Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Yesterday evening, Taliesin started running a fever and complaining of being dizzy. He also seemed totally out of energy. He's had a sore throat and a headache off and on for the past few days. So off to the doctor we went today. The doctor tested him for influenza and strep, which both came back negative. Because of his symptoms, she also wanted to run a mononucleosis test. So now I'm awaiting the call telling me if this test is positive or negative. Poor Taliesin started crying when the doctor told me if the mono test is positive, he will not be able to take karate for six weeks (the spleen enlarges and any kind of bump or hit could cause it to rupture). I hope it's negative and just a small, simple virus (if there really is such thing). Now Nathanael is running a fever, coughing, and saying he has a sore throat. Ughhh. Taliesin is asleep right now. Nathanael just woke up. I took off from work tonight to watch and wait for the test results.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy Days, Busy Thoughts

One day last week, Taliesin and Nathanael woke up in the mood to study arachnids and insects. These are some of their accompanying drawings.

Saturday, many of Taliesin's and Nathanael's planned activities were cancelled due to snow. But we made up for it. First we had a snowball fight, then onto Freddy's for frozen custard. ..

And to the mall to visit the Mounted Patrol scuba divers in the mall aquarium.

The past few days have been busy. Our days have been full of various activities. I'm still plugging away at college. I am really enjoying classroom management. I'm enjoying my philosophy class as well, although it is more complicated that I had envisioned. I recently blogged about a new tutoring service I'm beginning here. And I have also decided to open a home child care sometime in the near future. I had an introductory meeting today and will attend an orientation next month. After the state receives the paperwork, I should have my daycare established within 30 to 90 days. My workplace is just becoming more and more stressful. I've come to the conclusion that most places of employment will have this stress level, which I definitely do not need right now. Taliesin and Nathanael are so looking forward to a daycare. I only plan on caring for two or three children other than my own two. This way, when we have events for the unschooling group or other activities; they will be able to accompany us. I will use the same activities for the daycare kids that I do for Taliesin and Nathanael. I will be marketing it as a child-directed activities care center - with focus on Montessori and Waldorf methods. I'm really looking forward to this new endeavor!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's a School Year?

My college discussion board for my classroom management class this week was to think of and discuss ways in which a teacher should prepare for the beginning of a school year. This is my posting. I'm eager to see what responses I get. Unschooler's Warning: this post does contain educationalese (phrasing such as "students," "discipline," "rules," and "lessons").

This is an excellent question, but honestly one that I had never really given much thought to. As unschoolers, we do not have a start or beginning of a school year - following the philosophy that learning takes place all the time, not just during a school year and during school hours. My sons do have a school room, but we rarely ever use only it. For us, learning is about so much more than just a classroom and a school year.

That said, the best way to prepare for any important endeavor - including a new school year for teachers - is to pray and study the Bible. God prepares us spiritually for all undertakings. It is not only important to begin the school year with prayer, but to begin each day with prayer and to pray during any difficult situations.

When arranging a classroom, it is important to consider all learning styles. I was just talking with a co-worker and fellow college student last night at work. She was telling me that one of her professors brought in PlayDough for the students to work with as she lectured. Other students took notes. Others walked around the room. Each did what was able to help him/her comprehend the lesson. I told her I totally agree with this. I believe every classroom, regardless of age, should have activities for the students - not just lessons. My four-year old's children's church teacher is awesome at this. She has all sorts of stations set up in the classroom. As she reads the lessons, some of the students play at the sand table, some play in the kitchen area, some play on the plastic slipper slide, and some sit at the table and listen or color a picture. All children learn differently. Some need some type of physical activity when studying. A teacher should prepare the classroom and him/herself for these different learning styles and accomodate the students as much as possible. One activity that I have found my own sons enjoy is getting out blocks or Legos (which are wonderful for all different ages of students) for them to build with as I read. They comprehend so much more when they are able to do something with their hands. I also find it helpful to have models and manipulatives available with different lessons. Games and puzzles are also good ways for some students to learn. Other than just textbooks, I feel a good classroom should be stocked with all types of learning supplies.

This being said, I feel the teacher should also prepare for "out of the box," or, in this case, "out of the classroom" lessons. (S)he should be willing to take the students outside to explore and learn. Call it a field trip. Go on nature walks. Don't be afraid to do things differently. Outside days should definitely be something that a teacher should calculate into his/her schedule. Being outside in different types of weather, even, will stimulate students of all different learning styles and academic abilities to learn and take part. All students will be on an equal footing. Upon coming back into the classroom, the students could then journal about some of their experiences. My sons and I did somewhat of a directed reading assignment during our last hail storm. We took the umbrellas and went outside and collected hailstones. We brought them in and cut them open to see the layers and read two different trade books about hail and storms.

A teacher also needs to discuss behavior with the students. I feel it best to include the students in making the rules as much as possible. I do this with my owns sons whenever we go somewhere or even play outside. We talk about what some good rules would be that we should follow. I like to follow a positive form of discipline as much as possible - focusing more on good behavior than on bad. We also keep a helpfulness chart for each of my sons. Whenever they do something helpful or listen well, we write it down on the charts. Depending upon the teacher's methods, (s)he may want to include one big reward such as a trip to a zoo or a park day toward the middle or end of the school year (depending upon how many times the teacher wants to begin a new chart).

These are some considerations for any teacher at the beginning of any new endeavor (including the beginning of a school year). I feel that keeping in mind different learning styles, keeping discipline positive, and keeping the students involved as much as possible in all activities and discipline methods will make the school year run much smoother.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why We Do What We Do

I have been having a lot of unschooling conversations this week. Seems like everywhere I turn, someone is asking me about unschooling - about what we do as unschoolers. I think some people are thrown off by the term "unschool." Isn't unschooling a little radical? In a word, yes. It really is radical compared to what most children do each day in a regular school environment. But it works. My sons are flourishing in an unschooling environment - an environment where they are allowed to learn rather than being forced to ingest facts. For us, unschooling is more than just an educational system. It's more than just lining up all kinds of projects and activities based upon interest. It is more than just hands-on activities. Yes, we do all of these things from time to time - depending upon what Taliesin and Nathanael are interested that day or week or month. But unschooling really is a lifestyle. It is different from day to day. No two days are the same. I mean, sure, we have weeks where they want to work on a unit study or spend a few days sewing (which reminds me, I have a post coming up very soon of some of Taliesin's newest projects) or read the same books over and over and over. But each day is truly a new adventure, limited only by the imagination of two little boys who love to learn and explore.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Unschooling Days

Yesterday, at the mall...

Stringing Beads

Taliesin's beads: "red blood cells and bone"

Taliesin's Glitter Picture

Nathanael's Glitter and Bead Picture

"Therefore, you best of men, don't use force in training the children in the subjects, but rather play. In that way can you better discern toward what each is naturally directed." - Plato
"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul." - Friedrich Froebel
"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things." Plato

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thank you to Little Castle,, for this award!
Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.
My nominations are:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Word Games

Taliesin and Nathanael have been having fun with a new Winnie the Pooh word game we found the other day. Here are some pictures. I have been surprised that even Nathanael is getting into it.


Friday, March 20, 2009


"Why is it important to develop a philosophical mindset?" This is the question I had to answer this week for my philosophy class. I replied that a philosophical mindset encourages critical thinking and understanding of ideas and beliefs; but, most importantly, it reveals things about ourselves and our own worldviews that we may not have known before. I used an example of my educational philosophy. For years and years (prior to having children of my own), I was totally opposed to a progressive form of education. I used all of the arguments that anti-progressive eduction, anti-unschooling people use. Then Taliesin came along. After observation and soul-searching, I discovered that not only I did agree with progressive education and unschooling, but we have changed our entire lifestyle to meet the needs of my sons through these philosophies. Hmm. I think I'm going to like this class.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

I love St. Patrick's Day. Next to Christmas, along with Easter, it's my second favorite holiday. I love studying the life of St. Patrick and of Celtic Christianity. I enjoy Celtic music. So today, for the unschooling group, we met at the park to play, make a Happy St. Patrick's Day banner, and have a St. Patrick's Day parade! It was a lot of fun! Taliesin and Nathanael really enjoyed it! So did I. :^)


Monday, March 16, 2009


Nathanael has been feeling a little under the weather for the past few days - stuffy nose, chest congestion. So far this week, we have missed karate twice, church, and I skipped going to the restaurant for our weight loss meeting tonight. But we did make it up to Indian Rock Park with Taliesin and Nathanael this evening for a picnic. It was so much fun! Taliesin and Nathanael had a blast. The fresh air has helped immensely!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Taliesin, the Vegetarian

Well, Taliesin has decided he no longer wants to eat meat. He's been questioning the ingredients in meat for the past few weeks. It started with asking, "Mom, why do people catch fish?" I answered him that some people like to eat fish. This led him to try a fish stick of Kelsey's, but he couldn't bring himself to eat it. Next, came chicken nuggets with his Happy Meal. He asked my sister the other night while eating his happy meal, "What are chicken nuggets made out of?" She told him chicken. He then decided that he would just eat the breaded part on the outside, but not the inside of the chicken nuggets. He has also been questioning me about my veggie burgers. I explain to him that they are like hamburgers, but are made out of vegetables. Now he has decided that he thinks meat is yucky and does not want to eat it. I explained to him that if he decides not to eat meat that he does need to eat other things - like beans, peanut butter, and veggie meats to make up for the vitamins he would be missing. He has agreed to that. Today, he decided to take a peanut butter and honey sandwich to the park for a picnic instead of his traditional chicken and has said he would like to try veggie chicken nuggets. This is quite a decision for a six-year old. But it is up to him. I would not try to influence him either way - to eat meat like his dad or to be vegetarian like me. I think what I'm impressed with is he has made an informed decision - whether he goes back to eating meat again or not. He has gathered all of the facts. And he made his decision. It just could be his unschooling lifestyle that allows him to make such decisions on his own - decisions about what he believes and feels he should practice.


Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything

Yesterday, there was no rhyme or reason to the activities Taliesin and Nathanael picked. Usually, they have little "themes" - you know, like Dr. Seuss, music, art, superheroes, construction work, etc. Yesterday there was no such thing. Taliesin started the day by asking to study one of his human body books. Both enjoyed learning about our organs, our muscles, and seeing just how are bones look inside. They were particularly interested in how cuts are healed. A few days ago, at the park, Nathanael fell and scraped his finger. He was nervous at the sight of his blood on his finger (he's going through that stage right now). So we talked about how it needed to bleed a little, but soon a scab would form. Yesterday, when we came to the part of the book dealing with red blood cells, white blood cells, and scabs; they remembered and applied it to Nathanael's owie from a few days ago. My sister told me that Taliesin gave her a lesson in how scabs are formed last night while Kelsey and I were at work. :^)

After studying the body, we listed to Nathanael's CD of children's songs. He's been playing it over and over again and singing and dancing to it. Then Taliesin asked to read about Samson from the Bible. We read about Samson and Delilah from their Come, Ye Children Bible book. Nathanael then requested to read about David and Goliath. We then planted some beans in water, per request from both of them. Measured and cooked some rice and eggs for one of our dogs who has had a little bit of a tummy bug. We then headed downstairs, read some more books (some me reading to them, some them helping me with), and then we watched Spiderman II.

Yesterday evening, Nathanael had dance class and Taliesin had karate while I was at work.

Yeah, there really was no rhyme or reason for our activities yesterday. Such is unschooling.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Music and Reading

Taliesin and Nathanael have been having so much fun with their new musical instruments. They not only enjoy playing music and listening to music, but they love putting music into a story to make it exciting. We recently had a "music and reading" day that they really enjoyed. It started off with the flute. They played the flute with Goodnight Moon. Then Taliesin played the mandolin and Nathanael the keyboard with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. They then played the bells with Little Einstiens: Music of the Meadow. They get very creative - having the music vibrate during exciting parts and calm and cool during relaxing parts. I love the books like the Thomas and Lightning McQueen ones above. - The ones where the kids push the buttons to make sounds during different parts of the story. I buy these whenever I can. I love music. It really encourages creativity and imagination.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Endeavor, New Blog

Just wanted to share this:


Waiting for Grades

I'm still awaiting my final grade in my education class. I know I passed with a "B" in my Inductive Bible Study. That one assignment that I only half completed (when Flower was missing) brought it down to a "B." Oh, well. It was worth it. Being there for Nathanael and looking for Flower was much more important! I did get a 100% on my education assignment that I posted here a few weeks ago. Just awaiting a grade on my final discussion board and my last assignment. If they are high enough grades, I should get an "A," even with the missing assignment. It was only worth twenty points. So we shall see.... :^)


Monday, March 9, 2009


The last building project at Lowe's. It's coming up again Saturday!

They just love worms!

Dancin' (This is what Taliesin will be wearing to his spring dance recital).

Nathanael decided today that he was ready to go back to karate lessons. Taliesin's been going for the past couple of months. He's so proud that he gets his yellow belt later this month. Nathanael was getting a little concerned with the "stranger safety" lessons and with some of the karate equipment (mainly "BOB," the bad guy punching bag). So we have been talking about it. We talked about how he is always with someone, so he really does not have to worry a lot about strangers the way some kids do; and when I told him that "BOB" is just like one of the villains that superheroes fight (only BOB doesn't have hands or feet, so he can't fight back), he was fine. He had so much fun again today at karate class.
I'm glad. He really has enjoyed his karate lessons. I like to see him continue doing what he enjoys!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Okay, my headache must be worse than I thought

That posting should have been titled "I can breathe again." Sorry about that. :^)


Ah, I can breath again

Well, I'm finished with these two college classes. I enjoyed them a lot! I'm awaiting final grades now. I have to say I did learn a lot from both of these classes. I cannot wait to start philosophy and classroom management. Right now, I have a bad headache and am going to try to get to sleep as soon as I change the fish bowls. But, now that college is finished for a week, I will finally be getting those pictures posted! Tomorrow, we have another event for the unschooling group - a picnic; so I hope I'll have even more. :^)


Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Classroom Management"

I am sorry I haven't posted in a while. I will be posting my pictures. Just have not had a chance to download them yet. This week is finals week, then I should have a little more time. LOL. But I thought some of you might like to read a discussion I just posted to my college discussion board for an assignment over classroom management. I had to pick one of the aspects of classroom management listed in the textbook that I agreed with most. So I picked multi-age classrooms. Here's the post, for those interested. :^)

One of my favorite classroom management techniques found in the textbook is organizing a multi-age classroom. This is something that I totally believe in. I just cannot agree with age segregation, even in a classroom environment. Multi-age activities is a concept that we strive for with the unschooling group that I have here in Salina, Kansas. We have children that range in age from two to fourteen, but we always have something that they will all enjoy and learn from. All too often, students are taught to socialize with only others in their own age group at school. By the time they are teenagers, they are only able to socialize with others with whom they are friends. I see the effects of this everyday. When I train teenagers at work, there are so many times that I actually have to explain to them how to tell customers hello or ask how their day is going. Students need to learn real-life socializing techniques, not socialization within their own age bracket.

That said, I also believe that cooperative and collaborative learning can also take place more efficiently in a multi-age classroom. Students learn to work together. Students learn to use their creativity. The older students are not "above" helping younger students. They learn to care for one another instead of forming their own groups and cliques. I believe that multi-age classrooms also encourage more creativity in teaching techniques. Instead of just using explicit, teacher-centered instruction; teachers are able to allow children to learn in a less stressed environment. The use of hands-on activities can be utilized. Students can be treated as individuals instead of as a group.

I can say from experience that a multi-age classroom does work. As I said, we have quite a difference in age groups at our unschooling group activities. This past Monday, in celebration of Read Across America Day, we had a book swap and corresponding activities at the public library. The students ranged in age from one year to ten years old. However, there really was not an activity that did not encourage participation from all. The older ones read to the younger ones. They all played games together. Right now, we are planning our second annual Earthday Celebration for the group. Last year was a huge success. Even traditional homeschoolers joined us. The children made recycled bird houses and planted seeds to take home. I do not remember any of the students that did not join in our activities. The same is true of each or our activities. Even with a recent Valentine's party, all of the students worked together to bake Valentine cookies. They decided amongst themselves which job each person would have in the baking and decorating.

Multi-age classrooms and activities are definitely something that I love about unschooling. I noticed when we were a part of the regular homeschooling co-op here, they also still segregated by age. They were still too involved in standard curriculums and in what they were teaching rather than in what the children would learn. It may take a big "leap of faith," but I honestly believe if more classrooms were able to focus more on learning rather than on teaching; the students would learn so much more. Multi-age classrooms, I believe, are definitely a step in the right direction.


Sunday, March 1, 2009


I have some fun pictures of Taliesin and Nathanel to post from yesterday. Yesterday, we did the Lowe's Build and Grow activity, karate class, and a friend's birthday party. It was a fun day. (Taliesin loves his new karate uniform!). Right now, I'm in the middle of a college assignment or I would get the pictures posted. This week and next week of these two classes, then I'm off until March 16 (when my two new classes - philosophy and classroom management - begin). But I have a feeling my next two classes will not be as complicated as these two, which is kind of a good thing. As much as I enjoy these classes, I need a little bit of a break. :^)