Here we are, summer is over… fall is here and I feel like we are more alive than ever!
Back to school time seems to be a very nice time for un-schoolers. To me it feels like we are getting out of summer hibernation and can move around freely again. Places like museums, zoos and beaches are not crowded anymore and much more enjoyable 🙂
I love the beginning of fall. It’s somehow still nice and warm during the days and it cools down during the night which makes the morning air so fresh and nice smelling <3
People ask me a lot what we do all day and how does the education for my children look like. There is no 7-hour school day for us. My kids are with me almost all day. How do I get my alone time? Do my children want me all day? Do I need breaks? Am I exhausted? How do my children learn? Can Noah read and write? How about math? How long will the boys stay out of school? Can they still go to college? How about socialization?
I don’t really want to answer all of these questions in this post. But I had the idea of sharing more of our journey. I feel like at some point it would be nice to post weekly updates on the How and What my children learn just by living an active open-minded lifestyle with lots of traveling and this world as our ‘classroom’. For now I feel like starting with a little summary of last month’s experiences and adventures.
Often pictures tell more than words, so here come pictures and explanations of what our life looks like, aside from the ‘normal’ things like grocery shopping, cleaning and running all kinds of errands, like doctor and vet visits and such…
Usually we get up some time between 7am and 9 am. For me the first thing in the morning is doing my workout routine. The boys either still sleep, play on ipads, play with their monster trucks, play soccer or they just watch me and eat breakfast 🙂
Usually we are ready around 11am/12pm to conquer the world 🙂
On Mondays we started going to our un-school coop that I organize with two other moms. There have been around 12-20 kids with their mothers. We meet at a reserved room at the library for 3 hours for unstructured playtime with friends. They can roam the library, look at books, use the computers, do art projects. They can play legos, build forts or do whatever they want during that time. Afterwards we usually move outside to the nearby playground and skate park for some outdoor play.
For the rest of the week Niki has been going to preschool for the past two weeks from 12:30-3:15pm. But when we had other more special plans (like our trip to California or a trip to Boston), he joined us and did not attend school.
We moved a LOT, we are a pretty active family. The boys balanced, ran, walked, tumbled, wrestled, jumped, rode their bikes, played sports like soccer, basketball, hockey, volleyball, baseball, football almost every day.
We went outdoors to experience nature in all it’s beauty. Questions like these came up: How do things feel out there, how do they taste, smell? How does it feel to sit in the mud? How old are these Redwoods? How much longer have they been on earth than us? Did the dinosaurs still live when these trees were planted? How tall are they in comparison to buildings? Where do animals live and what do they eat? How do plants grow and what do they do for us? We harvested green beans, tomatoes and pears and saw where they actually grew.
Last Wednesday the boys took part in a Tinkergarten trial class. It was really cute how the children made a ‘stone-soup’ for the trees around them. They mixed all kinds of things that they found like rocks, sand, sticks, leaves, mushrooms, flowers and added nice smelling spices like cinnamon and chia seeds and lavender together and added water, vinegar and baking soda to make it bubble. They thanked the trees for their good job of making fresh air for us and ‘fed’ them the soup. Noah wants to sign up for an 8 week class, an hour once a week. He really enjoyed being outside and not in an inside classroom. He does not like to be around many people in small places, so an outside classroom gives him enough space to move around and not feel too boxed in.
We also went to the beach and caught some small fish to look at and touch them and then release them back into the ocean. Another time at the beach Noah invented a seaweed drying structure and watched how the seaweed changed color and consistency in the process.
At home the boys liked to paint, draw, color, play and build. They cooked and baked and made experiments with different kitchen substances.
Last week we experimented with our sense of taste. We had different kinds of carrots and we closed our eyes to guess which ones we were eating. And we got pretty good at it!
Right now Noah’s favorite board game is Monopoly. We’ve been playing hours and hours and days of it. It amazes me how he calculates and knows exactly how much money to pay and get back when buying streets and houses/hotels. He also uses his own, mostly conservative strategies and he rarely looses a game.
Noah also likes to sew. He started making headbands with scraps of fabrics that I don’t use anymore for sewing my kids’ clothing.
Another favorite indoor activity was and will be playing on ipads. They build their own houses and landscapes in Minecraft. They breed their own monsters in Monster Legends. Noah has his own soccer team in some kind of soccer app.
Niki played many races of Mario Cart Wii.
We like to travel and go places…there is so much to do and discover in other places than home! And also the traveling itself has some challenges: On our trip to California we figured out how to read a railroad map and how much money to put on our ticket for a roundtrip into San Francisco. The boys tried to entertain themselves for an 8 hour flight.
We also took a trek to IKEA on Labor Day Weekend and really got to practice our patience while waiting in traffic and in the checkout lane…
Then there are places like Lindsay’s Wildlife Experience that we went to in Walnut Creek, CA. It was a great place to get close to animals and learn a lot about them, even touch Penelopé the porcupine 🙂 Visiting San Francisco is always fun. Riding the trollies and the cable cars, visiting the harbor seals at Pier 39 and the hearts at Union square were our favorites.
Another cool experience on our trip to CA were a couple of ice-cream stores that made their ice-creams on the spot. It was really interesting to observe how they mixed the ingredients together and then flash-froze the liquid mixture in bowels with liquid nitrogen or on a frozen plate. They made it into scoops or little rolls that they placed into the cup. The pic underneath shows how much fun it was to watch and experience!
We went to Legoland Discovery Center in Boston where the boys built cars and figured out how to make them quicker. I think I won the race 🙂 My car had the biggest tires and was the heaviest…
We also went to the pottery place nearby where the boys painted some birthday gifts for family members.
Noah is signed up for Zoo school which is a one-hour class at the zoo once a month for 8 months. We went there, but he did not feel comfortable enough to stay by himself. So, we all were allowed to stay and got to meet a python and play a game of Mancala.
Noah is still saving up for his own ipad. He sat at the farmers’ market and at the playground trying to sell some of his old toys. With sewing his headbands he is following through with another business idea. He will be selling them at a fair in November.
His newest idea is to develop a game app with in-app purchase options. But I have not found anybody yet who could teach him coding or programming. This is definitely on our plan for the next months. In the meantime were are looking into a couple of programs that we can maybe learn from by ourselves, like Hours of code and Scratch.
Noah likes to observe. He just watched the pool guys closing our pool for the winter and the plumber putting in a new garbage disposal yesterday.
He watched people fishing at the beach and really wants to go fishing himself. The boys love to watch the people at the post office putting the mail in different boxes and get to know where the different boxes will go, on an airplane or so.
At Target Noah has helped the clerk scan the things we bought at checkout. Yesterday and many other times Noah handled the payments by using my credit card and signing or he handled money and checks if we got back the right amount of cash. He is getting very good at knowing if it’s European or American money he is picking out of my wallet 🙂
I think these are many of the highlights that we experienced during the month of September. That’s how our ‘not back to school’ month looked like.
Sometimes I describe our lifestyle as being on vacation every day. We try to live a happy and enjoyable life and go with the flow to get there. Of course there are good days and not so good days and ups and downs, but for the most part I see us getting to a point where we learn so much from each other and the world around us and new adventures coming up for us every day and this feels great.
And yes, of course there are days that I feel exhausted, but probably not more exhausted than any other mom. The thing that helps a lot is that every person in our house has the same rights, so there is not much arguing with my children about things they should do or have…we are living a pretty peaceful life, which is not exhausting. We all make our own choices and learn from there.
With lots of love and gratitude,