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Hamilton Carter
Physics grad student, traveler, and a dad
Physics grad student, traveler, and a dad


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First Day of CSFirst Camp
While I was out of town for work, the gang—7 y.o. No. One, 5 y.o. No. Two, and 3 y.o. No. Three—continued their CSFirst work with my partner. Google cleverly refers to CSFirst as a club. No. One took it a step further and decided the club was in fact a camp, you know, like summer camp. One decided that as a camp they of course needed a banner, and went to work.

I heard during the day that the gang had worked together to set up One’s sandbox—the web app where CSFirst students do their programming work. I also heard that they were pair-programming; I’m a huge fan of pair-programming, so I was excited to get home last night to find out how everything went.

NOTE: For those who aren’t into programming in general, or agile programming methodologies in particular, pair-programming is the practice of two programmers sitting down at one screen to work on a piece of code. As one programmer types, the other checks their work. They both discuss ideas for the piece of code they’re working on as they go. Occasionally the keyboard and mouse are handed back and forth as the programmers switch roles. This results in two people that know every piece of programming code as well as code that’s already undergone its first perfunctory quality check

Upon my arrival, One was the only kid awake. She met me with a huge grin, and proceeded to fill me in on the day’s programming work. As I’d heard, they’d setup her sandbox. One said they’d programmed using ‘tablets’. Some tablets like the purple-ish, pink ones let you type in numbers to say how many beats a sound should last. Other boxes like the purple ones let you type in numbers, or a “liiitttle bit of text”. Using orange repeat boxes, you could repeat tablets by putting them inside the repeat box, and filling in the number of repeats you wanted. She said they’d used percents as well. When I asked about pair-programming, One explained that when she used the mouse, Two told her what to try, and when Two had used the mouse, she had told him what to try. (Not a bad first go at pair-programming). They’d learned what sprites were, (characters--a cat in this case--they could animate by programming), and then programmed them to do different things, and make a variety of sounds using the tablets they dragged with the mouse. One was grinning from ear to ear and wiggling around with glee as she reported all of this.

All-in-all, the first day was a huge success. The gang learned about procedural programming, and got their first taste of subroutines and for loops. They also reinforced the math they’ve been picking up including practice with percentages. Most of all though, it sounds like they had a blast!
First Day of CSFirst Camp!
First Day of CSFirst Camp!
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Setting up our Unschooling Google CS First Class
The gang—7 y.o. No. 1, 5 y.o. No. 2, and 3 y.o. No. 3—and I received our materials for our CSFirst computer club from Google in the mail last week! Google had indicated it might take as many as three weeks for the materials to arrive, but I suppose since we’re only 40 miles or so from Google headquarters, the materials arrived in a few days. If you haven’t heard of CSFirst yet, it’s a program from Google to teach kids how to program.

We’re trying out the Music and Sound theme. With a group of kids, some of whom aren’t reading yet, this seemed the better choice for us. I’m hoping the outcome of the programming activities will be aural output each member of the gang can appreciate on their own. Also, one of the activities is a dance party. Everyone in the gang loves a good dance party as evidenced by the number of times we’ve watched Xanadu in the last seven years.

When it arrived last week, we dug through our box of materials. There was a flyer for building interest in the club—since the primary members were standing beside me, we didn’t bother posting it. (Note: We’re not an isolationist programming club though, so we’re working on getting more of our homeschooling buddies into the group as we go.) There were also stacks of ‘passports’ and sheets of stickers. It wasn’t immediately obvious what to do with everything, so we (I) put off further activities until this week, when there was more time to check everything out.

As I was hoping, and as you might have expected, the bulk of the material for the class is on the CSFirst web site. The material is, in some senses, very complete. There are literally scripts for each activity done by the class. As an unschooling dad, the scripts are kinda spooky to me, (e.g. ‘raise a hand (the CS First silent signal) to get member attention’), but at the same time, I can see where they’d be handy.

While the scripts are perhaps useful to find out what to say, I found them less useful in deciphering what to do. (I’m guessing that may have more to do with my reading and learning styles than anything else.) This brings us to getting kids setup to use the class. I wanted to try out the process before I launched the gang into it, and it turned out that it was good that I did. The script makes a key assumption that you, (as the teacher/facilitator), are working on an entirely different computer than the students. I wasn’t. Consequently, every time I tried accessing the link for student sign-up, I wound up back in my own account. I finally figured out what was going on by searching for the help pages for CSFirst. I have a feeling these pages are going to be key to our success here.

It turned out that to sign-in as a student, I first needed to logout as the teacher. Makes sense in retrospect. It would have made sense as well if I’d sat down at a different computer.

I mentioned our classroom—if one could use that word for our living room—style is different than that employed by most public schools, so rather than raising my hand for silence, I signed-in my first student at 6 this morning just after I heard the padding of small feet behind me and a little voice saying, “What are you doing Daddy?”

It was 3 year-old No. 3. I explained that we were going to work on a class to program computers, and asked her if she’d like to set up her account.


Three is just learning her letters, so I had to help a bit on what turned out to be a rather snazzy bit of unintentional letter practice, (remember we’re unschoolers). I helped Three read the setup screens, telling her what each word said including the words on the buttons, and asked her to click on the blue button in each step. When she had to enter the club code, I read the letters and numbers to her and then helped when she didn’t know a letter, or couldn’t find it on the keyboard. I was kinda surprised at the letters and numbers she’s already picked up. It was also cool to see her readily popping back to keys she’d already learned for characters that repeated within the club code. We read through each of the letters and numbers in Three’s new username and password together as I wrote them into her CSFirst Passport. And that’s it. That was our stopping point for the day. (Yeah, we’re not using the assigned time-table from the scripts. Blahblahblah, freedom of homeschooling, blahblahbalh etc.)

Three was delighted with the whole process! As my partner entered the living room collecting things for work, Three shouted out, “Mom! I’m a student!”

About 20 minutes later, I heard a small ruckus coming from outside the bathroom door. On my arrival back in the living room I found Two snuggled into his blanket on the couch making a sad face .

“What’s wrong buddy?”

Two huffed out, “You didn’t tell me we had to get up in the middle of the night to sign up for class! I was asleep! I would have gotten up if you’d told us!”

It turns out Three had happily announced to Two that she was all signed up. Two thought he’d missed out on the whole thing.

“Well, we can sign you up now, OK?”

Sniffling, “OK.”

“And you know where One is?”



Small grin.

And so it was that after a small kerfluffle our second member recorded his username and password (with my help), as well as his name, (with none of my help), into his passport. Oh! Two also learned a cool new trick. If you don’t happen to know all your numbers, but you do know how to count, you can enter the correct number on a form by going to ‘1’ on the keyboard, and then counting across from there to the number you need!

A bit later One emerged. I sat her down at the login screen, asked her to follow the instructions, and a few minutes later she was done. About ten minutes after that I heard, “The dance party sounds like a lot of fun!”

“How’d you know about the dance party?”

“I read my passport! All the assignments are in there!”

Reading has its perks :)

I’ll keep you posted on the rest of our adventures with CSFirst. Have you tried it? I’d love to hear about about your experiences!
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Water Slides
A few weeks ago, we went to a friend’s birthday party at a water park. After we’d gained admission to the park, five year-old No. Two was promptly nowhere to be seen.

“Have you seen Two?” I asked my partner.


So, off to look I went. Fortunately, the water park had a rather compact design. There was the splash area, a full sized pool for swimmers, and those learning to swim, and a collection of seven or so water slides, all fed by the same three story tall set of stairs and platforms. I knew Two wasn’t in the splash area because that’s where we were. As I meandered between the big pool and the slides, I caught a flash of Two’s ultra-blonde mop of hair out of the corner of my eye and way up.

In disbelief, I looked up the water slide tower to see if I had really spotted Two. I had to wait a few moments, but I caught a glimpse of him again. He was at the entrance to the slides on a platform thirty feet up in the air. He’d lined up behind the other kids and adults all by himself! As I watched, Two got to the front of the line, worked with the attendant to make his way to the slide he wanted, and headed down. After tracing out the slide he was on, I scampered around the periphery of the slide landing pads so I’d be waiting where Two was destined to land. He came flying out of the slide causing a huge splash, got himself out of the landing trough, and headed straight for me on his way to the line to go again.

“Two! That rocked!”

“It was a lot of fun! Wanna go!?”

And so, I found myself headed up to a water slide I would have skipped on my own. Two showed me the ropes, suggested a slide, and off I went. It was a blast! Even if I did spend the rest of the week with pool water dripping out of my sinuses.

I was floored with Two’s independence. Frankly, this is what I’d been hoping for all these years, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he actually exercised the independence he’s been adeptly learning.

I like to think my partner and I had something to do with Two’s great success. We’ve really only ever had one playground rule, “You can do whatever you can figure out how to do without an adults help.” We have a few additional rules about dealing with adults. First, “You never ever go with an adult other than us.” Second, “You treat adults just like you treat everyone else.” Two arrived at a place that looked like a playground to him with a few adults in charge. He did what he wanted to do and what he could pull off on his own. When he got to the adult attendants, since he’s been dealing with adults his whole life, he didn’t see it as an issue. (He told me later he’d tried to go to the even taller slides, but found out from the attendants that he wasn’t the regulation height yet, so he’d come back down on his own.) Still, I have no idea how much of all this was due to our efforts towards making the gang independent and how much of it was just Two’s personality. Either way, I’m tickled pink! The kid saw something he wanted to do, and just did it!
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The unschooling gang here gets a science lesson a week. They learn about things like electricity, magnetism, waves, the Doppler effect, and water pressure. They don’t do any homework or worksheets . The lessons are based on demonstration and play. They watch the demonstration first, and then they get to play with it, (perhaps a more stern educational type than I might call it experimenting rather than playing). There are no worksheets, no homework, and no books.

People might ask, “Can a kid really learn something without doing some type or rote homework to help them internalize it?” As with most things unschooling, we’re discovering that the repetition that might be necessary to learn happens not at a desk or at our kitchen table, but instead in the outside world where the 7, 5, and 3 y.o. gang here spend most of their time.

Take water pressure for example. The kids performed a water pressure experiment using milk jugs. They filled two jugs with water, then punctured one of the jugs near the bottom and the other near its top, (but still below the waterline). Measuring how far the water sprayed out of each hole, they could see that water pressure was created by the water itself. When more water was piled up above a point—the bottom of the milk jug for example—there was more pressure—the water shooting out hit the ground a greater distance away. That was it, the whole lesson. There was plenty of elated squealing as water went everywhere, but then we moved onto other stuff, other activities. Had they really retained the knowledge? Did they need to work out a few problems? We didn’t know, so we let it slide

Sure enough though, the world provided the opportunity. A few weeks ago, on a camping trip, the gang reinforced their knowledge about water pressure when we stumbled upon an old water tank in a forest across the bay from San Francisco.

The gang wandered over to check out the wooden tank. It was built of vertical planks held together with steel cables. My partner took the time to point out to the kids that their were more cables binding the bottom of the tank than the top. She reminded them what they’d learned about water pressure—that water stacked up on top of water built more and more pressure. She pointed out how it took more cables to keep the tank from bursting at the bottom than it did at the top Voila, scientific reinforcement in the real world! The kids didn’t have to do homework, or memorization, we all just had to enjoy ourselves. The real world provided reinforcement at no extra charge, because, that’s what the real world is happy to do for all of us.
#unschooling   #homeschooling   #parenting   #STEM  
Homework Happens Holistically
Homework Happens Holistically
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Life skill testing? Sounds like a bad idea, because, well, it is.

If you’re wondering what on Earth I’m talking about, it came up in yesterday’s post when I wondered if perhaps unschooling kids could hang out with vetted Directors of Tactical Ops, (DTOs aka nannies), while traveling with their parents on work trips. As a brief recap, I reasoned/hoped that kids could travel with their parents on business trips, hang out with local DTOs, and then explore the area with their parent over the weekend. It’s not quite what’s known as World Schooling, where families travel the world freely instead of going to school. It’s a middle ground. From the kid’s point of view: Mom or Dad are travelling, there’s stuff I could experience, I’m going with them. There were two issues though, one was vetting DTOs. The other one, the one that led me to thoughts of life-skill testing was vetting kids, in order to qualify them to wander around towns with DTOs; to answer questions like, can they handle public transit, big cities, museums, or whatever the occasion might call for?

The gang being vetted for mountain safety by the National Park Service

I asked for feedback on the support group on Facebook, and something better came out. What if instead of testing kids, we just recorded what they could/liked to do while they hung out in their own towns. How could this be supported and taken on the road? One way would be with a national association of free-range/unschooling groups: a guild of sorts.

In their own towns, unschooling kids find each other. Most towns have homeschooling groups that host playground days, museum days, campouts, and other events. What if these groups communicated to form a guild-like network? My original idea of host-city DTOs might work, but what if it were just as easy for unschooling/free-range kids to hang out for the day with other like-minded kids where they landed? I know the gang here would have a blast showing other kids around San Francisco. I’m guessing/hoping the same attitude exists across the country.

Here’s how the whole thing would look for vetting kids. Local homeschooling groups would keep records of the events they hosted, (most of them already do this through internet groups), and records of who participated, (for those that want to be vetted in other towns). These records would be aggregated by an unschooling/free-range guild. Since I’m just brainstorming here, maybe existing democratic and Sudbury schools could serve as the hubs of this guild where they exist. When kids were out and about traveling, the guild could be used as a two-way communication tool to help decide if an event would appeal to a kid. Kids and parents could find events that were appealing. Local unschooling/free-range groups could checkout what the visiting kid has done before to provide feedback to the visiting family about the event. For example, “We’re going for a three mile hike in the mountains, all downhill. It looks like you hike all the time, please do come along!

I don’t know if the plan would work, but it seems like it would be worth a try. I’ve had great luck doing similar things with organizations for adults I’ve belonged to. Typically if I call ahead, to the group’s local organizers, they can find a member willing to show me the sights if I’d like. Of course, we don’t vett each other beyond the fact that we belong to the same group.

And at the end of the day, perhaps that’s the best way to implement this idea as well. Perhaps once they’re aware of each other, free-range/unschooling families could communicate with each other to decide if their plans for the day were a good fit for other kids or not. The guild would still serve to facilitate communications, but members would work with each other to decide what would and wouldn’t fit. I like that model better actually, because in my mind it fits more precisely with what free-range is all about for me, the freedom for each family to make responsible choices that fit for them.

What do you think? Could kids traveling with their parents be welcomed by a network of like minded kids excited to show them their hometowns? Could families help each other out across the country? Is there an even better way to pull all this off? I know programs like this already exist for exchange students for example. Is there already a group that does this for other kids, and I’m just missing it?
#unschooling   #homschooling   #parenting   #travel   #education  
Free-Range and Unschooling Guilds
Free-Range and Unschooling Guilds
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I recently read about a couple who, while waiting for their table in a restaurant, were allowed to sit at the bar, but thanks to Victorian style child ‘safety’ laws, their five and seven year old kids had to stand against the back wall two feet from the bar. Kids weren’t allowed to sit at bars in that state. You know, because safety.

On our last two trips to New Mexico, we’ve had similar experiences. On our most recent trip, seven year-old No. One and I were told we couldn’t be seated at the bar even though they served food there, even though we were in a restaurant., because the state of New Mexico has deemed it Wrong. The trip before that a waitress warned us away from the high-top tables. Once again, it was for safety’s sake. On our current trip to DC, the kid vaulted onto a bar-stool, so yeah, I guess she can handle it.

Clearly I think kids should be allowed in bars. I think it builds both social and real-world skills. Bars are just one more place they will have already been before they get ready to head out on their own as grownups. Enough telling you what I think though. Let me show you.

We were in Wyoming last summer for the total eclipse of 2017. The little town we stayed in had a single little restaurant with a bar. Town was crowded because of the eclipse, so to get water refills at the restaurant, you had to go to the bar. Then 6 y.o. No. One headed over to the bar side of the establishment, bellied up, and asked for water. About a minute after she’d left, we heard folks laughing, but thought nothing of it. When she returned, the kid reported that a fellow patron asked her if she was buying the next round, to which she’d replied that she had no money because her pants had no pockets.

Just after she’d told her story, a waitress stopped by to ask us if it was OK if a gentleman at the bar bought all the kids, (4 year-old No. Two and 2 year-old No. Three were also with us), a round of ice cream. We said of course, and to put a round of drinks for the bar on us, (it was a small bar). A great time was had by all.

It would have been a bummer if the kid wasn’t allowed at the bar.
#unschooling   #parenting   #homeschooling   #freerangekids  
Kids in Bars
Kids in Bars
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Reading along with the free range kid movement, I frequently see question about how to teach kids to be independent. Here’s what we’ve done in broad strokes: (for links to more on all of the below, just click into the post)

We included the gang here in as much of our day to day lives as we possibly can. One of the best ways to learn anything is to watch someone else doing it.
We respect their autonomy, even with eating, even with their personal space, even when they were little.
We taught the gang how to move autonomously with us, walking when we walk, running when we run. Our trips were slowed a bit as each kid came up to speed, but now they’re responsible for getting themselves places, not us
We taught them to follow directions from afar. Part of independence is responsibility. We taught the gang to listen to our instructions… even if they’re a block away.
We taught them not to be afraid of strangers. It’s hard to be independent if you see danger lurking around every corner.

Practice makes Perfect
A big chunk of being independent is practicing independence. The gang is almost always out and about either with us, or with a nanny. In either case, they’re watching someone be independent out in the world, as well as being encouraged to be independent themselves. As we wander about talking to people, introducing the kids to everyone we meet, they learn other people are no big deal. They learn to interact. They get to practice being independent where they’ll ultimately put their skills to use, the real world

The kids controlled their own food from very early on. As infants, they were breastfed, but as they developed interest in our food, they were allowed to have as much as they wanted. They tried whatever they liked, and had more of what they really liked. We never had baby food, the gang just ate more and more of our food until they got a plate of their own—a seat at the table so to speak.

Walking autonomously
The kids are responsible for getting places on their own. We never once used a stroller. We don’t own one. As soon as they could walk, each kid was down on the ground walking along with everyone else. It meant our trips took a little longer at first, in the end though, we make it through a crowded town easily as a group of autonomous individuals who can all hold their own.

Following directions
When we’re headed somewhere specific even though we move independently, we still all have to travel as a group. Sometimes I need to reel the gang back in, you know, for safety. For both things, the kids and I worked on following directions—literal directions like ‘hard left’, ‘U-turn’, and ‘stop’—from afar. We started working on this in grocery stores because they were nice contained spaces we happened to be in anyway. Ultimately, we took our game to the streets, er sidewalks.

Not fearing strangers
Another part of independence is feeling safe in your environment. We’ve tried to never instill fear of the outside world in the kids. Strangers are people we haven’t met yet, that’s all. The kids are around a wide variety of people every day. They’re used to it, and not afraid of it.

That sums it up. There are a lot of everyday independence builders I’ve left out, but this covers the basics. I really believe that for kids to be independent, they have to allowed and encouraged to be independent in every aspect of their lives—that’s been the easiest path for us. The gang here doesn’t consider being independent as novel or new, it’s a part of their everyday lives, and always has been.

#freerangekids   #independence   #parenting   #unschooling   #homeschooling  
Learning Independence
Learning Independence
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Tonight, a few brief notes on what unschooling isn’t. I don’t mean to be bit unctuous, but here goes anyway. I see—a lot—that unschooling kids never learn anything what with all the sitting around doing nothing, and eating candy all the time. I believe these statements are mostly in reaction to ‘radical’ unschoolers who say things like, “The kids eat whatever they want, and pursue their own interests.”

These sorts of statements are true, but not necessarily in the way they’re taken. Yup, some unschoolers eat whatever they want. Why, oh why, would that be candy though? First, you have to ask yourself, where’d they get this candy? If there’s no candy in the house, they’d have to go outside to get it, and that contradicts the other ‘unschooling premise’, ‘they do nothing all the time.’

Let me break it down simply. Unschoolers don’t sit around and eat candy all day for two reasons. The first reason is that an emotionally healthy person allowed to make their own decisions won’t eat candy all the time because it doesn’t feel good, whether your a kid or an adult. Go ahead, eat candy all day for a day, see how you feel the next day. It won’t be great. The second reason they don’t eat candy all the time when told they ‘can eat whatever they’d like,’ is because there’s very probably no candy in the house.

Unless an unschooling kid happens to be cooking for themselves, they live with the same limitations of family dining as everyone else, food is prepared, food is presented. ‘They can eat whatever they want,’ means—more precisely—‘You can eat the food or not. There it is.’

OK, so I’ve addressed candy eating—at least to my satisfaction. Let’s hit the ‘doing nothing’ assertion. Again, it’s easy to see how this statement comes from the things us unschooling parents say, things like, “The kids learn what they want when they’re interested.” This should not, however, translate in any way to “They sit around and do nothing.”

Again, I’ll point out some context. It seems very unlikely to me that any well-regulated human, allowed to be in control of their lives would sit around doing nothing for long. They’ll do things that interest them. So, assuming ‘unschooling kids control their learning environment’ means ‘unschooling kids do nothing’ perhaps says more about the people who make the assumption than it does about the typical unschooling kid.

Even leaving self-directed learning out of the mix, do most unschooling kids really have the opportunity to do nothing? The simple answer is no. Unschooling parents constantly find new opportunities to expose the kids in their charge to things that they might develop an interest in. Is it teaching in the public school sense of the word? No. Is it doing nothing? Not by a long stretch.

So, if you happen to see ribald assertions about unschooling that don’t seem to make sense, ask yourself a few questions. First: Is the lifestyle described something that could be reasonably attributed to a healthy person in charge of their own life? Second: “Is the person making the assertion assuming they’re talking about a catered to, spoiled kid, or are they assuming they’re talking about a person living a rational life with all of a rational life’s usual limitations?

Unschooling kids live in the same world as every adult in their community. If you’re looking for the kids that are catered to, perhaps the public school system would be a better place to start.

#unschooling   #homeschooling   #parenting  
What Unschooling Isn't
What Unschooling Isn't
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We had another first this Saturday, all three of the kids here—7 y.o. No. One, 5 y.o. No. Two, and 3 y.o. No. Three—got up at 4:30 in time to head out to the Farmers’ Market! Three has made the early morning trip once before, but One and Two had busy weeks that time, and so stayed home. This is the first time the whole gang has trekked across town with me to the market. It was a blast!

We head out early because the market is too crowded later in the day. This isn’t really a problem for us so much as it is for those around us. When Two was three years-old, he was jostled by passers-by on his first trip. I taught him how to throw elbows, and the problem was solved. Sort of. On our next trip on our local subway Two applied his new skills to a different situation, elbowing his way off the train, causing a few “Ohs,” and “Eeps,” as he went. So, now we go early. We beat the crowd, and get first dibs on the really good stuff.

Three was immediately a valuable addition to our expedition. This being only her second time to come along, she was excited to be there. She fairly ran down our hill, (it’s an 8/10s of a mile walk to the bust stop that early in the morning). Her momentum kept One and Two moving along nicely.

On the first block, Three—who excels at navigation and spotting—noticed a skunk about a block in front of us. A few blocks later, we stopped in the chili, foggy San Francisco air to marvel at a house whose Christmas lights are perpetually on. I forgot to get cash the night before, so the gang and I stopped at an ATM down on Mission. Three retrieved the card from the machine, Two retrieved the cash.

Everyone said hi to our bus driver who took us over the hill between our house and the Farmers’ Market. With the hard part of the trip in the bag, we set out to walk the last half mile or so where buses don’t tread. Two pointed out the spot he and I saw a car take out a light pole two years ago on one of our solo trips to the market—I’m always amazed at how much the gang remembers. We all held hands making the last two, busiest street crossings, and we were there!

That’s when the true adventure for the kids started. It was an adventure for them, for me it was a pleasure to get to see them practice their independence and socialization skills. They ranged out to explore the market while I made the first few purchases.

The gang is responsible for buying the flowers and bread at the market without me. They are friends with the vendors, and have made friends with the other flower customers all by themselves. Three went with them because, well, why wouldn’t she? In her mind it made perfect sense, so it made sense to me too.

To get to the flowers, they have to cross a one lane road that divides the Farmers’ Market in two. I asked Three to follow One’s instructions. She agreed, and off they went. Since I was right there, I was able to reiterate to Two and Three that they should stick with One; they’ve been peeling off on their own more lately, soon that’ll be fine, but they don’t quite have One’s focus yet. Two and Three made the correction, and they all crossed the street safely and stylishly. They made the crossing back with the flowers all on their own.

To me, this is socialization. The gang is learning to socialize, not in a school, but in society. They’re learning how to interact not only with other kids—there are a lot of homeschooling kids in San Francisco—but with all sorts of adults as well. They’re learning how to make friends out in the wide, wide world. They’re learning how to negotiate spaces that have cars. They’re also learning how to make an evenironment their own as they explore the market without me.

#unschooling   #homeschooling   #parenting  
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7 year-old No. One and I were eating dinner after I picked her up from art camp. I’d been out of town on travel for the week, so we were catching up. One filled me in on all of her art projects, then took a moment to quaff a little food—if you’ve ever eaten with a 7 year-old experiencing growth spurts, you know that quaff is in fact the correct word there.

As One chewed I said, “So, I got caught jaywalking by the police this week.” One and I frequently jaywalk, and I’ve mentioned before that it’s actually against the law.

Her eyes lit up. “Really!?”


“What Happened?”

“Well, I was standing on the island in the middle of the road watching for cars like one does when they jaywalk when I heard a voice saying, ‘Why are you crossing the street like that?’ I looked behind me, and three cars back there was a cop on a motorcycle.”

“What’d you do?”

“I shrugged ‘I don’t know’ at him.”

“Then what happened?”

“He said ‘Come here!’” so I went back to talk to him, and he was all like, ‘Raarr Rar Raaoarrr.’”

“Hehehehe, then I be he went, ‘Raardy Raar RAAR raar.’

“Yup,” I replied. “Then, it occurred to me that he was yelling at me for being in the middle of the street, but he was keeping me in the middle of the street to yell at me. I’d have already been gone by the time he was done yelling at me.”

“Wait! You mean he wanted you to get out of the middle of the street but he kept you in the middle of the street to yell at you? Is that a good idea? Of course not!”

(One has become a big fan of reflective yet rhetorical questions lately.)

“Did you know that GrandDaddy got caught for jaywalking once by a policeman on a bicycle?”

“A policeman on a bicycle!?”


“Why would a policeman have a bicycle?

“I don’t know, but he told GrandDaddy he was going to give him a ticket.”

“What happened then?”

“GrandDaddy said, ‘No you’re not, because you’ll have to catch me first,’ and then he ran off!”

“Ohhh, that’s a good plan!”

And so we discussed how one might escape how one might escape a bicycle cop, but that’s a story for another time.

The gang and I have the best conversations with each other. We have time to talk, to reflect on our day, to tell stories, to listen to stories from the past. We have time because we don’t have a set schedule—at least not one set up by other people. Unschooling affords us the time to collect our thoughts, to retell old family legends, and to tell the new ones that happened this week.
#unschooling   #homeschoolign   #parenting   #jaywalking  
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