Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic (& throw in a little history for fun!)

What does reading, writing and arithmetic look like in an unschooling fashion? Not compartmentalized and completely void of curriculum or anything "schoolish" looking at all. Here are a few examples of the learning that occurs in a natural manner in our home (& outside the home-most frequently!!!)

We're driving to the beach and Olivia has been really , and I say really because she's always been, but more so lately, fascinated with numbers. She looks at the temperature gauge above the rear view mirror and asks what that number means, then at the clock on the radio and asks what those number mean, then the speed limit signs on the sides of the roads. She asks me what is a number and we start talking about numbers and how they represent measurements, age, distance, time. I mention addresses and how it identifies where someone lives and that if the mailman has a letter for someone he knows where to deliver it. She asks what our address is and I tell her. Then she says "is Spiderman's address 1991112222 (or some such number)?" I tell her I'm not really sure what his address is. Then I tell her I bet Superman's address is a really big number because he came from outer space. She loved that!

We get to girl scouts yesterday and a friend is talking about issues with her girl going to school (daughter's choice) and how it's affecting her love of learning. It made me think about when Violet was with a charter (for 1 1/2 years for K and 1) and in that short time she came out of it "hating" math. Since we began unschooling (when I pulled her out of the charter) it took a good year of deschooling before we came to the point where she has since said to me that she enjoys math and knows that that the math she learns comes naturally through everyday conversations that we have and situations that arise (counting money, telling time, etc). Lately, Violet also has been very interested in memorizing addition and multiplication answers. We don't call it math, but she will ask me to ask her story problems while we are laying down in bed at night or driving along in the car. She wants me to ask her multiplication problems. I love that the learning that comes naturally to her little sister, who's never been to school, is coming more naturally (without any negative, forced feel to it) to her as well.
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Another thing that I've noticed is Violet's writing skills lately. She really enjoys writing a lot now, be it a comic strip that she's working on, lists, letters to friends and family, sometimes as part of her artwork. Also, she has been writing cursive for some time now. But, it was a style of writing that she has created on her own. When I ask her to tell me how she learned cursive she says she doesn't know, she just does it. I think, it's from reading others cursive writing. Her grandma writes her letters in cursive, I often write in cursive, and we have a poster with cursive letters on it, although she told me she doesn't really use it. Mostly, she just puts the letters together in a way that flows. I think it's beautiful, and is similar in ways to the way that Niki de St Phalle, one of our favorite artists, writes. Olivia loves to write as well. She pretty much knows all of the alphabet now and asks me to spell words for her while she also, writes to friends and family. She likes to copy stuff. I see her looking at books or mags and carefully rewriting many things that she sees. She loves to make little mini books out of scraps of paper. She staples them together and makes pictures and letters on them. At girl scouts yesterday, she made a card for the servicemen (soldiers we call them) and she said they are protecting our girl scout building ; )
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Both girls enjoy reading. Violet started reading at a very young age and continues to love reading often. Right now she's reading Spiderwick Chronicles, Amelia books, Pokemon books, and a few magazines her uncle got her. The Amelia books inspired her to start a new journal (she has many), but she wanted it in one of the black composition books that the style of the Amelia books are in. So I bought her one and she is now writing in similar fashion about herself and her family with doodles of us all in there as well. Olivia loves to be read to and frequently asking me what a written word says. I think once she starts learning more words she'll be a bookworm as well. Amelia's Family Ties
We're also reading Little House on the Prairie together right now, which they both enjoy. Laura kept telling her folks that she wanted to see a papoose. The girls were curious about it as well. So, when the girls and I went to The Indian Store in Escondido the other day to buy some beads, we coincidentally got to see one. Great timing. It's a wonderful shop with many Native American Arts and Crafts in it, it's actually like going to a museum. There's music, drums, rain sticks, headdresses, moccasins, skins, bugs in acrylic (scorpions, tarantulas, beetles), books on Native American history and stories, lots of beautiful beads, authentic clothes, artwork, herbs, and so much more. If you get a chance, it's in Escondido, here's the website.
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