Trust that your kids will learn something new each time they turn on their system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Homeschooling Family Life, Letting Go Of Fear To Unschool, Unschooling

How Homeschooling and Unschooling Saved Our Family. Part Two

 

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In my previous blog post, I talked about how our family was in crisis. School was too demanding on our autistic son.  Making the decision to homeschool was terrifying. Doing anything that is out of the social norm is terrifying. What was the hardest part was that I knew it was the right answer, for some outside family members they thought I was crazy. With the support from my husband I wrote up my letters and took them to the school.

Our homeschooling journey had begun in October 2016.

Immediately and I mean immediately we saw a MAJOR improvement with Brandon.  His meltdowns have gone from 3-4 a day to maybe 1 or 2 every few weeks, if that. He is much more calm and happier then I have ever seen him.

We started off sitting and doing work together. I noticed that our relationship really started to improve. We were actually getting to spend some quality time together. After a couple of weeks the workbooks were starting to feel more like school to him. Natalie was working on an on-line curriculum, I could sometimes get him to sit and do it with her but that too also started to become irritating to him. I was starting to get nervous. There was NO WAY I was sending him back to school, but he needed to have more then a 6th grade education.

I had completely backed off of Brandon because he was at a point where he was not willing to sit and do workbooks. I decided that the peace in my home was much more important then learning about latitude and longitude and devoted my time on Natalie. In this time of backing off of Brandon an amazing thing started to happen. He was learning! Not just math, science or history, real life things! Like us going out into the community and learning how to order his own food. We went out for donuts and we talked about slaes tax and how to make sure you have enough money to buy things. Then it started to catch on with Natalie.  She started asking questions and going off on her own to learn things. I soon came to find out that there was a name for what I was doing with Brandon. I was unchooling him and I did not even know it.

Homeschooling saved our family. Homeschool and unschooling changed everything! Some children just can not handle school in any way. Brandon is way less stressed out, not to mention he is learning so much more then he was in school! His research skills and computer skills amaze me. He has learned critical thinking, math and his grammar is seriously better then mine.

Had I not chosen to do homeschooling, I have no idea where we would be right now.  Homeschooling changed everything for our family. If you feel that public school is not working for you, trust in your ability as a parent to do what is right for your child. Trust in your child that they have the ability to seek out what interests them and learn from it.

I will always advocate positively for homeschooling and EVEN MORE for unschooling.

 

Posted in Homeschooling Family Life, Unschooling

How Homeschooling AND Unschooling Saved Our Famiy. Part One.

 

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Brandon, number three in our adopted family household, has had many emotional issues.  He has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder along with other diagnosis depending on the doctor he saw.  From day one for him, school has been difficult.  To make a very long and painful story short, Brandon’s behavior was destroying our family.  My youngest basically suffered from PTSD due to his violent outbursts against me and my husband.  We could never go out as a family because he would just end up having a meltdown that was horribly embarrassing to my daughters.  Thankfully we were able to get funding from the State of Michigan to get him into a residential home for boys to help get his behavior under control. There of course he was the best behaved boy there. School was still an issue however, this is also where we met Blake, our soon to be 4th adopted child.

After 7-8 months Brandon came home, needless to say it was a nightmare. He was out of control. School was a massive mess and he was even more out of control at school. He would come home from a bad day and have meltdown after meltdown. In February of 2015 he was back in the residential home. My husband and I had contacted an attorney. Brandon’s violence towards me was so out of control. He had busted holes into walls and doors. I was devastated, I couldn’t believe our life had come to this.  It had to end. I could not live like that any longer. My daughters could not live like that any longer. We had to figure something out. Either we were going to have to terminate our parental rights to get him into a safe environment or something at home had to change. I was horribly depressed and sad all the time. I felt horrible, this was my child. How could I do this to him?

While Brandon was in treatment, we started to see some small improvements. After hitting wall after wall, we had no choice but to bring him back home in October 2015. Home life was OK, not great but OK. School was again HORRIBLE! They had to call the police at least two times from mid September to the beginning of October.  He would constantly run out of the classroom, and then out of the school. He had broken school property and again destroyed rooms. I had to stop working during the day because the school kept calling me everyday to come and get him, and I mean EVERYDAY. So I basically could not work. We cut him down to 1/2 days. It helped very little. The school was at least able to handle him for the 3 hours he was there.

One day my husband came home and told me about one of his co-workers who also has an autistic son. He too was not doing well in school and they started to homeschool him. At this point I was willing to try anything. He was spending more time at home anyway. I did a TON of research. I read book after book. I looked up Michigan state laws. Thankfully Michigan is very hands off when it comes to homeschooling. I do not have to report to anyone. We have the freedom to teach our children however we want.

In October 2016 I took Brandon and Natalie out of school. I gave the twins the option as well, but being already in high school they decided they wanted to stay where they were.

Homeschool changed everything. In part two, you will be able to read how it changed our lives.

 

Posted in Deschooling, Letting Go Of Fear To Unschool, Unschooling

How A Hedgehog Changed Everything About Homeschooling.

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“Mom, I want to learn everything I can about hedgehogs!” This sentence changed everything! I had at this point of mine and Natalie’s homeschool life been trying to make the curriculum I had been using work. We were working with an online program, that I really liked. I paid the monthly subscription and kept track of how she was doing. She seemed to be doing OK, or so I thought. I had realized that first off, Natalie did best doing her work at night. She has ALWAYS been a night owl, so it did not surprise me that she could get through the work a lot easier when it was after 6:00 PM. That is what homeschooling is about right? Working when it’s right for you. I work at night, so when I would get home and ask her about what she had learned, she would give me a short answer. With a sigh, I would drill her on her lessons. That would just seem to make her angry.

OK, so this isn’t working. Hummm….. So I bought workbooks that also went along with the online classes. She seemed to be doing better work, writing complete sentences and seemed to be a bit more into it. Yeah, for about two weeks. Then again, I would ask her what she learned and she couldn’t remember. BUT, ask her anything about pandas and that kid could write a book. Ask her about different gemstones that she wanted to learn about from watching Steven Universe and she would put any earth science major to shame. But ask her about colonial times in America and watch her glaze over. UGH GREAT!

So back to wanting to learn about hedgehogs….

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“Mom, I want to learn everything I can about hedgehogs!” With this sentence, she grabbed her tablet, a pen and a notebook. I put the workbooks away and gave her the time to read, watch and learn. Not only did she watch what she could about these cute little guys, but she took notes. Oh yeah! I didn’t tell you about ALL of the whining I had to listen to if I dare asked her to write out vocabulary.  Not only did this kid write out about four pages of notes, you could read them! Like actually read what she wrote. They were well planned out and included important facts.

I just sat there, dumbfounded. I had given Unschooling a try early this year but let fear creep in and pulled out the schoolwork. So I did have some unschooling training a little in my back pocket. I just knew right then and there, that this is how my child learns. Not by being forced to do work she could careless about.

My sister would just tell me, “You need to make her study.” Really? No kidding! I would have her go over the work, rewatch her lessons and review, review, review. After about two weeks, she wouldn’t remember a darn thing.

Ask her what type of animal a hedgehog is and she will tell you. Ask her where they live and their habitat and she can tell you.

So now we are unschooling. It’s been hard on me to not freak out and worry that she isn’t learning. The deschooling process has begun but it will go a lot faster and smoother if I would just remember to back off and let her be for a bit.

I get fearful that at times that unschooling really can’t be this great. That all of the research, books, blogs and experience other unschooling families have is just luck on their part.  Then she sits next to me and says “Mom, lets talk about sleep paralysis and if you have ever experienced it.”

Yep, I think that she is going to be OK! 😉