Archive for the ‘unschooling’ Category

I failed once more to keep up with my blogging. Life got in the way, was waaaay too sparkly, and led me astray!

But. Exciting things have been afoot that I want to talk about! As I’ve previously posted, Sandra Dodd has been in Australia and did a number of visits and symposia, and I was lucky enough to attend two ALL Symposiums, and have Sandra at our house for nearly a week – oh, and we all drove from Adelaide to Melbourne too!

This time i’ll cover the Adelaide ALL Symposium, and then I’ll get to Melbourne – so much happened along the way!

Sandra arrived in Adelaide on the 13th March, and Kai and I picked her up from the airport. On the way back to our place, Kai spotted a koala moving up a tree, so that was pretty cool and we stopped to take some photo’s!

I’ll admit it. I was VERY nervous having Sandra stay at our home! Honestly, who wouldn’t be!? When I first came to unschooling, I didn’t gel with Sandra’s writing or website. I found it overwhelming, and found her direct manner off-putting. It took me a while of investigating other writers, meeting other unschoolers, and living unschooling, to realise that Sandra’s information, websites, links and writing bring together the very best of information available on unschooling, together with Joyce Fetteroll and Pam Sorooshian (and the contrast between Sandra’s chaotic website and Joyce’s orderly website is not lost on Sandra!).

But, despite reading and writing at Always Learning and the Radical Unschooling Info group on Facebook for a couple of years, I was still nervous!

Well, Sandra is absolutely delightful and lovely! An easy house guest, warm, and very funny! She was understandably exhausted and had a few well earned early nights, but we shared many stories, went out for dinner and saw a little bit of our local area….

Adelaide ALL Symposium happened on Sunday and Monday – 16th – 17th March. We ended up with a much bigger turn out than we’d imagined – 20 people!! Who knew there were so many unschoolers in the Adelaide area. One family even flew in from Perth – which was wonderful!


Sandra spoke about making better choices, about being your child’s partner, and told many anecdotes and stories about her life with Marty, Kirby and Holly, her three now grown children.

Some notes from Adelaide can be found here. I also spoke at Adelaide – my first time talking about unschooling in front of a live audience!

I was very nervous, and wondered what the heck I could talk about, having only one kid who isn’t quite 8 years old! But, it turns out it’s easy to babble on about your own awesome kid!! Much easier than trying to convince skeptical scientists of esoteric life history theories at an academic science conference!

When i’ve finished editing it, i’ll post my talk as a blog post, but it needs a bit of tweaking before it goes ‘live’!

On the day after the conference, Sandra, Kai, and I went to our local wildlife park, and Donna, Martin, Liam and Quinn – all the way from WA, also joined us….we had a very lovely, but looong day there…we all had a bit of a rest in the cafe for a while though!


The boys reading the wildlife park map and deciding what animals to see next!

That evening Sandra showed Kai a few games on her iPad!


He liked her Simpsons game!

On the following day (a Wednesday – try and keep up!), Sandra, Brett, Kai and I started the road trip to Melbourne. Since we had a visitor, who had never been to Australia and so far had only travelled by plane, we had an excuse to go the ‘scenic’ route to Melbourne – which involved going to Mt Gambier, via Naracoorte Caves and Fossil Centre (which we’ve wanted to do for ages, but keep putting it off!).

We all LOVED the Wonambi Fossil Centre – full of awesome mega-fauna!!!


I promise I didn’t plan that Kai would be wearing that shirt, it literally was the first in a pile I picked out!!

The caves were super cool too, although we only ventured into the ‘Wet Cave’….


After the cave, Kai wanted to go back into the Fossil Centre, Sandra had a rest on a bench, and was apparently visited by a couple of kangaroos!

We then drove on to Mt Gambier where we got a motel, very generously paid for by Sandra…and went out for dinner….next to the restaurant was a sinkhole – of which there are a few in Mt Gambier…


Sandra at the top, Kai down on the balcony thing!

After dinner we drove to the biggest sinkhole – Umpherston sinkhole, as our brochure in the motel said it ‘comes alive with possums after dark’ – so we figured we’d show Sandra some possums! Well, I don’t have the photo’s, but i’ve never seen so many possums in one spot! And one bit Kai on the finger!! Oh, we also took Sandra to her first Australian Macca’s, where she took a photo of the menu, and Kai got a happy meal!

The next morning we headed onward and eastward, stopping at Waarnambool for lunch….there we found some cool WW1 machinery and weapons…I can’t find the photo’s though!

And then the last push to Melbourne where we dropped Sandra at Claire’s house – then we headed on to Nana Bev’s!

And that’s where I’ll finish this for now….next installment – Melbourne!!



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I’ve been blogging (intermittently, I admit!) for 3.5 years here…that’s almost half of Kai’s lifetime! As is the way of things, my thinking on unschooling, and lots of other things, has changed and evolved a fair bit over those 3.5 years…especially as Kai has grown, and learnt, and turned school age – a constant process of deschooling. So I figure it makes sense to go back and look at a few posts and see how my thinking has changed over that time.

I found a post from almost 3 years ago – January 2011. In it, I wrote this: ‘Maybe people tend to over think unschooling because in fact its underlying premise is so simple. Just be. Live in the moment. Live life.

NO. NO. NO!! Now, I completely disagree with my own statement! Unschooling is NOT ‘just’ living life. Unschooling is far from simple. Unschooling requires constant thinking and re-thinking as you and your children grow.

Calling unschooling ‘just living life’ is a complete insult to good unschoolers! Unschooling takes patience, effort, and time as you continue to work on your own deschooling, facilitating your childs interests and family harmony and joy….Unschooling isn’t ‘just’ anything. It’s a thing – only unschooling is unschooling. It’s hard work! –  here are some tips.

‘Unschooling is *much* harder than school at home because it takes a great deal of self examination and change in ourselves to help our kids and not get in their way!’ —Joyce Fetteroll

By saying unschooling is just ‘living life’ that post also implies anyone can unschool, because everyone ‘lives life’. Maybe back then I thought that was true. But now, I don’t. Theoretically, yes – if you have the finances and health to do so, everyone *could* unschool. But I guess what I mean is, not everyone can do it well. If you can’t do it well, if you can’t make unschooling better and ‘more sparkly’ than school (I stole that from Sandra Dodd ) well – then it’s time to rethink it. Sometimes school is better than home. For some kids. Just sayin’.

‘Unschooling should and can be bigger and better than school. If it’s smaller and quieter than school, the mom should do more to make life sparkly.’—Sandra Dodd

Unschooling isn’t ‘doing what’s best for your family’ either. Yes, unschooling looks different in each family, and even for each kid in a family with more than one child. But from reading unschooling lists for well over 4 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘doing what’s best for your family’ essentially seems to mean doing what’s best for Mom (or the parents) and/or doing what the parents feel comfortable with…that’s not unschooling. Some parents think spanking is best for their family. Some think time-outs are. Some think workbooks and maths at the dining table are. None of that is unschooling.

And that is why I think this definition of unschooling is a REALLY bad one I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear.’ Pat Farenga.

THAT definition is about parents, not about kids. To be the best unschooling parent you can be, you will be (and probably should be!) pushed out your comfort zone on numerous occasions, over one thing or another (such as food, TV, computers, gun toys, barbies…..the list could go on and on!), and then reassess and analyse your discomfort before your can move past it to fully embrace your children’s interests and passions.

The word freedom in that definition is also problematic….too many people new to unschooling thinking unschooling = freedom, and there are unfortunately a number of prominent unschooling advocates that push that idea. Often those parents do tend toward the side of unparenting, rather than unschooling, at least in the beginning..…

Letting kids swear, be obnoxious, generally run amok in public is not okay. Hurting or harassing other people or animals is not okay. Damaging property is not okay. None of that is anything to do with unschooling….these two links are awesome to think about these ideas….Misconceptions about unschooling, and freedom.

Another thing i’d like to analyse from my old post (read it if you must! At least my thinking has evolved, right?!) is the fact that back then Kai was only 4.5 years old, not officially ‘school age’, but I was still saying what we were doing was unschooling….

I’m still unsure on the whole idea of whether we can or should say we are unschooling from birth, or before compulsory school age…lots of people do. Heck, I did!

My reasons to now doubt this practice are thus – firstly, the definition of UNschooling, is NOT school…so until a child really is legally supposed to be in school, there is no school to UN! In that case, I guess you could call it respectful, attachment parenting, and say you plan to unschool, come school time?

Secondly, in the past 4 years we’ve lived on two continents and in 4 states, and I’ve known a lot of unschoolers – or at least a lot of people who have called themselves unschoolers! I’ve known even more people who were calling themselves unschoolers with toddlers and young kids, who then ended up sending their kids to school when they got to school age. So were they actually unschooling at all? It’s an interesting question….

For those (very) few adults who were always unschooled themselves, if they plan to unschool their children, then I think it’s probably safe for them to say that from birth – they know what they are in for! And ditto for those with younger kids who are already unschooling older, school-age, kids…..

But for people like me – not unschooled ourselves, with no older kids – I think it’s prudent to wait until school age until you declare yourself unschoolers…… But hey – I already did it – so who am I to judge!? But if you only have small kids at the moment – just know this – things WILL change when they become school age. The pressure WILL mount from friends and family. You WILL need more deschooling, more reading, more re-assessing. I’m assuming that the same will be true when Kai gets to High School age too….but I guess we’ll wait and see!

Finally, I want to recommend the best places to read about unschooling. The best places I’ve found, as time as gone by, and I’ve explored many other writers and options…..

Pam L: http://livingjoyfully.ca

Sandra Dodd: http://sandradodd.com

Joyce Fetteroll: http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/

Pam S: http://learninghappens.wordpress.com/

Yes, they are all in North America. Yes, some of the things they say may sound harsh and/or make you feel uncomfortable.  If you have a problem with that, may I politely suggest you get over your xenophobia and step outside your comfort zone in favour of becoming a better unschooler.

All of the above writers radically unschooled their now grown children; they have more experience, and write with more clarity on unschooling than anybody else anywhere (and I’ve read a lot of peoples writing on unschooling…..a couple of other prominent unschooling writers have been shown to be liars, untrustworthy, and false….I’m not in the business of naming names, but suffice to say – do your research before taking for gospel the words of any writer!)

I went through a phase a few years ago when I wasn’t reading much; I guess I thought I knew it all already! It was to our detriment for sure. Now I read lots. I re-read links I’ve read before. I look for new links. I read, read, read – as much as I have time for! If you think you are beyond reading accounts and advice from more experienced unschoolers, you are just plain wrong! I was wrong, when I thought that…..

I’m lucky that currently I have a back room full of boxes of Sandra Dodd’s books (for her to sell at ALLive Australia) – The Big Book of Unschooling – which I’ve already read, and also ‘Moving a Puddle’ which I’ve never read before. Moving a Puddle is a collection of essays written by Sandra over the years she unschooled her three (now grown) children. It’s really lovely…and if you think Sandra seems ‘harsh’ in her groups, I suggest you read the book – actually, I just suggest you read the book anyway!…and even more, I suggest you come to Always Learning Live somewhere in Australia in a couple of months and meet Sandra in real life!

(See how I got another plug in for ALLive Australia….that was pretty tricky, you gotta admit!)

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I know, I know….two posts in a day…i’m on a roll, what can i say!

I just had to post this. Today, at the park, Kai made a friend. He was animatedly telling her about Star Wars and lightsabers, when her Dad walked over. He spoke over Kai. He said ‘Caitlin isn’t allowed to watch TV.’ Kai said, ‘it’s not TV, it’s a DVD.’

Man said, ‘Or DVD’s. TV rots your brain.’ Kai ignored him and continued on with his story about lightsabers…I giggled to myself…Man walks out of park to smoke cigarette….erm…..well….what can you say!?

We came home. Kai watching Attack of Clones (on DVD, dontcha know – it’s not TV!). I thought about all the Unschooling posts about TV – about Unschooling children not watching TV like schooled children….for example – here (this has a whole load more TV posts down the left hand menu), and here (there are many more if you google Unschooling and TV)..

To summarise, unschoolers believe that, if not censored and limited, children will use TV like any other resource, learn from it, and not watch it passively like a zombie (possibly unlike children who use it to relax after a day at school – having never had a schooled child I can’t back that up with experience, but having been a schooled child – I did do that!).

This is Kai watching Star Wars. Neither passive nor zombie-like….but role-playing and acting out lightsaber battles, in between running backwards and forward to the screen, could this be what they mean?!?

Once you see, have to ask – you will not. (Jo does Yoda….badly, sorry – couldn’t help myself!)

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It’s true, I’ve been blogging stuff and nonsense for a whole year (and 2 days!)! How can that be!?

In celebration (if that’s the right word) I’ve been browsing through some early posts, and…. oh dear! I really was trying a bit too hard a year ago! I feel like I’ve come a long way on this journey this year, looking back….

International food night seems to have slipped by the wayside for now…although I think we might re-initiate it on occasion. But having it weekly, it seemed too forced, and Kai wasn’t much interested toward the end of our run…

I seemed to be spending a lot of time trying to make activities look like fun, when I think a lot of them were forced….I was still attempting to make Kai like crafts – evidenced by attempts at glitter pictures and sewing….I guess I need more deschooling than I thought!

Obviously we’ve moved from our Tassie hide-a-way up the hill, to our less hidden, but equally hilly, home in the Adelaide Hills….and joined a new Natural Learning group and have made a wonderful new group of friends (but of course, we still miss our Boulder and Tassie friends! I feel so lucky to have found so many amazing friends through finding unschooling!)

I’ve been re-reading my watery justification for workbooks, and cringing….funnily enough I recently read this post at Joyfully Rejoicing, and I get it now. I’m at the stage where ‘I just know’…..I’m done with pushing the workbooks….although we still have them in a cupboard and I’ll strew them now and again….and even though I’m cringing, I don’t feel so bad since I also recently read a statement from Wendy Priesnitz (editor of Life Learning Magazine) that said ‘Ah, hindsight is wonderful, isn’t it? I don’t really think I’d change much, except that I might dismiss more promptly and confidently any fleeting doubts that occasionally would make me buy workbooks ‘….

Despite my occasional ‘workbook’ moments and other instances where I’ve been overcome by ‘try too hard-itis’, Kai has changed so much over the past year and learnt so much….and our official year of un-kindergarten is nearly over! Soon we’ll be officially un-school!!

And I feel like I’m finally learning to strew without attachment or ulterior motives….something I definitely wasn’t doing a year ago (despite kidding myself I was!).

I’ve also stopped with any kind of reading paraphernalia (such as? Reading Eggs (agghhhh!!); asking Kai if he could read sight words like ‘the’ and ‘he’; following along the text with my finger while I was reading – this, in particular, drove Kai crackers and he would specifically ask I didn’t do it!!!)

I was certainly kidding myself that I wasn’t trying to get Kai to learn to read, albeit in a round-about (and possibly little bit sinister!?) way…. At the moment, he doesn’t even want to be read to most days, although does like to flip through books in the car so I keep some in there (currently a library book on Cowboys…Kai is intrigued by Spittoons…yuck!)

He does occasionally likes a bedtime story – but would rather I read a non-fiction book than fiction – though I don’t always find it easy to read a dinosaur fact-file as a bedtime book – I’m getting better!! Not stressing about reading will be something I have to keep working on, but I feel in a good place with it at the moment….(especially after Sunday’s post!).

Still, some things stay the same…we still love camping. Kai still loves Star Wars – or rather – has renewed interest in all things Star Wars after we got a lightsabre book from the library last week and the Star Wars Lego DVD….here’s Kai this morning – watching Star Wars: A New Hope, whist wielding a lightsabre and simultaneously ‘reading’ his Lightsabre book…(he’s also got a storm trooper and darth vader outfit on the couch, and Star Wars figures in the moonsand in the kitchen!)

He still loves swimming and cycling – and is very good at both. Loves physics games and puzzles (Angry Birds, IQ Ball, Gravity Lab…..)…and is also very good at those (better than me, at least!). Weapons, especially knives – and recently has graduated to making things with knives – whittling wood to make ‘arrows’ etc.

Of course, he also likes experiments still, and making potions – loves his new ‘lab’ set-up and his new mortar and pestle and has been grinding, rolling and chopping ingredients all week!

Dislikes…. structure of any kind, organized events, sitting still, and having to listen to talks….thus I have finally stopped attempting to book us in for anything remotely structured for the time being – no classes, no show-and-tell, no ‘organized’ museum or art gallery visits…..

So. That’s where we’re at. We (well, ‘I’) have come a long way from a year ago..….and of course, in another year, I’ll be saying the same thing! But we can’t be too hard on ourselves, those of us starting out on this journey….what we are doing is outside the box…a change in thinking is not going to happen overnight – no-one can expect it to.

And in reality, isn’t it obvious that we need to see it working to believe in it more, and thus let go more? I don’t think anyone can blindly believe in something without any evidence (well – except religion…but I won’t go there!)

Remember that the most vocal proponents of unschooling now have grown children….they have their proof, but often seem to conveniently forget any worries they may have had when their children were younger – like Wendy said above – hindsight is a wonderful thing! One particularly vocal proponent who shall remain nameless is quoted in a book from years ago (when her children were younger) saying that if she didn’t think her children were learning enough she would ‘make them answer questions in Trivial Pursuit’…….just food for thought!

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I waffle on a lot about how amazing unschooling is. How wonderful it is to watch how children learn, in their own time, in their own way.

And I put a lot of effort into writing and thinking about all the things we do, and how Kai learns from them…..

But recently a friend (a very sarcastic friend, who loves to scoff at unschooling, ha ha!) commented about all the things we’d done that couple of weeks (on a blog update) and said ‘I did all that with my kids, AND they went to school.’ And although I know she wrote it to be a smart-ass, it’s still true!

We’re just not that special, us unschooling parents. I mean really, any other half-decent parents surely spend a lot of time with their children – read them books, their kids play with lego and blocks, they go swimming, hiking, camping, draw, even play Plants Vs Zombies!!. And yes, they also go to school.

So, although I might like to wax lyrical about all these opportunities we afford our children as unschoolers, the more I think about it, the more I feel that the most important things are the things we don’t do, not what we do do…

What don’t we do?

We don’t force our children into a jail institution for their entire childhood – an environment they have little to no control over.

We don’t make them adhere to someone else’s timetable…not for everyday stuff like going to sleep, waking up and having lunch, and not for learning either – we don’t have an age whereby we think they should be able to read, write or do long division.

We don’t categorize learning so that some things seem more important than others – we don’t think math is more important than drawing. We don’t think learning to read is more important than learning to swim.

We don’t force them to learn something we think is important, that they have no interest in.

We don’t separate out learning from life – we have no specified ‘learning’ time, we have no specified ‘learning’ space or area….we believe learning happens everywhere, anywhere and all the time!

We don’t set our children up to compete with other children, for some undefined ‘prize’, and we don’t ‘grade’ them against some (not very) standardized ‘norm’ and offer them stars, stickers and praise when they ‘succeed’ like good trained monkeys, but shame or punish them when they ‘fail’.

These are just a few things we don’t do, as unschoolers (in the context of learning only – there are many more in terms of whole life, or radical, unschooling).

I’m sure there are more. Many more. If you can think of some, please add a comment!

These things we don’t do – in my opinion – will be the things that make the difference to our children. The don’ts that will help our children grow into independent free thinkers, with a life-time love of learning, and into adults who know their own mind and own their own body. Children who, as adults, hopefully won’t have to carry around all the shit we did do as a result of forced compulsory schooling.

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Last week, a friend lent me a few books I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Since we’ve been moving around so much, and been financially constrained, I have been making a conscious choice not to buy books, but rather to lend them from the library or from friends so as not to spend money or fill the house with stuff– so it’s taken me a while to get to these particular books.

When I first learnt about Radical Unschooling, I read a lot. Books, articles, magazines, blogs and websites. But then I kind of stopped. I still read blogs, but lots are not specifically radical unschooling, and I occasionally read the odd magazine article. But I guess I figured I’d read all I needed to know at that point, and was good to go! Ah, yes, false confidence at it’s best!

So, this week I’ve been reading Rue Kream’s Parenting a Free Child

And I had a massive realization that, over time, without realizing it, you can so easily get off track if you don’t keep reading, re-reading and re-focusing and assessing….

Of course, many of our friends are not radical unschoolers, or unschoolers, or even homeschoolers! Many limit TV content and/or screen time, food, bedtimes, etc. I absolutely and completely understand and respect these decisions, but it’s not what we are doing. But I realise that having had many conversations and discussions about screen time, ‘appropriate’ TV viewing, food, bedtimes, etc… that little niggly things have crept into my behaviour and our lives that i’m not happy about.

When people question if I think it’s ok that Kai watches ‘violent’ shows like Wolverine and the X-Men, I start to question it – maybe they do make him more violent? Maybe I shouldn’t let him watch those? When people question if Kai eats too much chocolate, then I start to question it – does he eat too much chocolate? Too much sugar?

This is, of course, absolutely my problem. But just a little bit of reading this week has completely dissolved all that questioning and brought me back to where I want to be!

NO, the X-Men doesn’t make Kai more violent. He loves the X-Men and obviously gets a lot out of it (though I’m flummoxed if I can figure out what!). If you loved a TV show, you wouldn’t let someone else tell you you couldn’t watch it, would you? I might tell you that all reality TV is horrible,  and preys on people’s emotions and insecurities, but if you love reality TV, you’ll tell me to mind my own business and watch it anyway.

NO, Kai doesn’t eat too much chocolate! Listening to other parents rationalizing food choices makes me crazy!  Yesterday at the zoo a mum said to a toddler ‘No. I’m not letting you have a donut. You can have hot chips.’ I mean really, because hot chips are so nutritionally superior to a donut (possibly a bit, but you see my point!)? Another time I heard a parent say ‘If you finish all your hot dog, you can have ice cream as a treat’ !!! AGGHHHH!! This kind of thinking is madness!!

For me, Radical Unschooling is totally and completely about trusting your child. Trusting them to know what they need and want, once armed with appropriate information, and supporting and facilitating their wants and needs.

And for this reason, I don’t think that you can do some things ‘radically’ and not others. If you don’t do ‘radical’ bedtimes, then you’re not radically unschooling – because you do not trust your child to listen to their body and go to bed when they are tired. If you restrict food choices, then you’re not radically unschooling because you do not trust your child to choose the food they want and need at a particular time. You can’t trust your child in some areas, but not others, as it suits you.

I pick these two specifically, because I think that developing natural sleep and eating patterns are crucial for children, and restricting and controlling another human’s sleep (time and amount) and food consumption (timing, amount, content) is, at the very least, setting them up for sleep and eating/health disorders as adults, and at worst, violating their rights to free choice in two of the most important areas of their own life.

I suppose this might seem a bit of a controversial post, and I don’t mean it to be. I think I’m just annoyed at myself for being (temporarily!) swayed by the ideas and judgments of others, and mostly I like to think I’m immune to what other people think! I guess I’m not – just something else to work on!

To lighten the tone, I’ll share a little story about how empowering your children this way can come back to bite you in the ass (in a good way, of course!)….Last week it was around 10.30pm, and I asked Kai if he thought he was tired or thought he might go to bed. He said ‘No. I’m not tired. My body says I’m not tired, and you always tell me to listen to my body.’ Ha ha! Can’t argue with that kind of logic!

But it has made me realise that to stay on track and focussed, I need to keep reading, and re-reading. And, maybe, I need to rethink my ‘no buying books’ policy and go out and find second hand copies of at least Rue Kream and Dayna Martin so I can keep coming back to them when I start to wander! If anyone else has a RU book they LOVE that they think I MUST read, leave me a message and maybe I can buy a job lot from Amazon!


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On some homeschool lists, I’ve read posts from parents who are scared that if their kids don’t go to school, they won’t be able to learn computer skills – particularly if the parent themselves doesn’t feel confident on a computer. I ask those parents how they think all the 30+ adults in the world learnt to use a computer….

When I was a kid, way back in the dark ages of the 1970’s and 80’s, we didn’t have computers. My cousins got some kind computer game at some point in the mid-80’s, which we all learnt to play fairly swifty – getting to the next level of ‘Manic Miner’ was a pretty good motivator for learning (and i was already addicted to ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroid’!)!

None of us ‘older’ parents (35+) had access to computers at school. We certainly didn’t have access to the internet, to email, to word, excel, and any other program currently in everyday use.

Because I was travelling in the early 90’s, I didn’t actually start using a computer, at all, until 1996, when I started Uni at 26! I could touch-type, but that was it. I actually submitted a hand-written essay as my first big assignment in 1st year Zoology! Yes, hand-written, can you believe it!?!

And lo and behold, I learnt to use a computer in a couple of months. To email, use most of the common programs and some statistical packages we needed for courses. No one showed me what to do, I sat and fiddled about until I figured it out. And I’m guessing we all must have learnt this way, at least in the beginning, even if we had to take specific courses for some programs later…..

And that’s what kids will do, only they’ll be quicker, because they are kids, and because they are not intimidated by computers like we were/are! They don’t need our help – and if they do, they’ll ask for it!

Kai’s been playing on the computer for a year or so now. Firstly he played mostly games that involved getting used to the mouse, like these. Then we progressed to more interactive games, like Dinosaur Train and Poisson Rouge, which he still loves, along with Octonauts, which we just discovered.

I’ve never really helped him ‘use’ the computer or a specific program, he’s just picked it up – I’ve shown him how to open and close programs, and read words when he’s needed me to, but that’s it.

I was reading through some of the educational gumf in the SACSA Framework documents recently, and read about some program called Kid Pix. I looked for it on the web, and saw that I’d have to pay for it, and also it had rubbish reviews, so I figure we won’t be getting it. In fact, i’m becoming more and more convinced that all of these ‘curriculum’ resources are not good…even if they look fun, they mess with natural learning patterns….so i’m no longer even mentioning Reading Eggs or Starfall as something Kai might like to do. If he mentions it himself, fine, but i’m just glad i didn’t actually pay for Reading Eggs!

Anyway, I digress – my current turn-around on ‘curriculum’ items is another post entirely! But it did make me wonder if Kai would like to play around with MS Paint, which is on every Windows computer and is free!

Well, he did like it! A lot! And has created some amazing bits of computer art in the past two days…such as these modern art graphic masterpieces…

Last night he was playing on it until about 10pm and called me in to show me pictures he’d drawn of Shaggy and Scooby Doo.


…Scooby – obviously – he has SD on his collar! Sorry they are pictures of the screen, not the actual files – he did these on his own laptop and I have no way of transferring them to mine…

In two days he’s got the program totally figured – how to change colour, texture, make lines, use the spray can, and the cut tool. He’s also mastered how to open a new document and save a picture he wants to keep…which of course involves ‘reading’ the words in the menu and is a much more contextual way to learn to read than Reading Eggs or Starfall (can you tell I’ve become anti-reading eggs?!!).

If anyone doesn’t know where to find MS Paint on their Windows machine (I’m sure there is an equivalent on MAC, but I don’t know what it is – I don’t do MAC!!) – go to Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories > Paint. And if you don’t know how to use it, let your child figure it out for you!

 We’re playing along with Owlet and Unschool Monday – check it out, play along!





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