Tuesday, June 28, 2011

a realisation and a resolution

The term is winding down here… you can feel it…

with this week being the last classes for

band, art, writers workshop, violin, drums, and piano.

Today for my Tuesday writers workshop we're having a little party to celebrate another term together. Tomorrow, my son has a last performance. It's our last art class for the term on Thursday, and we wind up with homeschool writers workshop on Friday.

And then? Well, I suppose we'll keep on, being Us!

Which means my kids will keep reading, painting, drawing, making things, playing, imagining, and looking things up on the computer. They'll keep asking, How does this work? And, I want to try this! And, Look what I wrote/drew/made/remembered/played!

I realised on the weekend just how much I love watching the kids being them, living their time freely. I love not having a sense of things needing to be Done. I love just Being. So so much.

On the weekend I thought, I wish every day was a weekend.

And then I thought, Silly Helena. They can be. And they are.

After all,

in the last two days, my son has sat for hours reading the Usborne Introduction to Art
looking up Marcel Duchamp on the internet, 
drawing his Me and Him cartoons
drawing an Escher-inspired pond, 
and playing lots of music. 
Yesterday he started reading about Pointillism, and got excited. So he began painting an awesome bird, copying from our book Animal Kingdom. So cool! 

And right now, he's drawing out Pascal's triangle (whatever that is :) ) from The Number Devil, and showing me fun number patterns. 

He is completely immersed, engaged. He is in his Element.

In the last two days, my girl has made a popsicle-stick plane, 
created matchstick mini colouring pencils,
constructed a kookaburra mask, 
written another chapter of her Scorpion story, 
read Nurse Matilda
learned to ride her brother's gear bike, 

practiced Pointillism online

begun a pointillist tiger in texta, 
and gotten deeply into creating an information book on Tigers (which has included doing illustrations, looking up tiger images on the computer, printing them out, and writing interesting facts she learned from her library book Tigers—many of which I didn't know!). 

And right now? Well, she's singing to the kitten!

Which led to my son turning to me and saying, drily,

"Sanity is rapidly draining from this house."

Well, actually, I don't think so…!

It feels more like Learning is filling the house, 

in all its honey-coloured light.

It all makes me wonder… 

why do I ever worry? Why do I think, "We need to have a Plan!"?  And, "Today, we'll Learn Something! Today, we'll do this, this, this and this!" Why do I bother, when—even as I'm making my Plans—my kids are already off and running, on their own wonderful, absorbed, delighted tangents. 

At the beginning of the year, I wrote that I wanted to change the focus of my Freedom Experiment.

I wrote that I wanted the kids to go deeper into subjects, that I wanted more of a plan, and I wanted us to focus on and finish certain projects. Afterwards, and ever since, I felt as though I was saying that this type of learning was more valid than the day-to-day, delight-driven learning my kids completely love to do, and do naturally.

Afterwards, and ever since,

I realised I didn't actually agree with my blog post.

I've realised that bit-by-happy-bit learning, learning without a Plan, learning without structure, is just as valid, especially when it is the way my kids are drawn to and makes them happiest. 

I've realised that learning simply by reading (and not writing out all the information learned) is also completely valid, and is the way my kids learn best. 

In fact, I've realised I wrote that earlier post from a base of fear. Because in January, I got a letter from the government asking to see Results. So I thought I should see more Results, more evidence of learning.  And, in that moment, I couldn't see the Results already in front of me. 

It has been a long journey since. So much discovery. So many realisations! 

A good example of what I've learned, is from our Space project (once ambitiously called, Astromonday. Now, wasn't that a silly name? Because it's actually Astro-Some-Day, or perhaps Astro-Any-Day-We-Like!)

Our space unit is going along beautifully, and…entirely at its own pace. That meaning, I suggest it some days, and sometimes the kids say, Yes! So then we do another little bit. 

We've learned (and written) about the Big Bang, the birth and death of stars, galaxies, the Milky Way, and the voyage to the moon. In their journals, the kids are up to planets. After that it's black holes and then the difference between meteorites, meteors, meteoroids, and asteroids. So fascinating!

The kids love to write the information up in their journals and illustrate them. But they already have most of the information in their heads, so aren't fussed if they get to the writing part of the project or not. It's me, I have realised, who really wants the finished product, the beautiful, illustrated journal of facts. So if it's me wanting it most, I know that there's no rush to be done. That when they do it, it's when it feels right, and fun.

So that means, two terms in, our space unit isn't "done." If the kids were at school, they would have ticked this project box off long ago. But the learning wouldn't be as deep, I think. And it wouldn't be on our terms. And it wouldn't have all the lovely tangents we've been on, and it wouldn't have included all the conversations and movie watching and extra reading, and all our thoughts. It would simply be "finished."

If I ever think, Oh, we should really finish this up, I look around, and what the kids are doing instead is completely valid. It is, in fact, so completely worthy, that what isn't being done doesn't matter.

That's the thing.

Sometimes I have looked at what wasn't being done, and forgotten to see what WAS. What was happening all around me. 

And when I looked? And when I saw?

I felt so FINE. 

So, at the end of this term, I want to bear witness, to this moment. 

These realisations. This resolution.

I want to raise my glass to


To embracing the joy of  

learning naturally. 

To being truly open to how our days are.

To stepping out of the box of Shoulds 

and anything that is bound by Expectation.

To leaving the paradigm of School, far, far behind.

To forging our own journey.

To making our own path.

To breaking the future WIDE open,

and stepping into its light. 



  1. Wow Helena. Wow! How well you express in words the journey. How well you express how you are feeling and how we feel too. You are brave - going against the status quo. But you are right - learning (the way your kids do it and embrace it) doesn't have to look like "school". I hope you keep on being brave and learning and loving it and writing about it. Then we might be a bit braver too :-)

  2. Oh, I got so caught up in the wonderful words of wisdom at the end I forgot to say the maths books look fantastic and I love your kids art works! And I love the photo at the end :-)

  3. Perfect photo at the end Helena! Love the pointillism artworks. I completely agree with Ingi's comment- how well you express how you are feeling...and ME too. Please keep your words coming, I think you may articulate my thoughts/feelings better than I some days!

  4. Helena, I always love reading these kinds of posts from you...seeing the wonderful, natural learning that goes on in your house! It is inspiring! Your realizations and resolution are simply beautiful and perfect :)

    I also love the pointillism artwork.

  5. I totally understand. I know that I will find myself driven to have them "produce" work several times throughout this coming year, but I hope that I am able to step back and let them explore more, and create more. Especially my younger 2 children. My eldest seems to NEED a schedule and list of expectations, but the list actually makes my middle child cringe and hate to learn! That isn't what I was striving for by homeschooling!

  6. "why do I ever worry? Why do I think, "We need to have a Plan!"? And, "Today, we'll Learn Something! Today, we'll do this, this, this and this!" Why do I bother, when—even as I'm making my Plans—my kids are already off and running, on their own wonderful, absorbed, delighted tangents."
    Oh yes,I love this. I so relate! In fact I could have written every word of this post :)
    You have described the unschooling learning journey so beautifully.

  7. "...Sometimes I have looked at what wasn't being done, and forgotten to see what WAS..."

    Me too.

  8. Well my goodness. I swear this post just came from my own brain. I worry about what the little one is learning and thinking it all needs to be so structured. Granted, mine would probably not get as detailed as yours in some subjects, but in others, yes she would. Do you keep a loose list of things you want to cover in the year or are you unschooling? Just curious. Anyway, found your blog when you commented on mine. Glad you visited.

  9. YAY!!! LOVED this post, so positive, so joyful, so FULL. It's amazing when we allow our worried little selves to step aside and let our trusting selves step forward. Gosh I relate to you SO much. Today my son spent his day organizing, measuring, recording and labeling his fossil collection. He was so happy doing his thing. And last night I found my 6 year old daughter counting on her fingers, learning addition on her own while playing a game.
    And all the while they are happy, engaged and learning all on their own.
    It's a beautiful life. Thanks so much for sharing yours.
    And oh how I wish you did live down the street. I think our kids would get along so beautifully!!

  10. Like the others, I often find your words uplifting and inspiring. Thanks again :)

  11. Agree with Deb...I love that line. I think all of us HSing Moms do that at times. Your blog post always read like a sonnet..words flowing, moving across the page.

    Your kids are so awesome and always so involved with what they are doing. You should NEVER worry Helena! That are amazing kids. Even this far away I can see that. The Pointillism art looks like such fun! Love to see his finished art. :)

  12. Thanks for stopping by my blog and hope you come back again:) Love the art you children are doing. I just purchase the Meet the Master Art program for us to do.

  13. Your words have been SUCH an inspiration to me, Helena. And do you know, I think it was your doubtful, troubled posts that really did it? I thought: she has concerns just like me! And then through your courage and strength and belief in your kids, I found the courage and strength to let go a little. To let my 9year old use our camera and she took amazing photos! To let my nine year old finger knit if she preferred that to knitting. To let my 9 year old embark on her own History of Fashion study and to say it's ok if we don't get something done, they are LEARNING.

    Thank you, Helena, for your honesty and sharing even the dark moments, because they helped me to understand what I needed to do!

    Peace and joy to you, my friend!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.