Our days are very full at the moment. I am sustaining the longer periods of time outside in all weathers, after so many illnesses to start the year off we have really needed to restart and reboot. We have done a few trips out to interesting places too; I was feeling a bit stuck in a rut of going to the same two or three places and doing the same round of activities.
I dunno. Sometimes that feels good and orderly and safe. But when it starts to feel frustratingly restricted, time to shake things up and do something different. Right?
We're on the inward swing towards more mummy-direction with Jenna's days. I think I mentioned that already. I'm planning something educational for each day, and being more insistent that if Jenna in particular is hanging around bugging me for things to do or winding her sisters up she is going to get given a chore or she is going to sit down and do something with me. One or the other. No third option of continue to drive everyone up the wall. Nope.
Her interest in history has dropped off a bit - partly because she is still interested in the Ancient Greeks and is reading Greek myths and so on fairly consistently so it feels wrong to hurry her on to the next thing in Story of the World. Every few days she pulls out her cartoon strip book of Greek gods and goddesses and starts drawing or writing stories, or dressing up in a sheet, or making sandals out of card, that sort of thing. It's not very in-depth, but I like that she enjoys getting a feel for a culture, and it surprises me not one bit that her main interest in History is in art and story telling.
She tells me often that she wants to be an author or an artist or both. I told her a few days ago that she already IS an artist, and she gave me a stern look and said she wants to earn money from it. I told her that even grown-up artists find that hard sometimes...
Anyhow. The latest thing is how the universe works. Chemistry and physics aren't exactly my favourite things in the world, but what questions I can't even begin to answer, we can look up together. And there is lots of scope for playing.
We filled balloons with water and measured them stood on a dish. Then we froze them and measured again. A variation on the range of expanding ice experiments, and extra fun because we put tiny things in the balloons first so that the little ones could chip them out again afterwards in the bath with cutlery. We are doing lots of things like testing circuits and taking temperature readings through the day and such like to give her some practice at writing out findings, too. She wants a chemistry kit.
I'm not comfortable with any possible approach to her handwriting right now. She loves writing but it is still often pretty illegible - and that frustrates her AND me. (When I ask her what something says she gets really angry - and while I know she only cares because I can't hide that *I* care, I still find it very difficult to deal with those stroppy tones of voice with gentleness and respect.) She also forgets spaces and mixes upper and lower case. I don't want to leave it, I don't want to push. I suggest practice and give her handwriting sheets with the spellings of new words she's using in her Main Lesson Book... But I still get all hung up on her "no" when she doesn't want to practice.
I guess it's natural that writing would be the one thing I would feel anxious about unschooling, because it's such a part of my identity. Allowing our children to reject what is precious/important/sacred to us is hard parenting work!
When our values are different from those of our children, whose decision is it? This is a question I turn over and over. In the end, I think the answer can't be given by a simple formula that tells you rock wins over scissors every time.
How we live is still changing and growing. Even this snapshot of our learning, I think "oh but I missed out this" or didn't say how I felt about that or forgot something amazing and spontaneous that happened last week that made me thing it's all going wonderfully well! Sometimes all I can say is that we are well and happy and learning all of the time (even if it defies my attempts to explain or categorise it).