Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The benefits of not having it all

For the last couple of weeks, I've been following the Diets don't Work approach to losing weight, and I've been having a great time. The main principles of the book are 1) you eat whatever it is your body is asking for at that moment; 2) you only eat when you are hungry; 3) you stop when you are no longer hungry, ie. before you feel full.

As you can expect, this involves dealing with the issues that make one overeat. In my case, emotional issues are only a small part of the reason for my overeating at the moment. The main problem for me is that I looove food. Put me in front of a buffet, or a lovely Christmas dinner and I want to sample everything. Bob Schwartz (the author) tells us, however, that if we eat the way naturally thin people do, then we should only eat those things that are a 10 (on a scale of 1 out of 10) for us.

This got me thinking and I've realised that this is an approach that I have to life in general. Life is pretty much like a buffet and my tendency is to want to have everything that it has to offer. Whether it's a book catalogue (or any kind of catalogue for that matter), activities for my children, any kind of store, the restaurants in a city (I note every restaurant that I drive past and think, I must try that out), email lists, toys for my children (you should see their playroom) and many more things that I just can't think of right now, I want to sample everything that they have to offer.

This feeling of wanting and being afraid of missing out on something has so permeated my life that my eating habits are just one expression of it. I've started realising that, as with food, It's okay not to have everything in life. I will just go for the things that are really important for me and hopefully that will make my life a richer experience.

Socialisation quote of the day

From a study of The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Development Nationwide. Thanks to RegularNut for the link.

We find that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bad news

My friend in Bremen, whose two sons don't want to go to school, received three letters from the educational authorities yesterday. One was the rejection of their application for exemption from school attendance. The other two were notifications, one for her and one for her husband, of coercive fines of €1 500 each. If these are not paid they will have to go to jail.

Watching a paradigm-shift

I had a visitor last week, a woman who came with her daughter to visit. She is looking for someone to look after her daughter occasionally during the school vacation and had come upon a leaflet I put up at the local supermarket.

Of course, the inevitable subject came up, once she established that our two youngest don't attend preschool. I came straight out with the news that Robbie and Rowena don't attend school either, and it pretty much blew her mind. Her reaction was so strong at first ("But you can't do that - school is comppulsory!") that I thought she must be a teacher. (It turned out that she was a doctor).

The next hour was spent fielding her various questions and assumptions about homeschooling. Her greatest concern was how I found the time and oppurtunity to meet the educational needs of all my children of different ages. I have to admit that I didn't go into unschooling with her too much (I think that one paradigm blown in an afternoon was probably enough). She had what she thought was a really brilliant suggestion for me - that I send my two youngest ones off to preschool so that I can devote myself to homeschooling my two older children. I just said to her "Well we have them all at home because we find that works best for our family." Emphasising what works best for our family (while smiling sweetly) often seems to work well with people who are otherwise proving a tough nut to crack.

I think she was able to get over that homeschooling hurdle in her mind, because when she left she said how nice it was to meet people with a different lifestyle. In general she was very nice and our daughters really liked each other (it took her half an hour to drag her daughter away), so I am sure we will continue to hammer away at her educational paradigms.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling Week 28 is up (for all two of you who haven't come here from there)so go and check it out and come back here tomorrow or the next day. I have another post cooking and I'll type it as soon as I can. It's all about the strong reaction I had today from someone new I met (and I didn't even bring up the subject of unschooling).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Socialisation quote of the day

From a recent Time Magazine article :

Siblings have a socializing effect on one another," says psychologist Daniel Shaw of the University of Pittsburgh. "When you tease out all the other variables, it's the play styles that make the difference. Unlike a relationship with friends, you're stuck with your sibs. You learn to negotiate things day to day." It's that permanence, researchers believe, that makes siblings so valuable a rehearsal tool for later life.

Thanks to Spunky for the link.

Finding a balance

Rowena has drawn a racing track on the road outside our house (it's a very quiet little street and the children living on it often play out there) for her and Leo and their friends to race on with their bikes. It reminded me of an experience we had recently of waiting till our children are ready to learn a new skill.

Just before the beginning of winter I tried to teach Leo to ride without training wheels. I pushed him on Robbie's old BMX, and although he could keep upright, he couldn't get the hang of steering as well. He wasn't keen on it and I didn't want to push him (both metaphorically and literally) so he went back to riding his little bicycle, which has training wheels and is smaller than the BMX.

About a month ago, Steven (dh) was tinkering around with his tools outside while Leo happened to be riding up and down on his little bike. I had a brainwave and asked Steven to take the training wheels off Leo's little bike to see whether he could manage on that one. Then I went shopping. When I came back a couple of hours later, not only could Leo ride the little bike confidently, he was also doing tricks which Rowena had taught him, like one foot off the pedal. The next day he graduated to the BMX and we put the training wheels back on the little bike so Adrian could use it.

For me this is yet another of the many situations in the lives of my children where pushing them before they were really ready just made them unhappy and it was much more uncomplicated to wait a little longer before giving them a teeny little bump and watch them go soaring out of the nest.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Swimming in the rain

Seeing as I'm on a real "blog"roll this evening, I'll quickly tell about our day before I hang up my keyboard for the night. After their operations, Rowena and Robbie had not been able to do any sport for a week. The last few days have seen some really scorching temperatures and they were desperate to go swimming. As a compromise I bought a paddling pool which they could sit in. (The day I bought it, Rowena put the cat into the water. Luckily, dh was able to mend the resulting leak.)

Finally, today, the first day where they could go swimming and leap about with impunity, dawned, but not bright and clear. As the morning went on, the clouds started to look more threatening. The children, however, were determined that I would keep my promise to take them swimming today, so off we went. We chose a swimming pool with an indoor section, and as we arrived there it started raining. At least there was plenty of parking, and it was really an exhilirating experience, swimming outdoors in the warm rain.

Defending our choices

So much pressure

Now that I have this blog running, I'm really starting to feel the pressure. I have a couple of regular readers and I feel really bad when I see that they've visited my blog and there is nothing new for them to read. A couple of weeks ago I totally went off the internet for a bit. I barely even checked my email and didn't even read anything on my precious UnschoolingDiscussion email list, let alone reading other blogs or writing for my own (I'm sure Doc missed me during that time).

I have so many posts cooking in my brain and they never get out of the pot. Something interesting happens and I think "I must blog about that", but get no opportunity that day and it disappears into some mental black hole. When I do blog it's usually late at night after the kids are in bed and then I end up going to bed looooong after my own bedtime. (You know, that point when you are past tired and then you can't go to sleep for an hour and lie awake while hubby snores gently next to you.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining (though dh would probably say I am). It's just that I've realised that blogging is not something done lightly. Or am I going overboard on the responsibility bit here? Is this my co-dependent side coming out?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Socialisation quote of the day

By Gordon Neufeld, in the introduction to the German edition of his book, Hold onto your Kids. (Translated from the German by me)

When peers replace the parents, children remain stuck in their development. Peer orientation produces a mass of immature, conformist and problem-afflicted young adults, who are incapable of integrating into society.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Unschooling Voices

Go here if you want to read a collection of good unschooling blogging. (Yes, it's at the same blog where I found my latest socialisation quote.)

Socialisation quote of the day

From Joanne at A Day in Our Lives.

I usually laugh on the inside when someone, after finding out our kids don't go to school, asks about socialization. I'll never understand what one has to do with the other.

Are they saying that when their children are not in school (like weekends or summer breaks) they are isolated from other children?!
Wow, I kinda feel sorry for them.

Now I know what I'll say the next time someone asks me the S question. And that's not all. Joanne continues

My 7 year old interacts with 15 year olds, one of my 13 year old's friends is nine and my ten year old loves to read to the little ones in our homeschool group.

And if that wasn't enough, the really cool thing is...they actually have a choice!

Suppose one of my children doesn't feel like being around other kids. We all have those times when cocooning in our cozy home and being able to think and dream and just be alone in our own head, is what we need.
They have the freedom to do that.
They don't have to push those feelings aside and spend 8 hours straight with other kids when they don't want to.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Some really yummy new science books

It was an expensive weekend, even though I hardly left the house. My local Usborne books lady dropped off an order I'd made a couple of months ago. They are all science books, but WHAT science books! They are so beautiful that I was drooling over them. You can see some of them here. The ones I got include Mysteries and Marvels of Science, some of the internet linked reference books and the Illustrated Dictionary of Science. I hope the children like them as much as I do.

Catch-up weekend

I don't know why I don't like housework. It's really good exercise, especially the vacuuming. Routines are generally something I forget about, but I had a lightbulb moment yesterday. Instead of putting off the vacuuming, why don't I do it for twenty minutes every day, straight after I finish my 35 minute Tae-Bo workout. Just think of all the calories I will be burning off!

That's assuming I do my Tae-Bo workout every day. I started again nearly a month ago, after a long hiatus, and no sooner had I dusted down the DVD than I came down with a rotten cold, which had me feeling weak for seven days. (I wrote that cos "feeling weak for a week" didn't look quite right). Then the virus got Adrian, which turned him into the incredible clinging toddler. Throw two days spent in hospital with my two eldest with no chance to get exercise (when we came home both afternoons I had the incredible clinging toddler to look after) and I could look back on another long exercise-free period. It's like starting over again.