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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Turn off school week

You know all about "turn off tv week" right? How mainstream America seems to think this is a grand idea and everyone thinks it's so positive to limit a child's access to something in yet another coercive manner.

I looked at the points being made and couldn't help but replace the word "tv" with "school". So here ya go:

  • School cuts into family time, harms our children's ability to read and succeed in life, and contributes to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.
  • Here are just a few of the facts:
    On average, children in the US will spend more time in school, than interacting in their families and community this year.
  • Americans frequently or always let school interfere with family time and true, rich connections with their passions.
  • As Anne Ohman, unschooling advocate says, "Real, natural learning is in the living. It's in the observing, the questioning, the examining, the pondering, the analyzing, the watching, the reading, the DO-ing, the living, the breathing, the loving, the JOY. It's in the joy."

Who Participates?Anyone and everyone. Millions of people all over the world have participated in School-Turnoff Week since it began in 1995. Children and adults, rich and poor - people from every background and all walks of life - take part through schools, churches, or community groups, as families or individuals.

What's So Great about School-Turnoff Week? Turning off school gives us a chance to think, read, create, and do. To connect with our families and engage in our communities. To turn off School and turn on life.

So turn off your school, turn off that schooled mentality and LIVE!! I proclaim next week, school turn-off week. Maybe after a week of living without school, a month or a year or a lifetime of it will seem completely natural.:) But hey, then you'd be an unschooler. Cool!

*Above picture from the St. Louis Live and Learn conference (or "what happens when you get a bunch of free kids together that have unlimited access to tv")

Thursday, April 19, 2007

FLT cuddle puddles

This is what some of the teens spend a large portion of their time doing at FLT (Families Learning Together) campouts. One of them describes it as "better than drugs". It's certainly healthier too.:)

If you look closely, you can see Trevor and Jared towards the middle of this particular "puddle" above.

FLT was at an amazing location right on the sound at the NC coast this time. There were canoes and kayaks available at all times and the water was shallow and calm for the most part.

Jalen spent most of his time between a kayak and the shower. He managed to stay wet about 90% of our trip! Sierra could be found with ChiChi Conti, wandering the grounds with their heads close together and smiling. They all enjoyed some pretty fierce rounds of Capture the Flag too.

It was great connecting with old friends and meeting a few new. The NCUnschoolers put a lot of work into making these gatherings a fabulous place to be and we're very grateful to them all! We all carry some very sweet memories from FLT with us.

One of the highlights for Trevor this time, was the shaving cream fight (inspired by Felix late one night) of which he told me (on the way home driving in the van) "I will never forget that shaving cream fight for the rest of my life".

Sweet memories indeed.:)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Road trippin'

Since my last blog, we've had Elissa's family visit, celebrated Easter, celebrated a friend's Birthday (last night) and started packing for our road trip. Oh yeah, we've done all that other stuff families do......gotten cranky, made messes and annoyed each other.

That's the part people tend to ignore in a blog...understandably. I don't really want to read about other people's problems all the time. But it's funny how the rough moments often lead to some great moments. Like last night.

We were nervous about taking Jalen with us to an adult birthday celebration. He doesn't typically handle social niceties very well and a big crowd would be a perfect time to have difficulties. He had chosen to stay home initially, proclaming "I hate music" (it was a music-filled event) but decided to go at the last minute.

It started out pretty typical......"Jalen, the people might not like balloons in their food", and such. We stayed nervous. His grand moment was releasing air from a balloon up under a ladies mini-skirt which caused it to fly upwards making us wish we could holler something like "would somebody please come get their kid" pretending we'd never seen the child before.

As it turns out, he had a ball. And so did we. There were some times we needed to take him outside for running up and down the sidewalk to test out his noisemaker contraption or practice the hula-hoop again. Most everyone tolerated his joyful noise and movement quite well (Jim was rolling the hula-hoop back and forth with him at one point) and he tolerated a social gathering without a melt-down.

I suggested a fork when he was putting his face in the chocolate cake, and I think he ate almost all of Dave's "rat meat" (chicken in disguise...all for the sake of trying to disgust Jalen who thought it sounded just fine to eat rat. oooh ick.) but we all had a most wonderful evening.

He said "that was a really fun party Mom" when we got home. "I want to go to bed, come lay down with me I'm tired" he says. So we did. He cuddled up to me saying "I love you Mom" and fell asleep promptly.

We have some beautiful messes to deal with this morning, baking to finish, clothes to pack and a van to empty. Most of it will get done, some of it won't, but either way we'll hit the road tomorrow morning to go visiting, kayaking, eating, fire-pitting, wining (no truly, the drink not the high-pitched voice), exploring, talking, hugging and having a generally fabulous time at FLT.

The cabins are heated this time around, so no frozen noses in the morning...yay! We're hauling the cast iron dutch oven and the tripod for some outdoor chili. We'll be right on the bay and enjoy the ocean that we've missed since moving up here to the mountains (it's really easier to miss the ocean than the mountains for us though). Still need to pick up film and a bottle of wine to share with Geri.

I love, love, love heading out for a road trip. North Carolina coast, here we come!!