Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unschooling bedtimes

You might think that bedtimes have very little to do with how a family schools at first glance. However, if a child is in the traditional school system then the school does have control over children's bedtimes. They dictate a lot of what a family does, but for the purpose of this post, I'll keep focus on bedtimes. Many homeschoolers set a required start time similar to a formal school schedule in their own homes as well. Mom might be an early riser and she might expect/insist that the kids rise early and go to sleep early regardless of their own internal clocks.

My family is a swing shift family. We like being up at night. Bry goes to work at 1 PM and comes home after 2 AM. I usually get up anywhere from 7 to 8:30 AM, regardless of how late I get to bed. It's just the way I'm wired. I do enjoy the morning time before the rest of the house wakes up, it lets me slowly greet the day and tend to some things I prefer to do before the kids are awake and the house is bustling.
The kids come down in shifts. Summer and Decklin are usually up first. Sometimes we play a game or sit and have some tea and talk or start a fancy breakfast for everyone. Or sometimes Decklin just wants to start his day slowly and will ask to play the Wii. He is always free to do so, but he always asks first.

In the past we have practiced co-sleeping with all the kids. Typically once they started kicking and it became disturbing to Bry or myself, we'd put a bed for them in our room, close enough to me that I could hold their hand while they fell asleep, and then gradually when/if they were ready they'd move to their own room. I loved co-sleeping with our kids! And our door is always open for nights when someone wants to come fall asleep in our bed if they don't want to be in their own for any reason. Sometimes Ember will fall asleep on my shoulder while I read a book or play a game on my Iphone. Bry will usually carry anyone who falls asleep into their own beds before he gets into bed on his work nights.

At the beginning of this year we moved to a new rental home and we had all the kids beds in our bedroom because they felt most comfortable sleeping that way even after some had their own rooms in our prior house. Presently all the kids are in their own rooms and their own beds. We problem solved together with the kids and jointly we all came up with the room "assignments" as follows: 
Skylar (10) and Ember (3) share a room. They are the late risers and the ones who prefer a very tidy and quiet bedroom. 
Summer (8) and Decklin (5) share a room. They tend to rise early and don't mind a less tidy bedroom space. And they tend to like to do more active or rowdy things in their room, like jumping on beds. 

How we "unschool" bedtimes

When I originally read about unschoolers not having arbitary bedtimes I jumped into it a bit fast. It was like, hey no more bedtimes here woo-hoo (the wrong thing to do!!!). Quite quickly I became frustrated and overtired and even a bit resentful because I wanted to be able to do some things in the quiet of the evening. I soon realized we had to shift to something that was doable for our family... all of our family and that took some time to find out what exactly that was.
How that looks for us now, is that we head up to bed here at about 10 PM each night. Usually a half hour or hour before, we transition to more quiet things with something like, okay lets do more quiet activities, (less jumping and running about type of things). And I'll ask if anyone wants something to eat.
Quiet things vary from night to night. Some of those things they choose to do are:
  • Sit outside and look at the stars on the balcony outside our master bedroom.
  • Just sitting down for a snack and chatting together.
  • Gathering on the sofa or around the dinner table to chat. 
  • Playing a game on their kindle fires or a wii game.  
  • Doing a puzzle or a quick play board game. 
  • Playing a game of Uno on my bed. 
  • Cleaning up something they were playing with. 
  • Me reading to whoever would like to listen. 
  • Sometimes it means we all just sit together and talk anywhere we land in the house or outside, or they follow me into my bedroom and talk to me while I get ready for bed. 
  • Sitting with me while I fold laundry on my bed and we talk about the day, some of the kids help with the folding. 
  • Some of the above things we are doing all together, sometimes things each does on their own or some variety of the two. 

Our shower time is earlier in the evening either before or after dinner so they have playtime after, in the past we've done showers or baths right before bed and tried morning time as well. This is just working well right now. 

Most often we say bedtime prayers together sitting on my bed after everyone is all ready in PJ's with teeth brushed. Sometimes after prayers we end up chit chatting and going down rabbit trails of things from our conversations and we might end up staying up for an hour or two. Other times everyone is tired and plenty ready to get in bed after prayers.
When the kids go into their own beds, it doesn't mean they have to go to sleep or have the lights out. For them it means they get comfy in or on their beds. Some of them like to be tucked in, and some just like to relax on top of the covers. What they do in their bed varies and tends to be something like:
  • Read or look at books. 
  • Skylar likes to read the bible and journal. 
  • Play a game on the Kindle fire.
  • Play a DS game. 
  • Play with some toys in bed. 
  • Watch something on Netflix on their Fires. 
  • Pet a cat. 
  • Fall right to sleep. 
We recently realized that all four of the kids can't have Netflix on their kindles playing at the same time so they now know they have to take turns every other night if they want to watch it.
Skylar sometimes gets hungry when in bed (she tends to stay up the latest reading into the night) so she has a snack drawer in her room. She will brush her teeth again if she eats something.

When getting ready for bed, they change into PJ's, brush teeth, use the bathroom and bring a drink up from the kitchen for their bedside table. We all like having a fresh cold drink by our bedside. We tend to carry a water bottle with us everywhere we go including up to bed.

Bedtime here essentially means when we get in our beds and wind down, doing something that doesn't bother anyone else in the house or if tired, falling right to sleep. If the older three wanted to be downstairs watching TV they are free to do so, but they have no interest at this time to do that on a regular basis. From time to time they do that if they are really into a game and will stay downstairs to finish it. Sometimes the older two girls just can't sleep at all and they will go downstairs and do something together quietly. But as I said, this is pretty rare that they want to do this.
There are nights that one of the younger kids will fall asleep while we are chatting on the sofa downstairs, playing a game on the Wii or talking on my bed. Decklin will sometimes ask if he can go to bed because he is sleepy and off he goes as soon as his head hits the pillow. 

So while we don't have a strict bedtime routine with specific set rules or enforcement in place. We do have a routine that works well for everyone in the family and feels very natural for us. 
It's not, me as Mom deciding, okay lights out it's bedtime now, or you have a half hour to read and then lights out, or even it's 10 PM get in your bed now. It's all about warm, loving transitions and connections. None of the kids have problems falling asleep because they fall asleep when they are each tired following their natural internal clock. 
I'm not waking the kids up in the morning by my internal clock or by an alarm. 
If we have somewhere to go that requires us to get up earlier we plan ahead the night before and try to get to bed earlier if we can. That earlier wake time might require me waking the kids to get up, but they already know in advance it will be happening so it's not me in a nagging role trying to get a child out of bed who'd rather stay there. Most often times we just schedule whatever we might need to do later whenever possible. 


No one here is crying about not wanting to go into bed. If one of them is feeling especially grumpy one day they are usually the first ones to comment that they might have stayed up to late because they were engrossed in a book or a game. I know how that is. I've found myself up until 4 AM playing Plants vs Zombies : ). And yes I've found myself especially grumpy from my late night gaming sessions.

Following a natural sleep routine will look different for every family. With some family problem solving it's pretty easy to find a workable solution that is agreeable to everyone in the house so that every family member's sleep needs are being met.

~Sweet Dreams~ 

Sandra Dodd's page about bedtimes and sleeping

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Homeschooling Teens

I don't have any teens yet but I enjoyed hearing the speakers in the unschooling summit. 


Resources from the take away for teens: 
www.americorps.gov 
www.earthwatch.org 
www.idealist.org  
www.thesca.org 
www.mentoring.org 
www.zerotuitioncollege.com 
www.nols.edu 
www.nbtsc.org 
www.quantumcamp.com 
www.rotary.org 
www.coolworks.com 
www.wwoof.org 

Recommended reading for those with teens:
College without Highschool 

The Teenage Liberation Handbook

Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers who Don't go to School 


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Instead of Medicating and Punishing

I've been listening to the free unschooling summit by Michelle Barone. Yesterday one of the speakers was Laurie A. Couture. I was not familiar with Ms. Couture previously, but enjoyed hearing her speak very much.
She is an unschooler who does not follow the unlimited media and unlimited electronics which might appeal to many who have strong feelings on those mediums.

***Please note that I am not endorsing her book as I have not read it. ***
But the title of the book is very interesting and would appeal to many parents who are facing the options of being influenced to medicate their children and prefer to find alternatives.
She has You Tube videos linked her on her website and more information about her book which may be found here.

From her website:
Laurie A. Couture, author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing, is a renowned, sought-after parenting coach and consultant. She specializes in supporting parents who wish to heal their children’s emotional, behavioral and educational struggles through attachment parenting, natural education and alternatives to psychiatric drugs. Laurie provides coaching for parents of children ages pre-birth through late adolescence. She also works with the unique parenting needs of single parents, adoptive parents, grandparents and step-parents. Laurie specializes in trauma and emotional and behavioral challenges in children… She confidently assists parents with healing solutions for any level of challenge!


After listening to the Unschool summit this week, one of my very dear friends has also felt led in her heart to unschool her children.
: )



Monday, May 21, 2012

If you don't read any other book, read this one!

someecards.com - Punishment can be discarded forever, all kinds, not just the physical kind. --Dr. Thomas Gordon

Anyone that has ever read my blog knows I'm a reader by nature. Some Mom's don't have the time to read often, or it's not something they enjoy. So for those Mom's, for any Mom (Dad too!), I highly recommend one book you find a way to squeeze in: Parent Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon
Dr. Gordon has some great free articles on his website which can be found here.
If you read no other book on parenting ever in your life, or have never read a parenting book. This is the book I'd recommend! And if you simply cannot bring yourself to read a book. He has audio options, either an Itunes audio book, an audible book or a book on CD selection set for your car, which can be found here.

I enjoyed reading Connection Parenting, Unconditional Parenting, and How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk. But this book, is just my favorite of them all. And I believe that many of the ideas in How to Talk so your kids will listen are taken from Dr. Gordon's method, but PET has a bit of an easier to understand and implement concept if I were to compare the two books.
So what makes this my favorite:

  • It's clear and easy to understand. 
  • It tells you exactly what steps a parent should follow (and how to follow them in your own home) to eliminate being a parent that uses punishment or rewards or from being a permissive parent. 
  • His methods are able to be used with all age children, non verbal children, to teens.
  • He talks about the misconception of the wild uncontrollable teen. And about what it really means is that the parents can no longer use their power to control a child of this age. 
Key points of this book: 
  • Adolescents do not rebel against parents. They only rebel against certain destructive methods of discipline almost universally employed by parents. 
  • Punishment can be discarded forever, all kinds, not just the physical kind. 
  • Parents can raise children who are responsible, self-disciplined, and cooperative without relying on the weapon of fear. 
  • Parents today rely almost universally on the same methods of raising children and dealing with problems from prior generations, and unlike all other institutions of society, the parent child relationship seems to have remained unchanged. Parents depend on methods used two thousand years ago. 
  • Parents are blamed but not trained. His book trains you. And yes parents do need training! 
  • This is not a permissive parenting approach. 
  • He teaches about using a No-lose conflict resolution method verses the win-lose method which most parents employ. 
  • Using the no-lose method requires a basic change of parent attitudes toward their children. It requires that parents first learn skills of non-evaluative listening and honest communication of their own feelings. 
  • An effective parent lets himself be a real person. You don't even have to be consistent to be an effective parent. 
  • He helps parents discern behaviors. A behavior is something your child does or says, not your judgement of that behavior. 
  • Door openers: These are constructive ways of responding to a children's feeling messages or problem messages. (He gives a list of these, to help us parents out!)
  • Talks about how to figure out what is your child's problem and what is a parent problem.  It's not a parent problem if the child's behavior in no tangible way interferes with the parent satisfying their own needs. 
  • Being tuned in to hearing them when they express the I've got a problem feeling.  When a child has a problem use active listening. This is not guiding the child's feelings or trying to direct them. 
  • Effective ways to deal when a child's behavior interferes with a parents need, which are different skills than when your child owns a problem themselves. This is where something called an "I message" comes into play. 
  • He has great information on Parental Power and all the negatives about using this method on your children. If you use a traditional parenting model, this will really be informative. 
  • He talks about ways to change unacceptable behavior, he gives 8 suggestions and explanations and examples of how to put those in practice. 
  • I loved his no lose conflict resolution. Which is essentially the type of compromise you use with your spouse in marriage, brainstorming ideas that will work for both of you. 
In closing..... Definitely read or listen to this book. You will not be sorry. 

~Melissa~ 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beginning Unschooling

Here is a post of wonderful information that I just had to copy and paste here. It's by my favorite veteran unschooler, Joyce Fetteroll and the information she provided to this Mom is based on questions that I think many newer to unschooling also wonder themselves. This is based on the Mom having a 3 year old, but the ideas are so sound for so many age children. The parts in blue were from a post Joyce was responding to. 


At home, you find a way to fit in what you want to do around your
child. If you want to do laundry, for instance, invite your child
along. Give her bits of it she likes to do. Ask her if she'd like to
keep you company. Find *some* way to include her. Or do it later when
your husband or someone else (like a mother's helper) can be with her.
If you do leave her and she does something she shouldn't it's because
she can't, yet, be alone.

2) Solve problems before they become problems. (Part of being
present!) Notice the direction things are heading and change things.
Don't let them get hungry, tired, testy to the point where they're
hitting or destroying things. Food. Naps. Go home. Put on a video.
Draw one away to do something totally different.

3) Change the environment. The kids are clearly saying "This is a
bigger problem than I can handle. I need some help." Don't, for
instance, put them in the position of needing to be quiet when they're
clearly showing they can't yet. Don't set them up to fail. If the baby
is sleepy, how about wearing the baby? Babies are way more likely to
be able to sleep through a lot of noise if they feel secure.

Will this eliminate everything? No. But until you eliminate what you
can by being more present and so on, working on anything else is like
bailing a sinking boat with a teaspoon.


> Should we really just have to decide "I don't expect kids to be
> considerate at all" ?
The sentence assumes the kids have the ability to control themselves
but are choosing not to in order to be mean and selfish.

Even if they can sometimes be quiet doesn't mean they have the ability
to be quiet when *you* want them to.

This will help: Assume the kids are always doing the best they can. If
they aren't behaving as they need to, they need help. *Not* teaching.
Assume they're trying! Assume they understand if you've already asked
them! It's not a lack of understanding. It's a lack of maturity. IT's
a lack of years.

Assume they are like a 6 mo. No matter how much you talk to a 6 mo,
yell, give time outs, ground, spank, the 6 mo will not be able to
walk. *But* if you wait, and make sure the environment is conducive to
walking, the child *will* walk when he's physically able.

Right now you're pressuring your kids to be something they can't. Your
expectations are beyond their ability. Until *they* don't need you to,
be their partner and help them or do it for them. When they're able,
they will. But pressuring them will not bring maturity to them any
faster than it will to a 6 mo old.


> I believe in MUTUAL respect.
You can't force respect from someone. You can, at times, make kids go
through the motions.

They will *eventually* show respect when they're mature enough. Until
then, be respectful. Be respectful that they have limitations you don't
quiet understand. Be respectful that they're trying but can't yet
succeed. Be respectful of their development and trust they will return
the respect all on their own when they can.

Until then, it's your job to live by the principles of respect. Don't
impose it on them.

If they feel respect as something warm and fuzzy and helpful to them,
they will want to return it. If they feel it's something that they
need to go through the motions of because you'll be angry otherwise,
it will take much much longer. And they may never respect you if that
happens. They may, though, become very good at putting on an act of
respect.


> So should someone else have to suffer or should she respect me enough and TRUST >me enough to do as I ask her because I told her it was important? I feel that in a >loving family, enough trust should be present that the children will indeed listen to >what they're told to do so that they can respond immediately when there is danger >and so they can be considerate of circumstances beyond their ability to grasp at this >point.
This is one of the big pieces you're missing. Your can't impose your
right view of the world on your chid. The harder you try, the more
likely she will resist.

What you can do is *live* your right view. *Be* the person you believe
it is right to be. If you believe it's best to be kind, be kind to
her. If you believe it is best to be respectful, be respectful of
her. *Don't* do it because you expect her to act that way. Do it
because you believe it's the right way to live.

If you use your values to help her get what she needs, if she
experiences those values in a warm and fuzzy way, she *will* use them
herself *when* she's able. (Though assume she won't always be able to
do it perfectly. Assume she's always doing her best. If there are
better choices, help her with them.)


> At the same time, I listen to my child and I trust her.
Maybe you're only listening to her words? Maybe that's a piece you're
missing. Her actions are also communication. If she's not doing
something respectful, it's as clear as saying "I can't yet."


> If she tells me to do something, I listen and ask her about it and I trust her to have
> reasons. It is a mutual respect.
No, she's way, way, way too young to be expected to respond in adult
ways. She may sometimes be able to. Leave it open for her have some
opportunities. But drop all expectations that she can do it. For now
*you* need to be the one being respectful of her and being respectful
*for* her. Be her partner on her journey. Don't make her be your
partner.


> As such, we reinforce that simple need for obedience with spanking and
> punishments. I don't like spanking but I don't see a way to get a
> child's attention that doesn't involve a consequence.
You do it by listening to the child's actions. If she can't listen,
she's saying "I can't yet do that."


>But I tried non-spanking and it began to transform my very sweet,
> considerate child into a brat.
Yes, if punishment is removed, kids often do go through a period of
testing limits. It isn't the non-spanking that's causing it. It's the
fact that she was spanked and then removed that caused it. If she'd
never been spanked, if you'd worked on other ways to solve problems,
she wouldn't be a brat.

Though she might have high needs! And the sooner you find ways to meet
those needs in other ways, the easier life will be later. As she gets
bigger with bigger needs and bigger troubles, the spanking will just
make things worse. The sooner you can start working on getting better
at other tools, the better.

Have you seen the No More Spanking list? If you read through the
archives, you'll see lots of ideas. Lots of ways to shift your thinking:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NoMoreSpanking/

> She wouldn't ask for ANYTHING good. I let it go 3 months without
> touching the rule that she could eat all of whatever she wanted
> whenever she wanted and she never improved her habits ... But if
> anything, that utter lack of structure left my child confused.
She shouldn't need to ask. Make food available. Make monkey platters.

http://sandradodd.com/monkeyplatters

Going from food controls to no controls *can* cause an initial period
of chaos. And 3 is about the age when food choices begin narrowing so
that can cause even more confusion.

But right now I wouldn't do more than make a variety of food easily
available. I'd work on the other areas people are giving you ideas
for, especially having more reasonable expectations of what a 3 yo can
do. Listen to her actions even closer than you listen to her words.

Joyce

A free unschooling summit

There is a free unschooling summit being offered.
Some of the speakers will be Sandra Dodd, Pam Sorooshian, and Pat Farenga among many others.

http://www.unschoolingsummit.com/


Monday, May 14, 2012

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk

This is a book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I have linked to a summary which I think does far more justice than I can in going over the wonderful points of this book.

This one is full of great advice for those looking for what on earth to replace traditional parenting methods with.
It gives some great examples and scenarios as well as some questions you can work through on your own or with your partner. Reading some of the examples really made me have an ah-ha moment, especially in the chapter on Freeing Children from Playing Roles.

I especially liked the chapters on Praise and the way there is a right way to praise and a wrong way. The wrong way being saying generic things like "Good job" or "Good boy/girl." I think most parents will really appreciate the alternatives to punishment chapter as well.

The book has a few pages of cartoons in it to demonstrate some of the concepts which really appealed to me. At first glance through the book and seeing those, I felt immediately that this would be along the lines of the type of parent I strive to be.

Here is the summary in PDF form of this book today which I think every parent should print out. It goes through the chapters and gives somewhat of a cliffs notes on each chapter. I would strongly recommend buying the book though as I think it's one every parent should have on their shelf.

Here is a summary for another book called Siblings without Rivalry which is by the same authors.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cutting down the cleaning


My Mom joked after a visit and said it seemed like I never left the kitchen. Sometimes it does feel that way. I cook/prepare every meal, fix snacks, bake treats, make sandwiches for Bry to take to work 4 days a week, and then there's the clean up after anything made in the kitchen. Any Mom can relate to the feeling of living in the kitchen. : ) 
I have been putting the kitchen cleaning off because I don't want the kids having to wait while I load the dishwasher or tidy up. I'd rather be with them and I know they appreciate that.  But later on in the evening it still needs to be done because waking to a dirty kitchen stinks! And when Bry comes home from work I like him to see a clean kitchen and clear counters. 

So the older girls and I brainstormed what would get me out of the kitchen a bit more and make cleaning the kitchen and cleaning up after meals much easier. 

To reduce cups we have been using the Klean Kanteens (color coded for each family member) for many years now. The kids each have two so one can be washed while the other is in use. We drink water so this works for us very well. Klean Kanteens are BPA free and made of Stainless Steel. Kids often have a drink of water near their beds and with the Kanteens they take it up with them at bedtime and it comes back down with them in the morning to be used again (after rinsing from Mom for the little ones and the other girls rinse their own). 
As the kids and I were talking, I remembered reading in an unschooling loop about a Mom getting her kids special plates per person and tossing all the rest. So we decided that special plates might be a good idea worth trying here too. We decided to order Fiestaware place settings for each family member. First we just did this for the kids, and it was working so great that Bry said we should get a set for each adult also. 
: ) Fiestaware is lead free! This is a set which contains a mug, bowl, salad plate and dinner plate. The kids took turns picking out the color they liked the best:
Skylar - plum
Summer - scarlet
Decklin - peacock
Ember - turquoise
Bry - cobalt
Me - marigold 
The kids were so excited when Amazon delivered their special plates. If we have something like iced tea or milk, the kids can use their lovely matching colored new mugs for this. Skylar and Summer volunteered to wash their own after each meal, as well as a younger sibling and then dry and put them away so they are ready for the next meal. 
Having the lovely plates has cut down on running the dishwasher. It used to be 3 plates per child a day (not adding in bowls for snacks). We have 4 kids, and then add in the adults also to the dish tally. So that was a lot of dishes needing washing. We used to run it twice a day. Now we run it once every other day or every three days, huge difference! 

Ways to cut down on time spent in the kitchen:
  • Menu plan, using a menu plan to know what you are making for each meal helps the kitchen run smoother and lets you plan anything that needs defrosting, or dough needing rising, etc. 
  • Special plates that one person uses for each meal. Choose lead free for health reasons. 
  • Let each person pick a special cup or for water get a water bottle (BPA free) or Kleen Kanteen in their color choice. 
  • Serve from the stove (verses using serving pieces placed on the table).
  • Ask for all hands to help in some way cleaning up after a meal. 
  • Have a mini dustpan for dusting the table crumbs into. 
  • Have a dog who will happily eat any crumbs that fall out of the dustpan. : )
  • Clean as you go, instead of saving it for after the meal. While food is cooking, wash anything you are done with or load it into the dishwasher.



What our 10 year old has been doing


I had done what our 8 year old was doing and received some emails asking about what our 10 year old is doing as her “curriculum”.

Disclaimer:
As with my 8 year old, please keep in mind that I only wrote the subjects down as if I had been looking at what she's been up to through schoolish glasses. I don't look at our days trying to find the education value anymore. It's just unavoidably always there. It is impossible to learn nothing.

Skylar's curriculum (10):

Reading:
The Bible (She has two that she likes to read, sometimes three actually.) They are The Adventure Bible, The Day by Day Bible for Kids, and the Graphic Bible. She reads a horde of books. Recently she went through the Poison Apple books because we saw them at the library and she thought they looked to be a quick and fun read. She's been reading more books in the Dear America series. She really loves those and re-reads them often. And then of course there are recipes, directions in games, the playing of games which requires one to read, signs, grocery lists, penpal letters, emails, and magazines we subscribe to and catalogs we get in the mail.


Science:
As our 8 year old has done, Skylar has also been covering various science topics out in our backyard, such as gardening, catching bugs with the bug vacuum, observing the stars (astronomy) and clouds (weather) and talking about them with Bry. She's also covered prosthetics, rock collecting, gem discovery and digging, birds, various aspects of animal care, cooking and baking, health, bacteria. She knows a lot about the immune system because of her liver transplant. We have a dog and two cats. One of the cats is stuck to her like glue, always on her bed with her or he follows her to another room and lays with her there. We also take nature walks, talk about the upcoming weather, go to the park when it's not to busy, climb trees and pick flowers. She is very firm in her belief that we are careful with bugs of any kind and not hurt them. Her favorite insect is the ant, whom she became enamored with after reading about them in a Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader. Ants have become one of my favorites too. She's taught me so much about them! Bees are also another she treasures.
Whenever we encounter ants or bees there are always questions about them from someone in the family that are directed to her. Sometimes on walks we just watch the ants go about their business and she tells us what they are doing, what role they play in the ant circle. It's all so fascinating!
We try to go observe animals in person once a week. Many times we end up watching videos or digging further into something we saw. And we watch you tube videos on anything they might ask about.
Today Decklin was asking about chocolate and where it came from. Because he was eating some of it in a Trader Joes trail mix. And that led to us all looking up pictures and information about the cocoa bean.


Math:
This is covered in some many faucets of her days. Playing games like Harvest Moon, Tap zoo, Sims Kingdom, Bakery Story, Bird Land, Fish Adventure, Oregon Settler, Petshop Story, Plants vs Zombies, Restaurant Story, and Fantasy Town (in those she has to practice time management, money management and financial transactions). It might sound like she would be glued to the games. It's okay with me if she were, but she's not. She reads, plays, might check on one of her games. Most of them are the kind that builds up money or energy and can't really be played straight through but has to be checked on over time. She was telling me last night how responsible you have to be to make sure your animals and crops don't die. Or that your food doesn't spoil. She gets a weekly allowance so she has money to save, spend, budget out, however she likes. In cooking, there is measuring in recipes. And she also covers percents, division and multiplication via daily encounters.
She enjoys board games and puzzles. We play princessopoly quite a bit, so that covers a lot of making change and money transactions, and Uno is another huge favorite which we play quite often. We have puppyopoly coming since we do have a little guy and sometimes he's not interested in the princessopoly. Yesterday we tried a gamed called Enchanted Forest. I was tired before we began playing but this really had me yawning : ). Not the game's fault I'm sure, and it will be easier the next time we play since we know how to play it now. So that game was all about memory, addition, counting in varying directions and strategy. There are also some great puzzle games on her Kindle Fire that she enjoys.

History:
She reads a ton of books. History is one of her favorite topics to read about. Topics she's been delving into lately are indians, women's suffrage, modern times, Jane Goodall, Eleanor Roosevelt, life in the army, The Civil war, The Great Depression, slavery, the life of Jesus, the days before the ascension of Jesus. And of course the bible, which is His Story and is something she reads on her own daily. We also talk freely and daily about God. Bry is taking a class at church and comes home and he shares all about it with us.
If I see a historical special I think she might like on TV I'll tape it for us to watch together. Sometimes she declines to watch and it gets deleted.


Writing:
She writes in four journals that she keeps, responds to penpals, emails, helps write out the grocery list or menu plan.


Arts and crafting:
Latch hook, clay, drawing with chalk in the backyard, painting, working with playdough with baby sister, clay and other modeling mediums. Painting her nails, or Ember's nails. Dying barbie doll hair with food coloring.


Character qualities:
These we cover through the way we treat each other in our home and others outside our home.


Phys ed:
Water blaster fights, water balloon fights, indoor Frisbee, walk, run, swing, ride scooters, hit golf balls, throw foam golf balls at each other in a golf ball fight.


Chores:
She likes a clean tidy room and keeps it that way. When I put clean laundry on the end of her bed, she likes putting it away immediately. The kids don't have chores. But I do, and if I ask someone will usually chime in to help me out. Sometimes I'll come down and they will have surprised me and cleaned the kitchen up on their own. 
And she cleans and washes her meal plate after each meal and one of the younger kids. 




If I see something in my travels online or in real life that may interest her I will save it, buy it, take note of it. Some things I see are things I know she likes because of something similar she's liked in the past. And some things I sprinkle about or hand to her, just depends on what it is.
We try to play a board game daily since this is something she really likes. We taught Ember (just turned 3) to play Uno (last night she won 4 of 5 games and that was with showing us all her cards : ). And she plays Plants vs Zombies with me on the Xbox 360. This is my most favorite game. She taught me her strategy for playing when I watched her play on her Fire. And she told me to remain calm once the zombies come, because they always make me freak out : ).
She and Summer were talking about the possibility of volunteering at the kids area during church on Monday nights to play with the little kids. 

A lot of parents are scared of kids watching too much TV. Though Skylar (and all the kids) have free unlimited access, she just prefers to do other things.