In an ideal world, I guess, my kids would just enjoy being kids and not worry at all about the “state of the world”. But some kids don’t seem to be content with that. They feel deeply, they see clearly and they want to make a difference.
Molly is one such child. We don’t watch the news, and I don’t burden her with the woes of the world, but she picks up on things as she goes about her life, and it sits deeply within her soul. But it can’t stay there. Her thoughts and feelings about things not right in the world rise up into a tenacious fervour, causing her to want to do something to make a difference in the world.
As her parent in this unschooling life, I partner with her in this passion, selectively strewing opportunities before her and facilitating the ones she chooses to pursue.
She is astute in her observations of things not right with the world, sometimes referring to herself as being “like an old lady”, making comments about the problems with “this generation” and “the world these days” and passionately critiquing the latest failings of our politicians, especially when it comes to issues such as climate change, same sex marriage, women’s rights and the plight of asylum seekers.
Speaking of asylum seekers, when I casually mentioned that there was going to be a march in the city, seeking “Justice for Refugees” there was absolutely no holding her back. Not normally one to love crowds, loud noises and the general busyness of the big city, she puts all that aside when she has the opportunity to march for a good cause.
And to Molly, the rights of asylum seekers is one such good cause!
We met up with another couple of homeschooling friends who feel similarly passionate about the deplorable way our country is treating asylum seekers, and we marched in solidarity together.
All in all, it was a great event to be part of, and it sent a very clear message to the government. Whether they heed it or not is sadly out of our hands, of course. In the meantime, it was good to have a voice and make a statment, standing with asylum seekers and letting them know we welcome them here and we seek justice for them.
One of Molly’s strongest passions is animal welfare. When I found out about the Million Paws Walk earlier this year, I thought she would probably be interested, so like all good unschooling mums, I “strewed” the idea before her. To say she was enthusiastic in her response would be an understatement!
A little while after registering for the walk, we discovered that the RSPCA is not a 100% perfect animal welfare organisation, which caused some confusion as to whether to proceed or not. After doing some reading and discussing the issues together, however, Molly decided to proceed with the fundraiser, based on the idea that they still do rescue animals, and the public/media attention garnered by the Million Paws Walk would help animals in need by providing much needed funds. Being vegetarian, we knew that we would not be participating in their meat-based barbecue, and we also hoped to meet up with a volunteer from Animal Liberation Victoria, who was going to be there with her pet pig wearing a sign that said “Friend, Not Food”.
All in all it was a great day and Molly particularly enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with so many dogs and dog-loving families, as well as feel like her fund raising might be able to make a little bit of a difference in the lives of neglected and abused animals.
We were so excited to find out that our local (FREE!) museum was hosting a Lego exhibition. We love LEGO! So today we went along and had a bit of a play with some friends and just for the fun of it, I figured I’d share it with you. 🙂
After thinking this day would never come, we finally ended up back at horse riding again!! The weather was….. well, not very accommodating, and we thought the horses might be a bit silly like they can tend to be in that kind of weather, but all was good.
Molly has a desperate desire to live on a farm. It may have something to do with having been birthed during our “Bourke Days” (when we were living in the Australian Outback) but for whatever reason, farm life is in her blood. She dreams of living in the country, owning a horse, a ute, and at least one dog. Our current living situation has us living near great friends in a lovely beachside city, and at this time it isn’t going to work for us to move to the country, so I seek ways to fulfil her love of animals and farming by taking her to places where she gets to experience some farming thrills. We recently went for a visit to a great little place near us called Oakvale Farm, taking the opportunity to make the most of some cheap vouchers we’d bought. One of Molly’s friends came with us, and they had the best time playing with all the animals, especially the baby goats. So I guess I could say the kids really enjoyed the kids? 🙂
But today was the ultimate experience: HORSE RIDING LESSONS!
Together with about 30 other home ed kids, we descended on a local equestrian centre and had us some horsey fun! Molly was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, and she is already dreaming about next Friday. She didn’t get to ride the horse she had really wanted to ride, but she fell in love with her designated steed nonetheless. His name is Selwyn and I believe he has definitely won his way into Molly’s heart. She had to wait quite awhile until it was her turn to ride, but it was still interesting to watch the other group while we waited. The instructor could have been better in some ways, but I’m fairly confident she did a much better job than I could have done! 🙂
This time two years ago, I took my two youngest children to Winterfest in Sydney, our first medieval fayre. This year we made the trip again, partly because we had so much fun last time and partly because our friends, Tim and Ruth, had an awesome stall there, selling their beautiful wooden swords, surprise puzzles, castles and other things. We always love seeing their stall in action! And of course the yummy food, fighting re-enactments, jousting, birds of prey and all sorts of other medieval delights!
Just before we left the Fayre, I discovered the most amazing book at “The Medieval Shoppe”. It’s a book all about Viking costumes and even includes patterns. Both of my kids who were with me are super keen to help me make some clothes and although the book wasn’t cheap, it will hopefully save us lots of money in the long run, because buying the clothes is very expensive too. The man holding the book had met the author, Nille Glaesel, when he was holidaying in Norway. Nille has spent years creating reconstructions for museums and re-enactments. She had just published the book to share her love of the costumes, and some of her patterns, and was shocked that he was keen to distribute it in Australia. She had no idea that any sort of re-enactment societies and fayres exist here! He ended up getting to spend some time living in a Viking Long House in the far north of Norway, that had been built by the author’s son. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of him with the book! I love being able to purchase a product that has a story attached to it! Now to get around to making something out of it! 😉
JITTERS – nervousness; a feeling of fright or uneasiness JOY – the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
Molly. Sweet, sensitive, compassionate, yet also proud to be a gutsy girl (not a girly girl, she will confidently tell you!). She dreams of being a famous actress and singer (and an animal rescuer, thinking that maybe her fame could help save more animals, so she can tick both boxes). She recently did an 8 week drama workshop with some other home educated kids. She was SO excited! However, after the first week she was unsure about returning to classes because she was the oldest and tallest, and had felt that the class was a bit “babyish” for her. I communicated her thoughts with the drama coach, who listened with understanding and compassion, and responded with a helpful strategy to use Molly as a bit of a leader in the group.
The “showcase” at the end of the 8 week program soon crept up, and the nerves set in! She was very adept at explaining to me just how she felt: that strange mix of excitement and terror! Yet she bravely got up there, threw herself into it, and had an absolute ball!
The part of the showcase she had been most nervous about was a two-person skit called “Petter Popperkosh and the Mean, Ugly Troll”, mainly because it was her first time ever performing on stage where she had to say individual lines out loud. She had actually wanted to play the part of the troll! At first, when she found out she was “Petty Popperkosh” she was bitterly disappointed (and very worried she’d have to wear a dress!), but she soon embraced the reality that being in a production doesn’t always equal getting the exact role you want, and she gave the character her own “tough chick” spin.
It was so lovely to see her blossom and grow in confidence through this experience, and to make new friends, even though they were younger than her. I do love the way that home ed kids happily play with such a mixed age group of friends. Just like most adults do!
It can be a lonely path at times, this unschooling life. It is certainly the road less travelled, and it can be hard to find like-minded souls to share the journey with. Let’s face it, the majority of parents send their children to school (which is totally cool – to each their own!). And of the minority that choose homeschooling, a smaller minority deschool themselves to the extent that they can let go of schoolish thoughts, practices and expectations, actively embracing the freedom of unschooling. This isn’t to say that unschoolers are superior. We all do what we believe is best for our own families. But the reality is: unschoolers are a rare breed!!
In the past couple of years the online connections between Australian unschoolers have been growing, including a Facebook group for NSW Unschoolers, out of which grew a desire for a casual camp. S0 in April, I had the privilege of being part of what I think is the first ever Unschoolers’ Camp in our State! There may have been one in the past that I’m not aware of, and if so, please enlighten me, but as far as I know, this is the first one. And it rocked! It really did. For me, it was a dream come true.
The two Australian Unschooling Conferences I went to were great. A big marquee, keynote speakers from faraway places, organised activities, and LOTS of miles to get there. All good! But some of us also wanted a more low-key gathering. Organic. Down to earth and relaxed. A celebration of our connectedness to each other as a community of unschoolers. Sharing and learning from one another.
And so the NSW Unschoolers’ Camp was born. Much kerfuffle went on trying to work out the details, but eventually we were off and running. Excitement built up online (we love you Facebook), and eventually we packed up our camping gear, knitting needles (yes – truly), cameras, sporting supplies, a huge assortment of food, the all-important laptop (yes – that too) and headed off to beautiful Port Stephens.
We all revelled in the opportunity to hang out, in real life, with other unschooling families. There was never a shortage of conversations or cups of tea on offer. The only structure we had was a daily “circle time”, for anyone who wanted to gather together for some shared conversation. It was a good way to move beyond the natural connections that were happening in smaller groups, and to include those that might be too shy to turn up at someone’s tent for a casual cuppa. A couple of times we managed to have one person talking at a time, but inevitably it would turn into a raucous, roudy rabble of simultaneous, exciting conversations, so we quickly worked out that the multitude of words begging to be spoken over-ruled any possibility of decorum! 🙂 Don’t ya just love it when a group of women get together? Especially women with much in common and much to say, and infrequent opportunities to talk together!
It was so lovely being able to linger over conversations, and get to know these wonderful women in real life. Initially we had laughingly entertained the idea of wearing name tags with our Facebook profile picture on them, so we could work out who we all were! It was lovely having some of the mums share their interests and skills with others, from crochet, knitting and chai tea, to belly dancing!
Typical of home ed events, it was lovely watching the children play with a varied mix of ages. It didn’t matter what “grade” someone was in (because grading is not even on the unschooling radar). They were just a bunch of kids and teens having fun, and getting to know each other.
We came home on a high, and are eagerly looking forward to the next camp, knowing that it will be another chance to deepen these friendships and get to know new people. A few years ago I only knew one other unschooling family, and now here I am in this privileged place of being able to camp with about 20 other families, all either practising unschooling, or at least open to the idea. Feeling very blessed….
Don’t worry, I didn’t either until my dear friend Ruth alerted me to it. It’s an initiative of The Wilderness Society as a way of raising community and government awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans so that these beautiful creatures can have a great habitat to live in. It was so easy to participate. We simply had to build a turtle sculpture out of sand, photograph it and send it in, so that the collected photos could be presented to the appropriate government body.
The great thing was, we had a lot of fun in the process AND we get to be part of sending a very important message to policy makers!
I just love our interesting, varied, family-based learning lifestyle! And I love that we don’t spend all day every day staring at each other across the kitchen table. There are so many wonderful experiences out in the “big wide world”, and so much living to be done. And we get to share it with wonderful family friends. What a beautiful way to live!
We recently had the awesome privilege of visiting a Shark and Ray Centre with a large number of home educating families. It was amazing to see the initial hesitation in the children as they first put their fingers in the water, and then their toes, and finally their whole bodies. The longer we were there, the more their confidence grew, and soon they were literally swimming around with the sharks and rays. It was such an incredible, sensory, intriguing experience for us all, and definitely one that we want to repeat!