Monday, August 22, 2011

done and doing

I think we're done with Space.

I mean,
I think we're done with our Unit, the kids' space journals,
the thing I thought would take maybe a term.

We're into term 3 and we're not "finished." As in, we haven't finished answering all the questions we came up with in the beginning.

We are this close to being Done.

But you see…

the kids are full.

They don't suggest it, and when I suggest it, they balk at doing it. I think it's become a bit of a chore for them. A thing to Get Through.

So I think it's time to stop. As unfinished as we are, I need to let it go!

And funnily enough,

even as they've lost interest in 'completing' their journals,

they're still learning about space, about the make-up of the universe,

just not recording it all. Not writing down every little leap in understanding, every bit of information, all those facts.

They're just absorbing it.

My two sponges.

My girl said (two nights ago,
just before going to sleep),

Mum, I've learned so much from reading that To The Moon and Back book!


Yeah. I'm not done, but I've really liked it. Right now I'm in a boring bit, but I think I'll read some more.

This book is about a group of Australians in the 60s, who were given the job of tracking the US Moon expeditions from a station in Australia. It sounds fascinating. It was lying on her bedside table, just underneath her latest Septimus Heap novel. Close by, ready.

She wants to watch the movie Apollo 13 now too. Because I've talked about it, and because she read about it in her book.

I didn't even know she was reading it. It was one of her library finds the other day.

Kind of magic, don't you think?

My son is done with his journal too.

He has spent 6 months reading about Space, every book we could find from the library. But according to our list of questions, he's not Finished with his journal. He still 'needs' to write about Comets, Black Holes, Dark Matter and Space Exploration. Not to mention the cool idea I had of writing about the main Astronomers in history…!

It all sounds great,

to me.

He's older than my girl, working at a Year 7+ level these days, so perhaps I should have him finish?
So he can learn to complete tasks, maybe?
Or do something when it's no longer fun?
Or to squeeze every single drop of Learning out…

'til the Most! Comprehensive! Study! of Outer Space! is Complete?

Or maybe


I should leave it be.


he should walk away and travel along
the many other, wonderful twisting paths that drive him and make him so excited.

And maybe, just maybe, one day he'll return to his journal, those pages of information and go, 'Oh! I could add more now!'

Or not.

The learning will still have happened.

So what's he been up to instead of Space Journaling?

Well, poring over The Elements book that just arrived.

Which details all the elements in the universe, with lush pictures, and fascinating information. He loves loves LOVES this book. Keeps reading parts out to me. Curls up with it on the couch. It's his companion, right now.

This morning he told me all about Chlorine, and how poisonous it is. He said people used it in World War 2 to try to kill each other. When one side tried to use it, he told me, they'd poison themselves half the time. But the little amount that goes in pools won't harm you, he said.

Ah. He talked and talked and talked.


Kind of magic, don't you think?

And what am I up to,
now I'm not asking the kids to finish their Space Journals?

I'm letting go

some more.

Of the idea that something has to be


to be valid.

That something has to be written to be learned
(even though that's, almost entirely, the way I've retained information).

Of the idea something has to have an Official End, marking the time you Officially Move On to something new.



I'm also wondering.

Why didn't I do a journal too??

If it's the idea I had
(which the kids loved for a long time),

and the way I learn

and it's about something that interests me,

I wonder why I didn't go on the journey too.

Hmmmm. It would have been SO much fun to do one. With my own art and words, my interpretations and information.

So, while I don't like to look back with regret, I realise
I missed an opportunity.

To write and record and invent and marvel, with my kids.

I was with them, but I wasn't immersed like they were. I was the observer, the facilitator, the collaborator. But I wasn't a co-creator. I wasn't a Do-er like they were. I sat with them most days, and some days we were in it together, watching a video, or talking about something amazing.

But for the most part, I was on the outside looking in.

was the right role to play.

Now, I think: This could change. I could change. Even more than I already have.

I could jump in. More.

Immerse alongside them. More.

Learn side by side by side. More and more and more!

It could be Kind of Magic

don't you think?


I'm linking up 
with Owlet today,
as always!


  1. So magic!!!

    Oh how I love this post! I'm at the same point - I try not to "make" the kids do anything I'm not doing! If we "write" I write too (I could use the practice!). I probably need to do the maths too.

    We haven't finished our rainforest unit that I wanted us/planned for us to do. But the kids aren't into it at all. They do want to learn more about chemistry and physics, and so (for the time being) I've abandoned my rainforest plans, and going with the chemical flow. It's hard to let go of the plan...

    How brave you are! And how much we can learn (it's a bit exciting, isn't it!).

  2. And on the elements, does your son know about The Periodic Table of Videos??

    My boy spent a lot of time today perusing this!

  3. You are my all time favourite unschooling writer! When you say it, it sounds gentle and organic, not harsh and dogmatic. I have a 'history' with (radical) unschoolers and when I read these posts, they help heal a lot of hurt caused by interactions on some of the RU forums.

  4. So hard to let go of "the plan! " lucky we have support on the net here!

  5. Ah, it ebbs and flows, wafts and wanes, doesn't it? My big girl was counting up all the things she is really interested in the other day... but she's not quite sure what to do with that interest. I might suggest a journal or something similar for her. Lovely idea, Helena. Especially the idea of having one yourself. I've often kept a visual diary... something I enjoy and should get back to... Thanks for the reminder. x

  6. "...that something has to be finished to be valid."

    :) Your words, as usual, inspire me. :)

  7. I love this, Helena! I am SO with you!! I have had to learn to let go of my expectations so many times...and am still working on it. I have also come to the realization that if something is important to me, then maybe *I* should be the one learning more about it, instead of suggesting that the girls should do more! We are all learning all the time, and it is a wonderful journey :)

  8. I am with everyone else. I saw a pillow today that I loved. It said, "I NEVER FINISH ANYT"

    I think you are so right, what is the point when they are no longer interested? Does true learning even take place at that point? We have so many unfinished projects over the years, but that's ok. We move on and we learn. That elements book looks great!!! Don't you love just learning right along with them? We read a book that we both loved so much. One of the characters is homeschooled. It is called, "Every Soul a Star" and it is about 3 15 year old kids watching a solar eclipse. It is a magical story that just makes you want to go ANYWHERE to see one.

  9. Thank you so much for your comments! Yes, it IS hard to let go, but also just lovely when I do. Really, if it's something that needs to be released, it's like I'm released too. I finally feel the wind and see the view, feel the air underneath. Yum.

    Funny thing is, I brought this up with the kids, just after hitting publish on the post. We were walking to the beach (as you do :) ) and I said, "So, are you guys feeling done with Space?"

    YES, said my girl emphatically.
    NO! said my boy.

    Agh! But when I probed further, he said, "Actually, I'm really interested in finishing it. I'm just not interested in DOING it."

    SO funny! :) I love, love, love our talks!

  10. Oh, and Ingi, thanks for the link! We'll be checking out those videos this morning :)

    Karen, that books sounds great. Another thing to check out!

    And Melissa, thank you. It's so hard when you've had a rough time in Forum Land. I had a bad experience, 10 years ago, with a parenting forum, when my son wasn't sleeping and I was getting unhinged. I still remember that, still find it hard.

    I prefer blogs. They feel much more real and the sense of support and connection is lovely. Like right now. :) With all the comments and beautiful people here. Like a big coffee table, all our hands wrapped round our mugs.

    Thank you all, for being at my coffee table. I am so glad you are!

  11. We have gone gung ho at several different units that went on for far too long so we stopped. I think if the kids are bored they are not going to learn so whats the point? My husband would disagree but as long as he sees them doings something he is quiet. (for a while anyway) We have not finished our Ancient Greece unit and its not that we are bored, just that I am so unorganised. Yesterday we started a History/English unit using Jackie French's Hitlers Daughter. Its been fun so far. Fiction but one of those things that leads you here and there and everywhere. A good learning day was achieved. :-) PS How are you lovely? I have been off and about so much I have missed a few of your posts. Just catching up on about 5 of my 200 in the reader. LOL Hugs xoxoxo

  12. Oh my I just have so much catching up to do here!! Serves me right after being gone a few days. Have I told you lately how lovely, amazing, and inspirational your children are?! As are you!

    We have started and stopped so many different things because of interest waning or should I say interest fulfillment. It's funny how linear our own educations have trained us to be, yet most of the stuff I remember from my own learning is never in whole linear lessons. They are bits and pieces, random, spontaneous, and most importantly--relevant to me and what I like. I have no clue what they will remember, but I do know what they love :). More importantly, so do they...

    As usual, very inspiring Helena!!

    PS. thanks for giving me the title of the poetry book!!

  13. Hmmmm. Yes. Good point. I do the art projects with them, but not the reading. Why not? I may think about this more...

  14. Oh yes, that is how we do it. Together. I am not often just an observer. I see it this way - if I value what they are interested in their passions, I do it with them! Share it.

    I don't see any difference in the doing and the finishing of things. How many times have you started a book to not finish it - and yet you came back to it some other time? How about finishing something you are knitting? Or refinishing the bathroom? As adults we start and stop all the time. Because we want to do it when we are interested, energized, and enjoy the process. When it gets slow we move on, and come back to it. And that is OK.

    And sometimes it is good just to absorb it all so when you are interested again later you have a new perspective. A deeper understanding! :)


  15. so nice to read you Helena
    finishing projects?
    oh well
    it is sure a feeling of accomplishment when something gets finished what has been a planned project ... but other things are not necessarily finished up ever ..or they exhaust their importance while thy are being handled .... and the 'Space' ? ... don't they say it's ever expanding or something like that?
    smiles to you all ... will come back and read more again ...

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