I've recently decided that the two most important things that I do for my children as an unschooling mom are...
1) *listen* to them, and
2) say yes as often as possible.
These two simple things will lead to learning, laughing and connecting more than anything else I can think of. It's amazing what saying "yes" instead of "no" will produce--especially in situations that seem to scream for a knee-jerk "no."
Today, my kids were sitting on the kitchen table (yes, on!) and one of them pulled out a hand-me-down math game we got from some school-at-homers up the road. (I don't turn anything down and try not to have preconceived notions about how things "are supposed" to be used.)
My kids proceeded to pull out the activity and equation cards, scatter them on the floor only to focus on the pristine piece of styrofoam holding the cards in place. At first, Sam begins fanning his Julia with it, which rapidly turns into bonking her on the head. After a quick negotiation from me (doyouwanthimdoingthatsaynothankyouletsberespectfulplease), he begins ripping the piece of foam apart and dropping it on her head.
Right now, it's still in pretty big chunks, but it's getting smaller and smaller and Emily begins to join in. Soon, they've got it down to the little tiny balls and are making it snow and having a snowball fight--still perched on top of the kitchen table and having a blast!
I start telling them that's exactly what the snow in the mountain scene from Lord of the Rings was done and that the actors complained about all the little styrofoam balls getting into their mouths and throats. Cool conversation, especially since Emily is *very* interested in drama, film and acting.
They went on playing this way as long as they wanted to, and when they were all done, we started cleaning up. It seemed to make sense to get the bigger chunks up with the dustpan before getting out the vaccuum, so that's what we started to do. Sam is swiffing, and I'm using the dustpan when I notice that every time I lift the dustpan from the floor all the tiny balls fly out from the static electrical charge they'd built up. So, I called the kids over to watch it happen, and they thought it was hysterical and it led to a whole new round of play. We noticed all the places the styrofoam was sticking because of static electricity: their hair, the wall, the sides of the tables and chairs, you name it!
We had loads of fun, talked, played and learned all because I didn't say to them, "Stop tearing up that styrofoam and making a mess! It's there to keep the cards in their proper places." I'm betting that was the most fun and learning that math game ever produced!
Listen and say yes, then watch the fun and learning unfold! It'll happen, I promise, and it will be magical!
After our snow storm, we played outside for a while. One of our homeschooling friends came down (former owner of said math game), and the kids played on the climber for a while.
This evening, the girls are in bed with me again, writing in their journals. Emily played around in my word processing program a bit and wrote "Emily can do anything." She also read a couple of sentences that I was writing with some help on the rough words, and she copied down a couple of words with the serif, which we talked about.
As I was flipping through the channels on the tv, she spotted the Peter Jennings program Jesus and Paul, so we're sitting here watching that now. She's just fascinated by Christianity!