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Unschooling in Action

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I’m in the early, early stages of deciding our school path.  I often battle with the voices in my head (“is it ok that she isn’t in preschool?” “shouldn’t I be doing more?”) and the real voices around me (“why isn’t she in preschool?”).  Right now, we unschool.  A simple, but loaded word, which means following the child’s desire to learn.  I try to use everyday moments as teaching opportunities and if she displays some interest, we follow it.  This has led to impromptu hula dance lessons on youtube, library searches for stories of female lighthouse keepers, and discussions about bullfrog ears. 

I have long loved an Audre Lorde quote “The learning process can be incited.  Literally incited–like a riot.” 

For the last two days, she’s been working on something secret.  She has asked me to spell some words for her.  And she requested masking tape.  Today, she asked me to read her a book.  I almost fell over when the book she wanted me to read was her own!  Here it is (inspired liberally by Olivia the pig):

Title Page (with author’s name prominently placed)

Olivia played the piano

This one is supposed to say “Olivia brushes her teeth.  Moves the cat.  Moves the cat”

Then they danced

This one is supposed to say “Olivia was disappointed.”  I remember yelling the letters for “disappointed” for her yesterday as I was making the beds.

The end

The whole thing was gloriously taped together with 4yr old masking tape abandon!

12 responses »

  1. That is so cool. I can’t believe she did all of that at 4 years old. Very creative.

  2. That is awesome! She is so smart! Don’t worry about what people say, follow your heart. Also, that cat looks very familiar.

  3. Both a writer and illustrator….
    That’s my girl!

  4. uh-huh…and MY granddaughter!
    Nothing wrong with this picture, at all!!!:)

  5. I love it – looks like you’re doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

  6. I don’t know what’s more impressive – Norah’s book or the fact that you make the beds 🙂

  7. Noelle Slagel

    I am so proud of her! I love Olivia’s disappointed face,complete with body language. What a brilliant child!

  8. Awesome. She’s such a cool kid. I love how OliVia became OliBia. So crafty, that one!

  9. Jennifer Shurley

    Love the book! Emma has been doing that too, and I love the whole process of them knowing they have a story to tell and getting it out there in book form! Also, I found one school option you might like, though you’d have to move to Seattle… (unless you open something here!)

  10. Ahhhhh, Julie! We called it “Mommy School” at our house. We never did preschool and I don’t think my kids suffered a bit (although the elementary school principal warned us they’d struggle for a month or two in Kindergarten but then be right up there with the other kids who were already used to “real” school–I don’t recall any struggles).

    I love Norah’s book! So glad you could read it. Andrea’s first attempt at a secret project like that didn’t have such a happy ending since both of us were (are) perfectionists. I wish I had known how to laugh more back in those days. At least I’m able to encourage other young moms to take things in stride and enjoy the journey with their little ones. Sounds like you’re doing a great job!

  11. I’ve read this blog so many times. And am still speechless! Proud – but speechless! You and Scott are excellent parents. I love that she feels no boundaries to her imagination.

  12. Oh the mind of a four year old! How incredible!


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