sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for November, 2010

Pam Sorooshian: Principles of Unschooling

I was searching for homeschool and unschool blogs and found this.

I loved it so much I decided to repost it.  So much of what is in this post are thoughts I have had, but I give full credit to the author.

An Unschooling Life: Pam Sorooshian

Principles of Unschooling:

Learning happens all the time. The brain never stops working and it is not possible to divide time up into “learning periods” versus “non-learning periods.” Everything that goes on around a person, everything they hear, see, touch, smell, and taste, results in learning of some kind.

Learning does not require coercion. In fact, learning cannot really be forced against someone’s will. Coercion feels bad and creates resistance.

Learning feels good. It is satisfying and intrinsically rewarding. Irrelevant rewards can have unintended side effects that do not support learning.

Learning stops when a person is confused. All learning must build on what is already known.

Learning becomes difficult when a person is convinced that learning is difficult. Unfortunately, most teaching methods assume learning is difficult and that lesson is the one that is really “taught” to the students.

Learning must be meaningful. When a person doesn’t see the point, when they don’t know how the information relates or is useful in “the real world,” then the learning is superficial and temporary – not “real” learning.

Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of “side benefit.”

Learning is often a social activity, not something that happens in isolation from others. We learn from other people who have the skills and knowledge we’re interested in and who let us learn from them in a variety of ways.

We don’t have to be tested to find out what we’ve learned. The learning will be demonstrated as we use new skills and talk knowledgeably about a topic,

Feelings and intellect are not in opposition and not even separate things. All learning involves the emotions, as well as the intellect.

Learning requires a sense of safety. Fear blocks learning. Shame and embarrassment, stress and anxiety – these block learning.

Pam runs a yahoo group called No More Spanking that I recommend if you’re looking for new ways to parent. Not only limited to spanking, here is the groups description:

The point of view of this list is that punishment may control a specific behavior but that it interferes with the long-term goal of promoting self-control and that alternative nonpunitive ways of relating to children are preferred. Punishment includes hitting, spanking, swatting, shaming, ridiculing, threatening, using harsh or cruel words, penalizing, holding back rewards, or other methods that assert adult power or vent adult frustration. We are seeking alternative approaches that provide guidance to our children that will encourage self-control, thinking before acting, learning to take responsibility for their own behavior, and especially that will promote a lifelong warm, close, and open relationship between parent and child.


Life with a dog, week two

We have had Olive for 2 weeks now.  My biggest challenge has been keeping an eye on her with Jason, who is 22 months old.  One of the first days we had her, I went into the living room to check on them and found Jason with both hands gripped onto the fur around her eyes.  I quickly went to him and told him to let go.  “Gentle with the doggie, we don’t want to hurt her, ” I keep repeating. 

Olive has tolerated Jason well.  A few times she turned her head to him as if to say, “Stop” but most of the time she is wagging her tail and licking his face.  It’s a good thing she is not a small dog.  A small dog would not be a good fit with a 28 pound, active, energetic, larger than life toddler.

Walking Olive, even at night, has been an unexpected enjoyment.  It has given me a few minutes to step outside alone, get some fresh air and view the stars.  I don’t feel burdened by the added responsibility of having a dog.  I also know that the experience of caring for the dog can be very therapeutic for my daughter and because animals bring her such joy, it is a pleasure to be able to do this for her during what has been a tulmotous time for her. 

The larger challenge is caring for Olive despite the demands of my daughter declaring she is “her dog” and she will take care of him.  I have made it clear that we took Olive on as a family responsibility and I do not mind caring for her.  I also have not expected my oldest son to care for her other than checking on her when we leave him alone with her.  He was less than thrilled at the idea of having a dog, and his initial acceptance wore off about day three.  His tolerance for having a dog living in our house has increased  recently.  Or maybe it is just because of his new iPod touch and celebration of his thirteenth birthday.  Despite his “big brother” ways, he knows how much his sister loves animals and on some level can appreciate how much having Olive in our home means to his sister.

Watching Olive with our cat, Peanut continues to be one of my favorite aspects of this experience.  Olive will just wag her tail with excitement when she sees Peanut but has learned that getting too close is not a good idea.  Peanut is an inside only cat but has her front claws.  Peanut seems to tolerate Olive.  The unfortunate thing is that if Peanut were still a kitten, she might actually enjoy having a dog in the house as a playmate.  I remember how different her reaction was to my sister’s dog at our house when she was still a kitten compared to when she was past a year or so of age.  At least she gets exercise with Olive chasing her and maybe she is really enjoying the game of hide and seek.  She only needs to hide in one spot briefly and Olive will spend most of her time sniffing and waiting in the spot where her scent is even though she has moved to another location.  She walks about the house with an aire of confidence “this is my domain and I am the queen”.  And Olive is just happy to see her, us, anyone really.

Reading the book, I, Jack, has given me a better appreciation for the possible thoughts of a dog.  I, Jack, is a wonderful book written by Patricia Finney and told from the perspective and voice of the family dog, Jack.  I read it years ago with my oldest child and recently checked it out of the library again and read it with my 8-year-old daughter.  We both enjoyed reading it together before bedtime and she even read ahead without me because she was enjoying it so much.  I was glad I had read it before but really enjoyed it as much the second time.

And so here we are two weeks in and wondering still if this is temporary or permanent.  It is a funny thing to all of a sudden with less than two weeks notice have a dog, and have your neighbor’s dog who is your daughter’s “Best friend” (her words).  I think the suddenness of it all has been an adjustment for her maybe even more so than for the rest of us.  Change is not easy for her and having our wonderful neighbors move was a big enough change let alone taking in one of their dogs.  No matter what the outcome of this experience, I am grateful for this time we have with Olive for my daughter and for all of us.  It surely has made the sudden move of our neighbors an easier transition for my daughter who would have been heartbroken to have to say goodbye to Olive.

Life with a dog, week one

We brought a dog into our home on October 29, 2010.  It was to be a temporary situation that could become permanent.  It was fun and novel for 2 days and I began blogging daily with the hopes that would continue at least for the initial weeks.

By day three,  Olive, the dog, was no longer a fun new exciting guest but someone to take care of, an added responsibility.   The excitement had worn off for my oldest child, Harrison, who was not very happy with the presence of a dog 24/7 in our home and had made it clear to us that he did not like the idea of having a dog but had agreed to a 3 week trial with Olive.  My daughter, the one who has been begging for a dog, was not jumping in to take care of the dog spontaneously and resisting to some degree especially to take the dog outside in cold weather.

With the initial excitement of something new in our lives, behind me,  I began to see more clearly all the responsibilities involved in caring for a dog; exercise, walks, feeding her, preventing fleas, attention and the challenge of keeping an eye on Jason, the toddler, with the dog.

A new responsibility added tension to our family dynamics, and more to get done in  our daily  “routine” or lack of routine.  Our days have been difficult juggling the schedules and needs of three children and two adults and a cat.  Since the youngest became a toddler, which happened fast as he began walking at 8 months of age, life has been a whirlwind for me.  Seams we get one aspect of life settled down and another challenge appears.  And so once again, life was beginning to “settle down” and here we have a dog!  What was I thinking?