Cooking

PSX_20150921_205058I LOVE food, cooking and most of all eating. I am very passionate about sharing that love with my children. Food education and cooking provide an excellent example of how unschooling can work.  I feel strongly that food education is lacking in the public school system. I remember when I was in school, I had home economics by middle school.I enjoyed home economics in school because my mom had us involved in cooking at home, so I found it easy and fun. I was saddened to hear that any type of food education is often delayed until High School. Often this is after bad eating habits have already been formed and many children are already obese.

I remember watching Jamie Oliver on TV going into public school classrooms and the kids weren’t able to identify the most basic of fruit and vegetables. I thought maybe it was staged, sadly I’ve run into some children since then, that proved it was a sad reality. Trying to give children very basic tidbits when they are in a high school classroom on the importance of a good diet and asking them to color a food pyramid isn’t going to cut it. Leading by example is important, if I make healthy choices for myself and my family, hopefully, they will go on to do the same. Walking through the grocery store and asking them as toddlers to find a green vegetable, including them in my daily activities such as my trips to the market, and prepping dinner was giving them an education.
 Unschooling is it’s a great way to share your passions and knowledge with your children in a very natural way. So at an early age, my kids were given a knife and taught the safe way to use it, they were taught to be excited at the farmers market when they spotted a new fruit or vegetable they wanted to try. This isn’t because I sat them down and showed them pictures of proper knife handling or did flashcards of vegetables. It’s because it was a natural part of our life. Cooking together started at a very young age. Now with three teenagers, they all are involved in our meal planning and they are active participants in cooking, and they find pleasure in it.
I think cooking is an important skill for all people to have. Understanding your way around the kitchen can be beneficial in so many ways. Clearly so much learning happens when children are involved in cooking. They are learning skills they will use for their entire life. Reading is involved when they use a recipe, Math is involved when measuring the ingredients, clearly they are learning about nutrition and making wise choices for their health. Baking is a perfect example of chemical reactions (that sounds like science to me). That’s what’s great about organic learning, it happens naturally and joyfully.

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Beginnings

Today I hope to share with you where I started on my unschooling journey. I didn’t always consider myself an unschooler. I always have taught my kids at home, I started my career in the public school system as a sign language interpreter. I worked in the Lincoln Nebraska Public School System and the Jefferson County Tennessee public school system with some amazing children. However, those experiences were enough for me to whole heartily decide that I would educate my children at home.
So when Big Z was born I started like most parents that start homeschooling, I began to research what options were out there. I fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s teachings. So when Big Z was ready according to public school standards to be a kindergartner I started with the Charlotte Mason (www.amblesideonline.org)  curriculum. I loved it for many reasons. It was free and filled with lots of time in nature and reading living books. I knew workbooks and being planted at the table for hours a day wasn’t for me.
As time progressed, and with the birth and death of my sweet Bella.  I found the amount of book reading to be overwhelming. Though we stuck with it, sometimes lightening our load.  I had the support of my then husband, Ian. He was a large key to the Charlotte Mason program working for us. He handled subjects like Math and History. Which gave me time to tend to our daughter, then later, our third child, Lil’ Z.  I was also researching and reading about the philosophy of unschooling, though Ian wasn’t on board with all of the ideas, we became more relaxed in our homeschooling in the process. Sadly Ian died suddenly when Big Z was 10 and Lil’ Z was 3, leaving me overwhelmed yet still needing to provide an education for my children.
A few months after Ian passed away a homeschooling list posted about an unschooling conference in Kalahari waterpark in Sandusky, Ohio. I asked my mom to join me and I looked at it as a way to give the kids and myself a break but at the same time to be inspired in my way of educating my children. It was truly an inspiring experience for me. I had the chance to meet such wonderful role models such as David Albert and Cindy Gattis. The way they educated their children was so encouraging and enlightening.  I also found the people that I met really lived a life that was in general in line with my own philosophies of attachment parenting. This experience sent me on a new path… and as they say,the rest was history.

Answers

I hope to provide some answers to what our unschooling life looks like over the next month. I’ve joined the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge as an effort to get myself back on track with my blogging goals. My life has changed so much over these last few years, and unschooling has been the answer to so many of the problems that life has presented. It has truly been a blessing in my life.
So first, I’ll answer what Unschooling means, or rather, what it means to me. There is much debate in the unschooling community to the actual definition.  To me, it is about learning in a way that isn’t defined by textbooks and teachers. It’s an open way of learning from life. It’s a respectful way of parenting with mindfulness and trusting your children. I am no expert in the field, and I won’t debate the nuances of what is unschooling and what it’s not, that doesn’t interest me. My family interests me, and the well-being of my children is what makes my heart sings.
Living a life where you are directing your learning is an exciting place. You find answers all around you. Answers to questions that you ask, answers to things that peak your curiosity, answers that help you pursue your passions.So how does an unschooler find answers to questions? We are lucky to live in a time where there are answers everywhere. The local library is a valuable resource. I am able to get a teacher’s card and reserve books online this makes life so easy. We can often find library books to borrow that match the children’s current interests. The internet is also an important tool, the kids love YouTube and wikipedia. Answers are also found from family, friends,and mentors.
There are many inspiring unschooling writers out there. I’d like to share some of their sites with you so that you can have resources to help answer your questions about unschooling. Sandra Dodd is an amazing mom of three children, a former teacher, turned unschooler. She is considered a radical unschooler. Her blog is inspiring and happy to read.Another leader in the area of unschooling is John Holt, he wrote some amazing books. You can also find Pat Farenga there.  Again, he was a former educator turned unschooler,  I hope you will join me this month to answer the question as to what unschooling looks like for our family. I look forward to sharing with you.