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Just launched an online course for those thinking about unschooling!

7 January, 2020

Now here’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing for a little while! (2020 is going to be the year of bravery, I reckon.) I have just launched an online course for those keen on life learning but wanting to go into it inspired, energised and confident.

DISCO – Embarking on a self-directed learning journey filled with joy and freedom.
A 4 week course throughout February. 

Are you drawn to the unschooling life but feel overwhelmed by the prospect? Enter this safe space to go deeply into your motivations, address your fears and resistance and become excited about the possibility of a life with your kids at home, learning in a self-directed and curriculum-free way. 

This is for the parent that knows there is a an education available that will bring out the very best in their child and wants to embark on that journey feeling fully equipped. You have imagined a different childhood for your kids, one where they feel able to grow into exactly who they are rather than squeezed into a box, one where their energy and creativity has full expression, where their rights and dignity are upheld, but you have just a few questions and concerns to work through before saying a full YES to that childhood!

This pop up community of fellow travellers will give you chance to ask the questions and imagine a different future for your family. This course is for parents considering Self Directed Learning at home – otherwise known as life learning or unschooling.

You can see all of the DISCO course details right here.

PS- this year I am hosting an array of online courses, real-life workshops and retreats. See what’s coming up by clicking this link.


(This photo is from the massive off grid unschooling camp we held on our farm last week! Such an incredibly magical time.)

wool carpet

Carpet diem

18 December, 2019

When we decorated our London home we tried to buy everything second hand. We would spend weekends looking around thrift stores, junk shops and even street corners! We picked up our beautiful vintage oven, a massive sofa and even a palm tree (that was stuck in a wheelie bin!)  from various corners of South London! In fact, since coming to New Zealand, these weekends trawling around looking for cool old shizzle have waned to nothing. For one, we have no space to put cool old stuff, but for two people don’t put their junk on the streets! What??! I know! Tidy kiwis they call themselves. Disappointing, I call it! Ha.

These days we have to make do with spending our weekends gardening and being wholesome, rather than ransacking dead people’s belongings.

Anyway, our house was a masterpiece! It was featured a few times in magazines.

One of the things we didn’t get second hand was the wool carpets we put through our upstairs. Below we restored the old floor boards (Tim may have forever damaged his knee sanding them, but it was worth it!) because down there is where we are eating and crafting and generally being messy. Upstairs, you know, less messy, right?

So we felt we could put carpet down. We agnosied for aaaaages over the decision! It was unbelievably hard! We really wanted to get the best, most sustainable thing. In the end we got pure wool, because of how it is a renewable resource, rather than based on fossil fuels.  And to our delight, it cleaned wonderfully!

It was such a pleasure to wake up in the winter to a warm floor beneath our feet, and we spent many happy hours rolling around on the softness with our babies.

As you know, many of us did elimination communication. Where we raised our children with the knowledge of their elimination, rather than hiding it all away in a nappy. Whilst from three months on we were catching in a potty almost all of Ramona’s potty needs, simply by responding to her cues, we did have the occasional whoopsy!

And we were stoked with how the wool was so easy to deal with and didn’t retain any smell. I’ve heard since it is naturally a scent repeller. So that was an accidental win!

When we left our London home to come to New Zealand, instead of having a garage sale – we didn’t have a garage because, yknow, #london, instead I simply put on my blog that we were having an open home. And we sold everything! We opened the doors and people came in and asked the price and just walked off with our bookcases, Doc Martens, house plants, fridge magnets.

Everything except the carpet!

habits

6 Habits Kids Learn from Us

13 December, 2019

As parents, we are responsible for most of the habits our kids develop. For this reason, we should try to teach them the best habits through the way we live our own life as happy and curious people! If acquired early, these patterns will be part of your child’s character and will affect their adult lives. Here are 6 of the best habits you can teach your kids through being a curious person:

Can you Make Your Kid Learn a New Language? Or is it best just to learn it yourself and model it?

With a second language, your child will be able to communicate with a greater percentage of the world’s population. Learning languages has been noted to improve test scores in core subjects and generally helps to improve brain functions. You should note that some folks think kids can learn languages faster when they are young, so you should not wait until they grow older. Nowadays, learning a foreign language is easier than ever and can be done online and through apps such as Babble, to give you an idea. Contrary to popular opinion, teaching kids two languages at the same time will not confuse them.

Familiarize Your Kids with Recycling

The best time to teach kids about recycling and sustainability is when they are young. This way, the habits will be ingrained in their character. When teaching them about recycling, you should make sure you create recycling systems at home. This is because children typically learn the habits they see at home. In addition, you should teach them about energy use, composting, and other sustainable habits. You should also make a point of using environmentally-friendly products at home.

Show them the beauty of nature

Kids build their imagination by playing outside, so you should encourage them to explore the outdoors. You can even help them with unstructured activities like building forts, pretending to be pirates, and hunting. If there is a nice park near you, consider taking your kids on a regular basis. Hiking is also a great activity in which the whole family can participate. Showing your kids the beauty of nature will help them become calmer and will heighten their observation skills.

Teach them body positivity

Teach your children to always celebrate their bodies. This way, they will grow up to be confident and happy, and that will open them up to many opportunities. People who love their bodies generally enjoy a higher quality of life, so make sure your kids understand that they are beautiful and perfect. You should try to use inclusive language around the house as that will boost their self-confidence.

Teach them to be free with their creativity

Give your child ample time to draw and paint and create. Don’t ever judge them for what they make. Like all the others, this is something you have to model yourself. Deal with the voice in your head that says you aren’t artistic and let your own, unique craftiness flow!

Teach them empathy by being empathetic

Unlike, perhaps, some of the others in this list. Empathy doesn’t grow by practicing empathy – empathy is a neural pathway in the brain that is activated by empathy! Do if you want your kids to grow up to be empathetic, they have to receive empathy from you! Make sure you have all the support and space you need so that you can be an empathetic person. And remember, while we are talking about habits – your child is their own person, never force them to do something they don’t want to do, simply model it and invite them into it empathetically.

Raising kids may not be the easiest job, but isn’t it rewarding, beyond belief? You will rest easy when your child grows up to become a healthy, happy, and outstanding adult. I reckon you can directly impact their future positively by teaching through your own life and curiosity the six habits noted above.

kids travel

Five ways to capture your family adventures

6 December, 2019

Spending time with the family is time perfectly spent. The adventures we experience together as a family are memories that will stick with all of us forever. That’s why it’s so very important to keep track of those marvellous times. The easiest and – thanks to technology – most convenient way to do so is by taking lots and lots of pictures. For many, the journey ends here. The pictures of holidays, trips, and special moments are stuck forever on your phone or camera, if you’re lucky and they aren’t lost in time. Others know that photos have the potential to bring joy for years to come and make sure they realise it. These are five ways to capture your family adventures and share them with your loved ones: 

1. Photo books The absolute classic among the memory preservation techniques out there is the photo book. Some families fill book shelves with tales of adventures, years full of love and joy, and little tokens of appreciation. All that is possible with photo books. The most popular options are yearbooks and holiday photo books. Depending on the quantity of photos at your disposal, the decision should be easy to make. Make sure you don’t spend more than you have to, though: There are always good deals around that will save you some money on your project. 

2. Wall decorations Photo wall decorations have become more and more popular in the last few years. Mass-produced decorations from the store have become too mundane to really make an impression in your home. With a family photo on a canvas, acrylic glass, or a metal plate, your living space really becomes homely. Plus, you can always dive right back into the most wonderful memories, without having to pick up your phone, laptop, or camera. 

3. Greeting cards It may not sound like much, but greeting cards have the ability to really knock someone’s socks off. The most obvious way would be to use your photos to send holiday greetings from near or far to friends and family. But greeting cards aren’t only made for sharing. They can make for fantastic decorations of coffee tables and sideboards as well as walls and refrigerators. In some places, you can even design photo postcards online and send them to the recipients directly from the beach – talk about convenience! 

This is where things get really interesting. There are lots of ingenious ways of turning photos into unique and amazing gifts and useful or fun items. From the traditional photo mug to puzzles, socks and Christmas ornaments, the choices are practically endless. So whether it’s a gift or a nifty piece of decoration you’re looking for, your photos can become a part of it and make the item special. 

5. DIY
At the end of the day, nothing is more personal than handmade objects. To decorate, give away, or simply enjoy, making something with your very own hands makes anything so much more special. Essentially, you can treat your photos as regular pieces of paper and start the creative process. Handmade collages, garlands, or even a world map can be upgraded to an entirely new level of personal with your photos. The only limit is your imagination – and perhaps creative input from the Internet. 

4. Photo gifts & objects 
At the end of the day, there are many fantastic ways to turn family adventures into everlasting memories you can look at and remember at any time and share with your friends and family. The most important aspect of these items – be it a photo book, a card, or a pillow case – is your family photo and the joy you take from them. 

Attachment parenting is the antidote to societal violence
writing

All the changes! (And your invitation to kinship)

4 November, 2019

My dear friends and blog readers!

Some of you will have seen that I recently finished my Lulastic Youtube channel. In the month since that intense decision I have:

Finished one course (which was an overwhelmingly mutually fufilling thing. Gosh. I just loved facilitating this and people got an enormous amount out of it) AND launched my next course. This one is called NEST and is about nurturing an earth-centred spirituality. It’s for all types of people, faiths, upbringings. Anyone who has the sense that their full aliveness rests in the arms of nature (it does!) and is wondering how to go about activating this kinship. Together we uncover a great wealth of treasure in a super practical and creative way. There are a few more days to register (you can join in from ANY time zone) in time for our launch on Sunday. Click here for more on that.

Filmed a documentary with a large film crew for a very popular show. It was an incredible, exhausting and intriguing week. We are curious, a bit nervous and excited to see how it turns out!

Been to Aotea (Great Barrier Island) for a huge adventure with our unschooling friends, where I also delivered a Parent Allies workshop with their Family Support Centre. I *love* delivering these workshops and hope to turn it into an online offering soon. We were stranded for a while, because the waves were so big we couldn’t boat home. But that gave us more time to befriend a wild pig (who became a pet that came back to the mainland with us) and have more campfires on the beach and even a very, very, very off-grid Halloween.

Shut down three climate criminals (momentarily) as part of the Extinction Rebellion Week of Action. We were in Wellington for five days for an incredibly life-affirming time with other earth lovers.

Began work on the family camps we are hosting here on our farm over summer. We have an unschooling one AND one for EVERYONE. It’s called Wild Kin and if you are here in Aotearoa, we would love to see you here! Click here for more on that.

I’ve been enjoying connecting with other people in the space of healing and women and stuff – including connecting in more with Red School and their offerings. They are still recruiting people for their Menopause course where they are guiding women through this intense Rite of Passage, lighting the way for menopause to be a time of power and wisdom, rather than the negative life transition it is usually seen as. Click here for more on that.

And I have been doing lots of dreaming about WHERE NEXT. It might be another Youtube channel, or a podcast… but whatever it is I want it to be a whole hearted expression.

I wanted to check in with you all as it’s been a while! And I think there is a little chance I might begin posting on this blog more often as I have SO MANY THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I WANT TO SHARE. Ha.

Love you all, love your support, love how we are together, in all these different pockets of the world, bringing more life and beauty to this place.

PS – I am always thrilled to bits to receive the financial support of people coming into my Patreon community. I continue to do livestreams and weekly updates for my Patreons. So if this is something you can do, I would be delighted! But of course, I know so many of you support me in other ways in which I am utterly grateful for too. Click here for my Patreon.

Parenting, unschooling

Cool news for Juno! Home Education Application Exemption (for a six year old unschooling)

11 June, 2019

Hi friends!

We received a cool email today letting us know that our home education exemption for Juno has been approved. You might remember that here in NZ you have to fill in a form in order to be exempt from school. It looks like this is a path the UK is close to embarking on too.

I shared Ramona’s application right here. And I wanted to share Juno’s as it is both a good example of an unschooling exemption (for those who want to be totally up front about the style of learning they have at home) but also does put a bit of flesh on the unschooling bones for those who really don’t get it! The bits in bold are the questions they ask.

Tim wrote this one even though it maybe made more sense for me to do it ‘cos I’ve already done one, but, you know, we are committed to absolutely sharing this parenting and home education gig.

Unschooling home education exemption nz

Section 2 As well as:
A) Help us to understand your home education philosophy/approach, and how you will meet the requirement to teach at least as well as a registered school.

Lucy and I are strong believers in the innate ability of our children to learn. We have watched them both develop in their physical movement from a young age. We have witnessed them motivated by their own curiosity develop a deepening understanding of themselves and the world around them. Our educational philosophy seeks to support and help to replicate this in their further learning and development of understanding. We seek to support Juno’s learning urges, asking appropriate questions to fuel her appetite for understanding. We deliberately follow up these learning urges, travelling to geographical places and accessing relevant resources in order for Juno to have the chance to learn in this way.

As Juno embarks on these learning journeys we encourage her to process these new ideas through discussion with us and others, craft, experimentation in expressing the learning through creative mediums, and recording her learning pictorially and when she is able, through literacy, and numeracy.

Creative arts, social interaction, literacy and numeracy in this context are forms of expression of the learning that is going on inside Juno.

The physical environments of Juno’s learning are wide ranging, whether this be in Te Papa, our farm, at the beach, bush, community organisations or far flung places. We endeavour to make these contexts as limitless as we can. This allows Juno to interact with a wide range of places, cultures and learning facilities.

Juno does not have special educational needs that need catering for.

B) What resources do you intend to use and are you delegating any teaching responsibility?

Library and bookshelf: Juno loves exploring the libraries in Paeroa, Waihi and Ngatea. When we travel to other places she loves to visit the libraries there to read books with us and explore the children’s areas. We encourage Juno to find books that are of interest to her, and read them with her at our home.

iPad and laptop: Juno enjoys ipad games especially the series of Toca Boca games which have been specifically created to enhance a child’s creative development. She loves building homes and facilitating the interaction of her characters in these games.

Friends and family members: Juno had developed close relationships with a handful of other significant others who she feels comfortable with. She enjoys going on trips with these people, exploring places and embarking on creative projects with them, such as clay work with the local potter and trips into the city with her grandmother.

Craft box: Juno loves to explore new places, but enjoys the comfort and familiarity of home where she can happily craft away. We have three huge craft boxes filled with beads and threads for bracelet making, wool for finger knitting. Paints, colours, paper. Felt, scissors, glue. A whole load of interesting craft materials left over from experiments and projects.

Local homeschool community: Juno is becoming increasingly interested in learning opportunities presented through the homeschool community in Tauranga. She currently attends a Kapa Haka group there and a Circus performing workshop. We see this an increasingly important element as she feels more comfortable with the children attending and adults facilitating. Juno loves to make cards and already has a clear hand writing to copy out long notes to her friends.

The natural world and tools to explore it: We are right next door to Conservation Land, with a river. We have kayaks and life jackets which Juno loves to use single handedly. She has a pocket knife and loves to whittle some of the beautiful wood we find. She has rope and tools and together we might set a trap or build a new swing.

C) What are your educational goals for the next 12 months of your child’s home education and how will you know if you’ve met them?

Juno is a naturally curious person. She loves to work out carefully how to do something. Often these activities are extremely complex and take patience, resolve and commitment. We want to honour that element of her personality, helping to facilitate these learning experiences, but not pushing her into them. While she feels motivated to learn new things, take on new challenges, make sense of new contexts we will feel that she is progressing healthily. Juno likes to take on something new and master it. We delight in seeing her in this context and encourage her to work in this way.

Juno takes time to warm to people, but when she does she develops deep and real relationships. We work closely with Juno to help her feel comfortable in new contexts, deliberately making ourselves available to her if she feels that she needs support in order for her to feel safe and comfortable. As she settles into a new context we slowly and subtly give her space to practice independence. As long as Juno is growing in her social confidence we will feel that we are judging our involvement correctly.

Juno loves to develop new expressions of creativity. She adores drawing the most intricate patterns and pictures. Juno loves weaving, cutting, painting, building, creating cups out of clay, writing her name and messages to friends, and experimenting with numbers. As long as Juno is enjoying these creative expressions and involving herself in them we will feel as if we are offering her the correct amount of learning opportunities through creative expression.

D) What is your vision, and what are your goals for your child’s long term educational achievement?

Our vision for Juno is to be a internally motivated and self directed joyful learner. She is that already, and our ultimate goal is to propagate that and not puncture it through other’s expectations. We want Juno to love the learning she does, to feel comfortable within the context of that learning. We want her to follow her passions, curiosities and capabilities. We want her to feel empowered to follow whatever learning pathways she needs to in order for her to become the person she is discovering she is.

We want her to feel confident interacting with a wide variety of people, across a wide variety of cultural contexts. To bloom into the limitless learning opportunities the world has to offer, knowing that something new is not something to be feared or threatened by, but rather an opportunity that may present itself.

We want to see Juno relishing being able to express herself and be understood by those around her. To project her understanding powerfully, confidently and accurately, through the arts, literacy and numeracy.

If she wants to go to a tertiary institute, we want her to know that that is a possibility. Equally if she discovers the need to initiate her own creative dance troupe, or likewise, we want her to know that she has the tools and efficacy to do that.

E) Give a detailed description of a special project or topic plan you will do, or describe one you have done in the past.

Juno has developed over the last month a love of weaving friendship bracelets. She is amazingly good at the intricate movement and patterns required to make a beautiful bracelet. Already she has made and given away eight friendship bracelets, representing hours of important motor skills work (and also critical for reading readiness.) Juno has said that she knows what she wants to do when she grows up now: sell friendship bracelets.

Throughout the year we regularly attend life learning camps. One camp particularly offers the kids a chance to sell their creations or offerings in a marketplace. Juno really wants to build up a collection of friendship bracelets to sell at this camp in October. Already she is researching the different price structures that she may employ in the selling of these friendship bracelets by asking friends and family members what they would be willing to pay. This has also lead to an increased interest as we move around the supermarket and op shops noticing prices and discuss value of each item, through this she is gathering basic numeracy skill as well as an understanding of money, cents in the dollar.

Juno will need to source reasonably priced thread to make this price structure work for her, and within the budget of her weekly allowance. We will support her to do this through finding a thread supply online or in local secondhand shops. Juno will need to develop processes that allow her to meet the production levels required of her marketplace stall. Juno will also need to make sure that her product design is desirable to her client base which will through our regular excursions and visits to friends. And when we get closer to October we will support Juno to design her own market stall and packaging, including sign writing and artwork.

SECTION 3 “As regularly as”

A typical week:
Monday: Morning trip down to Tauranga, beginning with Kapa Haka, followed by a meet up with other homeschooling and life learning children at a local park. Spend the afternoon at one of her friend’s house either playing outside or crafting inside. After dinner Juno attends a circus performing class. Drive back home after club.

Tuesday: Crafts morning after breakfast and some Netflix, followed by outside play at our farm. Often Juno will be involved in a project such as gardening – at the moment she is growing a giant pumpkin for a Giant Pumpkin Competition at a local farm. We might make a tree house or construct a waterslide, or more simply go on a bush walk beside the river collecting fascinating rocks, insects and minerals. In the afternoon we will go to studio of a local potter for a few hours and Juno will make some crockery. In the evening Juno helps to cook dinner, regularly chopping all the vegetables.

Wednesday: A bunch of other families turn up at our farm to play and explore together. Juno will often spend a lot of time with one particular friend making things, drawing, making greeting cards, bouncing on the trampoline and playing games. In the afternoon Juno will help me tidy up if she doesn’t end up going off to a friend’s house for the afternoon.

Thursday: Netflix in the morning punctuated with breakfast. If the weather is nice we will head out to a new place to explore. Juno loves exploring the seashore, the intertidal rockpools and deposits at the high tide mark. Often a friend will come along on the trip. more often than not we will discover something that we have never seen before, carrying on the investigation at home later. If the weather is not so nice we will often go to a local library, art gallery or museum. After lunch while we are out it makes sense to visit the op shops and if not before, the library before closing time. Juno loves finding good books and treasures that she can take home and enjoy.

Friday: Today after breakfast we will get crafting together. Out will come the sewing machine, cuttings of various fabrics that we have picked up from around the place, cardboard boxes, glue, paint, flour, food colouring, scissors pens and paper to draw on or fold. Juno has mastered origami shown to her by a family friend, she often settles into folding foxes and roses. If the time is right Juno will spend hours working with intricate designs and patterns. After lunch we might break things up with a play outside or swim. Juno will store her creations in her treasure cupboard.

In the afternoon with a bit of support Juno may bake a cake to share for afternoon tea. These are often very creative and reasonably edible. We trust that over the coming years her enjoyment of cooking will create the perfect environment for learning some of the more complex maths skills such as division and multiplication as she creates and develops recipes. Often on Friday we will finish the day enjoying a family movie together before bed.

Saturday: Another day to explore, this time perhaps with her school attending cousins. She will spend lots of the trip chatting away with them about what they have been up to at school while sharing some of the things that she has been doing not in school. The trip may involve an excursion to a waterfall that someone has heard about or a trip to the hot pools for a soak.

Sunday: At home day today, often people will come to visit. We swim together in the river play in the bush, go rock or insect collecting and then make hamburgers together on the fire before watching the sun go down and first stars appear.

Juno might spend some time finding new music on Spotify, an interest inspired by her big sister’s love of music. They cultivate a growing playlist of a wide variety of music, often asking members of our community for song suggestions and then coming home and looking them up – typing into the search bar the letters as we spell it out.

Throughout each day we are all involved in deep conversations ranging from the activities we are doing to the complex science behind life on earth. We estimate that between activities and one to one conversations Juno is involved in around 8 -12 hours of active learning everyday, including weekends.

~

After we sent this through they responded with two follow up questions:

Education goals – 12 months

You have really good broad goals thank you. You’ve also given me a picture of what Juno likes and is interested in.

In line with your approach I’m now interested to know in terms of the ‘learning area’s’ what Juno can do (skills) /or knows (knowledge) and what her next learning steps might be?

Alternatively, you could give me one or two specific education learning goals for English, Math, Science, Social Sciences i.e. the skills and/or knowledge you’d expect her to have within the next 12 months

Resources

Thank you for the list you have supplied.

As you start your home education journey with Juno, I need to know some more reference materials (named texts/internet websites) that will assist you with her individual learning progression at the level of learning she’s currently at or moving toward.

It will also be helpful for you to tell me a little about the resource and how you intend to use it.

We replied with:

English
To continue to love stories and books. To continue to explore the sounds of letters and consider the sounds different letters make when they are put together.
It would not surprise us at all if Juno is reading basic stories in a few months, such as her enthusiasm for letters, but making that a goal would go against our desire to let Juno progress at her own pace.

Maths

Juno loves and is working hard with counting and adding. We will continue to support her in adding and giving her sums to put together. We have already seen Juno embracing games books containing maths challenges. We will continue to give opportunity for her to feel challenged in this area by moving on to adding double digits when she is ready.

Science

Juno loves to experiment with the different way craft materials can work together to form something else. So she will mix paint with dishwashing liquid and try and blow bubbles and discover the paint is too heavy, but it actually looks quite good when you push paper into it. Our goal is to continue to support Juno’s enthusiastic fascination with experiments and help her make links when appropriate and welcome.

Social Science
We have just spent some time with Juno’s Great Grandad who jumped out of a place as a paratrooper on D-Day and is about to do it again! As a result she has discovered much about World War 2 rooted in her own curiosity. We will continue to help her make links between things happening in every day life and the historical context for it.

Resources

Reference Material:

We have a large bookshelf filled with reference material the girls can access at any time including:
Every Child’s Answer Book
Family Guide to Nature
Reptiles at your Finger tips
How It Works
Human Body Encyclopaedia
Native Birds of New Zealand
Native Trees of New Zealand

But more importantly we visit the library weekly to access reference material in any topic.

Both girls receive Junior National Geographic which is an incredible resource for learning about the natural world and often has games and challenges to interact with. We read them from cover to cover.

We don’t tend to spend an enormous amount of time on screens just now as both girls are big into exploring the outdoor world. However Juno’s favourite apps include:
He aha tēnei – a child friendly app for learning te reo Māori basics
Wordscapes – a word game app that Juno loves to play with
Garage Band – collecting sounds and making music tracks with them
Spotify – Juno has her own playlist and loves to explore new music and curate them
Netflix – we often watch cooking and nature documentaries together, such a good resource.

As she gets older we look forward to introducing her to the many websites that are available to her as a learning resource.

home education new zealand unschooling exemption
~

And today it got approved! Hurray!

Picture here is the shopping list Juno wrote today – just teaching herself how to write in exactly the same way she taught herself to walk and talk, totally self motivated and self directed.

Stay radical x x x