Unschooling in adults.

I know a man who exemplifies what unschooling looks like when you’re an adult. My friend’s husband is someone I think of when I think about how my life isn’t ‘unschooling my children’ – I’m not doing something to them, I’m providing space and facilitation for them to do it themselves. And lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how the framework and ideals of unschooling aren’t just great for kids, but for adults, too.

This guy I know? He sort of throws himself into trying things out and learning new ways to do stuff. He follows his interests and consequently is a very interesting person. I’ve not hung out with him loads, but I’m always impressed when I do. He doesn’t hesitate to grab any child’s hands to help them learn to roller skate. He brims over with enthusiasm and will talk to anyone of any age about mutual interests. He does what brings him joy, without seeming to care much what others think of him.

I hope these are some of the things I’m helping to instill in my children. The joy of following your curiosity, to not be afraid of being a beginner, the inner resources to know how to find outer support and knowledge.

I hope when they are my age they are excited about life and all the possibilities still open to them. I hope they are willing to try, even if they feel exposed and afraid and silly. I hope my children continue to have such a strong inner compass and the courage to follow where the needle leads, especially when the poles seem to switch places.

If only we all embodied these ideals, what a fascinating place the world will be. We all have our stories, and it’s great to try to enrich your own story….and to take the time to hear someone else’s.

Embracing the unknown is a tall task, but what better opportunity to learn what that feels like than right here and now? What have you wanted to try that you’ve put off? Who are the people you want around you when you do it? What can you do today to answer a question you’ve had, experience something you’ve always wanted to try, figure out a way to make a first step?

Mine was as simple as finding the right tool for the job. I spent £11 on a wireless keyboard and finding a lightweight, cheap way to write (using my phone as the computer) is filling up holes that were so big I thought I just had to learn to live with them.

In case you need to hear it: I believe in you.

Adventure day. 

We’ve been so busy lately. Busy with all sort of ‘enriching’ things. Classes, time with friends, busy busy busy. Even though during the summer most groups and classes are off, we have been alternating our normal ‘busy’ with total crushing downtime.

Last night I thought it was time to get back to what life has always looked like for us – at least before the busy bug struck.

Time to explore new places, with no constraints to rush back to anything else. A day with just the three of us (though Suzy was missed); no friends to consider when we decided what to do.

Last night I had a little google, looking at English Heritage, the National Trust, the CADW, and plain old ordinary maps. That’s how I discovered we don’t live that far from a big ass chalk horse carved into a hill in Wiltshire. I decided that could be a loose destination, a way for us to be pointed in.

This morning I told the kids it was Adventure Day. As we drove, if we saw anything cool we’d stop. We did – at a garden centre cum pet supply shop, with a cafe charmingly named after the camp where Suzy and I met. We marveled at cactus displays, venus fly traps, compasses and swiss army style cutlery. Then we got back in the car.

Oh, white horse on the hill, how I love you. We drove up a very narrow, winding road to the top of a hill. The whole carpark was chalk; it was so white. We pulled out a blanket and had a picnic on the flat grass expanse, looking at books, chatting, laying back in the sun.

Eventually we headed off to see what we could see of an Iron Age fort and a white horse.

There were grasshoppers singing, blue skies, a gentle breeze rippling the long grasses. We had pastels and oil crayons, scavenger hunt books and a kite, and all the time in the world.  With nowhere to be, we found we were in exactly the right place for exactly the right amount of time.

We stood on the hill and searched for the other two white horses visible from the peaks. We walked ages along a chalky path (which made me feel sick at points, so high and steep were we!). We saw a train pottering along in the distance and wondered if the people onboard would notice the horse.

And I felt happy. Happier than I’ve felt in ages. It was just me and the kids, just me and this wild, gorgeous place, just me and all the time in the world. Never have I felt so enriched.

As we move towards September, we are rethinking how our days and weeks will be ordered. We are leaving some things behind, trying one or two new things, but largely – we will hopefully be exploring, be adventuring without having a specific day set for that purpose, wandering and thinking and making art.

We’ll invite friends along, and gladly go along with others, but I think we’ll try to have more time just us. More time drinking in the beauty of wild spaces, time lazy and ripe. Because, really, what could be better?

Doing the stuff I need to do to be the person I am/want to be. 

  

Today my meanest nice friend came over. We shipped the kids out to Nana’s, then Meany Nice Friend, Suzy, and myself hella decluttered my bedroom. 

I gave Meany Nice Friend a handbag she liked and now I’m panic attacking (sure, it’s a verb) because WHAT IF I SHOULD HAVE KEPT THE HANDBAG?!

I need to sort my mind out before I end up on one of those compulsive hoarder documentaries in a decade or two. 

I’m taking small steps to get where I want. Earlier this week another friend got a blue vase that I’m oddly attached to. I’ve started an art class – the first art class I have ever done in my life. I joined an excellent and affirming women’s drumming circle a few months back. (And I really really want a djembe drum now!) I’m looking forward to starting a monthly women’s witchy circle. 

I reread my blog about cool stuff I’ve done, and was wondering when or what I will add to that list. I’m getting there. 

In the words of New Kids on the Block… Step by step, ooh baby…

Now the trick is staying sane while taking these steps. 

Family portrait.

S is really getting into drawing. A few weeks ago, she could suddenly just draw. Mainly a happy face with stick arms and legs, but literally overnight. Since then, she’s spent a lot of time drawing!

Here, clockwise, we are: S in her yellow shirt, M in red, Suzy (looking slightly frantic, if I may say so), and me. She’s put rainbows over us three – and what you can’t see is a lovely border of blue circles all around me.

This is seriously cute.

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Sticky spider webs!

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We like making stuff, and we really like Halloween. The start of the month kicked off with a flurry of crafts that are now tapering, but this is one of the coolest looking.

We chose square webs – so four sticks of roughly equal length we collected. The kids collect sticks and rocks (and pine ones and….and….everything) so we always have stuff going spare. Tie the edges together.

Then let them loose with sticky tape. Organised pattern, wild web spinning – anything goes.

Our spiders are just black paper and some googly eyes – as many as desired, obviously.

Finally, scrunched up balls of tissue paper make great bugs and are easy to stick onto the tape.

We added some black netted fabric as a ribbon hanger, and these bad boys are now adorning the stairs in the lounge, which always seem to be the home of seasonal/celebration all artwork.

This is one craft that the kids can take the lead on, and it always looks great. Enjoy!