Unschooling and schooling all at once?

Never heard of that before, have you? No, me neither. But that might be the only chance we have to unschool our kids in this country. Unfortunately we have Compulsory School Attendance over here, so unschooling and any other form of Home Education is considered illegal.

I already told you a little about that.

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So what are our options? I mean realistically? Do I want to go to jail for not being willing to public school my kids? Do I want to be financially ruined? Do I want to lose custody? No, I don’t. Do I want to fight the system? Yes, I do. Am I willing to do harm to my children because I want to fight the system? No, I most definitely am not.

So here we go. There is no real solution to this, is there?

Well, maybe there is. Maybe there is something we can do without being prosecuted by the state. Maybe we just have to be really REALLY creative. Let’s see. How about looking for a school that works with an alternative curriculum? Without giving grades? Without forcing students to repeat a year if they didn’t satisfy all expectations?

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The good thing is: There are schools like this. They are still schools, so they are not what I’m dreaming of. BUT my kids could just learn as freely as possible – in this country. They don’t feel like doing their homework but do something more interesting instead? Great – since there are no grades there are no bad consequences to this and I could let them do as they like without doing harm to them. They can take almost full responsibility for their educational choices that way.

And they can learn as free as possible.

OK, I’m not going to sugar-coat this: I hate that idea. I want to unschool my kids. I want them to learn at home, in the garden, at the beach, in a local library – where ever they want. Whatever they want. When ever they want. How they want.

But that is just not going to happen…

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A Weekend in Pictures – July 23rd/24th 2016

What a turbulent time! Our weekend started with our parish priest stopping by for a cup of coffee and some home made waffles. Later on friends came over and spent the night. We had a great time talking, cooking, eating and watching the children play. Could there possibly be a better start for a great weekend?

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Other than that we basically spent the weekend packing up…

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… which was a lot of fun for the kids, but not so much for us. Every once in while we had to take a break, though…

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On Sunday after Mass we decided to eat out and to enjoy the sunshine and a little free time…

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The end of the weekend…

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How was your weekend?

 

When you’re choosing a lifestyle that is illegal – Compulsory School Attendance and Unschooling

Are you an unschooler? Or a homeschooler? And is your government fine with that? Well, lucky you! Not everyone is as lucky as you are. In a lot of countries Home Education is just not possible because of compulsory school attendance. Home Education is considered illegal. A crime. Home Educators are considered criminals.

Like us.

In our country we have compulsory school attendance and Home Educators are harshly prosecuted. You can be fined until you’re financially ruined, children can be taken away, you can loose custody and even go to jail. There is one thing you really need as a Home Educator over here: Guts.

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No, I’m not joking. This is the reality we are facing. Every. Single. Day.

How do we cope with that? Well, our kids are still very young, so they don’t need to go to school. Yet. So we can pass undetected. For now. But what about the future? I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t know. I don’t. And that’s hard.

We have several options that we can choose but none of them really seems to be the right one for us.

Give up the battle before it really began and try to fit in

Option No. 1 is Give up the battle before it really began and try to fit in. We would just go look for a school that would somehow meet our needs and give our kids away to an institution we don’t believe in. Just to fit in. Just to not get into trouble.

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Look for a great school that is need-oriented and as close to unschooling as possible

Option No. 2 is Look for a great school that is need-oriented and as close to unschooling as possible. That, however, is complicated, since there are hardly any schools like that in our country. There are schools like Sudbury schools that have a very need-oriented approach which could be almost considered as unschooling – the thing is, however, they are hardly ever permitted by the government.

Leave the country and go somewhere where you can live according to your beliefs

Option No. 3 is Leave the country and go somewhere where you can live according to your beliefs. That would definitely be a possibility because there are several neighboring countries that allow Home Education. But leaving the country still is a tough decision. You’ll leave everything behind to move to a foreign country and to an unsettled future. It could be a real adventure. It could also be a nightmare.

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Stay and just do it. No Matter what.

Option No. 4 is Stay and just do it. No matter what. Lots of people do that. Regarding the consequences you can face that is a very courageous decision to make, though.

What will we opt for? I really don’t know. For now I stick to prayer and hoping for the best. What would you do?

A Weekend in Pictures – July 9th/10th 2016

Our weekend has been quiet – well, not all the time, little kids you know… – and lazy which has been perfect for these warm summer days. We enjoyed spending time outside and at home, at the playground and in a nice little café in town.

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Since we love windy weather we were so happy about a pleasant breeze – and the sunshine of course (although we don’t mind rainy weather, that’s for sure!)

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Both our kids love playgrounds and we know quite a few which is nice because we can give a little variety to it all. The toddler loves monkey bars, swings and slides. The baby prefers a  sandbox.

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As much as we love to spend time outside there is always something that needs to be done inside the home – like laundry…

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Our kids, however, love to play at home, too. Sometimes they play together (which is so cute!)…

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… sometimes each of them plays for himself.

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The toddler turns out to be very loving and caring doll mommy which really warms my heart.

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How was your weekend?

How to start a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle as a family

First of all: What do you think about the headline? It’s quite impressive, isn’t it? And what on earth is a minimalist-zero-waste-need-oriented-unschooling-catholic lifestyle?

Well, let me explain.

Actually this kind of lifestyle is exactly what we chose for us as a family. Sometimes I feel it’s kind of unique and I think it shouldn’t be so that’s why I’m sharing our thoughts and our philosophy here. And I also share what you can do to start something similar.

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Anyhow, why would someone choose something like that after all?

Since we’re a Catholic family our faith means a lot to us and we’re eager to live a faith-based life. And that’s where you can start because actually that’s where everything started for us.

What does it mean to live a Catholic life? Obviously there is a lot of personal and family prayer, Church time, Bible reading, pondering, celebrating and getting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Being a Catholic requires you to ask for God’s will and his plan for your life. And that’s what we do – and God answers. He always does. Not always the way we want him to, though. He answers our everyday questions and he also answers the big questions. And you know what he told us?

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

~ Matthew 25:40

So where does that lead us?

It made us ponder the consumerist lifestyle that we mostly have in our Western culture. It made us think about the side effects that are created by it: Substandard labor conditions, pollution, species extinction, mountains of trash, misery.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

~ Matthew 6:24

God always called us to humility – not just for the sake of ourselves, also for the sake of others. Think of those who are sewing our clothes, think of child labor, think of God’s beautiful creation that is destroyed – by our greed basically. God doesn’t want that, that’s why he called us to humility.

Knowing that we started to refuse consumerism, we started to try to live a “zero-waste-lifestyle” – and we started to raise our kids in a need-oriented unschooling way (remember MT 25:40?).

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So what can you do to start?

Well, you want to take it one step at a time. Noah didn’t build the arch in just one day, right? You have plenty of time ahead of you so you can change the way you live. So here’s my top ten:

  1. A good starting point is to ask yourself “Do I really need this?” – because often you will honestly say “No!” Then don’t get it! You don’t need what you don’t need. Simple as that.
  2. If you do need something than there’s another helpful question to ask: “Do I need this to be new?” You can buy so  many things used and they are still good! Search for thrift stores or try to find the things you need online.
  3. Many of us own just so many things. You can go through your things and ask yourself: “Do I really use this?” If not: give it away, donate it, bring it to a thrift store, sell it on the internet.
  4. If you do need something new double-check the way it is produced. Where is it produced? Does the company it is produced for apply certain standards? You may want to support the Fair Wear Foundation.
  5. There is also a lot you can do in terms of food: Opt for organic fresh food. That means vegetables and fruits in the first place. Make sure they are not wrapped in plastic. That IS difficult, I know. Maybe you can get vegetables and fruits from a local farm? Or a food coop? Or something like that? If that’s not possible you will most definitely find some fresh food in the supermarket that is not wrapped – but maybe you’ll have to really make an effort. I think it’s worth it, though.
  6. Try to buy vegetables and fruits that is produced in the area where you live – opt for apples from your neighborhood instead of papaya from kenya e.g. Avoid long hauls!
  7. Eat less meat and other animal products!
  8. Start DIY. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot cheaper than buying everything new and you avoid products that are produced in a bad way (plus things you made yourself aren’t wrapped in plastic!)
  9. In terms of unschooling: Well, there actually is not real start – it just happens naturally. Unschooling is natural learning. Unschooling happens by the way – intrisically. You don’t really have to do much. What you should do is talk with your kids, be a part of their lives, ask them what they are busy with, ask them how you can support them – show interest in them. Try to really meet their needs.
  10. Speaking of needs: Need-oriented parenting isn’t hard, either. Observe your kids, communicate with them, take them seriously, value them – and set your limits.

What do you think? Tell me how you feel!

A Weekend in Pictures – July 2nd/3rd 2016

This past weekend has been very relaxed for us. We spent a lot of time just being at home or going for a walk. Nothing fancy really. Nothing special. But VERY comfortable! And we enjoyed it.

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In our family we are very passionate about reading. Actually I think there is hardly a better way to spend a relaxed weekend than to read just as much as possible. My toddler apparently feels the same way…

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We also enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking all kinds of things…

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Our kids love to just be with us while we our doing housework. They either watch us do what we do…

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… or they participate as much as they can.

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Then again we stop and watch them as they learn and grow up right before our very eyes.

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The end of the weekend: Don’t you think rainy weekends really are utterly romantic? I most definitely do!

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How was your weekend?

Life after two under two

Have you followed my article series “Two under two”? It’s awfully quiet in that department at the moment, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. And you know why? Because our toddler is two years old now – and we simply don’t have two kids under two any more. However, life is pretty busy and loads of fun with a toddler and baby, even though they grow up.

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So don’t worry, I will keep you posted about our family life, our kids who are growing up right before our very eyes and about learning processes, child development, milestones and changes.

So what actually has changed the past few months?

I’d say it’s gotten easier, more peaceful, calmer. I mean, it’s not really calm around here with the little ones playing, learning and working. But I guess we have grown into all this. We have grown into our noisy and chaotic family life – and it really is a lot of fun.

We’re looking forward to future milestones! How are you doing?